Whether you’ve been online dating for one year or five years (or have never tried it), been on Tinder or eHarmony, are 25 years old or 65 years old, some pieces of advice will withstand the test of time. Let’s look at the 10 quick and dirty tips for your online dating profile:
1. Make sure your photos are representative of you, especially the first one.
You would rather have someone meet you in person thinking, “He/she is much better-looking than the photos; not ‘Those photos were a lie … or taken five years ago!’ ” Be confident and be truthful.
On that note, if you happen to look different than your first photo on the day you’re meeting a first date, reach out to let them know. For example, I usually wear my hair long and curly, but I sometimes throw it up in a bun (hint: when it’s not washed), so I might send a quick text, “See you at 7! Just as a heads up, I’m wearing red and my hair is in a bun today.”
2. Less is more when it comes to photos.
People will look for the one bad photo (and yes, “bad” is subjective) and decide not to swipe right or write to you because of it.
Five photos are recommended. (Hinge is the only site that requires a certain number of photos — six — but for the others, you can choose the number. Don’t fall into Match.com’s trap of posting pictures in all 26 slots available.) Of those five photos, please make sure that one is a clear shot of your face (preferably smiling) and one is a full-body shot.
3. Be by yourself in the shot.
Why? First, we don’t want to give someone the opportunity to compare you to the other people (likely your friends) in your own profile. Second, there is no need for what some call “social proof.” The baseline is that you have friends … no need to prove this. Lastly, if it’s someone of the opposite sex, we think it’s your ex … or current significant other.
4. Have one photo doing something interesting.
Many people have no idea what to say in the initial message to you, so give them something to comment on, or “message bait.”
Ideas: you making a delicious loaf of bread, you doing underwater basket weaving, you riding a horse … you get the idea.
5. Take your time writing your profile.
Many people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time job, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof). This is one thing that you should really spend your time on, even if it’s just 25 words long. (For Tinder and Bumble, I recommend 25 to 40 words.)
Look at these two profiles:
“Fun, attractive, and kind looking for my match” vs. “Entrepreneur, cereal lover, bourbon drinker, dog owner and coolest aunt in history. Spend my days in spreadsheets and nights dabbling in standup comedy. Looking for something real and lasting.”
Which would you choose?
Along those lines, avoid empty adjectives. These are words like “smart,” “attractive,” and “fun” that are subjective and cannot be proven until someone gets to know you.
6. End your profile on a positive note.
“Need not apply” need not be in your vocabulary. If you’re thinking about things you don’t want, try to instead write them as things you do. For example, “No liars!” should be “Looking for someone trustworthy.”
7. Do NOT write a novel.
Anything over three paragraphs on a “traditional” online dating site like Match.com is much too long. And on the apps (i.e. Tinder, Bumble, etc.), short and sweet — and quirky — is the key.
8. Proofread and edit.If someone spells “your” incorrectly, I don’t assume carelessness; I assume stupidity. Don’t make people think you’re stupid.
9. Make sure you’re realistic, not idealistic.
Your profile should be representative of you today, not the you in your head … who we know is a rock star.
10. Remember that online dating is not represented by any one bad (or good) date.
I just got an email from a client after a terrible first date. She was upset, understandably, but she then went on to say, “I hope Thursday’s date isn’t a waste of my time, too.” You can’t hold one person’s bad behavior — or incompatibility — against future dates. That’s not fair to anyone. I guaranteed to her two things: You will go on more bad dates. You will also go on great ones.
And there you have your 10 quick and dirty tips for your online dating profile.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. For more, visit www.alittlenudge.com.