Online dating is about more than simply meeting someone — it’s about marketing yourself. Without a clear, honest profile, you might be looking forever. In honor of Valentine’s Day and its impending dating anxiety, we asked experts for their top tips to help you succeed online — if not this week, at least soon.
1. Get an Outside Perspective
Be sure that your profile makes sense to others. “One client started off her profile by talking all about her job … But this isn’t LinkedIn,” said Laurie Davis, author of Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating (Atria, 2013). There are tools to help you, ranging from questionnaires to full-on profile-writing services. At the very least, ask a friend of the gender and sexual orientation you’re attracted to for feedback.
2. Make Lots of Contact
Don’t pin too much hope on any one person. “If you just sent one email to one person, the reply might not come for a zillion reasons that have nothing to do with you,” Davis said. And according to Sam Yagan, co-founder of OkCupid and now CEO of Match.com, numbers matter. “Even random dates help your chances a lot,” said Yagan. However, don’t go overboard. “If you’re writing 30 people … you’re expecting failure and precipitating failure,” said dating coach Evan Marc Katz.
3. Be Honest
Sorry, you don’t look 10 years younger than you are, so don’t fib about your age. The same goes for height. And while few sites ask users to include their weight, optical-illusion photos won’t serve you in the long run. Be honest about your interests, too. If you’re a bookish urbanite, don’t post a bunch of pictures from your one whitewater-rafting trip. “You want your potential match to fall in love with the real you, not the fabricated you,” said Maria Seredina, founder of the eAmore conference for the online dating industry.
4. Take Standout Photos
You are being judged more harshly on your online image than you would be in person. Davis advises her clients to wear a color that will stand out when people are scanning profiles. Yagan recommends regularly updating pictures, too.
5. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
Broadening your search criteria has no downside. Katz met his wife offline, where there are not pre-set filters. “I never would have met my wife online.” Because of her age, religion, and even where she lived, she would not have popped up in his narrow searches, he said. The lesson he learned: Cast a wider net online.
6. Get to the Point
“You want it to take under two minutes to view photos and read your profile,” Davis advised. She said that breaks down to two paragraphs about you, one paragraph about what you’re looking for and four to seven photos.
7. Remember What You Want
Focus on what will work for you. For example, if you’re not in search of a long-term relationship, do not pursue someone who is. You’ll hurt people’s feelings and waste everyone’s time.
8. Tell a Story
All our experts agreed: The best way to set your profile apart is to tell a story. A bunch of adjectives coupled with a list of activities is not distinctive. “You could take a 70-year-old woman and a 30-year-old guy and they could sound the same,” said Katz. Rather than say you like to ski, mention the time you had to be airlifted out of a storm by a helicopter.