Online Dating Guide: 10 Tips to Create a Winning Profile

online dating profile

The rise of the internet in the early aughts may have started the online dating craze, but the pandemic really kicked it into high gear. Dating has always had its challenges with all the unwritten rules one must adhere to, but online dating presents a whole slew of hurdles to overcome. First impressions are more important than ever before, as today you only have milliseconds to catch someone’s attention and get them to swipe right on a dating app.

Your dating profile is a reflection of you, so taking the time to make sure it’s an accurate reflection of yourself and who you’re looking to attract is important if you want to spend less time swiping and more time making genuine connections.

To help you create a winning profile, we sought advice from Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge, the dating app “designed to be deleted.” If you’re looking to update your dating profile and maximize your return on every swipe, start with these 10 tips.

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Choose a Variety of Photos

Pick a really great single headshot for the main photo (no group photos), but feel free to include group photos later on in the slideshow to demonstrate that you’re not a lonely serial killer looking for his next victim. Include photos of you engaged in some of your favorite activities or hobbies, like swinging a golf club, taking pictures, or sliding down a zip line.

“Remember: your photos make the first impression. Don’t just choose the six most recent photos on your phone. Choose six photos that tell your story.” says Ury. “Successful profiles include a mixture of both humor and vulnerability, so lean into both your silly side and your more serious one,” recommends Ury.

Avoid Selfies, Filters, or Awkward Crops

You should be the focus in every picture you post, but selfies tend to send the wrong message unless you’re looking for someone equally as narcissistic. Filters distort reality and make it hard for a potential date to discern what you really look like, and it also looks like you’re trying to hide something. If you do end up dating someone offline, they will eventually know what you really look like, so skip the charade.

Conversely, prospective dates don’t want to see you completely up close and personal, so avoid cropping photos in a way that blows them up to take up more than half of the screen. This can also pixelate the image, which isn’t a good look either. Choose clear, high-resolution photos that show off who you really are.

Another important “don’t”: “Don’t show yourself smoking,” says Ury. “Our research shows it’s a major turn off.”

Make Sure Your Photos are Current

Sure, your college photo is hot. But if that was a few years back, a potential date wants to see what you look like today. Use photos taken within the last 1-2 years and expect the person on the other end of the phone to do the same. Again, there’s no use in hiding who you really are or what you really look like, as anyone you’re really interested in will find out eventually.

Be Authentic and Open to Making New Connections

“Above all else, focus on presenting your authentic self,” says Ury. “Your profile should be an extension of your personality.”

Everyone on a dating app is there for the same reason: To meet new people and see what sparks fly. There’s no use in hiding behind false platitudes, because if you’re not looking for that deeper emotional and physical connection with someone else, then you wouldn’t be on the app. Now that you’re here, confidently state who are and what you’re looking for.

“Your profile is your opening line, so include photos and written responses to lead to the types of conversations you want to engage in,” says Ury. “If you include a picture of yourself cooking, people will chat with you about that topic. If you write a prompt response about loving road trip songs, someone might ask you about your playlist.”

Show Different Sides of Yourself

“Making your profile all one flavor is a common mistake we’ve seen time and time again,” says Ury. “If it’s overly serious and sappy, people will assume you have no sense of humor.”

Dating apps are filled with corny jokes and bad puns, which can be hilarious and help initiate some great conversations with like-minded matches, but even professional comedians aren’t funny all the time. Show your funny sarcastic side, but in at least one of the prompt responses, be genuine.

“You’re not just one thing,” says Ury. “Mix it up and show us different sides of yourself.”

Ask Questions

“Great connections start with great conversations,” says. Ury. “The best way to establish a powerful connection in the beginning is to ask questions to show you’re interested.”

Pictures might be what grabs someone’s attention initially, but it’s the conversation that gets them to stay, and hopefully eventually take things offline and on a real date. People love talking about themselves, so be curious about your matches by asking them thoughtful questions. This strategy also helps you find common interests and determine if this is someone you want to learn more about.

Consider a Video Date Before Meeting in Person

In the past year, nearly everything has gone virtual — including first dates.

“Almost half (44%) of global Hinge users have been on a video date, and the majority of them plan to incorporate video into their dating process in the future,” says Ury. “It helps you to confidently decide who you want to take the next step with and meet in person in the future.”

Virtual dates are a completely safe, low-pressure way to get to know someone more than over text or messaging. Dating during a pandemic isn’t easy, but virtual dates allow you to at least get a better feel for someone you’re interested in and see if it’s worth pursuing. The stakes are incredibly low, and if the virtual date is a dud, you don’t even have to close out your tab.

Talk Up Your Strengths

This is hard for many people. They don’t feel comfortable talking about themselves especially in a public venue. But this is your chance to sell yourself to a partner. What makes you unique? What are things your friends like about you? What do you like about yourself? Make sure to highlight these things in your profile.

Change Course

If you’ve tried all the tips above and are still having trouble making connections with potential dates, Ury suggests running mini-experiments on your profile to see what changes garner better results.

“I want you to date like a scientist,” he says. “That means getting curious about how you’re showing up. Can you swap out your photos? Change your first one?”

Evaluate how you’re engaging with your matches. If you’re asking generic questions like, “How was your weekend?” try something more specific and open-ended. People appreciate when you make an effort to get to know them and show them you care, so engage thoughtfully. Respond quickly to matches you’re interested in, and try to move the conversation forward by asking questions.

Don’t Give Up

If you don’t hear back from someone you were interested in, don’t take it personally. Just keep moving forward and keep swiping until you make the right connection.

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