It was a check for 2 months because the first check they sent was so big it was rejected by his bank. (I hate it when that happens.)
I asked Markus to share a few thoughts with us, and he was kind enough to oblige.
You’re a one-man show running a very successful dating site. Tell us how you got started.
Back in 2001 after my birthday someone in the office introduced me to online dating sites. I went back to my desk and checked out udate.com and kiss.com and lavalife/web personals. I was bored and I wanted to chat with people. I was really annoyed when I found out you had to pay for everything, I ended up telling the girl who introduced me to the sites that I could do better and make them for free, so I went and registered Plentyoffish.com. All I ever ended up doing was creating an index page and forgot about it. Fast forward to 2003… [Find the rest of Markus’ answer over on his blog]
Your site, if you’ll forgive me, isn’t terribly attractive, it isn’t “web 2.0” it isn’t even a terribly original idea. Many entrepreneurs today think that without those ingredients in the recipe, they’ll never make it. You’ve clearly proved otherwise. What’s your secret and what are your thoughts about what it takes to be successful?
To many people assume an “original idea” is just something that looks visually different then others. I created the first real free dating and the first one that actually worked. Just like Google created the first real search engine that worked. There is no such thing as a secret. When I came home from work I sat down and I forced myself to code for a hour or 2. The enemy was thinking, whenever I paused or started to think I would force myself to type something, its amazing how much you can get done when you just type. There are only 1000 or so sites in the world with massive traffic, and of those mine is the only one that is run by a single person. It’s not possible for thousands of people to be as successful as me. For being successful in building sites you need to give something to the surfer faster or better or both. If you want to do pay per click, you just need to be good at picking words to bid on. For that business its just a matter of repetition and fighting boredom. At the end of the day you just need to sit down and DO it. Most people don’t.
You’ve obviously done a brilliant job marketing the site because you have some insane traffic numbers. What do you feel has been your most successful marketing move and why?
It was all viral. My best move was not going out and spending a ton of money, with online dating you need to spend $6.00 for every free member, and most of those leave on the first day and the few that do become active don’t stay more than 3 months. So 30% of your membership is turned over per month. There is no way you can make your money back. The site went ballistic in Canada all on its own I really didn’t have to do anything.
What has been your least successful marketing effort? Why wasn’t it successful?
Radio, too expensive, too hard to buy your way into markets. Yahoo, Match.com and Eharmony and Lavalife are each spending $10 million a month on marketing. How can you even come close to competing with them?
Can you share some of your favorite sources of inspiration and ideas? (e.g. certain blogs/books/magazines)
Never bothered reading books, magazines Just started reading blogs lately outside the dating world. For the most part I treated it as a video game, and defeat isn’t an option you just find some way to win.
Any parting advice for other entrepreneurs trying to gain success with AdSense or other “eyeball/traffic”-oriented ventures?
Google pays out $500 million a quarter to AdSense users. That money is going somewhere, and if you look at the top 1000 sites not a hell of a lot of them have AdSense. Statistically speaking those sites that have low numbers of users and high EPC [Earnings Per Click] will make the most money. Build sites that no one else has done before, stuff only goes viral the first 1 or 2 times after that you have to buy your way into a market.
Thanks again to Markus for sharing his thoughts.