I became interested in starting a dating site when I saw how many were popping up around the web for just about every niche imaginable. I had just read the Inc. Magazine article about Marcus Frind and how he works an hour a day and makes ten million a year.
I knew it was tough to get people to sign up for small dating sites when there were so many dominant players in the market, especially when you’re brand new with zero members, so I thought a funny niche with a comical tone might have a shot in the dark.
The first domain I thought of for this was trailertrashpersonals.com (still available 1 as I write this), and while I chuckled in my head at what I thought a site like that would be like, I kept searching. I figured too many people would miss the point that is was just a joke poking fun at a stereotype.
I came up with a lot of niche ideas, but I sometimes shape my choices around what is available for a domain name. The one I chose was http://allstartnofinish.com/goto/sedo/cheekpeek. 2 The idea was risque, and fell somewhere between a standard dating site and one of the more explicit hook up sites.
I never decided what the words “cheek peek” were going to mean in regards to the site. Would your main profile photo have to be your ass cheek? Would a photo of a cheek have to be included in your profile pics? Could it be a sexually suggestive site where users slightly tease without the actual nudity?
I preferred to keep it somewhat clean, but certainly not convent clean. When I imagined what kinds of pictures I would allow members to post to the site, I figured you could see or show anything you’d find at a public beach. No nudity, but as revealing as you can get without crossing the line.
A dating site is basically a social network, and while WordPress is definitely coming along in that space with BuddyPress and WP Symposium, I have always felt it still hasn’t matured enough. I played around with a piece of software called SocialEngine during a free trial and at the time I thought that was the way to go. Had I pulled the trigger, this is what would have been running on the site.
I was initially fooled by the member counts on other sites, thinking these were unique to each site. What I found later through research is that site owners will purchase members which seemed totally sleazy to me. I guess it’s nearly impossible to start your own user base from scratch unless you have a couple thousand friends, but buying user profiles didn’t seem right.
I signed up at a few sites with fake accounts just to see the member areas and what kinds of things they offered. If I did launch this site, I needed to figure out which SocialEngine plugins I wanted, and cruising around a few member areas was helpful. This is how I learned more about purchasing members too.
I started getting emails from other dating sites telling me I had matches or requesting I finish filling out my profile. Pretty sketchy, huh? I guess it’s wise to read the privacy or terms pages on those sites because they shared/sold everything I input on the first site to countless others. Full of shade if you ask me.
Since I didn’t want to buy members, and I don’t have a giant social circle (do Puppets count?) to start my own user base, I couldn’t even come up with a plan to advertise the site if I had to start with zero members. It also doesn’t help when the person wanting to launch the site has no interest in using the site socially.
This is why AllStartNoFinish is the perfect site for me. Just because I love starting all these different projects doesn’t mean I want to stick around and grow them all until they’re all grown up. Speaking of unfinished projects, has anyone seen my kids?