Discovering what’s special about you

black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe lookalike

Part three in our Time to Shine Online Dating series.

black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe lookalike

In the last part of the series, we focused on helping you to articulate your ideal relationship, highlighting the values, priorities, qualities and behaviours that make you happy and pinpointing your boundaries. This has given you clear guidelines, which will help you recognise if someone is a good match for you or not.

In this part we are going to be figuring out more about who you are. What makes you you? What will make you stand out from your competitors and ultimately help you attract more of the right kind of people?

We are going to start to start work on the most important part of online dating: your online dating profile. Excited? I hope so. It’s your time to explore and understand more about you and how you can best portray yourself.

Get your glow on

First off you need to get into the right frame of mind to tackle today’s exercise. So, what makes you feel great and buzzy, happy and confident? Is it a certain outfit, high-heeled shoes, a cowboy hat, a tiara, a favourite song?

I want you to think about what will lift your mood and have you feeling fired up. For me, right now, I have Daft Punk’s Get Lucky playing on a loop, I am wearing boyfriend jeans with heels and a t-shirt and I keep getting up to dance regularly round the living room, as it energises and excites me.

Mad? Yes. Does it help me be more productive? Absolutely yes!

So what is so important about your online dating profile?

1. Your online dating profile is the first thing people will see about you. Along with your photos, it will be the thing that makes people decide whether they want to meet you or not. First impressions count so your profile needs to make people sit up and take notice, for the right reasons of course.

2. It needs to be truly representative of you. Think of it like your very own shop window. Everything that sits in your shop window needs to work hard to draw in the right kind of customer – you don’t want to waste time with the wrong customers if you can help it.

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Let’s get to work

black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe lookalikeNow, your photos will play a big part in this, but we will come on to that in the next part of this series. In the meantime, let’s focus on gathering crucial information, which will help create your written profile. The very first thing we are going to do is to identify your USP (unique selling point) if you will.

Before we begin, just do a quick check. Are you feeling upbeat and buzzy? Are you listening to a favourite song, doing whatever it takes to get your glow on?

Great, let’s get going.

Mini exercise – identifying your USP

I want you to set aside 20 minutes for this exercise. Set a timer for this one and write down your answers.

1. What have been the most standout compliments you have ever received?

2. When you’re at a dinner party, what are your go-to funny anecdotes relating to you?

3. If you were at a job interview, what would you list as your key skills?

4. How would your friends describe you if they were drafting up your profile for you?

5. What are you passionate about? What can you not stop talking about given half the chance?

6. What articles are you drawn to first when you pick up a magazine or newspaper?

7. What would be impossible for you to give up?

8. What is your favourite way to spend your weekend (or indeed any free time)?

9. What are your hobbies? (I know what you’re thinking…Who has time for hobbies these days?) OK, if you had time for hobbies what would you absolutely be doing?

10. What would your 5-8 word personal mantra be? (Mine goes something like this: ‘Tall, sassy photographer loves creating unicorn-like magic photos’.)

Let’s get specific

OK, how did that go? You should be starting to gather some good quality content for your written profile. Let’s keep going though. The key to discovering your USP is to get really specific about what makes you you.

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This online dating series is called Time to Shine Online for a reason. One of my passions is to help you to shine. To do that we need to unearth your shiny bits, polish them up and get them out on display.

Take a few minutes to write down your 6 favourite of the following:

  • Books
  • Films
  • Places
  • Meals
  • Songs
  • Artists/musicians/comedians
  • Things to do at weekends
  • Things to look at online

So we are now building on the content that you’ve started collecting by pinpointing some specific interests, which are unique to you. A winning dating profile always contains very specific information about the person.

Why is this? By writing a profile which includes this kind of information you will avoid falling into the trap of using the same old clichés that have dogged dating profiles since the dawn of online dating.

‘I am just as happy in a pair of stilettos in the city as a pair of wellies in the country.’

‘There’s nothing I like more than watching a film curled up on the sofa with a good bottle of red wine and a curry.’

‘I love reading, travelling, watching films and cooking.’

I could go on. What do these all have in common? Well, do they excite you? Do they leap off the page and make you think, I’ve got to meet this person? I’m guessing no.

black and white photo of Marilyn Monroe lookalikeThese expressions are as old as the hills, they’ve been used time and again and don’t actually say anything. Who doesn’t like reading, travelling, watching films and cooking? It tells us nothing about this person.

So what we have been doing today is collecting more exciting content which tells the story of who you really are. This will leap off the page to someone that understands your values and interests.

Finally, I want us to whittle down the essence of you to three words. Your brand words for the brand that is you.

All dating profiles require a dating moniker and tagline and these are actually worth doing properly. You don’t want to write an amazing, stand-out, jump-up fantastic profile only to have a dull tagline and irrelevant moniker, do you?

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Final exercise

First off, write down a list of words that you feel reflect you right now. These words should excite you, galvanise you, motivate you, move you, thrill you.

Sassy, uplifting, thrilling, invigorating, inspiring, motivating, influential, caring, happy-go-lucky, bold…

These are just some examples to get you in the mood. You may have noticed that some of those words crop up time and again in my writing. That is because I have a strong sense of my own personal brand for myself and my business and some of those words above are part of that brand.

Ok, now I want you to narrow those words down to the three that speak to you most. You might want to hit the thesaurus and come up with more exciting variations of the words that you have or you may be happy with what you have.

I hope you enjoyed discovering more about what makes you tick and what constitutes ‘brand you’. Next week, we can start to pull it all together in our winning profile. I hope you’re feeling buzzed now (another one of my words)!


purple flowerIf you were struggling with any of today’s exercises, I think you would find it valuable to do a bit of work on exploring more about who you are. You want to have all the necessary information at your fingertips when it comes to writing up your dating profile. It will make the experience a lot more pleasurable, fun even.

So to do that, I want you to become Columbo for the week. I want you to take particular notice of the things you do, the places you go, the people you see, the food that you eat, the hobbies that you enjoy, the programmes you watch, the books you read, the newspaper articles that you are drawn to.

Your job is to figure out what drives you, what enthrals you, what makes you tick. Write them down as you go along. It’ll be fun (I promise) and it’ll make writing your dating profile a whole lot easier.

woman using a tablet for online dating


Back to Time to Shine Online Dating series:

Saskia Nelson

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.