In a world where virtual social interaction is quickly gaining ground on the traditional face-to-face meet and greet as the most-utilized path to romance, internet dating is a burgeoning industry ripe with business opportunity. Playing virtual Cupid is a great way for the budding entrepreneur with a passion for cultivating love to create a profitable venture. But how does one go about building such a business? It may be easier than you think.
First and foremost: decide upon your approach: do you plan to target a particular genre of folks? Old people, gay people, locals, divorced people, people looking for hook-ups or committed relationships? Do some research and focus on what you determine is an untapped or underserved market. Does your city or town have its own exclusive dating site? If not, that might be the way to go. Deciding your niche is crucial for how you build your site and who you target to market your site or app to.
Once you determine your primary audience, you can work on choosing a name. Be creative and playful, and choose something that speaks to your theme. Once you’ve decided on a name, you can utilize a quick google search to determine if your chosen name is available, along with the URL. Pick a host, legally register your business and purchase your URL.
Now that you have the foundation established, it is time to build, which includes the most essential component, cultivating your site. If you have little to no experience with website design or coding, you can outsource your website design, but that is an expense that adds up quickly. The benefit to custom design is you can tailor features to what you have in mind. For example, you could add a chat room feature, or match users based on specific criteria.
Some options for those who prefer a ready-made template are SkaDate, WordPress, and datingpro.com. WordPress Sweet Date is a highly-reviewed dating website template available for $59. Another strong consideration is this fast-paced market it mobile accessibility and if you choose to promote yourself as an app or dating site with mobile compatibility.
You need to decide what information you will request of your users for their profiles. Again, this is a time to consider their niche. If your members are interested in long-term relationships, their profiles should be far more detailed than if they are only in it for a one-night-stand. Consider including favorite activities, personal interests, favorite music, what they are looking for in another person, etc.
As for branding, you will need a solid, simple logo. Outsource the design locally or go with the many online options like designhill.com or logodesign.net.
You must also determine whether your site is going to offer paid or free membership. Free sites are likely to experience more traffic and make money by hosting affiliate sites or once you build a large user base, but with paid sites, you may have to invest more in upfront marketing but reap easier profit margins in the long run. A free trial period is a great way to gain users along with requiring payment only to gain the ability to communicate with other members. If you decide on paid memberships, you will also have to embed a payment tool. Paypal is an excellent choice for a simple and user-friendly platform that many users will already be familiar with, however, if you choose a third-party form of payment, these tools do not offer reoccurring payment options and can cost a good deal to conduct business with, cutting into your profit margins.
Set a launch date and work with the software to iron out possible glitches. Once you feel confident in your product, recruit some friends to test it out and gather feedback, tweaking as need be.
You’ve already determined your target market, and now that you have a solid product to stand upon, it is time to promote it. Choose appropriate advertising venues; local radio and print media if you selected a local focus, Google ads if your audience is wide-spread (Facebook no longer allows advertisements from new dating sites). Maintain a blog and update it regularly with fresh posts about your niche to promote SEO.
The next step? Patience and persistence. It may take a very long time to build your name in the online dating community and gain enough members to make any money at all. But don’t give up hope. Continue to put out refreshing content and promote your site, and responding to user feedback. Once you gain members, send out email promotions and updates regularly. Give an incentive for referrals. Like so many singles out there navigating the web for that perfect somebody: you have to keep putting in the work until you experience success.