Recently, while doing some work for another project, I found what I think is a really clever money-spinning writing opportunity.

It’s all a bit experimental as yet. But apparently it’s already doing very well in the USA and I think it would be perfect for introducing over here.

It’s what is known as an eCupid service. It operates in the world of online dating.

What is an ‘eCupid’?

For a fee, these writers offer a service writing online dating ads. and profiles for people who use Internet dating websites.

They specialise in writing witty, charming or even flirtatious messages on behalf of single men and women unwilling, unable or too busy to do it themselves.

You can find out what it’s all about from the BBC article here.

Funnily enough this service isn’t intended for, how can I put it politely, hopeless cases. It’s a high-end service aimed at cash-rich, time poor professionals. People who are otherwise successful in their lives and probably make great catches… but who just don’t have the time or inclination to play the dating game.

Apparently, despite a bit of criticism it’s been very successful. I’ll tell you what you could make from it shortly. Actually, if you look in to it, online dating services have a pretty good track record. It would be a pity for people to miss out just because they’re not good with words!

It struck me this could be a really great small business opportunity for writers or would-be writers. Something you can work on part time from home via the Internet.

The writing side would be easy enough. Actually, you wouldn’t need to be that good at writing to operate this kind of service.

Because it involves mostly short paragraphs, short ads. and profiles for Internet dating sites, most of the time you’ll just need to write a few carefully chosen words or maybe just fill in a form.

But you do need to be a people person. You’ll need to have a good understanding of what sorts of things pique a person’s interest in a potential partner. The BBC article gives a few tips on this and there’s lots of stuff out there on the Internet. And, of course, you would need to very tactful and discreet.

So how would you find customers for your service?

You could start by placing a few inexpensive ads. in the ‘Personals’ columns of newspapers and magazines. Or set up a simple one page website describing your service… or perhaps even your own blog offering advice to would-be customers… You can do this for free. Pull in traffic using Google AdWords and promote your service in your posts.

Social media would be absolutely perfect for promoting this sort of service too. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and MySpace and so on. People use these sites specifically because they want to hook up with other people for a variety of reasons – including to meet a new potential partner. You’re sure to find thousands and thousands of people on there who would make ideal customers.

Another idea might be to set up some kind of deal with the Internet dating sites to promote your service to their members. Come to an arrangement where new customers signing up for their service could get one-to-one help with writing their profile and so on from you. Split the fee between you.

If you decided to set it up I don’t think it would be too difficult to pull in customers. All the figures show that the number of single people is growing by the year.

When you get a customer take some time to understand them and the type of person they are looking for. Ask lots of questions. Read between the lines. Put yourself in the position of the would-be dater. Actually, with this sort of thing it’s often a case of can’t-see-the-wood-for-the-trees. You might well be able to see the good things about a customer that will attract another person to them that they themselves just can’t see.

Then write a selection of ads, profiles and messages they could use on their Internet dating sites and let them choose the ones they like best to use.

So what could you make from a writing service like this?

More than you might think! Like I said this is a high-end service aimed at high earners.

Apparently one of the companies who offer this service, TargetLove, offers everything from basic profile writing for £150 to dating coaching for around £90 an hour. VDA or Virtual Dating Assistants offer a more comprehensive service – writing a client’s profile, picking out potential matches, sending introductory emails and messages back and forward until a date is confirmed. The company guarantees between two and five dates per month in return for fees ranging from £400 to £800 a month!

In short you’d only need a handful of customers a month for a nice sideline income. Pull in hundreds of customers a month and it could be quite a big writing business indeed. You could even hire in other writers to help you with the writing if you wanted to.

Remember, lots of lonely hearts (not a great word to use but you know what I mean) make a resolution to find a new partner in the new year. Plus there’s Valentine’s Day in February. So this could be a great writing cash opportunity to set up over the Christmas break.

One last thing. It occurred to me that – particularly if dating isn’t for you – you could copy this idea and offer a wide range of other write-for-cash type services…

Maybe offer a service writing blogs for bloggers who can’t be bothered to do it themselves. Or write reviews for companies who need material to post to review sites. Or, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, how about offering to write job applications and CVs? That is going to be a real winner in the recession over the coming year.