More On Dating Service

Hey everyone, it’s Barbie again.  I recently posted about an opportunity I have to be a partner in a new online dating business.  I’ve had a chance to do some more research and wanted to share some of my findings.  Online dating services now appear to serve every group of daters — no matter how small.  There are dating services for seniors, for the disabled, those with STD’s or even those who love their iPods and Mac’s.  Additionally, dating services for swingers, the BDSM community and LGBT exist in droves.  So how does one differentiate themselves when trying to make a splash within this crowded universe of sites?  This appears to be a very tough question, and my friend Claire and I have spent quite a few hours over the past few days discussing this.  It seems there are a few key criteria when it comes to the success of online dating services.

Firstly, successful dating services have a large population of members which translates to a greater selection of partners. However, what comes first — the chicken or the egg?  If large membership is needed to be attractive, how does a dating service grow from start-up to vibrancy?  One solution is a large advertising campaign — but this requires significant capital.  Another solution is to make the site so useful and attractive that users will naturally come.  This is easier said than done.  Our initial research has determined that users of dating services seek sites which fulfill several important criteria.  First, as indicated, a wide selection of members is desired.  However, users become frustrated if these members are actually just fake profiles.  Some unscrupulous dating services create an abundance of fake profiles with attractive pictures in order to appear larger than they are.  There are actually sites now which verify the information of their members, and this idea intrigues Claire and me — and we are seeking to incorporate this methodology into our business plan.

Users of dating services crave simplicity and ease of use.  This partly explains the popularity of Craigslist for hooking up.  However, sites like Craigslist can often entail risk — in terms of less than truthful posters all the way to potential safety concerns.  A niche dating site as easy to use as Craigslist — but with screened members — serving a sex-positive community of couples — seems to be our current focus.  I’m about ready to approach Tom with our thoughts so wish me luck!


Thoughts About An Online Dating Business

Hey there, it’s Barbie. A sorority sister of mine from college recently contacted me (I plead the 5th as to how long ago I was in college!) with an idea about starting an online dating business. She is a serial entrepreneur, and several of her small businesses have done quite well. She is pretty much vanilla, but she is intrigued and is always asking details about the parties thrown by our “lifestyle” club. I’ve told her to find a date and come to one to see for herself, but she replied not in a million years. She’s been toying with the idea of starting an online dating business, and wants to find a focused niche to serve as opposed to competing with the general audience massive sites which now dominate this market. She’s asking me if there is any need for a “dating” site which hooks up open minded sex-positive couples, and I indicated that many already exist. Some of these niche sites appear to be quite sleazy, while others seem to be on the up and up.

This led us to have a more detailed conversation about the economics of an online dating business. How do they make money? Claire (my friend) indicated that maybe Tom (my husband) and I would like to invest in a new online dating business geared towards like-minded couples, and knowing Tom I knew I better have the cold hard numbers in hand before I even broached the subject. It seems that an online dating business can make money either through membership fees or advertising (or both). Membership fees are a difficult route seeing that everyone assumes everything on the Internet is free. Some sites address this by providing a free membership, but you must pay in order to contact someone. Other sites rely upon advertising and utilize the online dating business the same way as any other traffic source. Creating such a site does not appear to be overly expensive, but an effective marketing campaign can cost quite a bit. I’m still working through the numbers with Claire and am not ready to approach Tom yet with this idea, but when I do I’ll be sure to post his response.