This article is inspired by and dedicated to all the men who have an ingrained belief, limiting at that, that online dating is only for “good looking guys”. It’s also to help countless men who blindly set their favorite pictures of themselves as dating profiles and later wonder why beautiful women are not responding to their messages.
My goal today is to show practical, implementable strategies for becoming “good looking” online, without needing a physique that would put Adonis to shame or stellar natural good looks.
By the way, if you have assets like physique of a Greek god or a face that makes women go wild just by glancing at you, good for you! But carry on reading and maybe you’ll learn a trick or two to move from being considered “good looking” to “sex symbol hot!”
I’d also like to disclose that I’m not good with online dating in general:
- My profiles often have sophisticated, well thought-out messages like
my Tinder profile says “The least practical man in the world.” and I also used to have an OKC profile that specifically said “DO NOT under any circumstances message me or this will start an evil chain reaction!”.
- My very personalized, funny and charming openers look something like this: “Hey, you seem cool, hit me back if you’d like to grab a drink sometime. Cheers”
- And lastly, most of the time, I don’t even bother with sending openers and just reply to messages I get from women (most come from mutual likes and random visitors) – definitely NOT a good strategy if you want to fill your calendar with dates.
So yeah… under no circumstances take my advice on creating profiles and openers seriously – I’m truly bad at this. But despite obvious lack of any common sense when it comes to most aspects online dating, I still get messages, high ratings, likes, dates, etc. from beautiful women (and, of course, from not so beautiful too).
This also means that if you done any research on creating captivating profiles and intriguing messages to send, chances are, you’ll be getting even better results than I do.
If you haven’t already, here’s a suggestion where to start: How to Meet Tons of Girls on Plenty of Fish (by Chase Amante from GirlsChase.com)
Why Your Photos Are So Important
From a man’s perspective online dating sites are an oversaturated market – at any given moment your message is competing for attention against men who are better looking, taller, richer, have cooler experiences, etc.
Combine this with the fact that most beautiful women are flooded with messages every day and you have a situation where just for a chance to have your message read or profile visited you need a picture that stands out.
Now, you might be wondering something along the lines:
“But I’m not over 6’4 ft. tall, I don’t look like a male underwear model, my trip to climb mount. Kilimanjaro is not till autumn and my Lamborghini is still being serviced – how can I take pictures that stand out?”
The beautiful thing about getting your profile picture ready is that you can manipulate and stage the way you present yourself. Now, I’m not talking about having muscles and expensive cars Photoshoped into your pictures (have some pride, please don’t do that), but presenting yourself in a way that emphasizes your strengths, camouflages weaknesses and has that “Wow!” factor.
What this actually means is that unless you’re seriously obese or have some major disfigurements, there’s no good reason to not look absolutely great in the pictures you use for dating profiles! And even if you fall under one of the categories above, there’s still no reason not to put your best foot forward.
How To Know If Your Photos Are Solid
Before we get into the details of how we can present ourselves in a certain light that will help us look attractive, I’d like to address the elephant in the room – how do we know if our dating site photos are outstanding?
The obvious answer would be to measure how many dates we get from online dating, however, it’s not exactly accurate because our pictures might be okay at best (just enough to get her to visit our profile) but our profile, opener and the overall text game is so spectacular that we can get still get results without noticing a major decline in overall dates we get. In a way, that’s the same as saying that my messages and profiles are great, just because I get dates, when in fact they are piggybacking on the photos I use.
A much better approach would be to do a split-test: send a bunch of messages to women while keeping the same profile and opener but use different sets of pictures. This would definitely give you some insights into which photographs work best but would also take a lot of time, effort and you risk getting banned (at the time I’m writing this, I have 3 OKC accounts banned as a result of various experiments.)
So what are good indicators that we have great profile pictures?
How hot are your search results?
You enter okcupid.com, click “Browse Matches” and see a spectacle of women-like creatures that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, not to mention actually messaging them. You start scrolling to find someone remotely attractive but just get more and more frustrated with every mouse’s movement as the results are not getting any better. No point in getting angry at OKC or their matching algorithm, answering more questions won’t help either – you just need to face the fact that your profile (or, to be more exact, your pictures) is a male equivalent of a “very big-boned woman”.
If, on the other hand, your photos are solid the opposite will happen – for every “not so cute” match there are going to be several profiles of attractive and very attractive women. In other words, if your profile picture is mostly 5-star’ed you’ll be getting matched with a lot of 5-star’ed women (too bad most men are not very picky with what they rate highly, so occasional “meh” results get through too) – anyway, if you present yourself great, you won’t be lacking options of women to message.
Important: if you create a new profile with great photos, it should take no longer than a few days for search results to improve, but it will likely take longer if you change mediocre picture to a great one in an existing profile (probably still worth the wait considering your chances of being banned for having multiple profiles decreases).
It’s also very fascinating to see this transition of search results: when I did an experiment for Toronto my first thought was “Do men really go on dates with these women?! Ugh…” but after putting a solid picture and waiting a few days it changed to “Hmmm… I should move to Toronto, some of those women are HOT!”
Note: I was very tempted to share screenshots of my actual results (before and after) but decided against it for legal reasons, still feel free to personally contact me if you’d like to see them.
You regularly get visitors to your profile.
This point not necessarily means that your picture is superb, but it does mean that it stands out and that’s a great place to start.
You get a Likes, Matches, are added to Favorites, get 5-stars, etc. from beautiful women.
There’s no hard number that means you have great photos, because it will vary based on your location, site you’re using any many other variables. All in all, if you live in a highly populated area and use a locally popular dating platform, you should get notifications about some activity in your profile daily. I like beautifulpeople.com for this reason – if a photo maintains 4.5 or higher rating there, it will deliver on other sites too.
You get a solid match rate on Tinder.
The number is not set in stone and can vary based on your age (seems to be a big problem for men on tinder) and location, but all in all, 50% or more shouldn’t be that hard to achieve for most men in their 20s and early 30s. My own profile currently gets around 80%+ match rate and I only “like” women I find very attractive (my profile pictures will be shown below).
You get unsolicited messages from women.
Again, how many will vary based on your location, in Toronto experiment it took one day to get the first message from a woman I rated highly. In my actual location, where OKC is not very popular, it took almost a week.
Combine these factors and you should have a pretty clear picture whether your pictures are working for you or against you.
Please also understand that I don’t advocate being obsessed with getting likes, messages, visits, matches and other data that gives you nothing more than feedback – track them just enough to know if what you’re doing gives you an edge or is holding you back.
The Wow! Factor
So how do we pick a photo that gets these results?
First, let’s understand that when it comes to presenting ourselves online, “good” is not good enough.
- You got a picture from that party? Unless there are two beautiful women by your side and the photographer caught you in just the right angle you make you look great, it’s not good enough.
- You have that picture doing a cool hobby? That’s nice, but unless it looks like you could give “The Most Interesting Man in World” a run for his money, it’s not good enough.
- You’re wearing that nice, expensive shirt? Great, I’m sure it looks good, but unless your whole outfit could be shared on a men’s style website or magazine, it’s not good enough.
I know, we are setting high standards for ourselves and what this really means – if in doubt, don’t use the photo. One or two really great photos will outperform any amount of “good” photos.
Also, you could probably get away with lower standards as long as your profile and messages compensate, but as mentioned in the intro – I’m definitely not the guy to help you with that.
Getting really cool pictures doing exciting activities with beautiful women by your side that also make you look great can be a little complicated, especially if your coolest activity lately was finishing that epic dungeon in a MMORPG or reaching a Diamond rank in a certain MOBA.
Luckily, looking stylish and sexy in a photo can be achieved by most, as long as we put in a little effort and so the rest of this article will focus on helping you achieve exactly that.
How To Look Sexy Online
In this article I mentioned my dating site experiment for Toronto city, so let me start this section by sharing the photos I used.
Would you like to guess which picture got 0 responses, barely any visitors and quite literally scary “Browse Matches” results? Which one do you do you think got me unsolicited messages from women I rated highly and showed me that there are really beautiful women using OKC in Toronto?
Important: The pictures were taken about one month apart and in that time period my physical features didn’t really change. However, due to lighting, angle, my haircut in the first picture I look at least several pounds chubbier – fascinating.
By the way, just to explain, I took the first photo as my interpretation of the most average “nice guy” photo I could think off – clean, boring, without any sex appeal.
So now, what factors actually changed between the two pictures:
- Quality of photograph.
- Body language.
- Style and grooming (quite noticeably I’d say).
What I’d like to stress here – each and every aspect mentioned can be controlled and adjusted for best results. So when I said there’s no good reason not to look hot in your profile picture – I meant it!
Quality of photograph
Google and sites like Craigslits are your best friends for finding a photographer: check reviews, previous work, etc.
Here’s a few tips for finding a good photographer:
- A photographer should specialize in taking photos of people (for example: fashion, street style, etc.) as different types of photography require different skillsets.
- When looking over previous work of a potential photographer it’s a good sign if you see his photos improving over time – this means he or she is getting better at their craft.
- When explaining what type of photo shoot you’re looking for, explain that you’re looking for “street style, outdoors, something like photos found on lookbook.nu”
- When scheduling the photo shoot, ask your photographer to recommend a good time. When shooting outdoors certain times of the day are much better than others.
Personally, I pay around 30 – 40 USD per photo shoot for 40 ready photos but this can vary based on your location, still no need to go crazy and pay hundreds of dollars – when pictures look “too perfect” you start noticing a decrease in results because they look fake and unbelievable.
And if you’re on a budget, make sure to check Chase’s great tips on finding photographers for free.
This is a big one – we all want to believe that photos we see on dating sites are natural and authentic. Having pictures taken in a studio destroys this illusion.
Ideally, have the pictures taken outdoors, in the city, café, doing an activity, etc. Try to look like you’re doing something more than just posing.
Also, it’s even better if there seems to be other people with you, especially women.
Best performing pictures are those where you don’t look straight into the camera. Also, don’t be shy to ask your photographer for some tips where you should look.
At this point I’d like to disclose, that my personal best performing picture is a complete opposite – smiling into the camera (well, actually I looked just above the camera), but it seems like an exception to the rule than a rule.
Just like in life, your body language and your posture play a huge role: open it up, raise your chest, shoulder down and ass up.
But beyond the obvious there are more tips and tricks up your sleeve:
- If, like me, you have a not-so-well-defined jawline you could, for example, hold you phone in your hand and pretend you’re talking to someone or take a photo from a straight angle.
- If you really like your beer, junk food and have a belly to show for it, instead of featuring this quality, have an angled shot taken in a way that your jacket or blazer would slightly cover part of it. Or do what big-boned women been doing for years and take a cool close up shot.
- If, on the other hand, you paid your dues in the gym, make sure your photo makes it very obvious.
Style and Grooming
Okay, here’s the part that separates the good from the great.
First let me explain that there’s no single correct look – you don’t need to wear a dress shirt and a blazer, nor you need to wear black slim fit jeans and cover yourself in edgy accessories – you can, but neither is mandatory.
Instead, focus on the following:
Have you considered why we find some bodies, faces and other features attractive? Among other evolutionary and social aspects, major players for this are symmetry and visual proportions.
The ideal proportions men should aim for is a V-form for upper body (some sources claim the ideal torso to shoulders ratio is 1:1.62, but I wouldn’t bet my money on how accurate this number is) and legs visually proportionate to the rest of the body.
To illustrate what this means in practise I‘d like to share my own failure to maintain attractive proportions in a photograph.
Please ignore the tense body language in the picture – it looks like I just noticed a truck driving straight at me at full speed – and let‘s analyse what‘s happening here:
If we focused on shoulders and chest area everything looks perfectly fine – several layers for volume and a tight black jacket to mold and emphasize the physique, which makes my upper body appear more developed than it really was.
However, when we look at torso and belt line, something horrible happens – loosened sweater made from thick fabric, combined with tight black jeans create a line where it looks like the body goes from masculine to stick-figure skinny in just an inch, as if I was skipping A LOT of leg days at the gym.
Even though it‘s just an unfortunate visual effect, there‘s no way I could use this photo for a dating site.
I still got some great photos from this photo shoot, including my best performing one to date and all I had to do is make sure that this line was not visible in the photo.
Some tips for creating attractive visual proportions using clothes:
- If you need to add volume to your physique, add more layers and make sure that the top one (blazer, jacket) tightly molds around your shoulders and hands.
- If you have some extra size around your torso, wear a dark waistcoat (vest) with a bright shirt.
- Avoid loose pants like plague (check fit guidelines below).
- Wear brighter trousers to make your legs look bigger and darker ones to visually slim them down.
- If you have a longer neck wear collared shirts.
For more check the article on dressing for different physiques.
It’s much easier to stand out in a great way when wearing brighter, bolder colors. In general, try to have at least one attention grabbing color in your outfit: red, pink, white, blue, etc.
One exception, if you’re a bigger guy, you might want to stick to darker colors and coordinate accordingly simply to look slimmer.
I recently wrote an all-in-one article on how clothes should fit to look sexy, so make sure to check it out. Here’s a TL;DR version:
- For upper wear there should be very little extra fabric around your arms, chest, torso.
- Trousers should tightly mold around your thighs and buttocks, it should be slightly difficult to insert phone or a wallet into your back pocket.
The Wow! Factor
When it comes to clothes, the wow! factor lies in details – how your accessories match with the rest of your outfit, how cool your shoes or belt look, that amazing design on your blazer or shirt.
In my own example, the wow! factor details are in accessories and great color coordination: I had a pocket square made from the same fabric as the waistcoat (vest), also one of the bracelets is made from strings that has same colors as the rest of the outfit: light blue, brown, white, black (got lucky to find a bracelet like that).
I guess I don’t need to tell you that modern professional photographs are taken in high resolution, so every mistake in grooming can and will be visible.
- Get a haircut / style your hair before the photo shoot.
- If you have thick eyebrows (or a monobrow in general) have them groomed.
- Style your facial hair.
- If your teeth are in less than stellar condition, have your mouth shut during the photo shoot. You could also ask the photographer to have them slightly whitened with Photoshop.
Lastly, keep in mind that you’re creating a sort of costume for your photo shoot so it needs to be slightly more impressive than your casual outfits – I don’t casually go around wearing matching pocket squares but it worked great for this photo.
Understand what stands out in your pictures
There are many ways to get the “Wow!” factor: really cool activities, expensive toys, amazing physique, superb style, impressive social proof, etc.
I focused mainly on appearance in this article because it’s something we can control in both the short term and the long term, it doesn’t require major investments (though depending on where you start it’s likely that it will require some investment and effort) nor it takes months or years to develop.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the same results through a different path. Look, if you paid your dues in the gym and the kitchen – reap the fruits of your labor, find a simple way to show off your amazing physique without looking try-hard (bathroom selfies with a raised shirt can work, but I’m sure you can do much better than that). Same applies if you have intriguing social proof like fame or hanging out with people others will find impressive.
A superb dating site picture strategy should cover more than one category, without appearing intimidating (yes, it’s possible to over-do it).
Still, every advantage you use can potentially backfire and you need to be aware what to expect:
- If you add a picture with your brand new convertible or other luxury items, you’re in a potential pitfall of attracting gold-diggers – women, who might want to trade money for sex (if that’s your thing, why not just go professionals? ) or try to manipulate you into giving money just for the promise of sex.
- If you add pictures with great social proof, there’s a possibility that women will write you just for networking opportunities.
- And when you add pictures with cool hobbies or great style, you’re potentially putting yourself in a “wow, I’d love to bring him home for Christmas. My parents would be so proud and my girl friends would be so jealous!” category.
Please don’t get absorbed with thinking about potential downfalls – most people are really amazing and just want to have a good time, but be smart enough to know when someone is playing you to get something.
How This All Comes Together
I would now like to share my own actual Tinder photo strategy that gets around 80% match rate and only with women I find very attractive.
Deconstructing the pictures:
- First (main photo): it’s all about style and body language. Considering my other photos are quite wayward-ish, it’s good to add some contrast that shows a touch of sophistication. On high resolution it is possible to notice that certain proportion are a bit off due to my haircut not withholding the wind before the shoot, but looks great on mobile.
- Second: my best performing picture to date and an exception to the rule that you shouldn’t look at the camera or smile. My best guess is it looks honest, genuine and real. It also does a good job displaying attractive proportions and color management.
- Third: careless, fun, a little crazy and definitely not taking myself to seriously – what else there is to want.
- Fourth: Just before AC/DC concert, I’d like to think that this picture displays my immaculate taste for great music but it actual works because of the same points as Third, just with an extra portion of emotion.
As you can see I’m playing two angles here – first two pictures are sexy, while next two are all about shameless fun and cool experiences. Still, each and every one of them has something “wow!” about them.
Now, what are you going to pull off for your online dating photos?