How to Write an Online Dating Profile Like You're Don Draper

In sales terms, your well-crafted first message to a woman is the cold call.  When she visits your online dating profile, your best pictures are the soft sell.  After your pics make the cut, your written profile is the closer. 

That’s where a lot of guys lose the sale. 

The problem is, many guys are uncomfortable trying to “sell” themselves – but think their online dating profile must do this. 

I can always tell when a guy is “selling” himself, because his profile seems forced, arrogant, or vague.  It’s usually similar to this: 

“I have a lot to offer.  I worked hard to get where I am today, and I have a good job.  All that’s missing is that special someone.  I’m fun-loving, easy to be around, and my friends and family mean the world to me.  If you like what you hear, hit me up.” 

It’s like he’s just saying what he thinks all girls want to hear.

But he’s not giving me, personally, anything to work with. 

When I see his profile, I think: “OK…but what does “fun” mean to you?  What motivated you to work so hard?  What qualities in a friend do you value the most?  What’s your typical “easy-going” Sunday afternoon like?  What do we have in common?”

An online dating profile shouldn't sound like a used car salesman, talking up the “selling points,” but glossing over the crucial details. 

Your profile should be like an ad for a performance car, creating specific points of desire:

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Your profile creates a feeling: excitement…comfort…safety.  You’re unlike any other man, and you’re about to change her whole world. 

Write your profile like that, and you’re Don Draper.  You can have any woman you want. 

Hell, take me.

Here’s how to close the sale and write a great online dating profile:

1. Relax.  

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Don’t try to sell yourself.

Don Draper doesn’t have to sell, because he knows what his target audience needs to hear. 

When the right girl reads your profile, she won’t need to be sold. 

You are already exactly who she’s looking for.  You just have to show her that.  Be confident in who you are.  This is one place where you get to be yourself. 

2. Don’t try to define yourself. 

Defining who you are is hard to do – so don’t do it. 

Guys who try to create the big picture always end up saying general, boring things, like, “I’m Mike.  I’m not very good at writing about myself…but I’m a responsible, funny guy who likes to have a good time.” 

I skip over those profiles because they all sound the same.  They don’t show girls what a guy’s really like, and they don’t show me what we have in common.

To succeed at standing out, your profile should identify the reason why you’d say you’re “easy going.” 

For example, maybe it means you can take a good ribbing.  It could also mean that you’d rather chill on the couch with a beer and a movie instead of hitting the clubs on Saturday night.  Always identify the things you do or feel that are why you're “responsible,” “fun-loving,” “active,” or “kind-hearted.”

3. Think small.  

The most successful online dating profiles use lots of little details to create the big picture of the man.  Look at that Porsche ad again: “Precision engineering…uniquely honed balance…distinctive sound.” 

Break yourself down into smaller parts, and be specific about what they are. 

What is your job?  What weekend activity do you live for?  What band are you going to see next month? 

OKCupid breaks the basics down into manageable steps.  Start by answering those questions like you’re talking to your best friend.  Your real voice will show through.  Girls will like that because you’ll seem relaxed and confident, and not trying too hard to impress. 

(If you’re not on OKCupid, poach their list of essay questions as a springboard for your profile, anyway!)

4. Be specific. 

The goal of your profile is to help girls find common ground with you, so they want to talk to you. 

To do this, stay away from big concepts (“I like to have fun”) and focus on the specifics.

When you identify the big concept (“fun-loving”), ask yourself, Why/What/How?  

How do you like to have fun?  One man’s disc golf is another man’s Broadway show.  Why is The Godfather your favorite movie of all time?  What makes you love your job?

When your profile makes it easy for a girl to identify connections, she’ll be excited to talk to you and respond to your message.  Be it your interest in black and white photography, your search for the best BBQ sauce on the planet, or an unapologetic love of Nickelback – whatever makes you you – your profile should share as much specific information as possible.

For prompts, check out this list of questions to answer in your profile. 

Or simply make a list of everything you like in life.  Mangoes, sinking a three-pointer, riding your motorcycle at sunset – anything.  An eclectic list of what gets you psyched is always fun to read, and shares a ton of information about who you are and what you’re like.  You’ll cover a lot of ground without being self-conscious about “writing.” 

5. Mention deal-breakers.  

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Next, dig a little deeper.  Pick a couple things that are a big part of your life, and tell us why they’re important to you. 

This can range from the heavy-hitters – religion, politics, environmentalism, your kid – to the little stuff that makes you happy to be alive: how you run every day, rain or shine, or lead a youth group, or grow all your own vegetables.  Your quest to drink and rank every IPA on the market counts, too. 

Think of the things that impact your life, affect your outlook on the world, get you really excited, or keep you sane.

It’s OK to get a little personal here.  Some of the things you say will be deal-breakers to girls – and that’s a good thing. 

For example, my brother Alex’s profile states that he maintains a part-time work schedule in order to pursue his writing and acting career.  Admitting you’re a starving artist?  Bold move.  But you can bet Alex doesn’t get stuck dating girls who expect him to pay for five-star restaurants.  Alex’s goal is to meet girls who value creative pursuits and expression, and his profile makes that clear. 

Don’t forget to tell us the why. 

Why are these things are important to you?  Running every day might help you clear your head – or it might be because you’re training for an Iron Man competition.  Help us understand you a little better.  We want to know how you think and what you value – so the right girl can make that deeper connection.

6. Be reasonable.  

An online dating profile is not the place to list requirements for the position of Girlfriend. 

When I read, “You must take care of your body, have blond hair, a real job, and a natural sophistication,” I really, really do NOT want to go on a date with that guy.  He seems rigid and arrogant, like he’d make me go home and change my outfit, and then criticize my wine selection. 

A list of demands is a turn off, even for women who meet that guy’s criteria.  We want to know you’re looking for someone real, like us – not Barbie. 

If you know what you’re looking for, keep a mental list.  You’ll recognize it when you see it.  Your profile can highlight the really important things – like your faith or your monthly camping weekends – while focusing on the why.  Instead of saying you’re “looking for a girl who can get a little muddy,” tell us why you love camping and want to share the experience with someone special.

The best profiles don’t spend much time – if any – describing girlfriend qualities. 

When your profile gives girls specific details about what you’re like, then we’ll know if we’re a good fit for you.  And we’ll definitely want to reply to your message.

7.  Review/revise. 

Before posting anything, take a second to re-read what you wrote.  Review this list.  Look for typos and these common mistakes. 

Now nothing can distract me from the rock-hard closer you just wrote.

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