To many, the idea of running an online dating business may seem strange. As it turns out, the world of online dating is a constantly expanding industry. Anyone with the drive and proper know-how can start a successful dating site. With a busy market you’ll need a clear USP and a realistic revenue model. Plus, due to the obvious sensitive nature of dating, huge emphasis must be placed on a professional, secure and transparent product. But, if you’ve thought you’ve got an idea that could take the modern dating world by storm, there’s still plenty of opportunities to set up a successful online dating site.
Sort out important aspects beforehand
Before setting up your new dating website, there are a couple of things you’ll need to consider first. For starters, it’s important to recognize that your site will be a newcomer on the market, competing with well-established sites. Therefore, it’s vital that you keep realistic expectations in the beginning. Progress will happen with time, but businesses rarely blossom overnight.
1. Choose your niche
The worst thing you can do is to create “another” dating site. Instead, new dating companies will need to offer their services to a specific audience, also known as “niching”. Singles looking for a casual fling may find a one-night stand website that caters to someone like them extremely useful, as their potential partners will be limited by folks seeking experience of the same kind. While this will definitely limit your site from the beginning, niching your services will actually help you in the long run.
As the size of the community you chose, one-night stand seekers, for example, expands when the word spreads around, so will the overall exposure. However, since your site offers dating services in a particular niche, like the specific type of casual dating (for instance, singles seeking one-time fling), you’ll have far fewer competitors, making it easy to present your site as the superior option.
2. Provide competitive functions
The time has passed where sites can “wow” newcomers with features like instant messaging or full-screen photos: these are practically expected from any reputable dating service. Newcomers to the online dating scene will need to get creative if they want to attract (and retain) users to their respective platforms.
Live video streaming, comprehensive user search filters, and detailed security settings are all features worth implementing to enhance the user experience. However, these ideas have already been done, just at a lesser level: if you want to truly stand out, then you’ll need to create an entirely new online dating feature.
3. Try the Blue Ocean Strategy Approach
Most companies use the “Red Ocean Strategy”. That is, they compete in an already oversaturated marketplace, trying to out-perform their competitors while spending less money. This is the complete opposite of the “Blue Ocean Strategy”, where (rather than competing in an established marketplace) companies instead create their own marketplaces.
Take care of your SEO and marketing
Any new company requires a certain level of visibility in the marketplace. Without this, they’ll struggle to attract new customers and provide subpar services to their existing clientele. Fortunately, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) offers online businesses a way to actively market their services without spending thousands on marketing.
While this strategy is especially useful for niche dating sites, all web-based businesses can utilize the same approach. We’ll go over a few of the basics below, but we’d recommend taking an in-depth SEO course to get your skills up to par. Alternatively, there are many SEO specialists for hire as well.
1. Optimize your website for search engines
Search engines use “keywords” to help direct a user’s search. Keywords can be single words (such as dating) or short phrases like “casual dating site” (also known as long-tail keywords). A large part of SEO involves incorporating specific keywords into your web content. By doing so, you’ll ensure your website shows higher on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page), therefore giving the site more web traffic.
a. Know your audience for targeting
Choosing which keywords to use in your content can be tricky. You should base your keywords around your “target audience”, which we previously referred to as your niche. For example, if your niche is “mature dating”, then your target audience would likely be men and women over the age of 40. You’ll need to do some keyword research to determine which keywords to incorporate naturally into your content.
b. Come up with catchy promotions
If possible, try to stay up to date with the latest marketing trends. While you might not be able to use all of these strategies, it’s very helpful to know which tactics your competition is using. With this knowledge, you can take either a “red ocean” or “blue ocean” approach to marketing. Regardless of which approach you use, it’s important to prioritize value during any promotions. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to attract new users.
2. Monetize your dating site
There are many different ways to monetize your dating site. Here are three of the most common ways to make money using your dating site. Each of them requires taking specific steps so we’ll simply overview them for now.
Working with ad networks, you’ll give up part of your web page space for targeted ads in exchange for a commission, often paid-per-click or for simply displaying the ads.
b. Affiliate networking
This type of advertising involves working within a specific network of affiliated industries (such as dating, bridal, florists or anything particular to your niche, like cars for a mature audience) to display targeted ads from fellow network members on your site. While it is possible to display ads from non-related industries (who are still in the same network), most only pay-per-click or pay-per-action, so displaying relevant ads is recommended for maintaining constant revenue.
c. Premium membership
With this strategy, you charge users a membership fee in exchange for access to additional features such as unlimited chat, un-match/re-match, or live video streaming. Many larger companies only offer paid services, but these differ from the “premium services” approach because there isn’t a free version at all. Although it would be wise to avoid going full premium should you opt-out for niche dating, such as casual online matchmaking, as it will hurt the growth of your userbase.