According to Mark Wrhel, owner and founder of SexDateCash and its network of SexDates sites, there's a reason why members stick around as much as they do.
"It is a genuine community," he said. "You can come into the chat room at any time and not only will you see new members, you will see regulars, and these regular members spend 300 to 400 hours a month in the chat room. You can only jerk off so much."
SexDates' angle on the adult-dating market is based on the absence of fake profiles, porn stars or any other misleading marketing technique that focuses more on customer volume and less on quality. The result of the SexDates philosophy is a community of members who spend time on the network's sites for more than just sex dates.
"A lot of our customers have been members of other [adult-dating] websites before, and they come to us with baggage: ‘Are you fake just like the rest?'" Wrhel said. "We spend a lot of our time every day fixing these problems. Our staff has to work with these members on a personal level to get them to drop the baggage at least for a day and take a look at this community of like-minded people.
"One of the members recently had a triple-bypass surgery, and it was the topic of conversation in the chat room for three days."
Currently, the SexDates network includes 17 adult-dating sites divided into niches like MILFSexDates, LatinSexDates, CollegeSexDates and BlackSexDates. The idea for SexDates was born from Wrhel's experience as a webmaster, which began in the early 1990s.
"We did porn sites, directory sites, TGP sites," Whrel said. "We were across the board. We didn't stick with one for too long until we started with the dating sites."
During those years, Wrhel mastered the traffic game. But he figured he could increase the value of traffic if it went to a community of real people instead of adult-dating sites full of fake profiles. He knew what else would add value to SexDates in the eyes of webmasters: niche-targeted sites.
"We built this site for webmasters ... and the keywords that they need," he said.
Although the sites are divided into different niches and each member's profile is linked to the niche in which he or she signed up, all of the profiles are stored in a single database for searching.
"You're not restricted to the site you sign up for," Wrhel said. "But it does feed those relevant profiles first. For instance, if you're looking for a very specific type of Asian girl and we don't have that type in our system local to you, we supplement it with results from other sites in our network. We make sure [members] get a nice full list."
SexDates started small when it went live in 2004, building its active membership. For the first year and a half, the site was free to join.
"Once we reached about 250,000 active members - not just profiles, but active members - then we started charging," Wrhel said. That's when Wrhel began putting serious effort into SexDateCash, the webmaster affiliate program. "That way," he said, "when webmasters started sending us traffic, we had a nice site to catch them."
Although the SexDates network has members around the world, the company's efforts have been only in the U.S. market in order to keep the community local and make face-to-face hookups realistic. But the community and the company have expanded to such an extent that Wrhel now has his eyes on global reach. Enter Robert "The Legacy" Warren.
Warren was with Webmaster Paradise when Wrhel began asking around the webmaster community for someone who could take his company global. Warren's name kept coming up. In September, Warren joined SexDateCash as its vice president of operations.
"People are tired of all of the fake profiles," Warren said. "I've talked to people overseas who have huge programs, and they're just dying for us to come over there. They have a couple of dating sites there, but they constantly get complaints from members who are frustrated with sites that have a ton of fake profiles."
The global expansion is beginning with Canada; eventually, the sites will be translated into various languages for overseas markets. The SexDates network also is expanding with plans for 50 state-targeted sites such as CaliforniaSexDates. Also in the works is a member-driven live-cam site called TheNudyBar.com.
"We're making available an option for members to make money on the website," Wrhel said. "We have a lot of members on there who spend hours in the chat room, so we're adding a cam section - locals, U.S. members - and it's going to be actual members. It's not going to be filled with Russian or Filipino cam girls. It's going to be U.S. girls linked right to the dating site, so you can actually date them - if you're nice.
"When I built this site, I kept telling people that ‘love' is a four-letter word here. We're not here to introduce you to your match. We're not here for you to find a good conversation. We're here for one thing. The name of the website says it all: SexDates. That's it. But our members have turned it into a community."