The West

The all-important photo

Let's face it, appearance matters a great deal. Even if you are not overly confident in the looks department, it pays to have a photo of yourself included because according to RSVP's Melanie Dudgeon, profiles with photos generate 11 times more interest than those without.

In fact, it is the number one factor that will motivate men to contact someone online.

Also make sure the photo is relatively recent. A major peeve of online daters is when a photo is old and no longer represents who that person is today.

"What we say is that while it may get you a first date, it may not get you a second," Ms Dudgeon said.

And don't use a photo where a guy has been cut out next to you. It may well be your brother but many men will assume it is a former boyfriend and it will be a turn-off, she said.

She recommends choosing a couple of photos to accompany your profile. The first, and main one, should be a nice profile shot, preferably smiling.

Also include activity-based photos that demonstrate who you are and what your life is like — if you enjoy rock climbing, for example, include one of yourself doing that. The objective is to show potential dates what you are really like.

It might even help to get the advice of a member of the opposite sex, according to body language expert Allan Pease, because what a guy finds attractive may be very different to what your girlfriends think is a pretty photo. Ask which picture appeals to them and why. If it's appealing in the wrong way, discard it.

"Always get other people to look at the photos," he said. "It's very hard to be objective about yourself. We have a tendency to impose limitations on our own photos.

"We say, 'That one is too sexy or too funny-looking' whereas other people might find it attractive."

What to write

Describe what you like to do and what kind of partner you are after — simple, right? It is not as easy as you may think, so the experts have some tips to help you along.

First, give yourself time. Creating a profile is a big decision and could potentially have an impact on the rest of your life, so there is no desperate rush to get a profile written and put online in mere minutes, said eHarmony spokeswoman Sarah Mason.

"I tell people to give themselves a week and go back to it a couple of times," she said. "That way you've really thought about how you are portraying yourself and how people are going to perceive you."

You want to come across as a positive, engaging person who leads a full life and is not solely relying on a dating profile to get out there and into the world, she said.

"Most people have friends, family, a full-time job, interests and hobbies," she said. "I think it's nice to include some of that in your profile, so you’re not just a one-dimensional photo with some copy on a flat screen. It's nice for people to be able to round you out and picture you in a certain way."

What to avoid

Big no-nos include lying, withholding important details and photos that no longer look like you, Ms Dudgeon said.

Don't be too intense either, says Ms Mason. "Don't delve into your ex's struggles and how you've had your heart horrendously broken and all you want to do is find 'the one' and have children. That might put some people off."

If it does feel important to mention a break-up, phrase it positively instead, she recommended. "Say 'I'm coming into a new phase in my life and I'm looking for something new'— keep it positive." Dozens of exclamations and bad grammar can be a turn-off too, she said.

The gender difference

Ladies, include a body shot in your collection of photos because men want to see more than just a face. In fact, Ms Dudgeon said 35 per cent of men are influenced by body type compared with 8 per cent of women.

The West Australian

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