Writing Online Dating Profiles: Advice from an Ad Agency

The Starship Agency
Jul 25 · 5 min read

Apparently, there’s a sex recession going on in America. As well as a trend towards staying single in Seoul. To be honest, who’s surprised? The world’s clearly ending. Climate change is real, extreme weather events are growing normal, we’re still burning fossil fuels, nationalism is rife everywhere… there was even a Nutella shortage recently. Horrific. In this kind of environment, if you’re still looking to date? Good on you, mate. We’re here to help.

People Who Don’t Need This Online Dating Profiles Guide

If you’re very photogenic, you probably have no problems getting matches on a dating app so why are you even reading this post? You could probably just write one of those painfully standard profiles with emojis and get away with it. If you’re too lazy to rip it off someone else, here:

I’m a down-to-earth [guy/girl/person] looking for a partner in crime. I love travelling and food. [Emojis involving surfing, music, food, animals, whatever.]

Or, a personal favourite of mine, the 0 care factor statement:

will write something soon

Studies indicate that people tend to message people who are 25% more attractive than they are, aka “aspirational” dating. Strategically speaking, if you’re already good-looking, it doesn’t matter what you write. As long as your photos are pretty good and don’t make you look like a serial killer, you’d get matches. You’d be surprised how many people fail this last requirement. A friend of mine once showed me a Tinder photo of a guy in a certain kind of outfit, chained to a toilet. I’ve personally seen profile photos of people mugging for the camera with guns, like the sort of grainy person-of-interest image that newspapers publish after a mass shooting. Don’t… well actually, if you like looking like a low budget extra from Die Hard, go ahead and upload the picture. In advertising nowadays, sincerity and authenticity help you stand out from a crowd. So uh, go ahead! It’d give the rest of us normies something to swipe away from.

Everyone Else

Tip 1: Pay for shelf space.

People tend to have short attention spans, and with how online dating has been gamified along with everything else, your visibility matters. Think of it this way. You’re looking at a shelf of pasta sauces, none of which you recognise, all of which are free. You can pick one. How do you pick? At eye-level? Well, you could pay for premium shelf space like eye-level products do — by paying for A-list or whatever’s similar. Yes, that’s what products like Timtams do. You don’t think they just happen to be within easy arm’s reach in a store because the stars have aligned, do you?

Tip 2: Packaging matters.

Packaging is an essential part of selling a product. Wait, you say. Isn’t this article about writing an online dating profile? Why are we talking about my terrible hostage-image photos that I took in bad lighting in a toilet? Because nice packaging creates trust in a consumer, that’s why. If your profile photo will scare small children, it’d probably scare away potential matches. Have someone help you take a photo. With good lighting, maybe in the morning’s natural light somewhere. The photo should be as nice as whatever you’ve uploaded to LinkedIn. You should endeavour not to look socially ignorant or a stereotype. It should therefore hopefully not have you holding a beer, you posing in front of Machu Picchu, or with drugged animals. Don’t upload a group shot and make people guess which person you are. Do you want to look at a pasta sauce label and have to guess whether it has chilli or not? Exactly.

Tip 3: Be authentic.

Be honest. Be very honest. There’s nothing wrong with stating what you’re looking for, or your life circumstances. It saves time and disappointment on both sides. It actually surprises me how honest people are on these things, especially on OKCupid, which, by the way, is really good at writing seemingly innocuous questions that are actually red flags to the right person looking. I’ve seen people admit that they think racist jokes are funny, that they don’t understand what consent means, that they don’t think evolution is a thing, or that they don’t think Star Trek and Star Wars are science fiction.

It’s gotten to a point where I’ve dropped off using other apps that don’t have such in-depth questionnaires. I don’t want to be going on dates with someone who thinks a Muslim Ban should be enforced, or that No doesn’t absolutely mean No. It’s great. And yes, be completely honest about your politics. Nothing tells people more about your character than your personal politics, no matter what you might hope. Whether you believe in gender equality, gay marriage, climate change, or gun control — they all give a more honest picture of who you are than whether or not you like beer. It’ll save time.

Tip 4: Spellcheck.

It’s not hard. If you’re terminally unable to write in complete sentences, paste your paragraph into a free spellchecker, like Grammarly or something. Would you forward a paragraph full of spellos to a job interview? No? Why not? Because you want to come across as a functional human being? Apply the same kind of attitude to dating.

Tip 5: No Unabomber Screeds.

Many popular online dating profiles require you to write something about yourself. This can go from a short paragraph or so, which is the preferred approach on apps like Bumble and Tinder, to as long as you like on apps like OKCupid. I’ve seen long rambling screeds on OkCupid with limited paragraphing and a creative approach to spelling and grammar that look like something written by the Unabomber. While I find screeds funny to read, especially the ones ranting about how modern women are materialistic and small-minded or whatever (True story), the average person doesn’t have a big attention span to read something incredibly long. After all, reading 5 books a year puts you into the top tier of readers worldwide. Nobody has the time nowadays to read a wall of text, even if said wall of text doesn’t make you sound like a bit of a nutjob.

In other words, online dating profiles are pretty much elevator pitches for yourself. You’re putting down a sales pitch about yourself, toward a particular target market, while surrounded by similar competition. It should ideally give a sense of who you are, be memorable enough that someone will swipe right, and — this is VERY important — not be incredibly creepy. You’d be surprised how many people fail this last requirement. Try reading out what you wrote to yourself. Did you cringe? Were you able to say it without struggling to breathe?

Remember, whoever’s looking at your profile needs to be able to make a snap judgment about whether or not they trust you enough to reach out. In a world where people routinely get murdered for meeting other people on Tinder, when you look at your profile, ask yourself: do I look like a serial killer? If the answer is ‘yes’, think that through. Good luck. It’s a wide world out there and a bit of a crapshoot. Apply some common sense and advertising principles and you should do fine. Oh, and if you’re Keanu Reeves, famous bachelor, feel free to get in touch.

The Starship Agency

Written by

We are a fully integrated, accredited advertising agency based in Victoria, Australia. Want to see more of our stuff? Check out www.starship.com.au.

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