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Online dating coaches cash in during 'peak season'

Rebecca Ungarino
Peter Dazeley | Getty Images

Julie Spira's clientele swells during the online dating market's "peak season" between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day. Spira is an online dating expert, and she sees her greatest number of signups—singles buying her round-the-clock expert advice and guidance—in the 40 million-member singles' online dating market during this period.

"This is a very busy time for people to open up their wallets," said Spira, who founded and coaches singles on how to find love online.

As online dating websites, apps and matchmaking services see a massive spike in user registration during the online dating market's peak season, online dating coaches also see a steady increase in sign-ups for their services. But the price of online romance counsel is not for the cheap date.

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Spira charges $150 to $3,500 for online dating coaching services, which include online profile critiques, advice for crafting email responses to online matches, and pre- and post-dating guidance. Spira's clients can email, call and text message her for advice.

"The average dater spends about $70 on a date, and I know for a fact that the period between Christmas and Valentine's Day is where we see the biggest surge of the year," she said. Spira coaches single men and women who turn to online dating once the New Year approaches, hoping to turn a new leaf.

Data analysts at dating website say the site saw approximately a 7 percent increase in communication on the site year over year in 2014, though the "peak season" that ends around Feb. 14 is especially high for user engagement.

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IAC,'s parent company, reported a mobile registration increase of over 100 percent year over year, in their fourth-quarter earnings.

"Most of my colleagues are typically swamped at this time, still dealing with singles who made a New Year's resolution to meet the man or women of their dreams," said Carmelia Ray, a Toronto-based online dating and matchmaking expert.

Ray charges her clients from $250 for an online dating makeover consultation to $1,000 for a more intense online profile makeover, which includes image consultation and professional photography for an online dater's profile. Ray, who typically works with about 10 clients at any given time, charges much more for matchmaking, charging $2,500 to $10,000 or more.

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Though Ray says the dating season is busy all year round, she notices especially high attention in the online dating market at certain times of the year.

"You will see spikes of interest and activity surrounding major holidays, special events like the Olympics and surprisingly when there is a world crisis or tragic event such as Sept. 11," said Ray. "In times of financial crisis and terrorist attacks, singles do not want to be alone."

Joshua Pompey, a New York-based online dating and relationship expert, serves a largely professional clientele of predominantly 35- to 60-year-old men and women. Pompey charges his clients for a whole gamut of online dating coaching. He charges from $29.99 for an ebook on online dating, to a three-month coaching session over email and phone correspondence for $499, to a VIP assistance package that costs $20,000 or more.

Pompey's sales nearly tripled the first Monday in January, the beginning of this prime time for online daters looking for a "fresh start." During the first week of the 2015, his sales were especially strong.

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Spira said she even hears from clients looking for advice on more casual dating sites and apps such as Tinder, a free dating app with an option for a paid service not yet released.

"What I'm finding is Tinder started with younger demographic for college, more for casual dating, hookups, friends with benefits," said Spira.

But recently, she said, more single men and women are turning to the app for more relationships.

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"We've seen our average daily downloads and registrations start increasing beyond the norm since January, and we're not sure if that's due to Valentine's Day or not," said Rosette Pambakian, a spokesperson for Tinder, "but the increase in messaging among users the last week and a half could be due to Valentine's Day."

Online dating has gained a more mainstream following and acceptance in recent years. Since Pompey began his online coaching in 2009, he has seen steady growth in his clientele, and they are shelling out more money for assistance in the online dating world.

"People are spending more than in 2009. The medium was not nearly as mainstream," said Pompey, who says online dating sites have become a crowded marketplace.

"People just populate the sites. That creates more competition and creates a medium in which it's more difficult to get through," said Pompey. When you combine this competition with fast-paced, professional lifestyles, says Pompey, looking for a partner online "without outside help can feel like a second job."