Obviously Plenty of Fish has changed in some ways since its inception in 2003. Back then, its pages weren’t very nice looking- sometimes blurry and never completely uniform. Users never knew what their profile photos would look like once they uploaded them- different sizes or different pixels. Images certainly weren’t going to look like photos on dating industry top performer Match.com.
But founder Mark Frind wasn’t known for aesthetics. His goal has always been efficiency over anything else. That hasn’t changed. Nine years later, Plenty of Fish has evolved into a professional looking site- the pages are visually appealing and the site is easy to navigate. But they still aren’t nearly as attractive as the pages of Match.com or eHarmony.
Why should Frind mess with a successful formula? The site’s minimalist appearance has actually added to Plenty of Fish’s credibility. It’s a site that does what it says it does- it creates relationships. Frind is doing something right. Plenty of Fish has 2.8 billion page views per month vs. the 723 million views Match.com receives. And appearance isn’t the only way Plenty of Fish differs from the competition in the multi-million dollar online dating industry.
A Simple Plan by a Simple Guy
Other online dating sites are usually run by corporations. Not Plenty of Fish. Frind was a young programmer from Vancouver who took an idea for a free dating website and turned it into a multi-million dollar company in a matter of years. He had a lot to learn and he did it on his own.
And he also did it from his own home. Frind only purchased a server and acquired hosting in October 2003, after 8 months of building the site. Until then he was doing everything for the site from his home computer. He had no time to do anything else. He was too busy teaching himself what he needed to know to be successful.
Plenty of Fish doesn’t connect people like the other online dating sites either. Other popular dating sites use algorithms that base results from specific browsing criteria. Plenty of Fish uses a social media dating formula instead. Plenty of Fish takes activities and interests into account with tests like “Chemistry Predictor” or “Needs Assessment.” Frind believes his way is much more accurate because he doesn’t think algorithms are reliable.
New Plenty of Fish users first must answer questions that determine whether they want a casual relationship or a commitment. Then the site helps users eliminate possible matches based on deal-breakers like smoking or marital status.
One of the most unique ways Plenty of Fish evaluates dating needs is by comparing what people say they want in a partner compared to what profiles they actually click on when doing a search. People may think they only want to date a certain kind of person but Plenty of Fish is watching to see if people are telling the truth. They know behavior speaks louder than words.
Plenty of Fish also stands out from the crowd because Frind makes decisions for the site based on his business motto “Adapt or Die.” This motto has shaped everything Frind has done since he first got the idea to develop a free dating website. How is he different from the competition?
- Self-taught Frind taught himself everything he needed to know about marketing as he went along. That included affiliate marketing, SEO rules, and how to build traffic.
- Responsive In Plenty of Fish’s early days, users were frustrated that they couldn’t upload profile pictures. Frind immediately found a way to add image uploading to the site.
- Determined All Frind had to monetize his site was a very tiny affiliate income from one account. He sought out information about AdSense and made it a part of his very successful money-making strategy.
- Relentless Frind spent all of his free time looking for ways to improve Plenty of Fish, even after it had gone live. He kept updating and building simultaneously, even though he risked crashing the site.
- Focused Frind consistently looked for ways to defeat his “enemies”- his competition in the online dating world. He believed 100 percent mastery of new skills was not an essential requirement to moving on to the next step. As long as he knew enough to move on, he was OK with it.
Frind continues to build his powerhouse website and evolve into new areas in order to continually add members to his user base. The average user on Plenty of Fish has previously been about 39 years old. Frind wanted to move towards a younger user base, so he expanded into mobile features. Frind was sure that’s where he would find his new demographic.
Now Plenty of Fish claims that 40 percent of their new signups are through mobile apps – that’s up from 10 percent last year. Frind continues to play the game his own way, paying attention to honest dating site reviews and making changes accordingly. He says it is one of the best dating sites for men and shies away from television and radio marketing, areas which other sites spend millions on. He keeps a small staff and never stops evaluating what works.
Writer Rick Mercado enjoys hiking the rugged East Canadian coast of Nova Scotia with his wife in his spare time. He splits his writing time between his home office and local coffee houses, writing articles for www.dating-site-advisor.com and working on several relationship eBooks. He is also a successful online marketer.