How much can I earn?
There are two main revenue streams for online dating sites: subscriptions from members, and advertising. In both cases, the money you earn will be dependent on the number of clients you sign up, and it may pay to offer free trials to the first few users who express an interest.
A number of the UK’s biggest dating agencies have chosen to roll out limited-time offers and discounts to grow their membership base; for example, members of match.com receive a month’s free membership if they haven’t “found love” within six months, while new subscribers to dating direct receive three days’ unlimited membership for free.
Ways to charge vary; many sites maintain a sliding scale of payments, rewarding members who commit to a long subscription period. Match.com, for example, offers packages for one month, three months, six months and 12 months. As of June 2011, the 1-month package costs £22.80 while the 12-month plan works out at £65.25 – so there’s a clear incentive for visitors to sign up to a long-term subscription.
Most sites will offer visitors the chance to make a one-off payment for their entire membership term, or break it down into monthly direct debits. For you, the owner of the business, one-off payments may be preferable because they guarantee 100% of the money up front. However this may not sit well with all your customers, and ultimately their wishes are what counts.
Seasons and sectors
The amount you can charge will depend on the demographic you are targeting. As a general rule, if you are providing and executive service for professional people only, you will be able to charge a substantial amount; conversely a site such as Tastebuds, which is based on music, may attract a younger audience, so a lower fee scale may be necessary.
You may also find the business is subject to seasonal fluctuations. The last week in December through to the third week of February is typically the biggest for online dating, so you may see a flurry of activity during this period – followed by a pronounced lull afterwards.
Ultimately, the amount of money you make from a dating site depends on your ambitions. Certainly, if you start to think about expansion then you will have to move out of the home office and into premises. Most importantly, though, is your attitude to your clients. A high standard of customer care, providing constant contact and genuine empathy, will be your best route to success.
So if you sense love in the air and you've the heart to go for it, a dating site could be the business for you.