How to write a winning dating profile

black and white photo of a woman smiling

Part four in our Time to Shine Online Dating series

online-dating-profile-21-300x199We’re now going to focus on helping you create a punchy, winning written profile for you to post online on your chosen dating sites. It may seem like a daunting task, but we are going to break it down into manageable chunks and try and have some fun with it.

If you completed the exercises earlier in the series on discovering your brand, you should have quite a few notes, which will provide the content for your profile. Half the work is already done! You totally deserve a pat on the back for that. Let’s break down your dating profile in the following ways:

  1. Username 
  2. Headline
  3. Paragraph
  4. Photos

We’re now going to focus on really nailing the first two sections.

The username

Every dating site requires you to have a username to distinguish you from all the other daters on the site. It needs to be unique, so it is obviously quite challenging to find a one that is available and works for you.

It is worth spending a bit of time trying to find the right one – first impressions count, and this is the first thing people read about you.

black and white photo of a woman smilingIf you have tried online dating before, you will probably be aware that there are a lot of bad usernames out there. Lots of people, unfortunately, give this little or no thought, often choosing perhaps their first name with a series of numbers after it.

As we are trying to attract people here, not robots, it makes sense to try and come up with a name that appeals to the kind of people we want to attract.

The username you choose needs to work for you not against you, so ideally it needs to be:

  • Clear
  • Easy to remember 
  • Appealing to the people you want to attract
  • Positive 
  • Funny, creative or silly

For example, imagine you see someone online and he is called Frank096732 and then straight after you see someone called FrankLikesCakes – which one are you more likely to click on?

The second Frank sounds infinitely more interesting to me than the first one. His name makes me chuckle because it’s a bit silly, but it shows he has some imagination and already I know I have something in common with him.

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chocolate cupcakeFrank number two is making his username work hard for him rather than wasting this great opportunity to attract people from the get-go.

It is also a bit of a talking point. How much easier would it be to send him an email than the first Frank? Your opening line could make a joke of his name.

But also, crucially, it’s going to be much, much easier to remember the name of the second Frank, so if you want to find him again the next time you’re online, you will. Bingo, job done.

How to choose a username that will work hard for you

Have a look back at some of the things you came up with about yourself last week. Are there any words/phrases/hobbies that stand out from the crowd that are representative of you? For example, if you enjoy sewing, baking or painting you could come up with some examples as follows:


If you create a memorable username that includes something you like doing, is unique, clear, positive and appeals to people not robots, you are already storming ahead of your competition.

Just a note on this: if you are stringing words together as above, do use capital letters as I have done so that it is easier to see what the words say when put together. Lovesbakingbread, for example, is harder to read and is actually a bit off-putting, the exact opposite of what you’re aiming for.

What to avoid

Firstly, the most important thing is to make sure you’re using correct spelling and grammar (apart from the capital letter usage as outlined above).

So, avoid names like:


I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but they are just awful.

Secondly, avoid anything remotely sexy or seductive – it will give the wrong impression. Silly, fun, dorky, romantic (within reason), creative or even tender are good for usernames. You don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention.

Thirdly, it’s best to leave work out of things at this point. You may be an awesome business woman, project manager, director etc but your username is not the time or the place to showcase this. Your primary goal here is to find love, not a job.

woman looking into a lakeThe headline

Here we have a few more words to play with and our second opportunity to make a good impression and attract people to click on our profile. If you think of your dating profile as a shop full of goodies then your headline and username are your shop window dressing that are used to attract people inside.

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Let’s have a look below at some actual dating headlines in use now (the good, the bad and the ugly…)

…xoxox type witty intro here xoxox…
‘If I were god I would summon the angels one night to let loose the disc of the sun in the furnace of darkness’
A gentle giant
Let’s meet in London…
I’m tall, slim and mildly attractive in the perfect light.
It may be just right…so let’s see shall we…?
I am a confident fit guy who enjoys trying most things on life
Free to good home
Rebuilding a life – work in progress
Kind, caring female looking for friendship and hopefully more
Lust for travel seeks first class companion
Looking for someone to share the fun things in life.
No nonsense
Will come back to this part when I have thought if 20 woess

I literally cut and paste the first 15 I came across directly from two different dating sites today – so these are real, live headlines uncensored by me. What are your thoughts when you read these?

Were there any you liked? Any you hated? Any that scared you? That’s a ‘yes’ from me!

woman using an online dating websitePersonally, apart from the last one (not only too lazy to think of something, they can’t even be bothered to check their spelling) and the scary one about the ‘furnace of darkness’, I find the others fine, but perhaps a little bland. Basically, I’m not on falling over myself to click the ‘read more’ button.

What is the one thing guaranteed to make me click? Curiosity or something that makes me laugh. So when you’re creating your own headline, you need to ask yourself, does this pique interest? Will it make someone want to find out more? Or will it make them laugh?

We also need to remember the rules we learnt for creating our username, as they still apply here:

  • Clear
  • Easy to remember 
  • Appealing to the people you want to attract
  • Positive 
  • Funny, creative or silly
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Headlines that express your creativity, individuality and even show courage are probably all going to work for you. Let’s look at some better examples that I have found:

45 is the new 30
In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back…
Guaranteed more fun than your ex
Free 30-day trial
Is feasting on chocolate whilst crossing a continent by train – your idea of fun?
Am I your needle in the haystack?
While you’re waiting for the real Don Draper
I think we’re going to need a bigger boat
Ruthless uncompromising tea drinker
We can just say we met at the library
“The funniest guy I ever met!” says The Guardian
Will work for cuddles
Two things I’ve never told anyone…

Did any of these headlines appeal to you? They appealed to my taste, but may well not appeal to yours. In any case they are slightly more interesting and well thought out than the earlier ones, demonstrating a level of creativity and humour.

There is no need to feel intimidated by this task. With a little bit of effort you will probably come up with something that is better than 90% of what is currently out there!

If you’re still feeling stuck and uninspired, you could just stick to a headline that describes your USP (which we looked at last week).

For example:

Trigger-happy photographer looking for her muse
Jamie Oliver inspired chef looking for willing dinner partners

If you’re still struggling, you could turn to suitable quotes from films, books or famous people. For example:

‘I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy’ (Notting Hill)

And finally, some headlines to avoid

Cheesy – I’m Pooh Bear looking for his honey
Sexy – (no examples needed)
Clichés – Girl looking for her prince
Negative – High maintenance women need not apply, drama queens need not apply
Bragging – Don’t email me telling me I’m hot, I already know!

Get your thinking caps on and we will continue working on creating your perfect dating profile in the next part of our Time to Shine Online Dating series.

Read a real life online dating story here.

woman using a tablet for online dating


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About Saskia Nelson

Saskia Nelson is London’s one and only dating photographer. She supports men and women to find love at all stages of their lives by working with them to create some gorgeous images for their online dating profile and by running a blog, which provides practical online dating guidance. She learned a lot about online dating from her own personal experiences, in her long and bumpy, but ultimately successful, online search for love. Happily, she is now settled with her long-term partner (spotted on Guardian Soulmates) and has two stepchildren (who are awesome). She is passionate about helping London’s single people to shine online.