A few months back I posted how I was turning 3 domains I had into real dating websites. These domains used to just be landing pages for white label offers with a network I work with. I wanted to see if I could generate more revenue by building out the sites compared to the leads I was sending the network. It has worked out pretty well but profitable it is not. Two of the 3 sites have totally failed, and one which I will be talking about is growing but very slowly.
Since they were new sites I had 0 members to start off with. This is a problem with all sites just starting off. I solved my problem by making it so guests could not see or browse members until they signed up. Since the site was free to join the sign up was my conversion. I sent tons of targeted traffic to the site and had great success with sign ups. The very first users were quite confused but I posted messages everywhere thanking them for joining and assuring everyone that more members will be joining. I stepped up my traffic and was getting 100-150 sign ups a day.
I had gotten to 1.7k members and disaster struck. Through my own error and my lack of php/sql experience I had the script delete the entire database instead of a single user. I had lost about 1k in traffic but I hoped that members would sign back up when they saw their accounts were gone. I posted many messages about the error and moved on. About 600 members signed back up the following week. Which made me step up my advertising once again.
After more advertising and another 600 invested my site is now at 1895 members and grows by 10-15 a day from SEO. Users do not seem to be staying on the site for long though because adsense reports $2.81 in the last 7 days! The only time adsense reported some real numbers is when I was heavily advertising. I would be earning about half my ads in adsense so a 100 spend would make 50. I would keep this going until it was profitable but I currently do not have the capital to grow the site to a point of sustained profitability.
I have learned that the key to dating sites is impressions. The key to impressions is users. The key to users is marketing. Once you have all of these things down you should have a profitable site. Right now I am hoping that I will be able get the user base high enough that another dating site will want to buy me out but that is going to take a long time. Until then I will be trying to make the site more profitable.
Also before everyone starts posting about using affiliate links instead of adsense, I want everyone to know that the sites are extremely niche in nature. I only found one affiliate program which I tried and it reported 0 leads and 0 signups after a month of traffic. Which would have been $200 in adsense revenue. If anyone thinks they can help or has experience in building dating sites hit me up at beer at beermonies.com and we can chat on skype or something.