How to Start a Dating Site in 9 Easy Steps

Everybody has heard of Tinder whether they are looking to meet someone or not. But there are over 1500 dating websites and apps in the market for people to choose from and according to all the data, that number is set to only get bigger over the course of the next decade.

With stats like this, it’s easy to think that the world doesn’t need another dating website, but you would be absolutely wrong. The data is showing that the world can’t get enough of these services and that people are increasingly looking for more niched-down versions to meet their needs on a more individual, personal level. 

The numbers also show that those with higher educational backgrounds are more likely to use an online dating service. And guess what? The world is becoming more highly educated every year so we are still looking at a growth industry in its early stages.

Infographic courtesy of Morning Consult

The top ten dating sites in 2020 according to SEMrush are:

  • Badoo – 192.5 million
  • Plenty of Fish – 103.8 million 
  • Tinder – 59.1 million 
  • – 53.8 million 
  • OkCupid – 34.9 million 
  • Zoosk – 30.7 million 
  • Ashley Madison – 16.1 million 
  • OurTime – 15 million 
  • MeetMe – 13.2 million 
  • Shaadi – 10.1 million 

How many of these had you even heard of before today, right? But just look at those subscriber counts. The last one on the list, Shaadi, had over 10 million users in 2020. They cater to religious matchmaking across the entire religious spectrum. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how easily this one model could be niched down.

Are there sites exclusively for Muslims, for Christians, or what about for humanists? The possibilities are vast and nowhere close to being exhausted. Now is possibly the best time to get started because pioneers such as those above, have shown the way and broken down public resistance to the idea of online dating. 

All you have to do is come up with your specific niche and then follow the blueprint the early pioneers have already mapped out for you.

9 Easy Steps to Creating a Dating Website

You’ve decided you want to go ahead and do this? Well done! Here are the basic steps you will need to follow to make your dating website a huge success.

  • Define your niche
  • Analyze the competition
  • Validate your idea 
  • Pick a hosting service
  • Plan your website layout
  • Hire developers
  • Gain subscribers
  • Monetize your site
  • Enlist affiliate marketers

1. Define your niche

This is one of the fun parts. Before you spend a single cent you need to take some time to define your niche. Set aside a couple of hours and brainstorm every idea that comes to mind. If you have business partners make sure everyone is included. 

Take a look at some of the bigger sites and see what categories they have. These can be gold mines when you are ‘niching down’ to find sub-categories of users that are under-catered to. It could be a site for dog-lovers only, for vegan singles, or even vegans who are dog lovers only! 

Get creative and write everything down. Once you have your short list of favorites, you can move to step 2.

2. Analyze the competition

Here’s where you can easily get discouraged. Most or even all of your favorite ideas from step one will be sacrificed here. But you will get new ideas from your analysis. Maybe dog lover singles is already taken, but cat lovers is still free. Don’t filter yourself too much with these ideas, because you never know what will work.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily want to be the first one to do something. If you find something similar that you can differentiate from, then you already have some validation that the idea works. 

Which brings us to step 3.

3. Validate your idea

Now that you have your awesome niche idea that differentiates you from competitors but also has some initial market validation, it’s time to put this idea to the test. 

There are many ways to do this, but here are a few examples to get you started. 

Analyze your data

Use Google Trends

Use Google Trends to find out if there is any interest and whether or not that interest is trending up or down. 

Create a questionnaire

Create a questionnaire asking people if they would be interested in the niche you have decided to target. Gather some information about their demographics. Ask them if they would be willing to pay for a subscription service. If so, how much would they be willing to pay? 

Once you have the questionnaire send it out to your email list if you have one. If you don’t have one you can post it on Facebook or whatever social media platform you like best and then pay a few dollars to boost it. 

If you have a good response to the idea and people say they are willing to pay, it’s time to move on to step 4. 

4. Pick a hosting service

This is an easy one. There are plenty of great platforms out there that are very reasonable in price and have great reputations. Don’t try to save pennies on a service you have never heard of. The very best providers are already quite cheap so take something versatile and reliable. 

You should also pick your domain name at this point. Have another brainstorming session. Check that those names are available as .com domain names. Now ask the positive respondents from people you polled about the service in the questionnaire, which name they think rocks the best.  

Don’t spend too much time on this step. The name isn’t make or break, but also, don’t forget that you could be using it for a very long time, so make sure you can live with that whichever one you chose.

website planning

5. Plan your website

This might be the most significant step so far but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Check out your favorite competitors and use them as a model. At a minimum, you will need a home page and an about page. Lay it all out so it’s clear in your head. If you like you can do a mock-up with a free template from your hosting provider. 

Once you are happy with the layout, it’s time for step 6. 

6. Hire developers

Scary. Outsourcing and hiring. This can be a big hurdle for many and there are ways around it, but for most of us, it will be time to hire at least one developer. If you are lucky enough to have the skills, of course, you can do it yourself, but even then it can be time-consuming, so really consider if it is worth the extra work. 

If you absolutely can’t afford it, another great way is to use a paid template from your hosting provider. If you go with this option, try to find one that has been developed specifically for dating websites or at the very least for membership sites. 

Hiring developers can be costly, but there are still bargains out there. If you can find someone just getting started on Fiverr, Upwork, or another gig site then you can save money and still have a great result in the end.

7. Gain subscribers

Your beautiful new site is up and running, and now you need subscribers. Time to put your marketing hat on. Get the word out there every which way you can on every social media platform everywhere. The more subscribers you can gain the better. 

You are not aiming to make money yet, but to gain traction. Be patient as this step can take a while. Adding a blog to the site can help to gain clicks and new subscribers. Drive traffic to the site with paid advertising on Google and Facebook if you can afford it. At the very least plan to produce new content often and regularly. 

Once you have a small subscriber base and one or two testimonials, you are ready for step 8.

8. Monetize

Subscribers mean clout. Advertising clout. With an active site receiving a steady and increasing number of hits per month you can now market your site to potential advertisers and earn advertising revenue. 

You can also consider adding premium content sections to the site. Your service should be excellent no matter what, but for an additional monthly fee, you can offer gold and platinum level individual service to help subscribers find their perfect match.

9. Use affiliates

Now that your website is generating income, you should be thinking about enlisting the help of motivated affiliates. While you continue to market and improve the site a small army of affiliates will be actively promoting the service to their followers everywhere. 

A good affiliate marketing program can potentially skyrocket your subscriber base and your bottom line. If you are looking to work with a great affiliate partner, might we suggest, ahem, working with the very best in business? 

If you are ready to take this step, you know who to call.


Whether you are setting up an affiliate website or a full-on dating service, Candyoffers is the premium affiliate partner in the online dating niche space. Our affiliate managers will take you through every step of the way to make your website a resounding success. 

Reach out today and let us help you reach the levels of success you truly deserve.