Online dating might be mainstream, but that doesn’t make it easy. Most dating sites require profile pictures and self-written bios, and it’s hard to know whether you’re putting out the right stuff or coming off as over-eager or cheesy. Apps like Tinder are more about images, not background, but even that offers its own set of challenges: How many selfies make you look narcissistic? Should you include that group photo where your face looks great but your arm looks weird?
Online dating coaches have a bad reputation, mainly because most offer pick-up artist-style tools, like ghostwriting Tinder profiles to help men attract women through pure cheesiness (and lies, sometimes!). But Lisa Hoehn offers a far more subtle service with her one-woman Profile Polish program. Hoehn doesn’t send messages on behalf of her clients or apply a one-size-fits-all approach to dating: What she does is simply make your profile better.
You may have heard of her recently. She was featured in NYMag’s piece by Maureen O’Connor wherein she boarded a plane bound for San Francisco full of ladies ready to date Bay Area tech bros. However, Hoehn is usually on the inside of the digital dating business.
Hoehn started her profile fixer-upper business last year after helping friends fill in their OKCupid profiles, and her approach still has a personal touch. “I try very hard to make profiles genuine. As genuine as they can be, to that person,” she said. “When I start out I ask people if they’re looking to go on a lot of dates or they’re looking to go on the right date. And that informs what information I share.”
Hoehn honed her profile-writing skills through trial and error when she started online dating, and she treats each case individually. “I have some rules, but none of them are hard and fast. That’s the thing I think is most interesting about this business, that there are no hard and fast rules,” she said.
Even though she doesn’t use a rigid playbook when it comes to improving profiles, she has pinpointed adjustments with high success rates. Specificity is one of the most important things for finding the right person. She asks her clients lots of questions about their habits, preferences, and history, drawing out details to play up and encouraging people to highlight what they actually like to do.
“I send them a big list of interview-style questions based on their current profile. If they say ‘I like travel,’ which 90 percent of people do, I say ‘OK, but where have you traveled?’” Hoehn explained. “Where are your next destinations? How do you like to travel?” She encourages her users to substitute generic statements with more revealing, detailed ones that actually show off their personalities. Then her clients either give her their password, or she instructs them how to update their profiles on their own.
To get your entire profile madeover will run you $198. If you want speedy service, it’s an extra $82.
A client’s photos before Hoehn’s work…
… And after.
She still primarily works with OKCupid profiles and Web-based dating sites, but Hoehn offers a Tinder revamp ($48) that focuses on adding the right pictures. For Tinder and other dating sites, Hoehn looks through her clients’ Facebook photos or pictures they’ve sent her via Dropbox, and personally selects the ones she believes will best represent each person. “I tend to like photos where the person is looking straight at the camera, and they’re smiling with their teeth showing. It’s very simple, but it’s something that works,” she said. “I tell people to use their photos to help bolster the image they’re creating for themselves in their profile. Say, if you’re a huge runner, you should have a picture of yourself out on a run, or after a race, in your running gear with your running buddies. Anything to help show who you are,” she said.
Even though she got her start improving her female friends’ profiles, these days Hoehn has a primarily male client base. “For women, they have their girlfriends. If they’re online dating and they’re ashamed of it, they still tell their best friend,” she said. “For dudes, it’s not always the same. When you’re embarrassed, you don’t have anyone you want to show. To have an anonymous outlet, to have someone spruce up your profile, it’s a relief.”
Photo via Lisa Hoehn