a Better Online Personal Ad
By Tracy Brant at Dateable.com
you are going to invest time or money in using a matchmaking
website, you should really pay some attention to writing
a profile that will get you some responses. People will
not be interested in emailing you if you do not do something
to make yourself stand out from the masses of people
using personal ads.
administer several dating websites. People frequently
write in saying, "I never get any replies to my ad."
And when I go look at the ad, I find that they have
not filled out the profile, or added a photo. Who can
tell if they want to email you if there is no information?
Not quite as bad, but still ineffective, is a profile
that says, "Email me for details" or "looking for a
nice person." You can't bother to write a paragraph
to find the love of your life? Or even a fun date for
are some guidelines for writing effective personal ad
Decide that this is worth spending some time on, or
don't bother. You wouldn't submit a sloppy resume, would
you? This is about making a good first impression, because
there will be no second chance once someone clicks to
the next ad.
You are marketing yourself... trying to stand out in
a crowd. You are the "product." and the people you want
to meet are your customers. Think about who you want
to meet, and then think about who THEY want to meet!
How can you tell them that YOU are the person they want
to meet? Magazine ads, for example, grab your attention,
make you laugh, they make you think "wow, what a great
thing... I want to buy it." They can be short, but pack
a punch. If they are long, they tell a good story. Marketers
test their different ad campaigns, and you should, too.
Try placing different ads to see what gets you a better
Before you log in anywhere, do some thinking and writing.
Don't wait until you are faced with a blinking cursor
to write your blurb. Give serious thought to how you
will describe yourself and the person you hope to find.
Write at least two paragraphs, one about yourself, and
one about the person you seek. Ask someone you trust
to read those paragraphs and comment on how well they
reflect who you are and what you want. Save that text
to cut and paste into dating website forms. Have a digital
photo or two ready.
LINES. Use your username... don't be Bob3456... be PaintBallPrincess
or SecretSuperHero or something else that reflects your
sense of humor and yourself. If the ad allows you a
"subject line" also use that well... "Need woman in
Atlanta" doesn't cut it. "Atlanta man on a mission"
sounds more interesting. "Atlanta Knight seeks his Queen"
tells a different story about who you are seeking. Use
your username and subject line to hook people into your
ad. Use humor, drama, a funky metaphor. Then, like any
good ad, you want to show them you are what they need,
show them why you are unique, and invite them to take
action... by emailing you!
Write in complete sentences. Spelling and grammar DO
count. We have modern tools to help with that. You want
to look like you find this task important enough to
spell out the words. Unless you are 15 years old, writing
"If u r inrested n me, wrt 2 me" makes you LOOK 15 years
old. ALL CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING... don't. It is actually
harder to read.
If you are not honest with yourself and others, you
will not find happiness in the personals. Are you married?
You know, people CAN figure that out and will resent
the lie more than the wedding ring. Without making any
value judgements, putting down "married" will not necessarily
stop you from finding matches. If you are just looking
for a casual date, don't imply that you are looking
for marriage just to get more email... it wastes everyone's
time. If you are looking for a long-term thing, don't
think you can "convince" a casual date to spend more
time with you. You are asking for disappointment. Try
completing this sentence: "In a year, I'd like to see
Guys, I see many you making a crucial mistake in your
profiles. You will find that women are seldom looking
for a "no strings relationship." There simply is no
such thing... if it is a relationship, it has strings
of SOME sort. If you don't want strings, you are looking
for an escort service. Women of any description can
find casual physical relationships without lifting a
finger to a keyboard. Don't lie, but think about which
"strings" are okay with you. "Seeking Torrid Summer
Romance" is fine and honest. So is, "I am not eager
to move in or get married. I want to have a regular
date for parties and cookouts with my friends." Ladies,
this counts for you, too. If your personal ad sounds
like you might be offering paid sexual services, you
are going to get some rude offers. You might avoid phrases
like, "looking for a wealthy man with good taste in
PHYSICAL. Have you ever really dated someone just for
their eye color? OK, maybe you have spectacular eyeballs.
But ads tend to reel off personal stats... and then
stop there, as though there were nothing but a body.
Most personal sites let you click things to describe
your eyes, hair, and height... don't waste valuable
profile space on your hair. Talk about who you are first,
and what you look like at the end. Want to know the
number one thing surveyed women look for in a guy? A
sense of humor.
NEGATIVES. This is not the place to list all the things
that drove you crazy about your ex and how you won't
put up with that again. Don't list what you don't want...
discuss what you DO want. Turn your own lifestyle quirks
into positives, not obstacles. Workaholic? Try, "My
career keeps me very busy, so I need someone with a
flexible schedule for spontaneous one-day adventures."
Frugal to a fault? Try "I find it amusing to squeeze
a nickel 'til it screams... help me research for my
web column "CheapDates for CheapSkates." Worried people
will regard your children as an obstacle? "My family
is very important to me and I hope to find someone that
will enjoy the attention of a warm family circle."
A PHOTO. Website statistics show that an ad with a photo
is 80% more likely to get a response. A photo that shows
you relaxed and having fun, no matter what you look
like, is even better. Don't use a photo that isn't current..
it isn't worth looking so insecure, or being rejected
later. Don't rush to ask for a photo... you may look
like a "pic trader," someone who is collecting photos
rather than looking for a real date. Don't stress about
your looks... attraction is about more than looks. Yes,
we often are first attracted to someone by looks, when
we meet in person. But on the Internet, if you seem
like a jerk, you won't get the chance to meet in person.
LIFE STAGES. People often say that "age" is not as important
as "life stage." Where are you in your life? Just starting
out in a new career? Settled into life with kids? Empty-nesting?
Exploring new interests? These are things that matter.
Talk about what is important in your life. "I am established
in my career and now turning my attention to the great
books I never had time to read." "I moved to this state
for a job after college, and I am looking for dates
with a lot of outdoors-loving friends to help me build
a sporty new social circle."
THINGS. Listing ALL your favorite things is dizzying..
Choose one good example and talk about why you like
it. Choose something that gives the reader an insight
into what you enjoy. You want people to be able to spot
things you have in common, but also feel that there
is something new and interesting to learn about you.
Interest them in learning more with a "teaser" about
something fascinating about you. Ask a question for
them to answer in the reply email.
Never... NEVER include your last name, phone number
or address. Observe the rules of the various websites...
some do not allow you to post web addresses or email
addresses. Many prohibit crude language or sexual references.
Getting your ad removed by breaking rules is a waste
let your personality be shown in a tasteful way, take
the time to do a good job, and have a good photo. Those
things alone will put you far ahead of the misspelled
anonymous pack. Best of luck!
© Dateable.com LLC 2002