To Free or not to Free…

Free Dating vs Paid-for dating sites


free dating versus paid-fof dating sitesAs we run a freedating site as well as premium, niche dating sites, we’re often asked which is the better option to join…a free dating site, or a paid-for dating site where you pay a subscription each month. Here’s our view on the free dating versus paid-for dating discussion.


When PlentyOfFish opened their doors way back when, they predicted the death of the paid-for dating sites like Match and That was 10 years ago, and ¬†do you know what? There was no revolution. There was no death to premium dating sites as promised. Those premium sites are still going strong (in fact they’re going stronger than ever before, and there’s no indication that their popularity is slowing at all).


Then came OKCupid, another free dating site that proclaimed the same Apocalype. But what happened? They ended up getting bought out by, who viewed them as a great new member driver (much to the annoyance of POF!). Now Sam Yagan, the then OK Cupid CEO, is CEO of


So why were POF and OKCupid wrong? Why hasn’t the paid-for dating site gone away? What is happening here that means both freedating sites and paid-for sites can co-exist quite happily.


It’s all about engagement.


Not the “will you marry me” kind, but the “how seriously am I taking this dating stuff” kind.


The reason the free and paid-for sites can co-exist is because they’re serving the needs of two different markets.


People who join a free dating site are by and large trying online dating out for the first time, or are coming back to it after some time away.¬†Generally, they are dipping their toe in the water and, as such, they’re not fully engaged with the online dating process. They’re yet to be convinced that it’s going to work with them.


So, free dating sites are generally made up of people new to the process. People who are taking the whole experience casually, and who aren’t prepared to make any commitment. Understandably.


Then, as these new daters start to decide that maybe online dating is for them, they basically grow out of their free dating site membership. They’re ready to make a commitment to the process, and to the other singles they’re potentially meeting. So they start looking to premium or paid-for dating sites in the hope that they’re going to find other singles equally committed to finding a like-minded partner.


With premium dating sites, because their members are paying to use the service, they’re more committed to finding someone. They’re more engaged…


More on this in our next post.

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