Write a Better Online Personal Ad
By Tracy Brant at Dateable.com
If you are going to invest time or money in using a matchmaking website,
you should really pay some attention to writing a profile that will get
you some responses. People will not be interested in emailing you if you
do not do something to make yourself stand out from the masses of people
using personal ads.
I administer several dating websites. People frequently write in saying,
"I never get any replies to my ad." And when I go look at the ad, I find
that they have not filled out the profile, or added a photo. Who can tell
if they want to email you if there is no information? Not quite as bad,
but still ineffective, is a profile that says, "Email me for details" or
"looking for a nice person." You can't bother to write a paragraph to find
the love of your life? Or even a fun date for the weekend?
Here are some guidelines for writing effective personal ad blurbs:
INVESTMENT. Decide that this is worth spending some time on, or don't
bother. You wouldn't submit a sloppy resume, would you? This is about making
a good first impression, because there will be no second chance once someone
clicks to the next ad.
MARKETING. You are marketing yourself... trying to stand out in a crowd.
You are the "product." and the people you want to meet are your customers.
Think about who you want to meet, and then think about who THEY want to
meet! How can you tell them that YOU are the person they want to meet?
Magazine ads, for example, grab your attention, make you laugh, they make
you think "wow, what a great thing... I want to buy it." They can be short,
but pack a punch. If they are long, they tell a good story. Marketers test
their different ad campaigns, and you should, too. Try placing different
ads to see what gets you a better result.
PREPARATION. Before you log in anywhere, do some thinking and writing.
Don't wait until you are faced with a blinking cursor to write your blurb.
Give serious thought to how you will describe yourself and the person you
hope to find. Write at least two paragraphs, one about yourself, and one
about the person you seek. Ask someone you trust to read those paragraphs
and comment on how well they reflect who you are and what you want. Save
that text to cut and paste into dating website forms. Have a digital photo
or two ready.
OPENING LINES. Use your username... don't be Bob3456... be PaintBallPrincess
or SecretSuperHero or something else that reflects your sense of humor
and yourself. If the ad allows you a "subject line" also use that well...
"Need woman in Atlanta" doesn't cut it. "Atlanta man on a mission" sounds
more interesting. "Atlanta Knight seeks his Queen" tells a different story
about who you are seeking. Use your username and subject line to hook people
into your ad. Use humor, drama, a funky metaphor. Then, like any good ad,
you want to show them you are what they need, show them why you are unique,
and invite them to take action... by emailing you!
DETAILS. Write in complete sentences. Spelling and grammar DO count.
We have modern tools to help with that. You want to look like you find
this task important enough to spell out the words. Unless you are 15 years
old, writing "If u r inrested n me, wrt 2 me" makes you LOOK 15 years old.
ALL CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING... don't. It is actually harder to read.
HONESTY. If you are not honest with yourself and others, you will not
find happiness in the personals. Are you married? You know, people CAN
figure that out and will resent the lie more than the wedding ring. Without
making any value judgements, putting down "married" will not necessarily
stop you from finding matches. If you are just looking for a casual date,
don't imply that you are looking for marriage just to get more email...
it wastes everyone's time. If you are looking for a long-term thing, don't
think you can "convince" a casual date to spend more time with you. You
are asking for disappointment. Try completing this sentence: "In a year,
I'd like to see us doing...."
STRINGS. Guys, I see many you making a crucial mistake in your profiles.
You will find that women are seldom looking for a "no strings relationship."
There simply is no such thing... if it is a relationship, it has strings
of SOME sort. If you don't want strings, you are looking for an escort
service. Women of any description can find casual physical relationships
without lifting a finger to a keyboard. Don't lie, but think about which
"strings" are okay with you. "Seeking Torrid Summer Romance" is fine and
honest. So is, "I am not eager to move in or get married. I want to have
a regular date for parties and cookouts with my friends." Ladies, this
counts for you, too. If your personal ad sounds like you might be offering
paid sexual services, you are going to get some rude offers. You might
avoid phrases like, "looking for a wealthy man with good taste in jewelry."
BEYOND PHYSICAL. Have you ever really dated someone just for their eye
color? OK, maybe you have spectacular eyeballs. But ads tend to reel off
personal stats... and then stop there, as though there were nothing but
a body. Most personal sites let you click things to describe your eyes,
hair, and height... don't waste valuable profile space on your hair. Talk
about who you are first, and what you look like at the end. Want to know
the number one thing surveyed women look for in a guy? A sense of humor.
AVOID NEGATIVES. This is not the place to list all the things that drove
you crazy about your ex and how you won't put up with that again. Don't
list what you don't want... discuss what you DO want. Turn your own lifestyle
quirks into positives, not obstacles. Workaholic? Try, "My career keeps
me very busy, so I need someone with a flexible schedule for spontaneous
one-day adventures." Frugal to a fault? Try "I find it amusing to squeeze
a nickel 'til it screams... help me research for my web column "CheapDates
for CheapSkates." Worried people will regard your children as an obstacle?
"My family is very important to me and I hope to find someone that will
enjoy the attention of a warm family circle."
POST A PHOTO. Website statistics show that an ad with a photo is 80%
more likely to get a response. A photo that shows you relaxed and having
fun, no matter what you look like, is even better. Don't use a photo that
isn't current.. it isn't worth looking so insecure, or being rejected later.
Don't rush to ask for a photo... you may look like a "pic trader," someone
who is collecting photos rather than looking for a real date. Don't stress
about your looks... attraction is about more than looks. Yes, we often
are first attracted to someone by looks, when we meet in person. But on
the Internet, if you seem like a jerk, you won't get the chance to meet
LIFE STAGES. People often say that "age" is not as important as "life
stage." Where are you in your life? Just starting out in a new career?
Settled into life with kids? Empty-nesting? Exploring new interests? These
are things that matter. Talk about what is important in your life. "I am
established in my career and now turning my attention to the great books
I never had time to read." "I moved to this state for a job after college,
and I am looking for dates with a lot of outdoors-loving friends to help
me build a sporty new social circle."
FAVORITE THINGS. Listing ALL your favorite things is dizzying.. Choose
one good example and talk about why you like it. Choose something that
gives the reader an insight into what you enjoy. You want people to be
able to spot things you have in common, but also feel that there is something
new and interesting to learn about you. Interest them in learning more
with a "teaser" about something fascinating about you. Ask a question for
them to answer in the reply email.
RULES. Never... NEVER include your last name, phone number or address.
Observe the rules of the various websites... some do not allow you to post
web addresses or email addresses. Many prohibit crude language or sexual
references. Getting your ad removed by breaking rules is a waste of time.
So... let your personality be shown in a tasteful way, take the time
to do a good job, and have a good photo. Those things alone will put you
far ahead of the misspelled anonymous pack. Best of luck!
© Dateable.com LLC 2002
About the author: Tracy Brant is a freelance writer and
an editor at Dateable.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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