How to Capture Attention with Your Online Dating Profile
How to Make 'Em Take Notice
Online dating can be a great way to meet people, but let's face it, you're ultimately competing in a digital meat market where there are thousands of other people. And here you thought the bar scene was bad!
Women are lucky when it comes to online sites, because men outnumber women by as much as ten to one. Yes, you read that right. Ten men are looking for women for every one gal seeking her Prince Charming. Guys have suspected this all along. Meanwhile, the women get so much mail that it can get difficult to respond to everyone. (That, or they get a bit conceited and start to ignore those little winks.)
In any case, having a fabulous profile will give you the best chance at success. Here are some tips to make sure you'll get noticed.
1. Honesty is the best policy. Before you even conjure up your clever username, make it a point to include only accurate, honest information about yourself. (Yes, this includes photos, but we'll talk more about that in a minute.) If you're a virgin, don't call yourself "Studoftheyear." Similarly, if you're looking for something deeper than casual sex, do not use the number 69 anywhere in your username. You do know that first impressions count, right?
2. Photo Mojo. To get maximum interest, you need at least one great photo. You want a picture that presents the best about you, but it must be accurate if you want people to get to know you beyond a single meeting. In other words, if it's more than a few months old, get a new one. Yes, ladies, I know that the other picture of you looks better. That's because you weighed twenty pounds less back then. Trust me, you're not going to impress a man that way. (You might get a free meal out of it, at best, but you won't get a second one.) Gentleman, the same goes for you. Recent. Not that one in your disco suit that you've loved for the last twenty years.
Above all else, you should have at least one eye-catching photo that stands out as different from everyone else's profile. If you're worried about being recognized, you can still have a great photo most of the time. Only one dating site that I know of has ridiculously stringent requirements about showing your full face. Most allow you to be a bit creative. Since you want a photo that stands apart from the rest, this gives you some cool options that you can play with. Find a quirky hat and funky sunglasses. Photoshop some special effects or use the nifty (free) CamWow ap with your iPhone if you need a full face shot. If the site doesn't require a full face shot, even better.
Whatever you do, remember that your photo needs some "WOW!" factor. If you are completely unphotogenic, try cropping a picture to show only your best feature. Do you have luscious lips? Great eyes? Legs up to your eyebrows? (Avoid cleavage and crotch shots if you're looking for something more permanent than a fling. Creative poses and shots of you in interesting places are good, too. An image of you sitting on a John Deere (doesn't matter if you're male or female) will work great if you love a rural lifestyle. A shot of you whipping up a quick meal is perfect if you love culinary arts.
What's not so great, though, is to include anything that hints at competition for a would-be suitor. That means no ex-anyones, no current anyones - including friends - and no pets in your profile pics.
Check out Mary's great tips on profile photos:
Have you found deceptive profile pictures? How did you respond?
3. The hard part. There are people who have no problem talking about themselves, and there are people who have no idea what to say about themselves. And you know what? Both groups are over-represented in online dating. Remember what I told you about standing out from every other profile? It's even more important here than it was with your photo. You want a balance between giving out some info about what you are like, and what you're looking for, without sounding like everybody else.
"Looking for love. I am a 30-something male who wants to find a best friend in life. Good sense of humor is a must." BLAH!
Grab attention right away. What makes you utterly different from everyone else? You can start your profile with an innocent secret about yourself - something that won't hurt you if others know it. "I'm afraid of the dark after all these years." "I had a special blanket until I was 17 years old." "I'm afraid of spiders." You can write a simple sentence or two to expand on it, just like you would if you were having an actual conversation. Perhaps you'll give a reason, or tell a story about a memorable event. Then use that secret to segue into what you're looking for on an online dating site.
"I can't stand strawberries. When I was five, I once broke out in hives all over my body after eating half a dozen of 'em. They don't give me hives anymore, but they still give me the heebie-jeebies. If our first date involves a picnic, I'll bring the grapes if you'll bring a smile." (Sorry, folks, that's my story. You'll have to write your own.)
Now you'll get into what you're like. Again, keep it conversational and lighthearted. "In fact, I'll bring two bunches of grapes if you like to smile, because I really enjoy upbeat people who find reasons to be happy. Hey, if you brought strawberries I might even laugh a bit myself, but I still won't eat them." You've just shown that you have a great sense of humor and the confidence to stand up for yourself.
Compare that to, "I'm a confident person who stands up for myself." UGH!
Now you're getting the hang of things. What kind of relationship do you want? "In fact, I like a lot of different kinds of foods, and I approach relationships the same way. If it's good, I like to indulge, and if it doesn't hit the spot, at least it has been an experience." "I'm hoping to find a special picnicker for my life." Either way, the theme stayed the same, but the message was different.
Finally, you want to describe the kind of person you're looking for. I encourage you to avoid using cliched personality traits like "good sense of humor" or "nice." They really don't mean anything. (That is a whole other blog post.) For the picnic theme, I might say something like, "I'd like to take you to the park if you'd want to feed the ducks and climb into a boat with me. If you'd let me push you on a swing or if you'd chase me down the slide. We can watch the setting sun and afterward, who knows?"
4. What NOT to do! One of the biggest mistakes I've seen on dating profiles is when people start talking about what they don't want. People who don't know you do not care that you've been hurt before. By telling them that you're "tired of getting burned" or that you've "had it with fakes" you're really saying that you're bitter and unhappy. Guess what? It's not appealing. Stay optimistic and hopeful, and leave your baggage at the door.
Another common error is having too many expectations or unreasonably high standards. You don't need to say much to generate interest. Saying too much can be a turn-off, in fact. If you have more than two or three "must haves" for a potential partner to measure up to, you're already in trouble before you ever get your first hello.
Finally, you know those little winks and nudges that some sites have? They're the worst possible way to initiate contact. If someone gets three winks, should they have a canned response? Wink back? At least start a conversation, and make it an interesting one. "Your profile caught my eye because...." (Everyone loves to hear that they're eye-catching in some way, right?)
And if you've followed these steps, your profile will be catching their eye, too.
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