Your profile is the key to meeting your perfect match at online dating and personals services so it's surprising that many profiles are mediocre at best. With a little extra time, thought and effort, and the help of these tips, you can make yours a winner and attract a large pool of admirers to take your pick from.
Invent a distinctive username:
Your username (nickname) is the first hint at what kind of person you are. It needs to be original and memorable, while somehow summing you up - not easy in a dozen letters or so!
For ideas, think about your interests, background, location and personality. For instance, an outgoing person from Phoenix might choose PhoenixSparkler, an avid skier with a wild streak might be SnowTiger. Humor's great (I recently spotted MissBehaving) but overly sentimental (LetMeBeTheOne), meaningless (Vyc2DX) or desperate sounding (SoLonelyInOhio) names are a turn off.
Give yourself time: think of a name before sitting down to complete your profile, as well as a couple of backup options. It's amazing how many "original" names are in use already. Most services spit out alternatives but they're usually unimaginative and full of numbers.
Write a compelling headline:
Your opening line, or headline, is like the first thing you see on an ad: it should compel people to read on and find out more about you. Don't be apologetic about being there - "I don't normally do this sort of thing" - and don't begin (as thousands do) with "My name's Bob, I'm 25 and live in Boise." This isn't compelling. It's not even interesting. "Born in Boise, Heading for Barbados" is more the thing. It's intriguing without being confusing, and raises questions: is Bob a traveler, a dreamer or working for an international company? Only one way to find out ? read on!
Again, it's not easy. If you get stuck, a favorite line from a song, book or movie can say lot about you ? who you like and/or what you believe in - and stands out to other people who love it too.
Post at least one photo:
For 75% of online daters, the photo is the first thing they look for when browsing through profiles. Not surprisingly, profiles with photos get ten to fifteen times the response of those without. Including a photo is a must! But beware, some photos do more harm than good. Big offenders are photos that show you with someone else, or even worse, part of someone else. (It might not be your ex, or your ex's body part, but people have no way of knowing.)
If you don't have a suitable photo, get one taken, and keep it real - glamour shots could come back to haunt you. Think about asking a friend to pick out a photo that they think looks most like you. Make sure people don't have to squint at the screen to see what you look like, and be sure to smile!
Check the right boxes:
Most profiles have a hefty component of check boxes ? age group, sex, and so on. It's a basic thing but when researching sites I do it a lot myself: check the wrong boxes or forget to change them from a default setting that isn't right for me. And I'm not alone. Believe it or not, a common mistake among online daters is choosing the wrong sex of their ideal partner. So, take care over these basic but important details.
Check your grammar and spelling:
You might be the most intelligent person on the planet but if you rush your profile and don't check your spelling and grammar you're not going to come across well to anyone who values intelligence. You might like to prepare your freestyle entries using a program with spelling and grammar checkers, then paste them into your profile.
Unfortunately, a lot of people say the same thing in the same way as everyone else. It's boring at best and unbelievable at worst. Can we really believe that so many people "exercise regularly and keep in good shape"? Also, use a thesaurus to replace well-worn words like "good" and "nice" with more interesting, meaningful alternatives that add spice and sparkle to your profile.
Make your meaning clear:
Your spelling and grammar might be perfect but sometimes your words can convey a completely different meaning from what you intended. Give your profile a thorough reading to avoid potentially embarrassing or damaging misinterpretations!
Stick to your own style:
Many online dating profiles include sections where you can express yourself in your own words. It's a chance to make yourself more human and "real," and other members can pick up lots of interesting information about you ? clues they might find appealing - from the way you express yourself. Don't block the process by suddenly adopting a style and tone that isn't really you.
Focus on your unique qualities:
It's our unique qualities that make us attractive - and to some, very attractive! When you have a chance to describe yourself, let these qualities shine. Skip the things that people take for granted (and have in common) and focus on the things that make you, "you."
Perhaps you speak another language, have an unusual skill or interest, or something you feel passionately about. Small things count too. If you change your hair color every other day or have an addiction to triple hot chili sauce, say so. People who share or appreciate your unique qualities will tune right in and they make great conversation starters if they decide to make a move!
Flatter yourself ? it's allowed!:
If you're good at something or proud of yourself for something, go ahead and blow your own trumpet. Confidence (not to be confused with a raging ego!) is an attractive quality and there are plenty of ways to flatter yourself while sounding modest: "My friends say I'm?" or, "If I had to describe one thing about myself that I like?"
Many people can't resist the urge to be less than completely honest when writing their online personals profile. Women tend to lie about their appearance and men about their status and physical prowess. There's really no need. Online dating and personals services have thousands if not millions of members. You've got a great chance of meeting someone who's attracted to the real you, warts and all. Of course, there's no need to tell your darkest secrets ? just keep it real. You'll be able to pursue relationships without having to worry about all the lies you've spun. Honesty is an attractive trait.
Be passionate about your passions:
If you have a hobby or interest that you're absolutely passionate about, that takes up a lot of your time and energy, go ahead and rave about it. It's better that people know up front how important it is to you, and fellow fanatics will tune right in!
Be careful with humor:
Humor's great but a super-dry or tongue-in-cheek sense of humor may not work well in writing. People don't know you and can't see the twinkle in your eye. You'll have ample opportunity to display your brand of wit when you're communicating one-on-one with other members.
Say it with feeling:
Too many profiles read like a job application with flat phrases like, "I enjoy skiing, cooking and photography" which don't really tell us much. Add emotions, thoughts and feelings into the mix. The idea is to showcase your personality and make a connection on an emotional level.
Our bugbears say something about the type of person we are but keep them to a minimum in your profile or they'll say something bad! Focus on the things that make you feel good and you'll come across as a fun date.
Don't dwell on past relationships:
Too much talk of past relationships is a sure way to scare off potential dates. It doesn't show much commitment to moving along in life with someone new. However, some services touch on the subject in their profiles in which case you can give it a more interesting, positive twist by talking in general terms about lessons learned, where you are today and what your hopes are for future relationships.
Describe your ideal match in your own words:
If you have an opportunity to describe the type of person you're looking to meet in your own words, use it. If someone reads your profile and likes you, they'll know right away whether or not they're a likely candidate for your affections. On the other hand, don't be too picky or demanding! One idea is to limit yourself to the three or four attributes that you value most in a partner and perhaps one big turn off (you want to keep it positive overall).
Describe the kind of dates you enjoy:
Make it easy for people to ask you on a date by giving them an idea of the kind of dates you enjoy. For instance, "I like a relaxing atmosphere where you can chat and get to know someone," or, "Doing something new and exciting together is a great way to get to know someone."
Promote yourself as a great date:
When someone likes what they read in your profile, they'll probably wonder what kind of date you'd make. In other words, you seem interesting and attractive but would you be the date from hell? Put this question to rest with upfront information that paints a great picture of what it would be like to date you. For instance, perhaps you're a good listener who likes a quiet, relaxing atmosphere where you can talk and get to know someone, or a sociable energetic type who thinks that doing something new and exciting together is the best way to get to know someone.
When your admirers know you're on the same page in terms of dating style, they're more likely to take the next step and ask you out, or at least to get to know you better, confident you'll be a great date. And if your dating styles are completely out of tune, at least you've avoided finding it out the hard way - on that date from hell.
Create a Master Profile:
Save all your profile information and entries in a master file so you don't have to start from scratch if you're planning on using more than one service. Profiles vary considerably from service to service but many parts will be similar.
Last but not least, don't forget that your profile isn't written in stone! It's fast and easy to make any changes you like, so don't fret too much about perfection!
Copyright 2004 Caroline Mackenzie
Caroline Mackenzie is Co-Owner/Webmaster of The Dating Muse, a guide to online dating services and personals featuring reviews of the top online dating sites plus tips and ideas for finding friends, dates, soulmates and sexual adventure online. You can visit her site at http://DatingMuse.com and subscribe to her newsletter at http://datingmuse.com/subscribe.htm