Let’s get to it: You, dear xoJane reader, are most likely an awesome human being. But sometimes, that greatness doesn’t translate online -- and editing your OKCupid profile seems like a supreme waste of time.
Enter OKCupid ghostwriters, like the Craigslist ghostwriter Mashable uncovered, or Lisa, the gal behind Not-Just-OKCupid. Lisa, who performs makeovers on, yes, people’s OKC profiles, will take a look at clients’ online dating accounts and Facebook photos, rewriting half-assed profiles for a measly $20. “I’ll help your profile sound more like who you really are and get you the response your (loins) brains have been longing for,” her website swears.
Because my own OKC profile was getting me messages from dudes calling me “lovely girl” (ew) and asking if I’ve ever slept with a white guy before (ugh), I decided to let Lisa take a gander at mine. She promised an increase in the quantity of visitors as well as in the quality of the messages.
Here's what she had me do.
Increase the Number of Pics
Lisa found that everyone tends to choose photos where we’re glammed up (or suited up) and posing prettily. Your better options, however, might just be the ones where you’re goofing off with friends with your eyes crossed.
“People get sentimental about photos, but they don’t realize that photos either need to really look like you or work as conversation starters,” Lisa says, swapping a photo of me at a friend’s wedding for one where I was smiling giddily for the camera in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. “You look really happy there,” she says.
Other rules? Give people something to talk about; find photos of you doing something active like horseback riding, hiking, or dancing. “Use one where you’re doing something, to show you’re into things, that you do things other than stand and have people take a photo of you,” Lisa says. Since I didn’t really have any active photos, Lisa opted for an artsy one instead.
Complete Your Deets
I initially left all this blank, thinking the photos would tell everyone what they need to know. Unfortunately, some people filter by body type (rude, yes, but a reality), and some potential suitors could care a lot about height. Things you must fill out, according to Lisa: height, body type, diet, smokes, drinks, and job (if you do something cool).
The Casual Sex Button (AKA the Magic Button)
Before: New friends, Short-term dating, long-term dating
After: All that, plusActivity Partners
Don’t click “casual sex” for something you're seeking if you’re not up for it, but saying you’re up for it will definitely get you more hits (and more messages). It’s obvious, but it works, and if you’re really just hoping to get laid, it could work wonders. One of Lisa’s clients received 10 messages a day when it was clicked; afterwards, it went down to two.
On the downside, casual sex-only seekers aren’t usually relationship material, Lisa says, and since I’m not really into casual sex, she lets it slide on my profile. She did, however, convince me to choose “activity partners,” because “activity partners can always grow.” (She seemed to read it as sexytime activities, whereas I read it as hiking/biking/museum-crawling activities).
Everything Else: Be Specific
“I think it’s worse to be super-generic than it is to leave something blank,” Lisa says (although, she did get on my case about leaving five sections empty). While it’s a pain to actually think about what you want to represent you in each section (what do I spend most of my Fridays doing? Does "Sleeping" sound lame?), look for something specific that could spark a conversation. “You want something for them to latch onto,” Lisa says. “Another way to think about OKCupid is to think about the most enviable parts of your life, like you’re at your 10-year reunion. Play up the stuff that you know might not be glamorous but for the rest of the world is really interesting.”
Start by asking yourself consistent follow-ups. “Going out with friends” for the Friday night question is too generic -- what type of bar? What type of music? Do you dance or just people watch? If you get too vague, you might just blend in with all the other profiles. “You are not your OKCupid profile,” Lisa says, “but you want your OKCupid to be a microcosm of you.”
Step 5: Package it Up
A good majority of my profile changes involved formatting. Bold this, section this off, clean it up to make it more readable. Watch punctuation, because it only makes an impression when it’s bad, but avoid semicolons or you'll seem too much like a grammar freak (!). Just remember that people are lazy when browsing the Internet, plus they’re browsing through hundreds of profiles at a time, so you generally don't want to stand out in a negative way.
So, did it work?
I stopped getting single-syllable messages (i.e. “Hey”), and instead, guys ended up commenting on my job (and feminism, which isn’t such a boner killer after all), asking questions that I actually wanted to respond to. A few guys commented specifically on parts that Lisa added in (funny side comments, jokes, etc), which says more about her as a writer than me as a person. “Part of what happens is that people forget their personalities and they write like they’re filling out a housing application,” Lisa says. “What are your major characteristics? It’s like, ‘I don’t know.’”
The trick, it seemed, was to create opportunities for someone to start a conversation, while pinpointing things that felt specifically “me.” So it helped to have someone else look over my profile and point out what’s generic. Also, having someone else figure out how to market you is sort of like having your own public relations expert, which is pretty much a cheap confidence boost.
Got any tips for not sucking at online dating?