How to create an online dating profile

Kate Taylor

This time of year is the perfect time to find love online. Our dating expert—who met her husband through online dating—shares her top tips for creating the perfect profile

Do focus on your photos 

When you’re creating your online-dating profile, the pictures you choose are much more important than the words. Your photographs are the gatekeepers of your online-dating success: only the best pictures will let people pass into your world, to read your words.

If you think that’s terrible, shallow advice, please take a moment to reflect on how you act on online-dating sites. Do you skim past the photos rapidly, keen to discover if someone has an interest in 15th-century pottery or enjoys lively political debates over a Riesling? Really? Really? No, you don’t. You look at the profile photograph first and, if that catches your eye, only then do you go on to read their profile. After you’ve looked at every photograph of them carefully first, with your glasses on. 

Attraction is a visual process. Nobody ever talked about spotting a sense of humour across a crowded room; love starts in the eyes. 

I’m not saying you have to be flawless. You just have to choose the right photos. Luckily, I’ve already compiled an easy guide to choosing the best images to guarantee online-dating success here. Once you’ve uploaded the best photos, writing your text is a breeze. Read on…

 

Don’t agonise over your profile text

I’m the Dating Expert for OurTime, the online-dating site for over-50s. Whenever I meet members, the one question I always get asked is, “What should I write on my profile?” 

I understand the panic. We all feel that our profile text should be perfect, painting a picture of us as someone lovable and charming, but not arrogant—artfully mentioning our ongoing charity work and successful offspring, while also hinting at a subtle vulnerability mixed with a devilish sex drive… 

Stop. Breathe. Put down the thesaurus. Again, remember how you behave on dating sites. Do you enjoy reading long, earnest profile texts, that describe in detail how someone sees themselves, and what they’re looking for in a partner? Or do you find yourself drawn to the simple, down to earth and approachable profiles, that outline the person’s interests, talk in a conversational style, and include a few funny, interesting snippets? I’m guessing it’s the latter. Well, I know it’s the latter, as research on this topic has shown that simple, readable profiles perform best. Write your profile in a simple, conversational style.

 

Do write your profile like you’re introducing yourself in a social setting 

How would you describe yourself to someone you just met, in a new club or group? For example, if I were single right now, I might say: 

“Hello! I’m Kate, and I’m an ex-Londoner who’s recently moved to Berkshire with my two teenage sons. I’m a writer, and have a job that I love. When I’m not writing, researching or procrastinating on Netflix, I love to cook, walk my parents’ Cocker Spaniel, and sip bitter shandies by the fire in cosy pubs. I also play poker, so if you know your Cowboys from your Hooks and want to learn all my tells, get in touch…”

I’m not saying it’s Pulitzer-standard, but it delivers the most important information about me—I’m a mum, I’m close to my family, I like socialising—and paints a quick picture of what an evening with me might look like (losing your shirt in front of a fire). 

Write your own version of this, and then read it out loud. How does it sound? Could you imagine saying it to someone you just met? (You don’t want to get too involved, personal, seductive or depressing.) If it sounds good, use it. If you’re still worried, remember the second rule: 

 

Don’t be scared to change and update your profile text regularly

Never see your profile as a finished work of art. See it as a work in progress, that you can update, improve or change whenever you like. If your hobbies change, add in the new ones and remove the old ones. If you mentioned a seasonal reference (like I did in my example), in the spring swap “sip bitter shandies by the fire in cosy pubs” to something more summery like, “sip G&Ts in riverside beer gardens”. 

This way, your profile always looks new and fresh, and nobody would guess you’ve been single since decimalisation.

Also, updating your profile texts alerts the online-dating site that you’re active. The site will then show your profile to more people, and you’ll appear higher up in search results than someone who hasn’t touched their profile for several months. 

 

Do spellcheck 

I know, I know. You’re brilliant at spelling and punctuation and would never make a mistake. I’m not judging you, I’m judging the dating sites. Many don’t have spellcheckers as part of their software, and even if they do, they won’t catch if you’ve accidentally written “their” instead of “there” in all the excitement, or because you’re typing on a small screen. 

But a potential date will catch it, and they will judge you. In fact, a recent Match survey found that 96 per cent of single women believed that good grammar was more important in a partner than confidence, or good teeth!

Spelling mistakes are also a clear giveaway of an online-dating scammer. So don’t be afraid to judge others’ grammar as strictly as you’d judge your own. A slapdash or poorly punctuated profile can suggest the person isn’t who (whom?) they say they are. 

 

Don’t include a shopping list 

Finally, even if you’ve given a lot of thought to the type of person you’d like, don’t write a shopping-list of what you’re looking for on your profile. By all means create your own personal list of must-haves and deal-breakers, but please don’t share it with your readers. Keep it in your wallet, tattoo it on your wrist if you’re forgetful, but don’t post it in your online-dating text.

Lists are daunting to read, slightly arrogant, and universally off-putting. You’re not advertising for a new member of staff, or instructing the Ocado picker on what to do if they can’t find your yogurts—you’re looking for someone to love. And everyone who’s reading your profile will be single, perhaps not as confident as they usually are, and will invariably feel they fall short, and move on to the next advert. 

Lists also seem rather entitled; I always find myself judging a list-maker rather harshly. “You’d like a Scandinavian, 20-something dancer, would you? Good luck with that, TruckerDave58.”

Instead of a list, create an image of the type of partner you are, so that like-minded people can flock towards you. Include your sociable interests, so it’s easy to imagine being on a date with you. Say what makes you laugh, so people feel they “get” you. Describe your ideal weekend. This way, people who aren’t interested in someone like you will drift away naturally, and you’ll only hear from the cream of the crop.

Good luck!