Have you ever wanted to build a dating website? Maybe you thought to do it yourself would be too difficult, time-consuming, or expensive.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. You can have a dating site up and running in no time, and you can do it on a budget.
I’ll show you how to create a dating website and what you need to know to make it a success.
Give Yourself an Advantage When Starting a Dating Site
Starting a website is easy. A quarter of a million people start one every day. But when you start a site in a specific niche, like dating, it’s good to have an edge over the competition.
A Unique Approach
Match, eHarmony, and OK Cupid are popular general dating sites. If you start a general dating site, those huge, established sites are your competition.
But there are many niche sites that cater to specific groups. There are dating sites based on religious affiliation, people who live outside big cities, those interested in technology, even people who avoid gluten in their diets.
If you can serve a portion of the population that doesn’t currently have a good way to meet, your site can be a success.
A Good Head for Promotion
Building a website is one thing, but promoting your new site is where most of the work takes place. Especially when you’re starting a site that relies on attracting users.
Most of that promotion will take place online. But depending on the niche you choose to serve, you may also take advantage of local advertising.
You don’t necessarily need a huge advertising budget, but you will have to include time to do website promotion. More on that later.
Building a Dating Website
As I mentioned at the outset, starting a new site can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You don’t need to hire a developer or spend thousands on web servers.
Let WordPress Handle the Website
You know it’s going to take time to promote your dating site, so you don’t want to spend weeks or months constructing it.
WordPress can be installed in minutes and customized with themes and plugins. We’ll take a look at some tools that can help you build something successful that attracts people.
The Most Important Tool Is Your Web Host
It’s never been less expensive to create a website, but quality and reliability should not be sacrificed for cost. Performance issues or technical problems can sink a membership site, so make sure you have excellent service from day one.
GreenGeeks can provide that reliable, high-quality service, and do it affordably. Every site hosted at GreenGeeks also has access to scalable resources, so your GreenGeeks hosting platform can grow with you.
Of course, GreenGeeks also provides expert help from friendly support staff. We’ll even provide you with a free domain name for the first year to help you get started. We’ve got every aspect of hosting your website covered.
And since we’re called GreenGeeks, you may not be surprised to learn that renewable sources match all of the energy your website uses. In fact, we match three times the energy your site will consume.
Hey, there’s a niche that may not yet be adequately served: Green Dating. 🙂
Choosing a WordPress Dating Theme
The theme is the jumping-off point for your WordPress website’s layout and functionality. Generally, I like to recommend free themes, but there aren’t any that specifically address dating website design.
I’m going to list some free themes here that may not be dating site themes, but they can indeed be configured to accommodate your needs.
You may also want to investigate premium (i.e., paid) dating site themes. Sometimes paying for a theme license can be a reasonable expense when you consider the time you could save in configuration.
Primarily considered a social website theme for WordPress, BuddyPress has everything you need for a dating website. Profiles, notifications, friendship connections, activity streams, and private messaging are all built-in.
Sweet Date is one of the most popular paid themes for a dating site. It features unique profile navigation and a sophisticated user matching system. Members can browse other members from their profile page and see compatibility instantly. It also lets users register using their Facebook login. Everything is ready to go.
Ultimate Member has many available plugins that expand its reach into a wide variety of dating or social activities. This includes forums, user reviews, and email integration. The Ultimate Member theme works with the Ultimate Member plugin that we’ll talk about below.
OneSocial is a clean, minimal social theme that’s built to be responsive, so it’s perfect for your mobile users. The theme is built on the BuddyBoss/BuddyPress foundation, so it has a lot of the same capabilities, but provides its own take on social connections.
BuddyBoss works right out of the box. It’s incredibly flexible and customizable and does just about everything you would need a dating theme to do.
WordPress Plugins for Your Dating Website
All of the dating themes we’ve talked about can be improved, or at least expanded, with plugins. If you like a theme but it’s missing a feature, you can find it in a plugin.
Rencontre is the only WordPress plugin specifically designed to power a dating site. It features private messaging between members, customizable profiles, advanced search, text and video chat, ability to send smiles and contact requests, and a lot more. There’s no limit to the number of members you can add.
The Ultimate Member plugin can be used with any theme, but it was built for use with the Ultimate Member theme (above). It provides complete, detailed control over user registration, logins, member directories, user profiles, account management, roles, content restriction, and email functions.
iFlyChat enabling users to chat with each other privately, in group chats or chat rooms. It can log conversations, so you may not want to enable that. Most dating site users (and website visitors in general) have expectations of a certain level of privacy.
bbPress is a discussion forum plugin. A forum may not be the first thing you think of when you think about a dating site. But a proper forum encourages conversation, and any dating website can make use of that.
Paid Memberships Pro
A great way to offer extended functionality to your members (while also helping offset the costs of the site) are paid memberships. Paid Memberships Pro is the perfect plugin to make paid memberships part of your dating site.
How to Share Your New Dating Site With the World
This is first on the list because it will likely be your most useful tool. Open up as many social media accounts as you can for your dating site and post to them frequently.
That’s going to be overwhelming at first, but eventually, you will see which sites work for you. Then, you can weed out the websites that don’t perform as well and make things more manageable.
Reach Out in Your Local Community
If your dating site serves a local niche, you’ll want to make it known in town. Consider advertising in local meeting places or sponsoring local meet-ups.
Search engine optimization is a promotion tool? Sure it is. In fact, improving a site’s search result ranking may be the best form of promotion. Research how people looking for dating sites search, what words and terms they use, then optimize pages on your site to rank in those results.
Call In Favors
Dating sites are social. The most attractive thing new members can see is many existing members. See if you can get your friends involved to lay the groundwork. People you already know are an excellent resource, and if they’re up for the challenge, they can help your site grow.
That may not sound like the height of authenticity, but dating sites have to start with a group of users. If visitors get the impression that others also use the site, they will be more likely to join and participate.
What Can You Do With a Dating Website?
Serve an Underserved Population
We talked about it earlier; serve a niche as a way of standing out among dating sites. But niches are made up of people. When you provide a service to a group who may not feel included in the mainstream, you will gain their appreciation and loyalty. And that can be very rewarding.
Learn What Interests or Motivates People
Running a website made up of hundreds of (hopefully) thousands of members is a real learning experience. Most people are good and kind, and serving and interacting with them can be a great way to spend your time.
But any time you deal with the public, you deal with all kinds of people — some less pleasant than others. The coping and people skills you learn managing people online will spill over into other aspects of your life. And that’s almost always a good thing.
Earn a Living
Not every website becomes a billion-dollar company. Let’s face it; most websites struggle to make a profit. But if you build an attractive site and put in promotion time, you can create your own employment.
Dating sites can produce substantial profits, even smaller, lesser-known sites. If you do everything you can to set yourself up for success, your dating site can be the source of a comfortable income.
People Need Other People
For as long as there have been people, we have searched for intimate connections. We all need human contact, and a dating site is a great way to interact. If your ideas are unique, or you have a niche audience in mind, a dating website can succeed beyond your expectations.
I hope I’ve given you some useful tools and insights that can help you along the way. Now get out there and make some matches!
Author: Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips is a web hosting industry veteran, helping people make the most of their web presence since 1995.