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? True.com 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!