How to supercharge your dating profile

Over a round of margaritas recently, I sat down at Havana Rumba with dating-profile expert Emily McGlawn. She told me all the must-haves and don’t-dos for your dating profile. Emily got her start doing this job with a string of offers on a freelance writing website to rewrite clients’ dating profiles. Finally, a client suggested she make a business of it, and First Impressionistas was born. Emily has masters of business administration degree, a background in marketing — as she said, dating profiles are really just self-branding. And she keeps up with the dating scene by following OkCupid’s trend blog, and, of course, by going out on dates herself.

Your Profile
Know your audience. Emily cautions against writing a generic profile: “The first thing I try to determine is who they’re trying to meet … who do they think is right for them.”
But remember, your profile is not your résumé. If you list all of your achievements, you might come across as arrogant. Think about what the subtext of the things you say about yourself are going to say to the person reading your profile. Make a list of what you’re looking for in your ideal partner, and write to those things.
To draw in the right crowd, be as specific as possible about:
• Hobbies: “For instance, if you’re a gamer geek, you need to make sure you specify that. And whether you like video games or role-playing games or you’re a LARPer [live-action, role-player], and you’re out there in costumes. That’s going to be something you can bond over.” It will also weed out people who don’t have common interests.
• Schedule: “What do you spend your time doing, because most people when they date someone, or they eventually marry them, you’ll do things together. You’ll combine your life together.” Time constraints are important.
• Education: “Even if you didn’t get a college education, are you self-educated in some way? Intelligence is the first thing people tell me they’re looking for in a significant other.”
• Children: “Do you have kids, and do you care if your partner has kids? Because there’s a lot of single parents on these dating sites.”
• Beliefs: What are your religious and political beliefs, and do you need your partner to match those?

Your Photos
If your goal is a long-term partner, Emily said, these are the photos to avoid posting on your profile:
• Half-naked photos are best saved for folks seeking out casual sex.
• Photos with datable friends can give your potential suitor the wrong idea about your feelings for that friend.
• No children or parent pics — those types of photos don’t tend to be fun and flirty.
• Group photos with people who are more attractive than you are.
• Professional photos can come across as weird.
Instead, you should post photos that focus on you, and reflect your interests. Keep your photos current and be sure to include a few body shots too. Emily suggested that research shows that women do better with photos in which they’re making eye contact with the camera and are making a flirty expression — but no duck-face! Men have more leeway. Both smiling pics and non-smiling pics will work when trying to attract partners.

Your Messages
“If you send a great message, and they send a great message, and you have two or three great exchanges, I go for the number right away,” said Emily. It should take five messages, or fewer, to convert interest into a date. “They’re going to meet, or they’re not, you can tell,” she said. Her one exception is that some women prefer to message or text for a couple of weeks, because they’ve had unsafe online dates in the past.
If someone responds with only one or two sentences, or they don’t ask questions about you, it’s a clear sign they’re just not that interested. This goes both ways, said Emily: “If you want a conversation and you’re interested in somebody — ask questions!”

Bonus Content!
Emily shares her top three dating profile tips:

To hire Emily for date coaching, profile writing, or messaging, you can contact her through her website. And to get my take on all your relationship problems, email me at [email protected].