Meet the experts: How to find success at online dating

James Preece, OKCupid, eHarmony, Tinder, Plenty of Fish…the list continues. Just a few years ago, online dating was a taboo subject. Those who used it, would never admit to it and those who didn’t, assumed most people just met in bars. However, the rise of dating apps and the culture of now being able to say yes, or no, to anyone in your chosen location, has changed the world of dating and people’s approach to finding ‘the one’, writes Bethan Tolley.

It is just a few days until Valentine’s Day and now, according to the experts, is the ‘hot season’ for dating. It is around this time of year, with all the ‘new year, new me’ folk and the celebration of St Valentine himself, that see’s the most sign ups to online dating. Want to do it well? We asked the experts.

So, where do you start? Well, first things first, you need to either open your laptop or get on your phones app store. There are so many dating options out there, but you need to be certain of what you are after beforehand.

‘The Dating Guru’ James Preece, who has over 10 years’ experience of being a dating coach and relationship expert, suggests that if you are looking for something serious, to ditch the free apps like Tinder, he said: “If you use a free dating site, then you will come across people who aren’t serious about relationships. If you use a paid for service, you have much more of a chance of finding someone as the people you are talking to have invested time and money into it and they are more serious about it.

“Tinder and POF does work for some people, but it is worth trying and testing sites and apps to see what works for you.”

James suggests using popular sites like or eHarmony, which have questionnaires to fill out before you even see who is single, as they are the most popular and you will have the most options on them.

Charly Lester

Charly Lester

If you are considering online dating, then you need to have a good idea of why you are doing it and if it will work for you. Charly Lester, founder of the UK, US and European Dating Awards, thinks that online dating is the perfect way to meet people, she said: “If you are the type of person who never gets to meet new people, or if you have got to the point where not many of your friends are single anymore, it is harder to meet people.

Online dating is a great way to meet people and it is amazing when you realise that there is no other way that you could have met this person. Even if it doesn’t turn into anything romantically, you get the opportunity to meet all sorts of people, I think we live in a very lucky time.”

Joanne Barnett, life and dating coach, stressed the importance of being confident when online dating, she said: “You need to be quite sorted and secure to succeed at online dating. The more self-aware and confident you are, the more successful you will be at online dating, but, you can’t just reply on it, you have to get out and live your life as you could meet someone anywhere, but online dating gives you access

Joanne Barnett

Joanne Barnett

to people you may not normally meet.

“If you don’t put yourself out there, you are narrowing your chances of meeting someone.”

But how much is too much information when creating your online profile? James, who met his wife on social media site MySpace over 10 years ago, explained what your profile should look like, he said: “It tends to be the same people who do well on online dating, because they are selling themselves well.

“A decent profile should be 4-5 paragraphs long, starting with an introduction saying who you are, followed by an ‘about you’ paragraph and the interesting things that you are involved in. Third paragraph should be about the sort of person you want to meet and the final should be an invitation to get in touch.
“However, you can’t be boring to succeed on dating sites. If people look at your profile and can’t pick out any interesting information to be able to start a conversation with you, then you’re doing it wrong. Your profile needs to give people an incentive to get in touch, so big yourself up.”

Joanne agreed and said that you need to give people an insight into who you are, she said: “Your profile should be very positive and friendly and should have a few personal giveaways and things that will make you different from everyone else. You don’t need to say your life history, but it is necessary to say what you are looking for.”

Saskia Nelson

Saskia Nelson

It is all good having a perfect profile, but nobody is going to find themselves wanting to know more about you without photos. Saskia Nelson, founder of dating photography company Hey Saturday, which specialises in taking photos perfect for dating profiles, set up the company after spending eight years finding someone online.

Saskia reckons that the reason she found success after meeting her partner on Guardian Soulmates, was because she started looking at her profile in a marketing way, she said: “Image is so important when it comes to online dating. Pictures are absolutely critical on a profile. If you are in a bar and you’re looking to meet someone, the first thing you do is look at what they look like.

“Companies spend so much money on their marketing, as it is all about how things look and how things are presented. The photos you use are going to be what makes people go onto your profile, so choose carefully.

“You should have 4-6 photos, but avoid group shots, people have short attention spans and don’t want to find you in the group of people, you’re just putting barriers in the way and making it too much hard work.”

However, what all the experts agreed on is that if you are going to online date, you need to put the effort in. Joanne believes that you have to be quite strict when using dating sites and apps though, she said: “Sometimes, you will get talking to people who don’t take it seriously, so you have to be quite strict with who you are in contact with. You’re not looking for a pen pal and you should only talk to people you are going to meet up with.
“However, it can be a bit of a sweet shop as there is so much out there, so you have to be proactive and send out messages and respond to people.”

James’ advice was similar, he said: “It all comes down to the effort you put into it and how seriously you take it. Message people, give people a chance, arrange to meet up and make the time to go on dates, then your success rate will be high.

“If you just sit at home asking yourself why no one is contacting you, it is because you’re not trying hard enough. If you don’t contact anybody, then nobody will contact you either.”

Charly believes that the key is not leaving it too long before you meet up, she said: “You can both begin to start revealing too much about yourself. If you talk for someone for too long before you meet up, you end up creating this false impression of them that they are never going to live up to.

“You can’t really tell what someone is like until they are sat in front of you, it is hard to figure out if you have chemistry until you actually meet up with someone. There is no point in delaying it.”

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