Mark Brooks is starting a list of Dating Software and Services similar to my Tools & Services directory. At least that’s what I though until I looked at the date of the post, April 13, 2006. I thought it was from last week. My inability to read dates correctly, I couldn’t help but start writing responses to commenters, albeit one year later.
To get started: here are some of the issues I have with these types of lists.
- Lot’s of systems get on there that shouldn’t be.
- No technical due diligence is performed.
- Most of the people who complain about the software are not programmers, so their angry lashing out is biased.
- When it comes to dating site software, offshore developers aren’t going to save you a dime. In fact, they are going to cause you many more problems.
- While I am about as virtual as you can get, I like to be able to be close enough to my developers that I can buy them a beer while we talk shop an well as be able to chew them out in person when they stray off course.
- Someone on Mark’s list said that custom coding is the way to go. That was obviously written by a programmer.
- Most every dating site in a box will not scale to millions of daily pageviews. Just ask the IT guys at Match, or Markus at Plenty Of Fish. Ask dating site developers about load balancers and watch their expression.
These are generalizations, mind you. There are some incredibly talented developers and businesspeople putting together dating site systems and hosted solutions. The problem is they are difficult to find, or expensive, or not customizable enough. No one solution is ever going to be perfect. You have to prepare to get the short end of the stick on a few things.
Be incredibly careful about working with vendors and developers outside of the US. This is a general statement that will upset many incredibly talented developers and companies, but after hearing people complain about non-US vendors for years, take heed when you’re paying someone in foreign currency to develop your dating site.
Hosted services. If you want a site that looks just like every other third-tier dating site out there, and shares the same questionable profiles with hundreds of other sites, go for it, and expect to give up 20-50% of your revenue for the privilege.
From what I’ve seen hosted white-label social networking sites are far better managed than dating sites. Better code, better service and less hassle overall. I’ve also never used a hosted dating site myself and never recommend them to a client unless they are a tiny niche site and know nothing about internet businesses and have money to throw around. That hardly ever happens. Perhaps SkaDate or Dolphin or World Dating Partners are exceptions to this rule.
If you are hot to trot about a cool niche site for dirt bike riders or left-handed volleyball players, go start a site at Ning.com. You’ll be up and running in a few hours and promoting the site in a few days.
Your site most likely won’t need to scale to millions of users, and if it does, so what? At that point you’ll have so much money you can rebuild while you grow, like Myspace did and Friendster didn’t.
Mark’s statement that it takes $100,000 to seed your community surprised me. Mark, surely you mean to add a zero to that number. Whatever the number, it’s related to your target audience, for one thing. If you target techie early adopters, all you need to do is start a blog and get mentioned on TechCrunch.
The problem is with most new sites, it’s not the first 50,000 visitors that count, it’s the 50,000 after that. Lots of people will check out your site when it launches, and never come back.
Small nice sites, you better know where your potential members already hang out online. If you don’t, you’re in big trouble, go find them.
I still say it costs several million dollars in marketing money to build up a decent-sized dating site. Some things get cheaper like hardware and development costs due to advances in software. Marketing just gets more and more expensive.
As Sam Moorcroft, owner of ChristianCafe said in Mark’s post, not to dissuade new competitors, but you will most likely lose your shirt trying to start a mass-market dating site these days.
Affiliate marketing is a waste of time unless you are a big name brand. Save your energy for other traffic driving experiments.
Emil Sarnogoev has a seriously great comment on Mark’s blog. Where has he been hiding out? Robert Fathers has a great comment as well, I’m not going to repeat what they say here, I would though, because I agree on almost all points both make.
I agree with Markus on a few points as well. Relationship Exhange could have owned this market and since they have been bought and sold and bought have lost momentum which is too bad they had a good thing going.
Someone named Andreas made a good time-capsule comment, basically that it’s $100k and a 12 months to get a ground-up development project to where existing high-end dating scripts are out of the box.
I say $50k and a month, tops.
If you build, customize or sell dating site systems, scripts or anything related, head on over to the Tools & Services Submit Form and send me your details. I’ll post on the page when I do the next update.