The online dating market has been tracking the economy closely and experienced a major slowdown in traffic over the past couple months. Although, Vancouver-based Plentyoffish.com has been enjoying a US/CDN dollar exchange rate bump on Google Adsense revenue, it has the legendary Markus Frind contemplating a paid business model.
The problem with free is that every time you double the size of your database the cost of maintaining the site grows 6 fold. I really underestimated how much resources it would take, I have one database table now that exceeds 3 billion records. The bigger you get as a free site the less money you make per visit and the more it costs to service a visit.
We are going to start introducing some products and features to try and get some of the 10 to 20 million dollars a month my users are spending elsewhere. There is really no money in being free and we have to start experimenting with other models now or we won’t be able to compete in 3 or 4 years.
Plentryoffish.com is currently experimenting with the sale of virtual goods and time will tell if they decide to transform their dating portal into a subscription-based service. That begs the question - will users continue to look past the design and functionality shortfalls of Plentyoffish.com if it becomes a paid service?