How to write a winning dating profile (part 2)

Saskia smiling

Part five in our Time to Shine Online Dating series.

perfect-profile-11-300x199Hopefully after the last article you have really nailed choosing a suitable username and headline: clear, easy to remember, positive and funny/creative.

I’m now going to cover tips for writing the main part of your online profile, the part I referred to as the ‘paragraph’.

First and foremost, before you put pen to paper, I want you to try a little tip I learnt from Oprah. Put on some lipstick or stilettos, or whatever makes you feel good about yourself. I want you to re-read the notes you made during the exercise Fabulous Me in part one of the Time to Shine Online Dating series when we looked at supersizing our self-love.

It’s time to remind yourself why you’re so fabulous!

When I was online dating, a friend gave me some great advice for composing my online dating profile. He said: ‘be specific, be surprising and show your personality.’

This turned out to be sound advice!

General guidelines

With that in mind, let’s focus on some general guidelines for writing the main part of your profile:

  1. Be honest – more challenging than it sounds!
  2. Be positive – as with anything relating to online dating, it is crucial that you come across as positive. This is not the time or occasion to be anything less than upbeat, light-hearted and firing on all cylinders. Leave your bad mood at the door.
  3. Be brief
  4. Show your personality – don’t explain it
  5. Be unique
  6. Be grammatically correct – use capital letters and exclamation marks sparingly.

1. Being honest

This sounds easy, right? Actually, you will be tempted, I mean really tempted, to lie a little in your profile. In fact, most people do lie on their profiles. Women mainly lie about their age and body shape while men lie about their height, income level and age.

Saskia in sunglassesIf everyone does it, you should be able to do it too, right? Of course you can, but by lying now, you will be setting yourself up for possible failure later, at the crucial dating stage.

There is nothing worse than arriving for a date only to see your date’s disappointment as he realises that you are older or heavier than you claimed to be.

Not only was I in the 35 – 45 age bracket when I was dating but I was also 5’11! Now, 5’11 women do not generally fare well at online dating – and certainly not if they try and hide it.

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I knew there was no point in lying about my height, for obvious reasons, so instead I focused on it in my profile and poked fun at myself in an amusing way, also making it clear that I wasn’t put off by men who were shorter than me.

By doing this, men approached me often because of my height but also in spite of my height. They liked my honest, confident approach to my height and found it refreshing. How different it would have turned out if, instead, I had claimed I was 5’9 and then towered over them at our first meeting.

2. Be positive

If you are trying to attract people to date you, it makes sense that you’ll need to show your best side and play down any faults. Don’t dwell on anything negative, focus on being fun, light-hearted and upbeat – and no, this is not the same as lying!

3. Be brief

I like to be the bearer of great news…guess what? You don’t need to write an essay when creating a winning dating profile.

If you want to draw people in it’s worth bearing in mind that men often don’t do much more than skim read profiles. If your written profile looks, at a glance, like a school essay then you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t get read at all.

The best way to tackle the written, meaty part of the profile is to use maybe 4 or 5 short paragraphs and make it look easy on the eye.

4. Show your personality, don’t explain it

Saskia looking at a leafFind a way to use your profile to showcase your best bits. Your photos, if chosen well, can help with this too.

So, rather than saying ‘I’m funny and always make people laugh’ say something that actually makes them laugh, so that you don’t have to spell out the fact that you’re funny, such as: ‘I’m one part Miranda Hart, one part Ruby Wax crossed with Joan Rivers but without the botox’.

Telling stories is also good way of doing this, especially as this helps you to be unique (see point 5). Remember it has to be a short story though.

5. Be unique

Although this is tucked away as point number 5, it is actually the most important point of all of them. This is the bit that is going to help you stand out from the crowd. If done well, your profile will tell them something about the real you, it will intrigue them and will make them want to find out more.

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You have already done a lot of preparation for this in earlier sections of Time to Shine Online, so dig out your notes and have another read through.

The main thing here is to avoid all the usual clichés, or ‘ad-speak’ as I call it, that you find on many profiles – when you really unpick them, they don’t actually say anything useful at all.

Here are some examples of phrases used on real profiles (and which are found everywhere). NB Mistakes are not mine!

Clichés to avoid

I love fine dining and good wine
I love the finer things in life
I’m as happy wearing wellies in the country as I am wearing stilettos in the city
I love nights in with a DVD, a curry and a good bottle of red
I’ve not been fortunate on the dating front lately, so thought I’d give the site a try…fingers crossed!

These are all fine but if you want to create a winning profile, which I know you do, you will need to up your game by personalising the profile with details that tell more about who you are.


Saskia looking at the grassLet’s take a quick look at cliché number 1 – ‘I love fine dining and good wine’. Frankly, who doesn’t? What is this telling us about the person behind the profile? Not a huge amount.

It’s been used so often on dating profiles it is virtually meaningless. So how could we improve on this? Be specific. Talk about things that are meaningful to you and that say a little about you.

You could try using the following prompts instead:

My favourite ever meal was when I…
I love eating at this small place in…where the waiters really look after you and I…
My idea of a great meal is…
In my head I win Masterchef every time….
A good bottle of wine is one that…

Good examples

Here are some examples from current, real profiles. The people involved have made an effort to express themselves beyond the usual clichés and in doing so shared a lot more about who they are and what makes them tick.

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Many people say that my deep, baritone voice is made for radio. That’s true, but as you can see, my face is also made for radio…
I’m a young 48, I am told I look 40 (in poor lighting conditions).
I’ll try anything once (or twice), except for Taggart and Morris dancing.
I have a neglected 12-string-guitar named Calypso, who now only has 10.5 strings, but I like playing her.
I am a short, bald, rude, lazy, selfish, drunken scoundrel with a face like a dropped pie.

I found some of these on American websites – they seem to be much smoother at online dating than their British counterparts! These examples aren’t perfect (particularly that last one) but you can see how they are trying to be specific and surprising and, in doing so, showcase elements of their personality. A dose of humour works wonders on a profile too.

If you’re stuck for ideas for how to get going with your written profile you could try using the following prompts to help the words flow more easily.

  • 6 things I could never do without are…
  • What I’m doing with my life…
  • A typical weekend includes…

Remember to try and inject some humour into it.

6. Be grammatically correct

This is just common sense. Don’t forget that if you use capital letters all the time, it is like shouting in ‘internet speak’ so it can come across as rude.

Things to avoid

  • Talking about work too much, unless of course your job is a talking point
  • Oversharing or being too self-absorbed
  • Bragging
  • Simple lists, unless they are funny or really interesting
  • Write rules, e.g. “I’m looking for someone who must like opera music and wear nice suits.”

When you have written your profile, sleep on it and re-read it again the next day. And remember to ask yourself if it is specific, surprising and whether it shows your personality.

If you’re still not sure about it, feel free to email it over to me and I’d be happy to take a look. Good luck!!

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.