Dating Industry today.

A lot of people think that my site got big because I was first to have a free dating site.  That is not true,  Spark,  matchdoctor and webdate all had a million members before I even started and there were  10’s of smaller sites as well.

Today I see on average of 3 new free sites per day and I highly doubt any of them will go anywhere.  The problem is 30-50% of your members abandon you on the first day.  If you are a free/paid dating service you will lose another 30% of your regular members per month. For this reason many of these sites just vanish after a few months.   Its much easier to make a social networking site which is nearly the same thing but doesn’t have the rentention issues.

David rants about the dating industry, telling them to innovate etc.   From my point of view the paid industry is screwed.    The only way you can stay in business is if you keep members around and paying for a long time.   If your company is successful then you lose that paying member and you can’t compete because your average revenue per member goes way down.      So how is the dating industry innovating? forces you to call in during business hours to cancel your subscription.    Most paid dating sites force you onto a automatic renewal system  during signup.  You can of course cancel if you read the fine print and then go to the settings section and remove the auto renewal.   Of course the favourite tactic of late which is leading to lawsuits is these companies will throw your profile to the top of the search results a few hours after your subscription expires.  You get a lot of messages  come back to the site and have to pay a new $50/month subscription to be able to read it.

We can sum up the paid dating industry pretty easilly.    Screw your customers as much as you can and extract as much money as you can.    For free dating sites its the exact opposite.  Give people exactly what they want, and hope it generates word of mouth so you can grow!

37 Responses to “Dating Industry today.”

  1. Martin Says:

    Markus, do you know how many ads (%) that you show are for paid dating sites? I guess they are bulk of your income so if they go out of business, will you finally put banners in your forums (to show some targeted ads)?🙂

  2. Neal Says:

    Point taken abotu MatchDoctor and Webdate. I don’t know the timeline but I’ll take your word for it. So that beckons the question however – if you were not the first then why were you so uber successful and why on that same token would you assume all new free dating sites have failure in their horizon?

  3. Reddiance Says:

    Hi Markus (this is my first comment here).
    I found your website by your advertising you did on the TV show, The Bachelor last season. That was a smart tactic. Another smart thing you do is send out periodic automatic emails on matches for that profile. This way, the users are reminded of your site, especially those that don’t go often to it.

    Are you doing any more TV ads? You know that the new bachelor:Rome is on now, right?

    I was reading elsewhere in this blog where you state that in 10 or more years everyone (like mom & dad) can do this easily. I doubt that. You need a great deal of technical knowledge. You sound like someone who has that, and knows about Internet technologies.

    It may not be technically hard to build a website like yours, or find someone in India to build it, but that’s not even half the story. Marketing it, monetizing it, customer rentention, attracting new customers, legal issues, etc. etc. it goes on and on.

    As a one man operation that you are, I am quite impressed with how far you have gone.

    It would be very interesting and enlightening to meet and speak to you in person as part of a group here in Toronto. I bet if you got a whole bunch of people, informally, and not like a seminar (over a coffee, or beer), that a lot of ideas and insights can be gained by all and good contacts made.

    Keep up your blog journal…it makes interesting reading and I also appreciate the links you give out related to this industry.

  4. Markus Says:

    I think most other sites will fail because there are just far far to many free sites now. It costs $5.00 + to buy a member so if anyone wants to get into the market they really really need to spend some money.

    As for marketing I just do the same thing that other large dating sites do, just no where near the extent.. I don’t have 10 million a month to spend like the others.

  5. Rush Says:

    why do people need online dating for? personally i think its stupid. why dont people just go to a bar and meet someone the real way. you have a better chance of getting a hot chick drunk and have sex that way too!

  6. kwa Says:

    Rush, is it “the real way” to meet people for dating that going to a bar? I’ve never been in a bar alone. However, I’ve been in a bar for a date after meeting people on a dating site first.

    Anyway, I’ve just deactivated the automatic renewal of the dating site I’ve been registered until now, Meetic (the biggest dating network in France where I live). They haven’t changed anything for 5 years they are operating and they apparently hope people are going to use their services for years because they are big and have a large user database.

    How have they built their database? First, they spent month operating as a free site. Then, they made men paying, while women can still use their services free.

    I must agree with Markus about the fact social networks are the next dating sites. It’s easier for people to claim they registered into a social network than to admit they registered to a dating site. However, I don’t think being free is as important as Markus believes. The importance of free news sites and newspapers is growing for years, now. However, I don’t believe paid news are going to disappear. Same for paid dating sites.

  7. Gomer Says:

    Markus, you don’t explain (in this post) what made you different from the other free dating sites that emerged when you did and why you hit it big and they didn’t.

  8. Mayo Says:

    Like Gomer said, expain if you can!😉

  9. JayW Says:

    I would bet that the explanation for his success is. . . .
    gorilla SEO (ugly but strong. . not guerrila but he’s good at that too!)


  10. Steve Says:


    I believe you were so damn lucky with this site, and now you’re so cocky about it. Your main concern is to get recognition for your “big” success from your competitors.
    Why you don’t tell us your marketing methods to see how superior you are?

    +1 to Martin who said, you depend on the paid sites to survive.

    I’m sick of people that use other’s people’s needs to communicate JUST to make money. Making money is part of it, but at leeast respect the people who made you rich. In all your blogs, I haven’t see a comment about those people.


  11. Gomer Says:

    Markus has not spoken about his revenue from these sources but my guess is that the ‘smiley’s’ and adultfriendfinder links he has at the top are a very big part of his money, maybe more than AdSense. He is probably the biggest adultfriendfinder affiliate out there.

  12. Reddiance Says:

    Does my memory fail me? Did Markus post a picture of an Adsense check he received here a while back? It was a huge amount from Google and he said the EFT failed because it was too big, so they mailed him a check.

    Where is that blog posting? Has it been taken off or am I confusing this with another website?

  13. Gomer Says:

    No Reddiance, you are right and I am aware of that huge adsense check when making my statement about other sources of income.

    Here is the post:

  14. Andy Arnott Says:

    Markus makes a lot of great points here, the main one being paid sites really need to start innovating of they will be blow out of the water by free ones. Users of these paid sites are tired of paying $20+ a month for something that has has no innovation for many years? What are they doing with that money? Improving customer service? Innovating? Throwing free parties for their members? Nope, they are just padding the “fat” (upper management, CEO’s, etc.). Free sites like and cater to the customer, serve their best interests, and genuinely want them to find someone and be happy. Karma seems to always win out in the end🙂

  15. Mayo Says:

    Im sure Markus can make money even selling flowers, candies, dinner arrangements, wedding sites….

    If for-fee sites go bust(a big IF😉 ) he can always, i mean alway make money on something else….

  16. Dave Evans Says:

    Saying the paid dating industry is screwed is ridiculous. There are enough people with satisfactory results to arguably justify the 1/2 billion dollar the online dating industry is arriving at.

    The “screw your customers” (instead of empowering them to screw each other) statement will only be applicable for a few more years, at which time new models will evolve that provide the services singles seek.

    Yahoo, Match and eHarmony will always make the lions share of the revenue. So be it. The rest of the industry (niche,event,???) are where the eyeballs and dollars will be going in the future.

    Martin makes a good point. You probably make a lot of coin upselling visitors to paid dating sites.
    Markus, where do you get the 30% churn rate?

    $5 for a new member? Who pays that little? I’ve never heard that low an amount.

  17. space555 Says:

    Paid site means quality traffic….makes advertisers horny!!!

  18. Val Says:

    I do agree you will get a lot more traffic of real people to your site and by allowing members to set parameters on their visibility and who can contact helps add to some level of saftey.

    However, you are at risk for the trolling Romance Scammers that use model photos and approach unsuspecting members to build a “relationship” with for the soul purpose of cashing counterfeit money orders, checks and reshipping goods purchased with stolen credit cards.

    Start with posting notices to members let them know its out there.. yes Plenty of Fish has recently made these changes and THANK YOU! If a member reports someone delete them block IPs if possible at the server level. Protect your members first and you will have happy referrals.

    Remember a Happy customer tells 2 friends but an unhappy one tells 12 and so on and so on and so on.

  19. John Wallace Says:

    Here is a point to consider. Its human nature to seek a mate. If you can not find one on your own you turn to match makers(in the old days) or
    dating sites in modern times. If you are serious you go on the paid sites
    because the perception is they are more efficent. People have and will
    pay serious money to find a mate. Why ?, because it is very important
    to them in their lives. Paid dating/matching making will still be going a
    100 years from now. It will evolve and mutate into forms and styles that
    we can only quess at today.

  20. Maggie Says:

    One day dating online will seem as outdated as ‘arranged marriages.” I don’t know what will take its place but this is all just a way to connect. It’s not a bad thing and it’s not for everyone but for some it works.

  21. paul allen Says:

    if plenty of fish is so wonderful, why cant i ever get on to register, and noone will ever reply, thank you paul

  22. morestar Says:

    how do you see 3 new sites a day? and paul! the reason no one will reply to you isn’t just one reason. check out your profile, check out your pictures, are the old and smugly? I have written about free dating site profile writing tips and they can help but I have to say, when I was a member of POF i got tons of messages and met a lot of women…im ugly too

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  26. Carol Says:

    Its pretty hard for the new guy on the dating industry block to compete. Every once and awhile we see a newcomer enter and succeed. If you are a general population dating site, good luck to you! I am a Singles Coach and although I do not coach my clients specifically about dating, it does come up repeatedly. What I hear is that it only makes sense for them to go to the established sites with a good size membership or join a new niche site that allows them to meet someone with similar interests.

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  28. Peter Says:

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  29. Jamie London Says:

    Markus, good stuff. I’m just wondering where the general social networking sites play into all of this. Facebook has over 300 million active users. Their fastest growing demo is 35+. Doesn’t it become a dating site by default, just because so many people are there socially?

    As for the comment about why do people even need online dating, it’s a nice thought. But there is absolutely no question that the Internet has become and will in all likelihood remain the place where people meet and connect.

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  33. Says:

    I think there is still a lot of room for new free dating sites to grow…you just need patiance

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