Free or Paid Online Dating?
Free or Paid Online Dating?

Free or Paid Online Dating?

Should you join free or paid sites when considering online dating? There are good and bad points about both free and paid (subscription) services but is there really such a thing as a free lunch?

There are plenty of articles on the internet about this issue but of course it very much depends who wrote the advice as to which they prefer, if they own a free service then guess which will be recommended?

One unbiased view I did track down was written by Elena Solomon of 12 Simple Rules. She has worked for both free and paid dating sites and has written an article called Free Dating Sites vs Paid Dating Sites about her preferences and reasons why.

A majority of people that use online dating sites will join 2 or 3 different sites. This can widen your possible contacts but usually not by much, as they had the same idea and joined the same popular sites you did, so don’t be surprised when the same people keep popping up on different sites. This doesn’t mean they are ‘putting it about’ just that they are trying to widen their net.

First let us think about why some sites are free and others have paid subscription charges.

Free online dating sites, like plentyoffish have a huge membership base from around the world but they are still a business so must make money. They make their money from placing advertisements on their site and every time you click one the owners of the site get paid.

This is good news and bad news for you.

They have millions of members to choose from. However, free sites are open to everyone to join, that includes African scammers, mail order brides and all sorts of other people you would rather not get involved with. All that is required is 5 minutes to open a free email address. Because of this ‘come one, come all’ attitude it is very rare, if ever, that scammers and ner-do-wells are removed from the site. This also means that you spend time searching through profiles of people who are not really looking for a relationship but are looking to rip you off.

Because they make their money from adverts they are not actually interested whether you find the man/woman of your dreams, they simply want you to click on the ad’s, so you are basically on your own. Take a look at a free site and see what type of adverts they display. These are usually displayed by google and are for other dating sites, ironically they are usually for paid sites.

Paid sites on the other hand clearly make their money from charging a monthly subscription. Where I personally get annoyed is when a paid site also displays adverts, that is simply trying to have your cake and eat it and I have always avoided such sites on principle.

It is impossible to keep all the ‘baddies’ out of a site but paid sites have an invested interest in maintaining their reputation and will usually work hard to keep their membership as genuine as possible.

Most paid sites have a system of approval for profiles, this filters out most of the scammers and means that staff are logged into the site every day. They are more interested in your dating experience because your success is their success and you will no doubt tell your friends.

Also because people have paid to join a dating site it is clear that they are serious about finding a relationship, well that is why you are considering paying isn’t it?

I do find that smaller niche sites will put more effort into looking after you and the site in general. They tend to be growing sites and we all know that any small company, no matter what they sell, will put more effort into customer service. Just look at BT or Virgin to see what happens to a large company that now rakes in the pounds, how long do they keep you on hold for if you even manage to find a number to ring?!

One way to test a potential site you are thinking of joining is to contact them prior to joining and ask a question about the site, it doesn’t matter what you ask but see how long it takes them to answer and was the answer personal or just a standard email. This will give you an indication as to their level of emphasis on customer services, if they can’t be bothered before you join and pay them then what hope is there once they have your money.

An example of a niche site is my own Country Couples which is designed for UK rural singles and people that love the countryside, animals etc. But niche sites exist for just about every interest. You will not meet millions of people on a niche site but you can be pretty sure the ones you do meet will share your interests.

To find a niche site catering for your interests just type into your search engine “dating+your interest+country”, so for my site you would type in “dating+countryside+uk” but if you are a goth you would search for “dating+goth+uk”. By searching for niche sites rather than the big popular ones you have just seriously narrowed the field and are much more likely to meet someone you have something in common with, as well as being in your geographic location.

Big free dating sites are great if you just want to chat, make new friends around the world or look for casual encounters but if you are seriously looking for a relationship then I would suggest a paid site is more likely to achieve your goal, as most scammers and pick up artists will not pay to join a dating site.

One last tip about finding the right site for you, before joining it type the name into your search engine plus the words problem or scam and see what you can find, most people that use the internet and receive a bad service will post in forums or blogs about their bad experiences and this will let you know if that site has a reputation for using underhand methods.

For those interested in checking out plentyoffish here is their official link Online Dating ServiceFree online dating service featuring photo personals, chat, messaging, ratings, advice etc

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