Creating a profile
Your profile is your online persona as far as other users of an online dating service is concerned. You've heard of first impressions being important, right? Well, your profile will be the first impression that you create if someone finds you on a dating site. Even if you're an ugly no-hoper, hopefully this article will help you to create a profile that will have people flocking to contact you.
Hopefully you've already read the first part of this dating guide referring to safety. If not, please head on back and take the time to read through it. It's not a long article and only in fact lists key points to consider that will keep you safe. It is however worth reiterating here that you should not give out any contact information along with your profile. Most quality dating services will guard against this anyway, because they too want to keep you safe. However, there may be some that don't check all new profiles by hand and so it is worth mentioning here.
You may also want to consider creating a separate email account to use with the dating services. You'll probably be surprised at how much you will end up using this account once the ball gets rolling! It helps to keep all your dating related emails separate, in the interest of organisation (anyone know what that is?!). As your email account will likely be your primary source of communication with the dating service, a separate one specifically used for this purpose can really be handy. Setting up new email accounts is easy these days. Just make use of a free email hosting services such as hotmail or Yahoo! etc.
Your Picture :
Just as your profile is the first thing people will see when they find you on a dating site, your picture is the first aspect people will notice about your profile. A bad picture can in fact cause people to completely ignore your profile altogether. Whilst this article isn't a lesson in photography, some basic tips will help you get it right. Whatever you do, if you can possibly avoid it, don't use a passport photo. As you're most likely aware, these pretty much always turn out looking terrible. Of course, if you do happen to strike it lucky and yours looks ok then there's no reason why you shouldn't use it.
Avoid the temptation to pull a stupid face to cover up any insecurities. Just be yourself, but of course pick your best side! Whilst we're on composition, try not to take a photo of your face that's straight on. Instead, turn almost side on to the camera and then turn your face towards the camera. This will stop your face from looking like a big moon!
Now -- a word on lighting. The best lighting for your picture is not too harsh but not too dull. What this basically means is that direct sunlight is not very flattering. Ever wondered why photographers use those reflective umbrellas? They're used to spread and soften the light. Similarly, make sure there's enough light in the first place. If you can avoid it try not to take the photo in a situation where you have to use a flash. Small flashes on compact cameras often spoil what would have been a good photo in daylight. The light from a window can result in a good photo.
So what do you actually do with yourself whilst the photograph is being taken? Well, obviously, smiling helps. No - not a cheesy grin, a smile! Get someone that makes you laugh to take the photo.
Don't go over the top with the flirting. By all means, show some flesh and look sexy but keep it to a level you're comfortable with. Though, this "X-factor" obviously depends on what you want from the experience and the type of person you want to attract! However, if you're male - you'll have more luck if you don't mention sex at all in your profile!
I would suggest buying a film and getting your friend to fill the whole thing with photos of you. One of the photos, if you follow the tips above, is bound to turn out pretty nice. Professional photographers will take loads of photos of the same thing in varying situations with the hope that one of them will turn out just right. If it works for them, it can work for you. Maybe not on the same level, but you may get close! Oh and if you have a digital camera, then put it to good use.
Then again, if you can afford a professional photographer to take a few photographs of you, then this is probably the most reliable method of getting a photo that you (and other people!) will like. However, make sure the photographer understands that you want it to look "natural." Otherwise you run the risk of looking like a professional model and people will think you've just cut a picture out of a magazine or something!
If you don't have a digital camera, scanner or webcam then you might find it hard getting your photo on your computer ready for uploading. Worry not! Some dating services will scan your photo in for you. Just send it to them in the post. Be careful though, because not all sites will offer this service. If you think you will need something like this then be sure to find out first.
Alternatively, some photo-processing shops will now put your photographs onto a CDROM for you, which you can then obviously use to upload your chosen snap to the dating service.
Your Opening Line:
A lot of dating services will allow you to write your own "opening line" that is sometimes used as a link into your more detailed profile from a search results page. This, like your picture, could mean the difference between people clicking it to read more about you or, worst case, simply ignoring it.
Obviously we want to go for the more preferable "click" option! So it's important to write this so people simply can't resist wanting to know more about you. To help ensure this, try to write something that will catch someone's attention, but still has an air of mystique about it.
Be Honest - Yes, make yourself appear desirable but, as they say, keep it real! For example, if you're not a millionaire, don't even be tempted to say you are. Building yourself up like that to other people will only bring things crashing down in the future. That said - make sure you don't sound too boring.
People must be able to gage your real character from just looking at your profile. It's important that your answers to the questions the dating service ask are honest for a load of reasons. The main one being that your answers will be used in any match making processes that the dating site may use. So unless you want to be matched with someone completely wrong for you, don't lie… too much!
Whilst remaining honest, remember that you do actually want to appear attractive to people! The best thing for this is to inject some humour into your answers. Also, try to sound excited about the whole process. Even if you're not (you should be!) this excitement is contagious and will be really encouraging to anyone contemplating contacting you.
Creating your profile:
First impressions count! Your profile is the first impression you will create online. So make it a good'n!
Never, ever, reveal any personal contact information when creating your profile except for your email address, which will be required.
Create a separate email account to handle all your dating service related communications. Use a free email provider such as hotmail for this purpose.
Your picture is the first aspect of your profile people will notice.
Don't be tempted to use a bad photo. Have some fun in getting one that looks good!
Try to be as natural as possible. You'll look more approachable if you're relaxed.
When taing the photo, avoid poor lighting conditions that involve a flash. Small flashes make for bad photographs.
Avoid direct sunlight, it's too harsh and will show up all those imperfections you really want to hide!
Soft window light is good.
Face slightly sideways on to the camera and then turn your head in.
It's worth filling a whole film full of photos of you. You're more likely to get one you like.
If you don't have the equipment to get your photo scanned into the computer, some dating sites will scan them in for you. Check first.
Failing that, some photo processing shops will create a CDROM of your photos for you.
Your Opening Line:
Some dating services allow you to create your own opening line which is used to "lead in" to your more detailed profile.
Because of this, people must feel they want to learn more about you after reading it. The best way to do this is to write something eye catching but that still has an air of mystique.
Don't make yourself out to be something you're not in order to attract people.
Inject some humour into your answers if possible.
Don't give too much away. Some mystery is a good thing.
Excitement is contagious, so try to sound enthusiastic about the whole process!