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How Much Money Would It Take?


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#1 denali7

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 08:46 PM

Hi everyone. First, I want to say how great this website is! My question is how much do you think it would cost to set up a online dating website? Also, I have a website name, but what would be my next 2 steps? Thanks for any advice. Love this site!!! Denali7

#2 Respree

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 09:01 PM

Welcome to Cre8asite, Denali7.

That's a difficult question to answer without specifics.

Cost can swing widely, depending on your business plan, functionality required and, to a very large extent, your skill sets.

If you're a programmer, for example, it could be the difference between costing you zero and $100,000 (just pulling a number out of the air).

What do you want the site to do? Again, functionality will determine your costs. If you want it to very little, it will be the lower end of the spectrum. If you want it to be the best thing since sliced bread, of course, that will be more.

What kind of traffic are you expecting? If its a 100 visitors a day, you could probably share a server. If its a 1,000,000 visitors a day, you'll need multiple servers. Again, a wide range of cost possibilities.

Can you design graphics?
Do you know CSS?
Database adminstration?
Server administration?
Can you write good copy or do you need to hire a copywriter?
Knowledge of HTML?
Skilled at usability?
Search engine requirements?
Skilled at SEO/SEM?
What is your PPC/Advertising/Promotional Budget?
Etcetera...

As you can see, there are many things that will cost money with each of the topics I mentioned and costs can swing wildly, depending on what you want.

I wish I could pull out a number, but its just not possible without specifics.

Perhaps if you provide more details, comment on your skill sets, how many employees you'll need, what they'll be doing, and tell us more about your business plan, others can comment more specifically.

Edited by Respree, 09 October 2007 - 09:14 PM.


#3 EGOL

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 09:06 PM

Hi, and welcome...

Your question if very broad... it's like asking how much is a house... depends what kind of house and where located.

You might want to elaborate a little... is this going to be a site where you have primarily articles, where people can post profiles and make contacts, or where people can talk online?

The cost will be determined by the functionality that you need... but the promotional budget might exceed the cost of the site.

#4 denali7

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 09:19 PM

Thanks for the response. I have no skills at all. I just have an ideal and a sales and marketing background. I think I just want to get a site up and maybe play with it as I go? I am less than a newbee at this kind of stuff. I will try to be as coherent as possible, but , please excuse me if I start babbling.
I want to let people post pictures and messages like a dating site, and , also, set up a bulletin board type thing so people could post events, jobs..ect? Also, I want to be able to display ads on the sides of the webpages?
I was reading some post on these pages and I came across "drupal", could I make a website using this program?
Also, I was wondering what you would do next if you were buliding a website from scratch. After having the domain name in place. I dont mind going step by step no matter how small they are. I just want to get moving on this. This website has given me new found insperation to just try and do it. I have been sitting on 3 website: solarneeds.com, misshealthy.com, and agent4asians.com. for 3 years now.
Thanks for you advice in advance. denali7

#5 EGOL

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 10:04 PM

My guess is that you will need tens of thousands of US dollars to get a basic site that will not compete well with the mainline dating sites that everyone knows about. If you don't hire a good person to do this then you should expect to have a buggy site that works poorly.

Even if you have a fantastic site it will then be empty of members. No fun trying to date with an empty site. To get off to a healthy start you would need to advertise like crazy and maybe partner with another dating site - and that will cost you.

I have no intent of going into this market but if I was I would try to learn by building a content site that requires a lot less functionality and cut my teeth on that while making a little money by being an affiliate for an established site. If I can find a way to make profit there then I would go into the functional site with the profits and the knowledge behind me.

You are attacking tough turf with major, established, savvy and brand-name, deep-pockets competition. I am not saying don't do this, but I am saying that if you do not attack this with determination and verve you will not make it.

*comments above are posted by someone with little experience in this field, if you are going to lay out the kind of money and energy needed to be competitive in this space you should work on a biz plan with input from someone with successful experience in dating sites*

#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 10:43 PM

Let's see.

You'll need:
- a graphic designer, onetime fee of $1500 and maybe $500 per month for mini jobs
- a web developer to create the site and maybe to work with it later
- 1-2 full time brand enthusiasts, who will post on your blog, interact with people, moderate the site, etc
- SEO/usability professional
- possibly, one-time reports from solid SEOs and usability professionals ($1-3k each)

And you'll invest every hour of your life in it.

So, it'll be around $10k to create a website and $20k per month to run it in the right direction.

As you can see, if you had any experience in any of the above, you could do it yourself.

Overall, though, you'd rather be doing what you love to do, not just to earn money. Without passion, your desire to work on the site may disappear and you'll be left with a hefty amount of money invested already.


Btw, if you were inspired by the plentyoffish.com website, you should read Marcus's interviews. In short, it says he has absolutely perfect database architecture skills, so he can run this large website from his bedroom. For others, it'd take hundreds of websites and they wouldn't make much money w/o plenty of effort.

Sadly, I couldn't find the thread, but there are some interviews with quotes from it.
http://www.googlelad...llion-3-months/
http://www.webpublis...arkus-frind.htm

Some info on Marcus
http://moneygeek.blo...er-day-and.html

Edited by A.N.Onym, 09 October 2007 - 10:50 PM.


#7 denali7

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:11 PM

Thanks for the realistic feed back. I know that it will cost a lot of money to do it right. But, I am not trying to become eharmoney or anything to that scale. Why could'nt I build a site that people could just post a picture and a little message? Would that cost big $$? Lets say besides the marketing what would be the biggest expense? I am willing to invest and take on partners and keep buliding the site...one brick at a time.
I guess what I am asking is - can I bulid a low-budget site that people can post pictures like a dating sevice. I have seen low budget dating sites.
And if I could, what would be your first step? Paying a graphic designer to buld a site?


I ask you all these question with the upmost respect.

danali7

#8 Respree

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:35 PM

Before talking about costs, may I suggest we take a step back for a moment?

I am willing to invest and take on partners and keep buliding the site...one brick at a time.... And if I could, what would be your first step?


If it were me...

The first step before even looking at any bricks would be to establish a unique strategy for the site.

You need to plan. To simply put up a site without a solid business plan (just because you can and just because you have the money) is almost a sure-fire path to financial disaster.

Since you're thinking about dating websites, you're probably well aware that you face some pretty tough competition.

The first question you must ask yourself is, "Why would people want to come to you future site instead of the tens of thousands of other dating sites." This is a pretty serious question that I encourage you to give some deep thought to. There's absolutely no way you'll be able to compete against match.com, eharomony, AOL, Yahoo and the other big boys who have long ago achieved critical mass.

Not to discourage you, but I would suggest doing a lot of due diligence before jumping in. Try to identify niche markets that are not so saturated.

Within the niche, study your competition closely. Formulate a strategy to offer something your competitors have not yet thought of, something you think will have wide appeal and help your visitors to achieve their goals.

For me, that would be step one. It may turn out after all that initial work, you'll find that you can't come up with a niche or unique strategy. This is the time to think long and hard as to whether you it think you can develop a viable business model. If you still decide to proceed, you must realize that if you cannot stand out from the rest of the pack, you will be in the pack, sharing traffic with how many other hundreds of sites that are doing precisely the same thing. If this is the case, your chances of success will not very very promising.

By doing your homework now, if you decide not to proceed, you will have saved yourself many thousands of dollars and hundreds of wasted hours.

Not trying to be discouraging, but I encourage you to start your endeavor with your eyes wide open.

Edited by Respree, 09 October 2007 - 11:42 PM.


#9 EGOL

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:41 PM

The first step is not to build the site. The first step is to do a biz plan that includes where you will get the traffic, how you will monetize, what unique things that you will have on this site to attract customers.

Ask around if people will want to use a site with like that when they can use some feature rich sites with thousands of members. My bet is not.

Really the first step is to get some basic skills and knowledge. I suggest starting with a less expensive project and see if you can make a buck there and like doing it. Invest in experience and skills first. Your proposal is spending big bucks to attack the sharks. See if you can beat the minnows first.

If you have to build a low budget site you probably do not have the resources to compete effectively in this market.

Just being honest. That's all I have to say on this subject. You might prove me wrong but I am trying to save you a lot of money.

#10 Respree

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 11:43 PM

EGOL and I are posting at the same time (and apparently thinking the exact same thing) -- I just happen to type a bit faster. :)

Edited by Respree, 09 October 2007 - 11:44 PM.


#11 projectphp

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 12:02 AM

LOL.

I agree the first step is planning... BUT (you knew that was coming)...

There are several other issues before that:
- Throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks is a valid business strategy online... IF, and only if, you can do ALL the work yourself. These days, mud (in the form of code and hosting) is... PUN ALERT... dirt cheap (Oh no he didn't go there! oh yes I did).

http://www.google.co...php open source likely shows a few "free", as in beer, scripts, although they likely aren't likely of the quality required.

Of course, if your only plan is a dating site, you aren't throwing nenough mud, and need to follow respree and EGOL's advice.

- If you can't do everything, the web may not be for at all, unless you have:
1. Money to burn (and you likely will).
2. Excellent contacts who can supply you with money.
3. Awesome real world business skills, like networking and promotion etc etc.

The flipside to the web being cheap is that it is a crapshoot, with everyman and his dog having a digg. That meabns you need a combination of good planning, good talent, good skills and, yes, it is true, good luck.

Before you start spending a cent, decide if starting a web business is a good idea at all, in your unique situation, and what/how you, with your unique skills, talents and abilities, can use the web asa business creation tool, including whether it is a good idea at all.

#12 A.N.Onym

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 12:13 AM

Well, I guess I forgot there are free dating site scripts. This at least allows you to save on creating a basic website.

At any rate, a good plan, as mentioned above, is a must.

Basically, apart from the website, you'll need to learn all the stuff that Garrick (Respree) mentioned in his first post in this thread. And yes, you'll need to learn that anyway, because you need to know at least something to pay/hire people.

I'd start with having a good, stable paying job and start learning stuff. Maybe even start a website and practice as you learn without expecting it to be a business, just your learning practice (Marcus did start his site as an ASP.net practice, btw).

#13 denali7

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 01:25 AM

Thanks once again for the advice. I must restate that I have a sales and marketing background. I have thrown out a couple of feelers on the web and I have had over 100 response in 2 days. Also, my test market was a small market. My theory is that if I could get 500 paying customers at $10 a month I would make $5000 minus web cost. What would be the monthly cost to keep up a site like this? I have a sales/marketing background, thats not the problem. I have been thinking about this project for 2 years now. I am not looking to make millions...not now. I don't mind falling on my face. I am going to hire a web designer. But what next? Thanks for the all the input. I hope you all don't think I am beating a dead horse. denali7

#14 fisicx

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 02:15 AM

Of those 100 responses, how many were from friends? How many were being nice without making any real commitment to the project?

The key point about all the previous posts is that you need to do some research first. There is no point in building a site until you know what you want it to achieve. Once you have a solid business plan then you can think about the actual site. But it needs a niche, a USP, a reason to survive - without something special you will never attract many visitors or convert those that do.

500 @ $10/month seems like a good income - but what happens when those 500 pair up, they won't want to keep paying when they have found a new partner. So you are going to to have to keep attracting new members, which will be difficult unless you can keep the site fresh with new content, a blog, articles, stories, pictures - in other words all the things that would make me want to visit.

It is doing all this this that will cost you money every month. I'd reckon on spending most of that $5000 (before tax) on maintaining and marketing the website.

Note: you cannot expect to convert more than 1% of your visitors. If you want 500/month you will need 50000 visitors per month. It can take years to build up this sort of traffic and with a dating site unless you can attract lots of paying customers then you will not be able to build up traffic (it's a chicken and egg thing).

#15 denali7

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 02:38 AM

Thanks for the response. None of the people that responded to my ad were anybody that I knew...they all live in a different state a....... small market. I live in the California(bay area). I have the marketing tools and perseverance and some contacts that will help me market this site. It"s not just going to be a dating site, I am going to offer other things....such as you suggested. And I am not looking to get 500 new customers every month.... maybe 20/50? I understand that if I want to attract 20/50 new customers I probably need 300 visits? I am ok with this I like sales and marketing i am good at it. Also,I don't mind taking my time and building this up. I have content and ideals for the site. I just need to know what its going to take to build a site as quick as possible that will allow me to let people post pictures and a message. If it flops, I'm ok with that to. I am willing to pay a profession to build the site(of course I want the site to be as attractive as possible). When I say cheap I mean low cost right now and fixing or updating as time go on? Is this a realistic possibility to upgrade/change/add to a website as you go? Thanks denali7

#16 A.N.Onym

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 02:43 AM

As Graham (fisicx) said, your conversion rate will leave much to be desired, because there are plenty of free dating sites out there. Getting people to pay $10 for something they can get elsewhere can get complicated.

To get 20/50 customers, you'll need at least 2000-5000 visitors per month.

You may want consider another business model, apart from subscription/one-time fee, such as advertising, affiliate income, too.

#17 denali7

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 03:00 AM

Thanks again for the advice. You are right about there are free dating sites....I think. Also, your right about getting multiple revenue streams and possible one time fees. I have thought about that,too. I am also going to have advertising revenue,too. I have to disagree with you about the number of visitors that you need to come to you site get get 50 new members. I believe that I have ways to drive people to this new website. I am not looking to take over the dating website, just make a couple of bucks. I feel that I have a niche market. From my little test market that I just did, it seem that I can get the people to go to my pending website, now I need them to register. Maybe let them post for free now....then charge later? But, again I am in sales and marketing. I am not worried about driving people to my site. Thanks for your feed back and I can take criticism. denali7

#18 projectphp

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 03:16 AM

Is this a realistic possibility to upgrade/change/add to a website as you go

That is the very nature of the beast :)

The question, to go back, is one of pure maths:
1. How much do you need to make to survive.
2. How much do you plan to spend / how "cheap" can you get each component? Advertising, servers, hosting, design, accounting, merchant accounts etc etc all can add up.
3. How many people, paying what ammount, do you need to reach the sum of 1 & 2?
3. Multiplying that by 100 and you need the traffic to make it viable.
4. What "churn rate", the number of people you expect to lose month in, month out, do you expect? Multiply that by 100 to break even.

That final figure is the traffic level, in people, not "visitors" that you need to be viable.

Sure, you can cut corners in each opf the 4 areas (live on less, spend less, need less people to sign up, get cheaper hosting etc etc), but there comes a point at which it is diminishing returns: a 50% cheaper server may cost you more in time that it save you in dollars. The time cost of running the business (things like servers being hacked, fixing code) can really start to make a business far less productive than doing something else (like working for someone).

The first question always should be can *I*, this unique individual, make this plan work with the resources, skills and, yes, deficiencies, that I have?

Of course, no one who ever didn't do something suceeded, so you do, at some point, need to take a punt in life. The question is: this punt, or something else?

#19 fisicx

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 05:15 AM

Denise,

You can drive people to a website - there are, as you suggest, lots of ways to do this. But getting them to sign up is a different matter. Getting a 1% conversion rate is something to aspire to rather than something that will happen. And of that 1% perhaps only 10% will stay members. So to get 1 full time member you will need at least 1000 unique visitors. This is not just my estimate - it is a well recognized ratio that a bit of research will show to be repeated in any number of reports.

You also mention advertising - each advert will take potential customers away from the site. And if you use adsense - the external sites will be for similar products as your own. The other issue is one of trust. If I am going to trust your with my money then I will want to be sure your really care about me. Putting adverts on your site tells me you are more interested in money than me.

Not trying to put you off, it's just that I believe you will need a lot more traffic than you realise in order to make the site viable.

#20 EGOL

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:29 AM

Thanks once again for the advice. I must restate that I have a sales and marketing background. ....

That's a plus... why not try an affiliate program.. they run the full feature website, you deliver the leads... I do this in other areas with great results. I run the "marketing" website, I compete for traffic, I present the offer, the visitor then clicks to the full feature website, and if they sign up I get a nice bounty. Works great for me, I don't have to run a technical website, I don't have to deal with the credit card issues, I don't deal with the customer problems or support. Easy. Their full feature site is much better than I could build so I get to market the Cadillac rather than the limited feature model. Much easier to sell.

I would start with this model then it is much easier to add your full functionality onto a proven marketing method.

Edited by EGOL, 10 October 2007 - 07:31 AM.


#21 Respree

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 09:34 PM

- Throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks is a valid business strategy online... IF, and only if, you can do ALL the work yourself. These days, mud (in the form of code and hosting) is... PUN ALERT... dirt cheap (Oh no he didn't go there! oh yes I did).


I think the word IF should be made a little bigger and a little bolder. Its the most important word in the quote above. projectphp is one of those rare breeds that has 'both' the programming chops AND the business acumen to make something like this happen with a fair to good probability of success.

I'd exercise extreme caution if you tread down the free script route. Consider this thought, if you will.

If the free script (or any) route is easy (either monetarily or implementation-wise) for you to get started, it will also be easy for thousands of your competitors.

#22 projectphp

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 01:47 AM

And that is where planning comes in. You CAN do a number of things, but SHOULD you is the real question, right back to "SHOULD I start a business, or should I get employed?"

Your own business is hard work, and the time cost is the greatest cost to factor in. If you don't have all the skills to suceed, and no one does, you are going to have to pay someone, or lose even more time. Identifying those costs in advance is the key.

Having said that, the time to launch a "website" these days is pretty short, depending upon your needs. If you try what EGOL suggests, and get traffic and market the Cadillac, you can try a few ideas and see what works. That is probably a safer bet than going gung ho at an idea that is a LOT of work.



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