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Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
This model also allows users to switch between free and paying status at will, with sites accepting a variety of online currencies and payment options.
In Eastern Europe, popular sites offer full access to messaging and profiles, but provide additional services for pay, such as prioritizing profile position, removing advertisements, and giving paying users access to a more advanced search engine.
That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.
Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both "shop" for potential relationship partners and "sell" themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.
A 2005 study of data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that individuals are more likely to use an online dating service if they use the Internet for a greater number of tasks, and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.
It is possible that the mode of online dating resonates with some participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.
A great diversity of online dating services currently exists.