Dating Profile Strategies – Casting a Wide Net vs. Spearfishing
When crafting your online dating profile, should you try to appeal to the masses, or only to the type of person you're looking for?
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If you do indeed have a very specific type you're trying to attract, someone who will like you for precisely who you are from the get go and vice versa, then creating your profile with them and only them in mind may seem like a good idea. Why not purposely filter out everyone else by choosing pictures and profile texts that only your ideal match will appreciate?
Your ideal match might never even see your profile
The problem is, this strategy can only work on dating sites where every user can see and contact every other user. However, most sites and apps nowadays employ their own brand of matching algorithm, which sorts users by attractiveness/popularity.
I you're using Tinder or OkCupid for example, you're assigned a popularity bracket and will mostly see and be shown to users within that same bracket. If your profile is very unpopular, your ideal match's profile would have to be very unpopular as well for the two of you to see each other.
But what about the opposite strategy?
"Casting a wide net"
Trying to appeal to everyone, in an effort to get your attractiveness score up and become more visible, you might now scrub your profile of anything even slightly controversial or generally regarded unpopular.
Those pictures of you firing a rifle, hunting, smoking, drinking, gaming, posing with your collectibles, or cosplaying? Any controversial opinions, obscure references, or mentions of unpopular hobbies in your profile? All gone and replaced by tame, fairly neutral pictures in which you just look good, and a bio describing about 90% of the population. Popular choices include traveling, a fondness of laughter and coffee, and searching for a partner in crime.
Congratulations! Your profile is now devoid of any personality!
You'll most likely get a lot more matches this way, as the only reasons for someone to swipe left on you are now a lack of attraction, or a general sense of boredom.
But are these mostly unfiltered matches really the ones you want to talk to and eventually meet? Some of them might be, but you'll have to find out about any deal breakers in the resulting conversations.
Of course, if your goal is to get as many matches as possible, and you don't really have a specific type, this may be the right strategy for you.
Otherwise, there's a major problem once again: Your ideal match might see your profile this time, but they won't have any idea you may just be who they were looking for. Unless you match and/or start talking, that is.
The balanced approach
The best thing you can do, in my humble opinion, is to convey your personality without going overboard. Keep the most controversial stuff out of your profile, but make sure people can get a good idea of you.
Most of the pictures should still be fairly uncontroversial and mainly just show you in a good light. If you can, include one or two photos representing a mild version of your (locally and generally) unpopular hobby. Example: If you enjoy hunting, do include a photo of you in camo out in the woods. Do not pose with a deer carcass.
Don't make your profile text all about your controversial opinions and interests, but mentioning them subtly as a part of your bio is a good thing. You might include a list of your hobbies and interests, and just slip in the less popular ones among all the others, for example.
In other words: Mention, or hint at moderately controversial things, but don't highlight them.
With this compromise, you should be able to maintain a relatively good score and visibility, giving yourself a good chance to be seen by your target audience. At the same time, you're allowing your ideal match to get an idea of who you are, once they come across your profile.