How many members do you have?
Since we started way back in 1999 we have had over 300,000 people register profiles with us. We think the
flow of good, new members is more important than absolute numbers. As a member
you want to be seeing new people week after week. Typically we get 500-1000 members joining per week. The amount depends on what
marketing we do.
Are all your members actively dating?
Some people use the site much more than others.
We encourage people to delete or suspend their profile when they don't need
our site any more. Some members are more passive and want to remain
online even though they don't login themselves to do anything. They might have a
last login date of some time ago but we know they still visit the site to look
around and are receiving our emails. We do archive unused and unvisited
profiles from time to time.
Are you just a UK based dating agency?
The majority of our members live in the UK.
However, we do increasingly have significant numbers of members from abroad. We
are popular with people that want to meet someone in the UK (e.g. Americans),
expats (English speakers living in France, Spain, etc) and travellers (Brits
backpacking across India).
Genuine people from anywhere in the world
are always welcome.
Are you just for dating?
We're called loveandfriends as we're not just a
dating site - although most people joining are looking for a partner. We would
say 90% list dating/find a partner as their primary objective and 10% to make
friends/meet new people. However, lots of the people who join for 'dating' are
open to meet new people do make friends along the way or at least some
interesting new acquaintances.
The 'andfriends' bit is very important to
us as it adds a more relaxed flavour to our site and does help the dating
What's your success rate?
Checkout our success stories page - where you
will see literally hundreds of emails from happy former members! We can't give
an accurate actual percentage success rate as lots of people just put their profiles 'on
hold' and don't tell us why. At some point in the future we'll do a survey or
something - however we have so many other good ideas to work on that this may be
Is your 'free' membership genuine?
We have 2 levels of membership. Free and
Full. The idea is you can join on free and have a basic use of the site if you
wish. We have all sorts of tempters to get you to upgrade - however you can
send/receive some messages as a free member - there are very
few dating sites left that still let you do this. The main reason we offer a
usable free membership is so that you can heartily recommend us to your friends.
difference between free and full membership?
You can send a limited number of short
Send as many messages as you want to
whoever you want.
Send longer messages - express yourself
Read Receipts - find out if/when your
message is read.
eCards - Send a picture with your
Conversation screen - compose a message
as you review your entire previous conversation with a members or look
at their profile.
You can do a simple search on basic
criteria - age, location, etc.
Much more powerful and fun searching
- Detailed Search
- Matching Search
- Keyword Search
You can search anyway you want - people
that have been to university, over 6' 0", skiers, doctors, Catholics,
Vegetarians, slim, etc, etc.
The matching and compatibility parts
of the site are for full members.
...checkout how compatible you are with other members
Matching Feedback: See how you compare to
what other people are looking for
You can upload one photo for display on
Upload loads more photos.
Have a private photo on the site only
available to selected members. Attach your private photo on messages to
Access all photos immediately (i.e. not
have to wait a week for them to be approved by 'admin' staff).
Email/post your photo to us and get us to
sort it out (instead of struggling with scanners/Photoshop).
You need to sort everything out for
yourself as a free members
Find out who has marked you as a
View and contact new members immediately
...you can message them ahead of free members
Priority on search results ....you get
boosted ahead of free members
Support: you can email us in and we'll do
our best to help
Why do people bother paying?
Unlimited* messaging in terms of number of
messages and their length is the main reason. We also have 20 dating features
only available to full members like our compatibility questionnaire, advanced
search, partner matching pages, etc. Unlimited means basically as many as
any reasonable person could want - we do have a spam filter to stop bulk
We are very hardworking people and many members
upgrade because they appreciate what we are trying to do. Loveandfriends is a
bit like your local independent pub ...if it were not for the loyal support of
our members we wouldn't exist and the market would be reduced to the more mass-market
dating sites run by big companies.
Some of our members in top jobs take a fiendish
delight in using the site to the max whilst not paying for membership ;-)
Whilst the joy of getting something for nothing is not to be
underestimated, paying members prefer to throw down a small
amount of money to cut out the hassle and get better service.
How much does full
At present (Aug 2010) our rates are
|1 month - £16.95
||3 months £34.95
||12 months £95.95
Occasionally we offer discounts. If you sign up
(for free) you'll be told if one is running at the moment. Most people go for
the 3 months option. However 12 months is the best value - especially if there
is a discount running when you sign up.
We watch our competitors and these rates are
We want to be totally up front: 1 and 3 months
are auto rebilling 'subscription' memberships. Cancelling rebilling is easy
peasy. You just have to press a button on our 'Pay' page. You can do this 10
minutes after joining if you wish. Auto rebilling is common practice with the
online dating sites and helps us minimise admin and marketing (i.e. sending
emails like 'Your membership is about to expire' every day)
Any plans to get rid of free
No. We envisage there always being some form of
However, we may well tamper with what you get as a free member.
Our full members keep us in a job we love doing
...so basically the way we see it is we work for our full members whilst our
free member are 'guests' on our site. This means we are happy to give them any
advantage over free members that results in more dating and more happy endings
We have all sorts of 'clever' ideas for fine
tuning with what you get as free member. It could be that maybe you can
correspond only with full members or suchlike.
Internet Dating for Thinking People - what's
that all about?
Yes we know that technically everyone not in a
coma is a 'thinking' person ;-)
However what we mean is that we are aimed more
for educated professionals that other sites. We don't want to say 'graduates'
(although most members are) as this has a somewhat snobby/elitist feel to it ...you may well be from the school of life and
be our sort of a 'thinking' person. Our members tend to be a little more likely to read
quality papers like the Times, Guardian, Telegraph than the Sunday Sport. We
have quite a few Daily Mail readers and even if you read The Sun we don't kick you
What makes us different is that we have loads of members in what we would say are
'Interesting' or 'Challenging' jobs - percentage wise more so than other dating sites
we genuinely believe. Some of
these pay well, some not so. These include
- 'High powered' - Directors, Doctors,
Lawyers, Managers, etc.
- 'Creatives' - Writers, Media, Marketing,
- Alternatives 'n' Hunks - firefighting instructors,
trainers, life coaches, therapists, etc
Loads of members are in decent, 'regular' jobs too
like teachers, nurses, computing and so on. We also have students, the
unemployed and the retired. All in all we think it is a good mix.
How do you compare to other sites?
We are not the largest dating site in the UK, nor
do we wish to be. However, the larger sites tend to take a much more mass market
approach and have more 'vanilla' flavour as they need to appeal to everyone.
There are are smaller UK sites that focus on even
more specific 'niches' than loveandfriends. These tend to have substantially
fewer members than we have. They may focus on people who are affluent, upmarket,
clever, gorgeous, ethical, etc. ...or who think they belong to one of these
We like the idea of loveandfriends being a
broader church than that. A place where an actress could meet a banker, a
teacher a train driver or an au pair a millionaire. Checkout our profiles - we
have bucket loads of brainpower and more gorgeous people than you can shake a
stick at but also loads of regular folk as well.
Quantity of members is important. If your
database is small then the service is unlikely to be good - you do need a
certain 'critical mass' of members. We went beyond that years ago. However once
you get beyond a certain point then quantity does not matter so much as the type
It is a bit like a big birthday party. If there
are only 3 people in the room it's a bit sad, 10 is better, 20+ is good, but
once you get beyond say 150 people adding more people doesn't make it a better
party as guests haven't the time to meet all the compatible people anyway. Much
better to have 150 compatible(ish) people than a complete mixed bag of 500.
What we're getting at is whilst the larger sites
make a big song and dance of 'We have 1 million members' ...loveandfriends'
100,000 members contains far more compatible people than you hope to
realistically contact/meet anyway.
Many people now join more than one dating site -
so why not join
loveandfriends as well as one of the others?
Where do your members come from?
We are very happy to say that our largest single
source of members is recommendations from existing members ...which shows our
site is working. Our members also bring us the best new members
We top this up with considerable online
advertising through Google and Yahoo plus some offline advertising. A lot of
your membership fees we throw straight back out on advertising to get new
We also have an affiliate scheme - whereby if you
have a website we pay up to 100% commission on referrals.
We'll lay out our stall: Loveandfriends is for
nice regular people looking for a relationship or to make friends. Married
people looking for affairs or people looking for purely casual sexual encounters
are not welcome on our site. We don't want to be pious but our site is simply
just not designed for you. There are lots of sites for this sort of thing -
checkout AdultFriendfinder.com nb if you're of an easily shocked nature don't
click this link as there are pictures of all sorts!
We do get some dodgy people joining - most we
block before their profile goes live the rest (who slip through our net) we boot
these off as soon as they get reported by members. If you are after this sort of
thing then please don't sign up for loveandfriends as you will be wasting both
your time and ours.
We can also assure you that we have never - ever
- make up profiles to attract members.
What advice can you give me on
Invest time in writing a good/complete profile.
Upload a good photo. More than 1 million people
in the UK are dating online - so there is no need to be bashful. Profiles with a
decent photo get a much better response. We can work with any size/format of
photo e.g. cropping you from a group shot. Don't upload just any old photo or a
webscam shot! If you haven't a good photo invest in one. At the very least get a
friend to take loads (50++) of photos of you with a digital camera or the
like ...at least one of them will be OK.
Be proactive. Checkout our success stories page
called 'Statistics of Success'. Ok some people got lucky quickly - but you'll
see that most wrote quite a lot of emails before finding their partner. Women -
take the initiative and send some emails or winks ...don't just upload your
profile and expect the world to beat a path to your door.
Take knockbacks in your stride. Not everyone will
want to meet you. Also you probably won't want to meet everyone that shows an
interest in you. Often people don't bother responding rather than saying 'Thanks
but no thanks'. We're sorry about this but this is part an parcel of Internet
Use it as part of your portfolio of meeting
people. Loveandfriends is a great way of meeting new people but it is not a
silver bullet. Loveandfriends is more likely to work if you are doing other
interesting stuff as well. Do some other stuff that involves meeting people -
dance classes, sports, evening classes, walking, pub quiz, book groups, speed
dating, toastmasters, charity work, church stuff, etc., etc.
Broaden your horizons. Don't be too specific on
who you'd consider. Remember we are love and friends. There is the chance
you could meet an interesting person who turns out to be a friend or
acquaintance. If you are 21, female and beautiful or similarly eligible then you
can somewhat call the shots. Everyone else: you need to 'get real' with the sort
of people you are prepared to meet. Of course - go for the babes or hunks but
don't just focus on them. Looks aren't everything but they are
significant for most people. Consider that most people end up with someone
within a 2 points range of their own attractiveness. So If you are say 7 out of
10 then 6-8 is a reasonable range of people to go for.
Get your friends aboard: going to social events
with friends or on a double date improves your chances. Also they might meet
someone who is no good for them but great for you and vice versa. It could even
be a friend of a friend. The point is when you add more people to the mix - your
Take a long term view. Don't give up. Evidence
from our 'Statistics of Success' page shows that some members plugged away for
ages before striking gold. Take a break for a few weeks by all means. If you
find someone quickly that's a bonus. However, don't expect to do this as you may
be disappointed. We offer annual memberships for a reason - so you can take
things at a relaxed pace as opposed to trying to get sorted within a month.
Who owns loveandfriends?
Loveandfriends Ltd is a private UK limited
company. Andy Maccabe and Mary Balfour each own 50%. Andy is full time
Managing Director and in charge of running the business. Whilst Mary is a
director/shareholder she is busy running
her own personal dating agencies (Drawing Down the Moon) as well
as being a published author (Smart Dating).
When did you setup?
1999 - in the corner of Mary's office by Andy
using one PC and a book on Internet Programming for Dummies.
What other staff do you have?
Harjit is in charge of customer care and works in
the UK. We have several UK based admin staff who work at home plus we have an
office in the tropical paradise of Goa where we have five full time admin team
Do you get to go out with all the members?
Unfortunately not, although we don't mind our
staff going out with members. To be honest it is a bit tricky as members get a
bit paranoid that we have access to all your emails so could see what
you've been writing to other people. We wouldn't do this as some things it
really is better not to know - curiosity did ill the cat after all.
We're also a
victim of our own success in that we've also got so many members in good
jobs that trying to impress people with 'Hey I actually work for the dating
doesn't cut that much ice unless you count the response 'Great - can you give
me a free upgrade as there's this cool person I'd like to message' ;-)
We are content to dedicate ourselves with a monk-like
devotion to giving you the very best dating site. ;-)
Do you read all our private emails?
When we first started we have to admit we were a
bit curious to
see what people wrote to one another ...but the novelty wore off after about a
week. We only tend to deal with emails to check they get delivered or if
there is a complaint/question asked by members. We're so used to dealing with a
vast bulk of romantic conversation that it can get a bit surreal at times when
we have to liaise with members over this...
Was my email delivered?
Which one? 'A rose by any other name' or 'Bog off I didn't fancy you anyway'.
Well 'Rose' has been read but we can't tell the status on 'Bog' ...
Do you make lots of money?
Loveandfriends is a profitable business. By this
we mean we make a small profit. We pay our staff and
expenses and have a little money left in the bank for a rainy day.
Do you plan to sell up to BigBucksDating.com?
We have no plans to do this - After all these years we
still enjoy doing what we're doing and have loads of new ideas for the future.
What sort of hardware do you use?
From the early days of having one PC to run the
whole site we have expanded
to the following which allows for more capacity and backup/fault tolerance
(in case of hardware failure)
An entire cabinet of computers in a datacenter:
2 Database Servers
2 Web Servers
2 Mail Servers
2 Backup Servers
+ 10 machines in our offices and at home. These
include laptops + development/backup machines. Personally we recommend Dell
computers as they are good value and reliable.
Can you help me
setup an online dating site?
We're happy to talk with anyone who is thinking
of setting up a dating site. Drop us an email and we'll arrange to have a chat
on the phone. We won't tell you all our secrets but we'll try to point you
in the right direction.
We started in 1999. All these years later things have
changed a lot - the online dating 'market' is pretty full with lots of
established players and very stiff competition.
Decide if you are going to be niche or
mainstream. If mainstream - why are people going to join you instead of one of
the other large, established players? You will need a good 'feed' of members
e.g. a busy site that is prepared to direct traffic to you.
As we're a niche site we're better qualified to
give advice about this. If you do choose 'niche' - choose a viable niche. If it
is too large it isn't really a niche and so has no attractiveness as a niche -
you will just be competing with the mainstream sites. 21+ Dating -
for people aged over 25 could be an example of this - what is the
benefit in excluding the 18-20 year olds? ...it's not like a nightclub in the
real world where they can cause lots of noise. Alternatively, if the niche is
too small e.g. Aberdeen Vegetarian Singles - you will struggle for
Google and Yahoo (Overture) adwords for 'dating'
are very expensive. You need to be spending £1 a click to get to the top. Yep -
that's right per click. Not per payer or even per free payer but just
someone that clicks on your site.
Getting listed in free listings for Google and
Yahoo for 'dating' is also really difficult. Lots of dating sites employ
people whose sole job it is just to engineer their site to get listed high in
Google. We do this at loveandfriends and we're still pretty nowhere near the top
...because our competitors are spending loads more time and money on this
Don't expect a large conversion rate. You will be
doing well to achieve 15%. If you base your breakeven on getting 50+% of people
paying you'll probably go bust.
You can now buy dating software 'off the shelf'
and then customise it. You would be well advised to do this or - possibly even
better - find an existing small dating site, buy it and revamp it (in the same
way you would revamp an old house). We built loveandfriends from scratch ...but
this was before you could buy dating software. If you do this you will be
reinventing the wheel.
Don't underestimate the amount of work in
building a site from scratch. 75% of the code on loveandfriends site is for
admin features you don't see. Administering the database, resending emails,
spotting problem profiles, approving photos, etc., etc.
Do you have an affiliate programme?
Yes we are registered with AffiliateWindow + WebGains. These you can sign up to yourself. We also have our own
'in house' direct programme for select affiliates (offers better rates).
Schemes are competitive within the industry and
pay an amount per joiner and/or a percentage of sales - up to 50%. Our in house
scheme (selected affiliates) pays up to 100%
We also can produce your own 'White Label' dating
site for you.
Full details are on our Affiliates page.