Occasionally I get emails from folk who want advice about what should or shouldn’t be on their dating profile. Truth be told, I can’t always find time to respond to each person though I wish I could. Rather than not respond to everyone, or burn myself out trying to reply to each email, I wanted to put together a tool for folks who want to self-audit their profiles.
Don’t worry, I will try to keep things simple and walk you through my process:
At a minimum, I ask these 8 questions when auditing dating profiles:
- Do you have a minimum of 5 pictures that include you as primary focus?
- Is your profile complete?
- Is your profile longer than 1000 words?
- Does your profile reflect you or is it generic?
- Does your profile contain a minimum of 3 conversation starters?
- Is your profile free of spelling and grammatical errors?
- Are you lying anywhere in your profile?
- Looks and romantic interest aside, would I want to message this person?
Maybe these all sound too simple, but truth be told that’s what I look for when I look for a good profile.
1. Do you have a minimum of 5 pictures that include you as primary focus?
Many people, myself included when I was single, look at pictures first and profile content second before sending a message to someone. In a perfect world people would look at character first, and looks second, but the world is imperfect. That’s why having decent-to-good pictures is key.
Try to include pictures where you’re alone, the main focus of the picture, and avoid pictures where you’re wearing the same outfit. I shouldn’t be able to tell what your favorite outfit is by looking at your dating profile.
I’d recommend including at least one photo that clearly shows your face, one photo that clearly shows your body, and the other 3 can be totally up to you but try to avoid big group shots or photos with anyone people might assume is your ex. You can make exceptions in some cases, but try not to. You can even include photos that function as conversation starters, like travel photos. I’d recommend against the sedated tiger photos though. Trust me on this.
2. Is your profile complete?
Yes, most people won’t read your profile before messaging you and yes, some of us rarely get first messages, but a completed profile is more valuable than you think. When you complete your profile it gives people an opportunity to impress you with their first messages. A blank profile will always ask for generic messages. A completed profile can occasionally solicit a personalized message.
Completing your profile is doing yourself the favor of potentially being impressed. If nothing else, you can think of it as a filtering tool. You’ll know if someone read your profile and if they’re worth responding to based on their messages.
3. Is your profile longer than 1000 words?
Think of your profile as an essay whose thesis is “I am very date-able”. You have 1000 words to convey that argument. Anything more is too much, regardless of your skill as a writer. 1000 words should be all you need to tell people who you are and why they should date you.
If your profile is longer than 1000 words, think of it as an opportunity to really hone in on what you want to say in your profile. Edit out anything that doesn’t strengthen your “I am very date-able” thesis.
4. Does your profile reflect you or is it generic?
Here’s a simple test to see if your profile is generic: Does it sound like you’re describing a well-behaved dog, or you? You like fun and you love to travel? Awesome! So does my buddy’s well-behaved dog, that guy loves playing and sticking his head out the window in the car. You like adventure and you’re looking for someone to share an adventure with you? No kidding, my buddy’s very good dog likes those things too, he hates taking walks alone.
You’re not a John, Jane, or Jessie Doe, and you’re not a good dog either. You’re an interesting dynamic person who has more to say about themselves than something generic. You like to travel, awesome, where have you been and where do you want to go and why? Are you looking for an “adventure”? GREAT! What’s the last thing you did that you’d consider an adventure and why did you do it?
5. Does your profile contain a minimum of 3 conversation starters?
If you do the work to make a succinct profile that isn’t generic, odds are good that you already have conversation starters on your profile. What’s a conversation starter? Anything that could serve as an icebreaker. Anything that hints at an anecdote that can be told.
Your profile should include little tidbits that give someone an opportunity to ask a question and learn more about you. Telling someone you like to travel is fine, but it doesn’t give them much to ask you about. Telling someone you traveled to a country because you volunteered at an NGO building affordable housing invites a conversation. Don’t worry, your conversation starters don’t have to be that interesting. At one point, my dating profile had the following conversation starters: I make really good cheddar biscuits, a joking claim that all my shirts are made of boyfriend material, and occasionally I’d mention this very blog.
You don’t have to go big with your conversation starters, just be sure that what you include on your profile invites a conversation you actually want to have.
6. Is your profile free of spelling and grammatical errors?
This is self-explanatory. No spelling errors, no grammatical errors. If you struggle with grammar, use the Grammarly.com extension in Chrome to check your grammar online. You can also paste the content of your profile into your preferred word processing software and do a quick and basic spelling and grammar check.
7. Are you lying anywhere in your profile?
Little lies are lies. Lies of omission are lies. White lies are lies. So, let’s be really real with each other…are you lying anywhere in your profile? Did you lie about your height, what you’re looking for, or anything else? Do your pictures reflect who you are today and not the person you used to be?
Lying is a part of online dating…but just because people lie in their profiles doesn’t mean you have to. If you need to lie to get someone on a date, that person isn’t right for you and you’re doing yourself a disservice by even going on a date with them.
8. Looks and romantic interest aside, would you want to message this person?
The ultimate test of whether or not a profile is good is if you can show that profile to an objective person and based on the content of your profile, they’d tell you “Yeah, I’d message this person“. Whether an individual would or would not be interested in someone like you, or if they think you’re physically attractive or not is one thing.
That’s the final test. Get a friend, an impartial one, and ask them if based on the content alone, would they want to message this person. If you don’t have a friend who is particularly impartial, ask yourself that question…but take it a few steps further.
Would you want to message this person? Why? What would you say to them in a first message? Does this profile seem personalized? You’d be surprised how well this exercise works for testing your own profile. If you find that your profile is lacking, feel free to start over from the beginning until you feel confident that someone would want to message you.
So, after going through my process, do you think you have a good dating profile? If you don’t, I hope these tips can help you craft a great profile. If you do, best of luck in your dating search.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.