WebBizIdeas.com started building dating websites in 2002. Around this time Match.com was getting national media attention and Dr. Warren’s eHarmony was starting to become a large player in the industry. We followed the trend, offered Dating Website Design services, and helped launch many dating internet businesses.
In 2004/2005 an Emerging Technology now called “Social Networking Software” paved the way for many Social Networking Trends. MySpace very quickly took away 1,000’s of paying members from Dating sites. Users asked themselves, “Why pay $29.99 a month when I can create my own profile, view other user’s profiles, and chat directly with them?”
Brian Peters, an internet consultant/project manager who worked for WebBizIdeas at the time, asked him self the same question. That question lead to WebBizIdeas.com heavily investing in Social Network Website Design. Over the last few years we have had the please to help build many interesting online communities built around the concept of a social network.
Today I was reviewing our dating portfolio and asked myself, “Is Starting an Online Dating Website Still Profitable?” Although we still build dating sites, the majority of the projects WebBizIdeas.com builds incorporates social networking technology. In fact we highly recommend clients incorporate this technology because…well quite frankly it helps build successful internet businesses.
■ 60,000 new people register on Match.com every day
■ Websites in 15 different languages, serving 37 different countries
■ More than 15 million members, with approximately 1.3 million paying subscribers
Match.com monthly membership is $29.99 a month; if you do the math that is over $30,000,000 a month in revenue! They are partnered with MSN, Cingular Wireless, Comcast, Glamour Shots, Earthlink, Oxygen Network, InfoSpace, BET, Excite, and even Dr. Phil.
eharmony.com is owneed by a private California company so records were harder to come by. The last I heard they were pulling in 15,000 new registered users (not members) a day. But instead investigating the large dating companies further, eharmony, lavalife, tickle, and Date.com, I decided to take a look at a company who owns Niche Dating websites.
The Spark Newtworks is a public company who owns Jdate (jewish), AmericanSingles, BlackSingles, ChristianMingle, DeafSingles, AsianSingles, CanadianSingles, and over 30 other niche dating websites; see the full list at SPARK NETWORKS. As you see they go after targeted markets including religious, ethnic, geographic and special interest groups.
Does their niche marketing work? Lets look at their traffic statistics:
- 38 million registered users
- Approximately 4.75 – 5 million unique monthly visitors
- 200-300 million monthly page views
Spark Networks 2008 Q1 reported $15 million in revenue, $1.6 million in net income, and $4.4 million in adjusted EBITDA. On average, paying members for Q1 was 195,325; 93,411 coming from their Jewish Dating Network.
By writing this article I really want to find out if starting an online dating website is still profitable for our target market; Small Businesses & Internet Entrepreneurs. One of my favorite Dating Internet Businesses I worked on was (not online anymore) MochaMates.com. The owner started an online/offline dating community for African Americans in her home town. A few times a month she would hold events in the comfort of her home that for African American Singles; all promotions were done offline locally.
Where she would make her money is having this network of African American Singles register on her website, MochaMates.com. She didn’t have millions of members but she did have a 100-150 dedicated member paying a registration fee each month. Her registration fee was not $29.99 BUT was $99 – $2999 a year depending on the package. Her customers LOVED being able to meet singles in person and then communicate with them privately online…reminds me how AOL IM became so popular among teenagers in middle school/highschool.
Depending on the membership package her services included matchmaking services, background checks, and free trips. Her trips were not just locally but were arranged vacations to Miami, Jamaica, and Brazil with hotels & accommodation’s included (not flight). Can you see that being appealing to an African American Single who is looking to meet other singles?
In my opinion dating websites are profitable IF you combine (1) social networking features (2) offline interactions (3) go after a niche market (4) offer something match.com & eharmony.com don’t. Unless you have the capital to build what the Spark Network did (millions in investments) the only way to compete is do build an internet business plan similar to MochaMates.