As an online dating photographer and consultant, I can confirm that good photos do help your chances at success in online dating however, what you write can negate any advantages your photos provide. In case you haven’t done so already, check out this intro guide for writing your online dating bio. Once you have the basics down, come back here to optimize those efforts.

Sounding Negative

The main mistake people make on the written portion of their online dating profile is listing their deal-breakers. Listing several no’s can communicate a certain level of jadedness, distrust and level of hurt from such people. For example, listing you don’t want players, scrubs, flakes, immature personalities and liars implicates that you have dated such people in the past and likely have dated several of these types regularly. I will be the first to say that yes, you should avoid people like this but there is a way to communicate this without seeming too negative.

Instead of listing that you don’t want someone who is immature, you can instead say you are looking for someone who has a good head on their shoulders, good moral compass, is professional, respects people by being on time, is responsible or strives to be well-rounded professionally and socially etc.

On the flip side, you do not want to write these in a list on your profile — you should list examples of these traits through short stories. For responsibility and thoughtfulness, you can hint at something by saying you are the one in your circle of friends who hosts dinner parties or over-packs for camping trips by bringing extra food or waits in line early for brunch while your friends take their time getting ready / waking up. Short stories are far more effective at communicating personality traits than listing a bunch of adjectives.

Not Writing Enough

In some cases you will be limited in how many characters you have to write something about yourself but even so, you need to effectively use the space you have to fill in the blanks and provide insight into who you are. The biggest mistake in this area is photo captions. Most sites and apps provide space for you to caption your photos. Do not overlook this. This is extremely helpful for group shots — please label the people and yourself in these shots i.e. my sister and I at a family reunion, my cousin and I wandering the streets of Eastern Europe, my best friend from college and I celebrating 10 years of friendship, my roommate and I cheering on the Giants. Using labels in this instance will alleviate any possibility that the person in your photo is not an ex AND it can provide context of how you spend your time (and with who).

The other instance that comes to mind is not being descriptive enough when listing hobbies. All too often I see people list super generic things in their profile i.e. I love to travel, I love Mexican food etc. First off, who doesn’t love to travel or Mexican food? Be more descriptive. You can say I love to travel to urban cities near and far and wandering the streets aimlessly. This communicates that you love to explore vs. laying out on a beach all day. Instead of listing you like trying new restaurants or like exploring bars, say that you are a sucker for butternut squash and roasted Brussels sprout dishes or Manhattan drinks at speakeasy bars. These specific examples reveal specific quirks and secret passions (FYI — quirks can be super insightful, attractive and endearing).

With this insight, you are now ready to overhaul your online dating profile and can effectively reveal things about yourself more so than any list of adjectives can. With that said, be sure to limit these stories and do not write an endless novel about yourself — leave something up to the imagination and keep the stories short and sweet.

Now that you have your bio and profile covered, do a quick check on your photos to make sure you are not self-sabotaging your chances at success.