After doing a Reddit thread where /u/nvwlsnmnm (special thanks!) and I critiqued around one hundred profiles, I found myself writing out some of the same advice over and over again. After that experience, I thought it would be best to average all the results and make this page as a walk through of what I believe an ideal profile should contain. Consider this my personal expansion of the DO/DON'T side bar from r/OKCupid. Keep in mind that this is just *my* perspective, and I am by no means an end-all be-all of profile knowledge. The perspective I am giving (a.k.a. my credentials?) is that of a single 24-year-old bisexual female chemist. At the end of the day, do what feels right for you, since it is your profile. Please let me know what flaws you find or changes you would recommend by leaving a comment so I can keep this as updated and useful as possible. Enjoy!
-Rinn the Trickster
In general, your profile is a place for you to sell yourself. Each category is set up as a means to help people talk about themselves. Because of this, keep in mind that not every single section is necessary, but I would recommend completing each with care as they help pull out different facets. Be careful to stay on the topic of the category you are writing in - i.e. don't say "message me to ask about such'n'such" in any category other than the Message Me If section, unless you are truly a pro. A profile is not a casual text chat where you can abbreviate and make typos, it is a mostly static representation of you, like a dating resumé - take time to polish! Run your stuff through MS Word to catch all the major problems, use complete sentences unless you are listing something, capitalize the beginning of every sentence or line in a list, and put periods at the end of everything. Proof read. Have a trustworthy friend proof read. Put the most important information at the top and use your space to the fullest - not in length, but in content.
Before you start on a profile, think of the best 3-5 words that describe you. By the end of reading your profile, someone should be able to draw those adjectives as conclusions about you without ever reading them. For example, if I see a profile discuss many, many varied passions throughout, most of which are intellectually stimulating, and then talk about where those interests are going in the future - not with lofty goals, but with challenging and tangible ones - I will draw the conclusion that the person is Ambitious, Smart, and Eclectic without ever seeing those words or any synonyms in the profile. Choose the words you want, then prove them without ever directly writing them out.
When you make a change to your profile, it gets put up in a public directory of "recent activity" on OKCupid. If you are aggressively pursuing meeting people, use this free advertising to the fullest by tweaking a little something in your profile every other day. This could even be deleting and re-adding the same photo - the fact is it gets you out there.
Whatever you do, do not let your profile stop being you. It can be tempting to refine it to a state of awesomeness via editing, but if it doesn't accurately reflect you then your dates will notice and feel underwhelmed. That said, avoid self-depreciation and hostile language. Even if you aren't the most confident person in the world, talking down about yourself or others, even humorously, is a red flag for many. Be up front, but thoughtful.
Now then, please skip ahead to whichever section(s) you feel you need to work on most, and enjoy some music while you read!
The self-summary is, in my opinion, the most important part of your profile aside from any rapid deal breakers (no physical attraction, kid disagreement, or age gap, for instance). This is the first thing people see, and you only have your audience's attention for so long. Additionally, this is the part that people see in their quiver matches. It's a hook. Make them want to read more with a strong start. So, how does one go about talking about one's self?
This is OKCupid blatantly trying to get you to say what you do in order to describe who you are. Be mindful of avoiding redundancy from your self-summary. I like to split this section into two parts:
Fairly evident what goes here; skills! Preferably ones you like having, not things you are good at because of work you dislike. This section doesn't have to be specific hobby or activity talents, though those certainly are great to put. What I mean to say is, if you aren't super awesome at an instrument, martial art, reading a map, or some such, try considering what your personality gives you. For example, if you consider yourself compassionate, put that you are a good listener. This is once again where putting what you are good at will speak to who you are and give us that mental image of your personality - but some reverse engineering can be helpful for brainstorming what to put. (Thus, putting "good listener" rather than "I'm really good at understanding") Finally: small perceptive abilities, such as getting the entire peel off of an orange in one go, are not only memorable, but also great conversation starters. If you are having trouble with this section, ask a friend.
Ideally this section will have two components. Whichever you feel is more important, put first. I have no preference for order. Since we see ourselves all the time, this section can be especially difficult. When in doubt, ask a friend, coworker, or stranger. Just don't get in their van. Try not to ask a family member, as they see you all the time, too.
All too often we see the mistake of people listing way too much in each of these subcategories. This is not a comprehensive list of everything you like a lot, it is a favorites list. Even making it just favorites, there is a lot that OKCupid asks you to talk about here, so let's begin with breaking it up for the audience to take in more easily. Make each subcategory set apart by having a bolded title, with each category having a line of space between the next. Bolding on OKCupid is done by using <strong>text</strong>. Once you have it well organized, put just a few favorites down in each one. I'm serious, don't get carried away - do the opposite. Pick no more than THREE for each section. These should be your all time favorites. Once you have them carefully selected as your super-special things, explain in a line or two why you are so drawn to them.
To fully optimize this section, don't feel limited by the categories OKCupid asks you. Consider adding in any favorite topic you feel is worth mentioning. This may include authors, directors, drinks, personal heroes, video games, websites, webcomics, or anything you adore that you feel is important. Are you obsessed with it? Better put it in. To make it really spiffy, toss a couple links in for people to check out.
If you can resist the urge, avoid putting down the 6 implied things: Friends&Family, Air, Water, Food, Shelter, and Security. Major organs and whatnots should also be excluded. This should be a list of things in life you feel you have an attachment to or appreciate more than the average person does. Try to avoid redundancy by combining similar points. This can be very specific, like "laundry fresh out of the dryer," or more abstract, like "justice". The ideal list is a mix of small things and the bigger picture. Small things show you are thoughtful, attentive, and insightful, as well as act as conversation starters. Bigger picture things say what you care about in relationships. An all items (computer, iPhone, gameboy, car, and so on) list looks materialistic, and conversely an all conceptual list comes off as personality lacking (just like the 6 implied things) and/or pretentious. If you want to skip this section - don't. It will look like you can't perform the mental exercises of appreciation, reflection, and decisiveness.
In general, put down something that boggles, mesmerizes, or otherwise inspires you. Note I did not say worries. This space is to show sincere introspection, curiosity, and/or humor. There is a fine line to walk here. It is good to put something serious, but you don't want to come off as depressing or too personal with your audience of strangers. Saying you worry about your parents' health, for example, is too serious and personal. Stay light - without sacrificing the serious side, if you like. Or, make this a witty ploy to start a chat - but it must be very good, as well as target a specific kind of person. Try, once again, to avoid vague or implied statements, such as "what I'm doing next." Additionally, I have personally seen WAY too many Hitchhiker references here. Something that is a quote, rather than a thought of your own, cannot stand alone here.
Replace the word "typical" with "ideal". While a peak into your average night provides a certain charm, it is much better to discuss what your idea of the perfect night in and the coolest night out would entail. When saying things like "being social" or "hanging with friends," tell us specifically what activities you like doing. What do you wish your typical night off was? Overall, this should paint a picture for us of what rest, relaxation, and partying are to you. Pro tip: If Friday is not your night off, say so! Then expand upon when your down time is and what you do with it.
Just like with the I Spend A Lot Of Time Thinking About section, there are two ways to go here, and a fine line to not cross. You can go the route of true humility and openness by giving something relatable yet socially somewhat embarrassing for whatever reason, such as saying snakes make your skin crawl. Alternatively, you can go the route of humor through obscurity. Either way, we want to either go "aww," laugh at shared pain, or say "huh" out loud. Avoid getting too serious and private here - crossing the line of social taste will polarize your audience. Keep in mind the people reading are strangers, so keep it light, or else keep it funny. For example, DO say you still rush up the basement stairs as an adult, don't say you have a recurring dream of having sex with your cousin.
"...You want to."
"...You want to get to know me better."
No. Don't say that. The people who want that are already going to message you anyways. Instead, put some conversation starters here. These can range from silly little things like "...if you honk for snapping turtles," to questions like "...if you know who put the bomp in the bomp ba bomp ba bom?" or even direct ask outs like "...you want someone to go to the concert this weekend with you!" Ideally, they are all things you would like to talk about or have relevant interests in. A good trick for this section is to write out a first message you would send a really cool person who you would really, really love to hear from. Then, take the essence from that message, and make it bullet points here. Well, maybe not bullet points - I just have a personal fondness for those. Your call.
Fill this out completely. I don't care if you think putting up your kids, lack of drinking, or marijuana obsession will drive people away without giving you a chance. The fact is, those people who are "driven away" would find out eventually, and either break le deal, or push you to change whatever it is. People are aware that the details box does not leave much room for explication, and so are more forgiving about it. If something here is a problem for them, but everything else is great, they will message you to get to know you, and eventually ask about it. I don't care if you think Signs are stupid and irrelevant - they will at least allow someone to start a conversation with "Hey, my birthday is in October, too!" When in doubt, fill it out. Be up front and complete.
A personal recommendation here: I personally see only one all audience-friendly answer for Income, and that is "Rather not say." If you have a hyphen, it already says you don't want to say, but makes you look too lazy to complete the box, so change it. If you have a salary set, be aware that a lot of people will be put off by discussing your money so openly. Others will be put off by believing it shouldn't matter, and rather than thinking that's why you put it up (because you don't care), will think you put it up because you do care. Lastly - if you make a decent living... gold diggers. Need I say more?
At least the second most important part of a profile, arguably even the first. If you have to put all of your effort somewhere, put it into the Self-Summary and here.
YOU! Yes, you there with the cell phone self-shot in an unwashed mirror, probably in the bathroom - leave this page immediately and delete that photo. Feel free to proceed with the rest of this section when that is taken care of. Excuses about not having other pictures of yourself, a camera, or any friends in the world who would take a photo of you are weak sauce and will not be tolerated here. Back from deleting? Okay, let's move on...
You will get more visitors on your profile, for better or worse, thanks to the tone your main picture sets. I personally prefer something clean and non-provocative - i.e. no ab shots or duck faces. That said, this data may offer more insight for how to best represent yourself to a certain audience. Give us your best face in your main. Make sure the vast majority, if not all of your photos are clear (not grainy or blurry), well-lit, recent, and have you looking good. Oh, and please, please avoid obscuring your face (I'm lookin' at you, sunglasses!). Be sure to utilize caption space. Photos with someone who looks like they might be an ex? I don't care if you added an explanation, it is best to leave those pics out, period. Group shot? Better tell us which one is you. Quality is more important than quantity, but 4-7 snapshots is ideal. Fewer than that and we may not get the whole view, more than that and you look like a vain preteen girl who needs to get over herself. A completely rounded out profile should contain each of these photographs:
I don't know how much the average person looks at, or takes seriously, the "Personality" tab, but the fact is some people check it and will draw impressions about you from it. This is a problem if it is inaccurate! To remedy, answer at least 200 of those delightful little multiple choice questions OKCupid loves to give you. Don't be afraid to skip things you feel don't have reasonable answers. Some people do look for/at explanations, so make sure to expand on some of your answers. After you do the first couple hundred, check out your personality tab. If you like where it's going, keep it up! If you think it is inaccurate, put more importance on the questions you feel more accurately reflect your persona. A complete profile has at least 500 questions answered, in my experience.
Last Updated June 3, 2014