The site has reached the stage, where it has main functionality and already brings value to the users (for example, 6 couples formed). As a result, there are no more obviously pressing problems and it is hard to decide what to do. My 2020 resolution about spending at least 1 hour a day on my side projects is still standing strong (I am writing this as part of my 1 hour for today), so I just have to come up with some actionable goals to develop the site.
The two couples, who met through the site and reached out to me recently, made me extremely happy. I could see from their emails that the site have had an enormous positive impact on their lives and they are extremely happy together. As a result, I decided to use this as my main metric - number of couples formed through the site, since this directly reflects number of lives the site has strong positive impact on.
I understand that this does not reflect number of friendships formed. Unfortunately such metric would be extremely hard to measure, so I have to focus on couples for now.
At the same time "number of couples" metric is not at all actionable. I am not aware of any direct way to help people to form couples. Thus, we have to find some more actionable proxy metrics. I came up with "reach ten thousand users on the site". The more people there are on the site, the higher the likelihood for each user to find their perfect FIRE match.
I also understand that just bringing 10k people together is not enough. The site must help the users to get to know each other. Thus, I also plan on doing general improvements in addition to increasing the number of users.
I am also happy that 10k users goal should help in finding friends as well (in contrast to my main "couples formed metric").
Fortunately, reaching 10k of users is much more actionable and I already have a bunch of ideas.
First, I want to make these metrics public and prominent, so that everyone knows how important they are to me and can track my progress. This is especially important for "number of couples", since this is self reported so far. I have vague ideas how I could help users to track this in a more automatic way, but these are just early explorations.
Then I want to redesign the main page. I remember the time when the current implementation was done. It was very different from now. I had 0 users and was not sure whether this would lead me anywhere. As a result, I didn't have terribly good arguments for new users to join and it was very hard to grow the site. Fortunately, nowadays this is completely different. There are 2300 users and 6 couples formed. The plan is to reflect this much better on the main page to show to potential users how lively and exciting this community is. I also want to collect testimonials (both from couples and just from users), but I will send a separate announcement for that.
The new main page should also help people to discover the site through search. This is a very important source of people joining and so far I wasn't using the full potential of it. Majority of queries are about "FIRE" and "dating". I would love to see people visiting through "financial independence", "mustachianism" and "frugalism" related queries.
With a new main page and so many good reasons to join firedating.me, I will do a new round of marketing. Last time I did this at the beginning of the site's existence and it was really hard, since there were few users. In many communities my posts were perceived as self promotion and I couldn't convince moderators that the site would actually benefit members of their community. Nowadays I have many more arguments and I really want to use them. As a result, I plan to use any opportunity I have for the marketing.
I also hope that you could support my marketing endeavors. Very often I write in some communities and then reply to all the questions. But people don't immediately trust me and can be even confused ("Free site and even no ads? So why are doing this?"). Having existing users join the conversation would be amazing. I am not saying that you have to say only good stuff about the site. No, you should be fair and reflect the reality. If you don't like the design, this is fair and new users may not like too. But if you like something (e.g. I've got many nice comments about how privacy preserving the site is), this could give the potential users a better overview of the site.
I also want to make the site easier to use and more efficient at forming new couples. I think the main model (sending "interest requests") is already stable and I won't change this. I consider moving to a larger webserver (the current one is very small and I am surprised that it is doing such a great job). It would be a shame to attract new people only to discover that the server can't handle the load. I also want to add more fields to the profiles to help people form better first impression about each other. Moreover, I plan to provide a bit more guidance around how to fill in the profile (e.g. what would be nice to mention) and how to start messaging each other. These are by no means hard rules, but I think some people worry too much about something going wrong and they would enjoy some community guidelines. I hope to improve the chat as well. I personally use the site (via a private profile) and chat with a lot of with people. The current chat is ok, but it does not support real time chatting well. Often we end up doing 1 reply every 5 min after email remainder is sent. I want to reflect incoming messages in the real time.
Obviously none of this can happen without you! If you want to actively help I see the following ways:
None of these plans are set in stone. The site is feedback driven as it was from the beginning. I am very far from perfect. If you have any concerns or questions or ideas, please reach out to me.