Your online dating profile is your opportunity to show off your best photos and reveal your unique personality. Get it right, and you'll find more people will contact you. Get it wrong and you could be scuppering your chances before you even start!
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See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date
See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts
1. Add a profile picture
You can craft the perfect profile, but if you don't upload a picture there's very little chance anyone will contact you. After all, people on dating sites are looking to choose who they meet up with – they didn't sign up to go on a blind date.
Research suggests that your photo counts for 90% of what people think of you (and just 10% of your written profile) – so put some thought into the pictures. Upload a clear head and shoulders shot where you are smiling and your face isn't obscured by sunglasses or taken in shadow.
Research from Match.com found that photos taken in summer are seen as more attractive than wintery pics. Action shots (hiking, sailing, or playing the guitar) also get more hits.
It should go without saying, but if you're in your 50s, don't be tempted to upload a photo from your 45th birthday party. If you meet up with someone and you look like nothing like your photo, you're setting them up for instant disappointment – not a good way to start a date!
2. Don't be like everyone else
It's worth looking through other people's profiles to get an idea, but don't be tempted to put what everyone else does. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to be unique – and that means being specific. Don't say you like travelling. Say which countries you have visited recently. Likewise, don't put that you like reading – name the last book you read or a favourite author.
That way you stand a better chance of attracting people with things in common. Whatever you do, never say you like, "walks along the beach" or "nights by the fire" or that you're "just as happy staying in as going out." It says nothing about your personality – and makes you sound like a walking cliché.
3. Make them laugh
When asked what people most want in a date, a "good sense of humour" regularly makes it to the top of the list.
While it's fine to impress people with your job, or places you've travelled, don't take yourself too seriously. If your profile can make someone laugh, they're more likely to get in touch with you – and they don't get your sense of humour, you don't want to date them anyway!
4. Answer the questions carefully
When you first sign up with match.com, you'll be asked to provide some information about yourself. You can select words that best describe you, and give others an idea of the things you're interested in, be it eating out or dancing. You'll also be asked questions about the type of person you're looking to date.
The answers you give will help people to connect with you, whether that's through advanced searches, or by seeing your profile as one of those recommend by Match.com. If you're vegetarian and can't stand smokers, it's easy to identify potential deal breakers with a quick scan of their dating profile. Answer the questions accurately and honestly and it will increase your chances of finding your ideal match.
5. Show some enthusiasm
It can be hard to know what to write in the "A few words about me" and "More About Me" sections of your profile. Use the latter to describe the things you're passionate about.
It's a good opportunity to give people an idea of how you spend your time (looking after the grandchildren/volunteering) as well as your interests and hobbies. Whatever you write about, make sure you come across as enthusiastic – don't use the space to complain or state what you don't like doing.
6. Be honest about what you're looking for
Lastly, be honest about the type of person and relationship you're looking for.
Don't hedge and downplay you desire to be in a committed relationship, or your desire for the opposite! Remember - you want to attract the people who are looking for what you are looking for. If you want a relationship, say so!
While it's a good idea to mention that you want someone with a certain interest, don't get too prescriptive. For example, say that you're looking for someone who enjoys being active. State that you want someone into yoga, or ballroom dancing, or cycling, and you're narrowing the field too much.