Dating commission: Revenue share or revenue per action?

by Martin Reed on 3 June 2008 in Articles

Make money from your online community

In September last year, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Make recurring commission your preference‘. Very often, recurring commission structures are the most profitable in the long term. Having said this though, the commission structure that is right for you depends on your community, its members and its traffic.

Always experiment

You will never know what works best for your online community unless you experiment. Revenue sharing commissions from online dating sites can be extremely lucrative if you can send members that will continue to renew their accounts month after month. You won’t know for sure what kind of traffic you have until you start experimenting.

Example commissions

Let’s look at an American dating affiliate program, and a British dating affiliate program:


  • $2 per free female member
  • $1 per free male member


  • $25 for every order regardless of value


  • Up to 60% of initial and recurring orders


  • £2.50 per free female member
  • £1.50 per free male member
  • PLUS 50% commission from initial order

Which to choose

If the vast majority of the traffic you send to dating sites join but then fail to upgrade to a premium membership, it is obvious that programs offering commission on a ‘per lead’ / ‘per free member’ basis would be most profitable for you. If you are on a revenue share basis, 100 free members would earn you no money whatsoever. On a per lead basis those same 100 free members could have earned you up to $200 with FriendFinder or the equivalent of $500 with EasyDate.

On the other hand, if your traffic tends to upgrade to premium memberships when they join the dating sites you advertise, a revenue share based on recurring revenue would be the best option for you. I would always recommend opting for recurring commission if you can send high quality, targeted traffic. Recurring commission will only ever grow over time – if you have a static member base, the initial ‘per order’ commissions will soon be exhausted.

What are your traffic levels?

As I just touched upon, if you have a fairly flat amount of traffic and it is mainly made up of repeat visitors, any large bonuses paid on a free ‘per lead’ or ‘initial order’ basis will soon come to an end as you will be sending less unique traffic over time. If, on the other hand, you receive a large amount of traffic and a high proportion is made up of new visitors, the higher initial bonuses from referring new members even on a ‘per lead’ basis may be most profitable for you as you are able to send a continuous stream of targeted traffic.

Every community is different

Your community should be unique. As a result, I cannot recommend what type of commission structure you should choose. Put simply, you need to experiment. Try one structure and see how it works for you, then try another and compare the results. If one dating site doesn’t work particularly well, try another – keep on experimenting and you will maximise your revenue regardless of the commission structure you choose.

Your thoughts

Do you promote dating sites or other affiliate programs that offer a range of commission structures? What works best for you? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.

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Mr Woc June 4, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Hi there

I have tryed to promote those sites in the past with no very much luck i have to say, I also cant stand those affilate urls you are provided with.

Im sure most webmasters are pretty weary to reveal what works best for them, I think its just trial and error myself, but im pretty sure most people make the most out of ppc ads.


Chat June 5, 2008 at 12:53 am

Thanks for the article.

Right now I am promoting both revenue share and initial order. I haven’t decided which to go with yet as I am “experimenting”.

Two things I found out so far,
1) If you have adult related traffic on a section of your site, promoting adult dating sites will probably be more rewarding.
2) I find GEO Targeted profile thumbnails to be the best promotional utility where available. The click through rate tends to be exceptionally higher, especially over, under or to the side of web application, ex. chat room.

Amish Made Furniture June 6, 2008 at 5:07 pm

I personally am averse to promoting dating sites per se. Perhaps I am old fashioned but I simply do not like the idea.

Games June 7, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for the article. My question is: how much traffic do you need on your website to start making some real money ($1.000 per month) from these commissions (with average CTR of 2%)??? Thanks

Archie Pennies June 8, 2008 at 5:18 am

Even with the boom of social networking sites, dating sites seem to still do really well. About getting paid from free member leads still sounds kinda strange but well sites that offer these types of services make enough money to pay for this I guess. Between the British site and the American site well the answer is clear on first hand but where traffic comes from is a very limiting factor especially when trying to get people from the US to a European site or just the opposite people from Europe to an American site. GEO targeting will probably do the trick. About recurring commission, well residual incomes are really nice since they tend to grow over time. There is a lot of people making a living out of these.

Nicole Price June 13, 2008 at 3:48 am

I have zero experience of dating sites, but now you’ve got me thinking…..

Phil June 15, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Have you tried to use these? Since the revenue are for real, let’s just get into this! :D

adult date finder June 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

okay my two cents.. when it comes to dating or webcams, i maily promote per lead programs.. with a proper pre-selling approach (tell ‘em what they can expect, be honest, etc.) i have steady conversions of about 1:4 to 1:12 with search engine traffic. back in the days i used to promote per signup thingys, but the conversions from free to paid dropped alot in the past few months..

Martin Reed - Blog Author June 26, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Mr Woc – What do you mean you dont like the affiliate links? How do they make a difference to what you advertise on your site? I think youre right that a lot of it comes down to trial and error; only by experimenting can you find out what works best for your site.

Cody – Adult dating sites are hugely lucrative if you have targeted traffic and are happy to advertise such sites. Geo-targeting also boosts conversions as the ads are more relevant to your audience.

If you have adult traffic, you may like to check out the adult dating affiliate program from EasyDate they are offering huge commissions on both leads and sales right now.

Ramana – I completely respect your opinion on this. It is important that you only advertise sites you are comfortable with.

Games – It all depends on the kind of traffic you get, and how well suited it is to the programs you are promoting. I think it is perfectly possible to earn $1,000 a month with around 500-1,000 visitors per day. The key is to experiment.

Archie – Dating sites do well from an affiliate marketing stand point as they make money through transactions, whereas social networks are generally free to use. With the current exchange rates, if you have UK traffic you can really boost your earnings by generating revenues in GBP.

Nicole – Well, give them a go you have nothing to lose!

Phil – I only ever recommend products or services that I have used and that work for me. Just Chat attracts predominantly UK traffic so I mainly promote sites within the EasyDate network this is beneficial as I am earning revenue in GBP which, at the moment, is a far stronger currency than the American Dollar.

Adult – Pre-selling is a great way of increasing conversions, however by solely promoting per lead programs you may find your earnings gradually decline over time as you exhaust the value of your existing traffic.

TigerTom June 28, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Get behind a site you can wholeheartedly recommend. The more people pay for membership, the less likely they’ll have a horror story to tell their friends i.e. the better the site and the more money you should make(!)

I’ve read _bad_ things about free sites; however, if you yourself have no standards, they might just do you!

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 17, 2008 at 1:37 am

TigerTom – There is nothing wrong with free sites. This blog is free – does that make it bad? I agree that you should restrict yourself to promoting sites and services that you have actually tried out and can honestly recommend. This isn’t always possible, though. For example a large site may serve ads from a vast number of advertisers – in this case it would be impossible for a publisher to vet every single site and product being advertised.

Kevin August 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm

As the editor of a dating reviews website I have over 80 affiliate links to various dating sites. My top performer is definitely Adult Friend Finder, followed by and, believe it or not,

jimb August 24, 2008 at 3:47 am

you can get some good income from dating affiliates but there is so much competetion out there

Richard September 14, 2008 at 3:34 am

I think for a new dating affiliate site, it’s very tempting to start off with promoting pay per free signup which of course do not pay much but when starting up it’s the most feasible option especially if you’re looking for some quick cash.

But in the long term, the revshare programs seem like the most lucrative, at least that’s the impression that I get though.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Kevin – Thanks for sharing your best performing sites; I am sure many will find that information useful.

Jimb – Yes, there is competition but surely as an affiliate that is a good thing? Dating sites are fighting for people to push their service over their competitors, meaning bigger commissions and bigger bonuses.

Richard – It all depends on what kind of traffic you send; that’s why you need to always keep an eye on the traffic you are sending and consider whether changing the program you are on would be more beneficial.

Phoenix December 14, 2008 at 3:38 am

Definitely both revenue share and initial order

Barrett May 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm

There is another reason to setup commission based links other than for primary site revenue but for me it was a way to control my site exists in addition to the regular ads running. I don’t expect to make much off it but any exit revenue generator helps.

pepper September 1, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I haven’t gotten into the adult friend finder etc but I have promoted other CPA programs with very little luck. It’s pretty hard to convince people to sign up for free profiles these days because they all know the trick…they will be asked for a credit card and given a free trial then 3 days later they are charged a $45.00 fee because the trial is over and they didn’t contact the site to cancel.

anna November 24, 2009 at 7:40 am

I have tried a few CPA programs and have had little luck also – think pepper is right about people knowing about having to pay money after the 3 day trial and so they will not give their credit card details

Christina March 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Experimentation can probably solve the question for most sites. It will differ significantly based on who makes up the community.