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Starting a Dating Site from Scratch for FREE – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting a dating site from scratch? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a dating website with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample dating site business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample dating site marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for dating websites. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a dating site business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Many people patronize online dating sites for their convenience. Such services allow those looking to date the opportunity to meet new people and socialize without needing to leave their homes. Many singles have even found spouses through Internet dating services.

Online dating has become one of the leading Internet businesses with a high success rate of not only providing people with relationship matches, but a good return on the investment for the creator of the site. It is easier than ever before to start a dating website, you don’t need to be a programming or design professional. The tools are there, the hard part is putting together a concept that will attract people as members.

If you are looking to become an entrepreneur and you’re considering opening an online dating service, there are several things you need to do for your site to become successful.

Starting a Dating Site from Scratch for FREE – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

The Internet has changed the way we get our news, watch television, read books and shop. Of course it has changed the way people date. Online dating sites are big business. Not only are they profitable, in 2008, online dating sites were credited with helping set-up over 120,000 marriages.

  • Interesting Statistics About the Online Dating Industry

Unknown to many people, these sites typically generate more revenue than online pornography, despite the discovery of occasional scandals. In fact, online dating sites rank as the third most popular compared to other paid content sites that fill Internet. Digital music and video games are the first and second most popular paid sites.

Revenue projections show online dating sites continuing to grow. In 2007, dating sites earned about $1.03 billion in revenue, with that figure growing to $1.65 billion by 2012. These projections are based on the continued integration of the digital world into everyday life.

Companies in this industry recognize that they’re sitting on gold mines, which is why their advertising budgets are so high. In 2009, about $350 million was spent on marketing for online dating service websites. The result of this spending is seen on the company’s bottom line. It’s estimated that some 20 million Internet users will visit an online dating site at least once a month.

There is more good news ahead when considering that these visitors tend to become members. The estimated 10% annual growth may end up being a conservative number, with 58 percent of women in the United States and 48 percent of the men use online dating services.

The single population over the age of 18 in the United States is estimated to be between 92 and 120 million people. Of that number, approximately 16 million have tried online dating services. The average price of online dating services is between $20 and $30 dollars a month.

It was initially a very lucrative business to be in with online dating services soaring in popularity since 2001 and representing nearly 50% of the dating market’s value. As more and more singles migrate to free social networking sites, however, the profitability of dating services is narrowing to those services with the best reputations and largest network communities.

Starting a Dating Site from Scratch – Market Feasibility Research

  • Demographics and Psychographics

One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating. General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships.

Not surprisingly, members of online dating sites aren’t always completely honest. Members tend to inflate their yearly salaries by 20 percent or more. Physical traits are exaggerated or hidden, especially regarding height and weight. And un-shockingly, it’s estimated that 59 percent of women and 53 percent of men decrease their actual weight while trying to attract mates on online sites.

  • 11% of American adults—and 38% of those who are currently “single and looking” for a partner—have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps
  • One in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or a mobile dating app.
  • 11% of internet users (representing 9% of all adults) say that they have personally used an online dating site such as Match.com, eHarmony, or OK Cupid.
  • 7% of cell phone apps users (representing 3% of all adults) say that they have used a dating app on their cell phone.
  • Taken together, 11% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters.” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20 through mid-40. Some 22% of 25-34 year olds and 17% of 35-44 year olds are online daters. Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents. And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.
  • 66% of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or app, and 23% of online daters say they have met a spouse or long term relationship through these sites.

List of Niche ideas in the Online Dating Industry

Many dating sites allow users to filter their search results based on age, geographic location and education level, but there are very few, if any, dating sites based on these specific criteria. Starting a dating site for specific parts of the country could help people meet who may otherwise miss each other.

In a study conducted by Sterling’s Best Places, cities such as Houston, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Louisville, Kentucky lack adequate meeting places for singles, and therefore could make viable options for a dating site. Another overlooked demographic is older singles. Starting a dating site for singles over 50 could fill a niche that is rarely addressed by other dating sites.

  • Dating site based on books
  • Dating site based on Religion
  • Dating site based on Ethnicity
  • Dating site based on Race
  • Dating site based on Geographic location
  • Dating site based on Broad interests (fans of video games, novels, music, etc.)

Level of Competition in the Online Dating Industry

Online dating Web sites are facing ever-increasing pressure due in part to social-networking sites, but lucrative advertising and subscription revenue keep a high number of companies competing in the area. The surges in the popularity of sites such as MySpace and Facebook have drawn attention away from dating Web sites. That has in turn made competition more intense in an already crowded field.

In some cases, the numbers of page views for dating Web sites are falling, and people are spending less time on dating sites than they used to, The market, however, is very fragmented, and revenues are growing and there’s no problem in finding interest among singles.

List of Well-known Brands in the Online Dating Industry

There a whole of people who have become successful in the dating site business. These are people who have recorded some huge level of acceptability in the last years or decades. Some of them include;

  • Badoo – Owned by Badoo Trading Limited
  • Chemistry – Owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC)
  • Christian Mingle – Owned by Spark Networks
  • Date.com – Owned by Avalanche, LLC
  • EHarmony – Owned by eHarmony Inc.
  • FriendFinder.com – Owned by FriendFinder Networks
  • Facebook – Owned by Facebook Inc.
  • JDate – Owned by Spark Networks
  • Match.com – Owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC)-
  • OkCupid – Owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC)
  • POF.com (Plenty of Fish) – Owned by Plentyoffish Media Inc.
  • Spark.com – Owned by Spark Networks
  • Tinder – Owned in part by InterActiveCorp (IAC)
  • Yahoo! Personals – Owned by Yahoo Inc.
  • Zoosk – Owned by Zoosk Inc.

Economic analysis

The online Dating Services industry has performed well over the past five years as a growing number of consumers turn to the internet looking for love. The proliferation of broadband internet connections and greater legitimacy surrounding online dating has helped the industry outpace the overall economy and capture a rising share of the consumer dollar.

In the coming years, the percentage of households with access to the internet is projected to continue rising throughout the period, which will expand the consumer market for online dating services… purchase to read more

The industry has a low level of capital intensity, similar to other personal service industries. For every dollar spent on wages an estimated $0.09 will be spent on capital investment in 2016. Capital intensity has remained relatively steady throughout the past five years. The requirements for setting up an online dating service are relatively minimal.

Companies need to invest in computers, software and related equipment as well as a central facility. Online operators have a higher reliance on capital equipment and, therefore, depreciation tends to be higher for these companies. In order to set up a matchmaking business in a physical location, a company must invest in the property’s upkeep, since appearances can be a significant determinant of a client’s interest.

Is Starting a Dating Site from the Scratch or is Buying a Franchise Better?

Buying into a franchise is the best way to start up a dating site business. An existing dating site business will have honed its operations over time. This means you should inherit a business with streamlined and documented systems. It should be easy for you to learn the ins-and-outs of the business, and get to know the business, through the seller and any experienced staff who’ll stay with the business.

Existing staff often have more of a coalface perspective than the boss – they can provide valuable insight into how the business runs and areas that could be improved. In such cases, staffs are likely to feel more comfortable communicating their concerns to a new boss, and may be able to suggest ways of solving the problems.

Another bonus of inheriting staff is that you don’t need to recruit and train staff. You’ll save time, money and energy that you can focus elsewhere in the business. It’s important to identify early on if there are any staff morale issues that need addressing, or if staff are resistant to new ownership and the changes this might bring. Talk to the staff and find out if they are happy in their roles, if there is anything that would help them do their jobs better, and what concerns they might have about a new owner coming in.

Showing staff you’re interested in them and open to discussion should help to ease any worries they may have, particularly if they have strong loyalty to the previous owner

Possible Problem and Challenges of Starting a Dating Site from Scratch

Starting a dating site business just like any other known business has its own challenges and problems. A lot of people depend on dating sites to be able to find a companion or love, so when starting your dating site business you must first resolve your own problems before looking to settle the problem of others.

  • Differentiating yourself from competing online dating services
  • Naming your online dating service
  • Securing the permits needed in your state to operate a service business
  • Buying a platform to run your dating service
  • Purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar
  • Developing incentives for people to join your dating site
  • Developing incentives for people to join your dating site

Starting a Dating Site from Scratch – Legal aspect

  • Best legal entity for a dating site

If you hope to start a lucrative and magnanimous dating site business, an LLC is the best legal entity you can ever think of. It is a hybrid business entity having some characteristics of both a corporation and a partnership or a sole proprietorship. To be specific, the business structure of an LLC combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

This legal form of a business can also elect to be taxed as an S corporation, C corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship as long as a particular LLC qualifies under the desired tax classification. Using an LLC legal entity provides you with this few advantages

  • Limited liability-: Owners or members of an LLC have limited liability. This means that unlike in partnerships and sole proprietorships and similar with corporations, they do not assume the risks for any debts or financial obligations and some acts incurred by the dating company.
  • Flexibility in allocation-: The amount of money members invest in an LLC does not need to be equal to their percentage of ownership. Percentages of profits and losses can be assigned to owners using an operating agreement. This also means that an investor can finance half of an LLC without necessarily owning half of the business.
  • Taxation benefits-: There is no double taxation or no need to pay U.S. federal tax if an LLC elects to be taxed as a partnership or sole proprietorship. Profits are taxed personally at the members. This is called pass-through taxation. Furthermore, each member of an LLC writes off his or her losses on his or her personal income taxes.
  • Freedom in management-: Operating an LLC requires less administrative and paperwork. A limited liability company does not hold regular meetings nor issue stock certificates. Record keeping and auditing the financial statement of an LLC are less tedious depending on the requirements of the members. This is a considerable advantage of an LLC over corporations.
  • Flexible number of members-: There is no minimum or maximum number of members in an LLC just like a corporation. Another interesting thing to note is that while an LLC can have as many members as desired, most states also allow a sole individual to create and operate his or her own limited liability company.
  • Corporations or partnerships can be members-: Under U.S. laws, There is no requirement that members should be entirely individuals legal entities such as corporations or partnerships can be members of an LLC. This also translates into expanding the ability of an LLC to fund the operation or current and upcoming projects.
  • LLC can have a management group-: Members of an LLC are free to hire a management group. Most of the decision-making in partnerships and sole proprietorships are made entire by owners. A limited liability company can hire individuals to form a management group that will run the company.

Catchy Business Name for a Dating Site

There are various catchy business names that can be adopted. Here are some of them;

  • Fresh Love
  • Flame of Love
  • Lover Up
  • Love Styles
  • Cutie date
  • Guru People Meeting
  • Dating gar
  • Meeting Paris
  • Meeting Partner
  • Parade Your Partner
  • Citi dating
  • Parish Union
  • Partners Hub
  • Party Dating
  • Synergy
  • Meet me

Choosing the Best Insurance Needed for a Dating Site

Countless numbers of people have found love, friendship, and business contacts through social networking and internet dating sites. However, we also hear of the horror stories involving people that are physically harmed. You, the owners of these very profitable websites, should constantly balance the risk vs. the reward of operating your company.

Right now you are trying to mitigate your risk by making your site as safe as possible. This is a great thing, because no one wants your clients to be safe more than you. Social media is not a zero sum game when we’re talking about assault and battery. Your client loses and you lose. One person gets hurt and it could all be over. Can your company withstand a multi-million dollar lawsuit?

  • Internet liability insurance
  • General liability Business insurance
  • Advertising agency insurance
  • Creative insurance
  • Copywriters insurance
  • Business equipment insurance
  • Business interruption insurance
  • Business buildings insurance
  • Business contents insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance

Intellectual Property Protection for your Dating Site

Intellectual property rights are a business asset, and are often the most valuable business asset. Any business presently trading or considering trading on the internet needs to check what intellectual property rights it owns and ensure that it is fully protected.

Different types of ideas can be protected in different ways, depending on how they are expressed. This intellectual output and the protection of it is known as intellectual property, a collective term for different types of asset including copyright, trademarks, patents, design rights and others. These assets are intangible, but can be very valuable since they enjoy legal protection.

There will be a number of intellectual property rights which exist in your website. Any logos or branding are likely to be protected by registered trade mark rights or the law of passing off. There will also be database rights in any database underlying your website. However, most of your website, including the text, design, graphics, data, website layout and any music, broadcasts, software and images on your website, will be protected by copyright. In other to protect your intellectual property in the dating site business you need to do the following

  • Use Duplicate Content Detection and Monitoring Tools
  • Devise preventive methods
  • Take Action after Finding a Plagiarist

Legal Documents Needed for a Dating Site

Documents play an essential role in protecting the interests of the business and business owners over the course of a company’s lifetime.

  • Social Security number
  • Tax identification number
  • Employer’s identification number
  • Insurance
  • Non disclosure agreement
  • Online privacy policy
  • Online term of use

Writing a Business Plan for a Dating Site

The business landscape continues to change very quickly, and that constant change brings about plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. Additionally, the tools and cost-benefit involved in building and marketing an online business have become increasingly easier, cheaper and faster than ever. But in an era where technology is always a part of our lives, you need to make your business idea; model and planning stand out if you want to succeed in the long run.

Researching the business plan for your dating business allows you to begin determining its parameters. Decide whether your dating business will feature just online dating, niche dating, such as a dating business geared toward a particular religion, or passion, such as sports, or traditional storefront.

  • Define your business objectives and personality
  • Complete Your Financial and Management Summary
  • Measure the Market and the Metrics
  • Create an exit plan

Detailed Cost Analysis for Starting a Dating Site

It takes money to make money right? Well that’s what they say; but starting your own online dating business doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it will take a few bucks if you want to make it a site that people will enjoy. If you are really serious about building a community and providing a valuable service to your members; then you’ll want to be thoughtful about where you spend your cash to get things started.

So how much does it cost to start an online dating business? This is probably the first question you asked yourself when you first got your idea. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this question; it could be $500 or $50,000 or more really, much of it depends on how you choose to start. There are many directions you can take to get up and running and so many different factors that can have an impact on your total cost.

  • WordPress = $898.88
  • Software = $1,239.88
  • Hire a web developer = $8,840.88+
  • Buying computer and other equipment = $1,000

Don’t let money slow you down if you believe in your online dating business niche go for it. There’s no time to waste. Work at your own pace and do what you can when you can do it. Even if it’s registering your domain name and getting a simple logo design to start realizing your vision.

  • Financing your Dating Site

When you successfully matched your boss with a former client and they toasted you at their wedding, you felt good. When you matched two other friends together and them, too, married, you thought you might have a gift. Now you are ready to share your ability with the world. However, before you launch the website, you must understand that there is more to a dating site than posting profiles and hoping others like what they see.

  • Personal savings
  • Business loans
  • Crowd funding
  • Social investment
  • Partners
  • Credit cards

Selecting a Location for your Dating Site

If your dating business requires a storefront, choose an attractive location in your city’s business district. Choose tasteful, conservative furnishings; hire friendly and engaging staff members who can set new dating clients at ease. Customers will want quiet, intimate areas to discuss their dating news, so include cosy seating areas and ambient music.

Starting a Dating Site from Scratch – Technical and Manpower Requirement

A bit of love is enough to wipe away puddles of loneliness. There’s ample evidence justifying this; everywhere you see around yourself, you see people either enjoying the company of their beloveds, special friends, or for that matter, partners for intimate moments!

Dating is no more a sinful pleasure, and people don’t mind being blatant about their searches for dates. People look for dates everywhere – outside colleges, at cafes, in football games, and even online! Yes, online dating is alive, thriving, and kicking.

The search for company, friendship and love leads people into looking for partners on social media websites. However, specialized dating oriented websites are where they’d always want to be, because such websites make the searching phase more fulfilling.

Here’s more about how online dating websites can mean serious business for you, and how you can go about planning and executing your very own dating website that can be really rewarding to your members in terms of helping them find partners to fill the gaps in their lives, and to you in terms of helping you enjoy enviable revenues from the same.

You need to invest decent amount of thought into the pre-development phase of your dating website’s journey, that’s because the business model and the website building tool you finalize account for the kind of success you enjoy later.

Before you get started, it might be added here that creating a dating website is not an easy task. In order to make your dating website a success, you need to have functionalities like advance search options, payment gateway integration, profile creation, multimedia playback, instant messenger, match suggestions, memberships and much more. That’s where tools like website builders, web scripts and themes come in handy.

Software you could choose from may include:

  • Emeeting
  • SkaDate Dating Software
  • Datemill
  • Chameleon

WordPress themes you can choose from may include:

  • WordPress Dating Website Themes
  • LoveStory Dating WordPress Theme
  • Dating WordPress theme
  • Sweet Date Dating WordPress Theme

The Service Process of a Dating Site

Online dating is simply a method of meeting people, and it has advantages and disadvantages. The variety of dating sites is constantly growing, with many sites focused on very specific groups or interests. There are sites for seniors, sites for Muslims, sites for fitness-oriented people, sites for people just looking for friends and sites for people who are interested in more adult activities.

It is your essential duty to create a comfortable platform for your customers to be able to meet people and create an everlasting chemistry. Finding a partner helps many peoples’ lives feel complete. Sometimes finding the person could be the marketing you need.

Starting a Dating Site from Scratch – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing strategies for a dating site

According to Pew Research, one in ten American adults has used dating websites or apps. Perhaps more relevant, more than one in three who are single and looking have gone online for love. This is a significant shift in public opinion.

Only eight years ago, 44% of Americans thought, “Online dating is a good way to meet people.” Now, that group is up to 59%. Online dating is simply riding the trend we’ve been seeing for some time: we are growing more comfortable with strangers online. Few marketing ideas for your dating site business are

  • The niche is the money
  • The mighty authority rules
  • Brand yourself
  • Get people to your site
  • Be creative with your marketing efforts.

Getting the Right Service Pricing for your Dating Site

Building your own online dating website is a great way to earn an extra income online. People will always want to meet and hook up; that’s one thing that will never change. The dating industry is hot and will always be in demand.

a. Member Subscriptions

If your site is pay-to-join this is one of your income streams. It’s always a good idea to make some of your features free for all, but charge a fee to initiate communication. So it’s free to Browse, Pay to communicate. Make sure the dating software your purchase includes a pay to join system so that you can make money, some free dating software may not include this feature.

b. Affiliate Offers

As you build your community and increase traffic. You may want to offer related resources to your members. If they make a purchase, you get paid.

c. Google AdSense

Yes, we cannot forget the mighty GOOGLE. If you website is Free to join, Google Ad Sense can definitely compensate you for your operating cost. Just be strategic with your placement. You want your ads to compliment your content. You can to get members to join to browse and use your ads when they are ready to leave your site.

d. The email List

The money is in the list! Building your dating website will create a very large database of email addresses. Use this information to stay in communication with your members it is very important to let them know your site is active to keep them coming back to check on what’s new. Your dating website system will also automatically send out new member and match notifications. In addition to these notifications make sure you personally keep in touch.

Possible Strategies for Winning Competitors in the Dating Site

Business is a game of chess and every move counts and to beat the competition you will require everyone’s collective effort.

It’s not just a task for the marketing department or top management; it’s everyone’s responsibility. So as the leader of your business, it’s very important you enlist the support of the whole organization once you’ve agreed on the strategies to adopt in dealing with your competitions.

  • Define your brand and make your site inspiring
  • Choose a competitive advantage
  • Excite your customers
  • Offer something off the board

Possible Ways to Retain Customers on your Dating Site

To retain a customer you need to provide an experience that blows the customer away, keeps you top of their mind, and gets you into discussions with their friends. Far too often marketers spend all of their attention on the chase and the sale and not enough on how to retain and create remarkable experience.

  • Wow your customers
  • Follow them up
  • Provide some personalization
  • Choose the right tools
  • Make it simple
  • Protect their ideas and interest

Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate identity

The online dating industry is a highly competitive one, and while running a web-based venture can be extremely lucrative, it requires a lot of hard work and a helping hand to ensure profitability. When it comes to finding this success online, the quality of your service can only take you so far and to really thrive you must get noticed and earn respect. This involves having a clean and well-performing website, a prominent position in the search engines, a very strong social media backbone and a web-hosting provider that can help your business grow.

  • Dating Factory’s white label dating platform
  • Employing skilled expertise
  • Social media marketing
  • Efficient Web hosting
  • Astonishing website
  • Improved Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Keeping your site safe

Creating a Supplier/Distribution Network of a Dating Site

More and more people are finding their partners on a dating website than ever before. For many, it is the only way they can find the time to meet someone. The stigma of online dating has lessened in recent years, but it still has its detractors and potential dangers.

Remind your members of the importance of keeping personal information private, meeting for the first time in a public place, and letting a friend or family member know when they are meeting someone they met online for the first time. Moreover, keep in mind the old saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” However, even with these pitfalls, launching a successful dating site can result in very satisfied customers.

Tips for Running a Dating Site Business Successfully

A dating site business is a super lucrative business that requires hard work and attention to be able to be successful. As an entrepreneur, it is your duty to make your business outshine that of your competitors and leave a landmark to be envied by many. Running your business can take a lot but to be able to do that you need to keep the following in mind.

  1. Be smart-: Always be smart with your business to stay ahead of the game and maximise the opportunities you have in front of you
  2. Share-: If you’re not willing to your future plans with your team, give them insight on your marketing strategies or listen to their recommendation, you are limiting the success of your dating business
  3. Monetize-: Always be weary of your expenses and how you manage your business because every move you make counts
  4. Analyze-: Don’t assume you know everything about your site. The dating market is one of the fastest growing markets. What works on your site for one month might have a different effect the next month. Analyse demographics regularly
  5. Reach-: Whatever your area of marketing expertise is, remember that your efforts don’t have to stop there. Don’t put your entire eggs in one basket.
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