One of the more frustrating aspects of managing an online dating service is that we often see our members fail to embrace the tools we provide to get the most out of our service – and ultimately increase their chances of finding the perfect match.
That being said, I’m sure some of our members would counter by saying they don’t always know how to effectively use the tools we provide – and that would be a fair comment. Some time ago we began to address this issue by launching the “Faith, Hope & Love” blog, our monthly member e-newsletter & the community help room in the forums.
Today I’m going to provide some simple tips on how you can use your scrapbook, which stores all your photos, to get more out of CatholicMatch – and hopefully put you one step closer to meeting your future spouse.
The first thing you need to understand about your scrapbook is that it is not simply something you use the first time you create your profile. It’s not a placeholder for some additional photos beyond your profile photos. Your scrapbook is a place where you tell a story about yourself based on where you’re from, what you’re interested in and what you are doing.
If you think of your scrapbook as a way to tell a story about who you are, then it really becomes a useful part of your profile. Consider these seven “chapters” to help you make your scrapbook a storybook.
Chapter 1: Do you have a body?
We recommend at least five photos in your scrapbook, but in reality, 10-15 is preferable. However, that does not mean you need to post a dozen head shots of yourself. As much as some men and women don’t want to hear it, your whole body is part of who you are and if you want to represent yourself accurately you should provide photos that do just that.
Some online daters resist this idea. “I don’t need photos like that because what is on the inside is what counts,” they say.
Well, it’s true the inside does count, but that doesn’t mean the outside does not. My law school alma mater, Duquesne University, has a slogan “helping students develop the mind, body and spirit.” God gave us all three – our mind, body and soul – and while it’s not healthy to dwell or over-emphasize any one aspect, it’s also dishonest to pretend that any one of the three is not important or to purposely conceal one.
Most of us don’t think we’re photogenic and most also wish we could shed a few (or more) pounds, but we are who we are, and if you plan on meeting somebody today, then you have to go with who you are right now, not who you were or who you wish you could be. Make sure that you have enough photos that if the person looking at your profile was standing in front of you they wouldn’t be surprised by your physical appearance. If you’re not happy with your physical appearance, use posting those photos as motivation. Imagine if a few months later you can post photos of the “new you” after losing those unwanted pounds.
Chapter 2: Mirror, mirror on the cell phone
Just about everyone has a cell phone and most have cameras. It’s quite reasonable and common that you would have photos of you taken with your cell phone. I’m even sure you have a few self-photographed group shots. (You know the one where your heads are all squished together and you take the photo an arm’s length away.)
But the photos you really need to avoid are the ones where you’re standing in your bedroom or bathroom shooting into the mirror. These are often associated with some attempted serious or goofy pose. I’m not going to say that an occasional photo like this might not be cute or funny and possibly show something about your personality, but the problem is most of them are not.
These photos are often associated with teens on Facebook or twitter. It’s one thing to share these kinds of photos with close friends or family; it’s quite another when you’re trying to put your best foot forward.
So next time you think about uploading a photo like this just ask, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, is this self pic the best of all?”
Chapter 3: You’re cute, but what do you like to do?
Another common mistake online daters make is they upload photos that don’t show what the person is doing or even where they are at. Remember, you’re telling a story of who you are and the things you like to do. The places you enjoy visiting and activities you enjoy doing are all part of that.
One of the best ways to get more photos like this is to begin to actively think about your profile when you’re out doing things. Make sure you take a few photos going to a game, concert, a trip or a favorite restaurant.
When you get home, add a photo to your scrapbook.
I don’t think we ever had a complaint that a member ran out of space to upload photos. So upload until you can’t upload anymore more. You’ll be surprised how many photos will accumulate in your scrapbook over time if upload a photo or two when you’re doing fun or interesting things. They don’t have to be pictures of some exotic trip – just things you enjoy.
Chapter 4: Blurb, baby, blurb
Underneath each scrapbook photo we provide a space for someone to write a “blurb” about the photo. This is a widely under-utilized feature.
Not every photo tells the story at face value, and many times the story behind the photo is what makes the photo interesting. Use this space to tell your story! Write about the people in the picture, describe where you are and for what reason. Add a fun detail about the weather or the food or the inside joke you’re laughing at. Any context helps.
The more you blurb the more interesting your scrapbook will become.
Chapter 5: We are a family
I’m not sure any scrapbook can be complete without some photos of your family. No matter if it is your immediate family, extended family, friends who are like family – whatever the case may be, they are vital to a good scrapbook.
For some online daters, their family situation might be complicated, thus they don’t want to share many photos or maybe don’t have a lot of recent photos, but that’s OK. Surely there are special people in your life you’d like to show – a mentor, a colleague, a roommate, a church friend – and posting photos with them is an important part of telling your story through your scrapbook
Chapter 6: Pinocchio photos
I have to be careful with this one because people can sometimes become easily offended when discussing this topic. Pinocchio photos are pictures that are more than a year or two old but do not reflect the age of the photo, thus leading the person viewing the photos to assume they are recent. While each scrapbook photo contains the date it was uploaded, that date is not helpful in determining when the photo was actually taken.
If you want to avoid uploading “Pinocchio Photos,” make sure you write a brief description of each one with the month and year it was taken or describe the event and year, such as “World Series 2007” or “Christmas 2010.”
I hear many objections to this rule. Here are a few.
Objection: “I don’t have any really recent photos.”
My response: You chose to use CatholicMatch; CatholicMatch did not choose you. You have to make it a priority to take photos that express who you – looks, personality, interests. Let’s face it: Anything in life worth doing takes some effort. If you don’t have a digital camera, buy a cheap one or borrow one from a friend or neighbor. Keep it handy and make an effort over the course of a couple of months to snap a picture each time you’re doing something of interest.
Objection: “I look the same now as I did three, four or five years ago.”
My response: You may very well look the same. But that is not for you to decide. When you meet someone in person, you don’t hold up a photo of you from five years ago; they see you for how you look right now.
There’s nothing wrong with uploading older photos but just indicate that they are such and always make sure you have photos up that are sixth months to a year old. If you really still do look like you did five years ago then it will be obvious to the person viewing the photos. But remember we’re not usually the most objective judge of our own appearance.
Objection: “I hate the way I look in photos and am not photogenic.”
My response: Well, few of us are. Let’s face it: Most people don’t often like how they look in photos, especially unflattering actions shots. Of course, women never think their make-up or hair is just right. But hey, that’s real life; we’re not perfect. While you want to pick the better pictures, you want to be the real you, because that’s the person they’re going to meet – not the perfectly primped and posed person in your favorite photo take five years ago. In the end, the person who could be your future spouse will fall in love with you and all your flaws, not a perfect photo.
Chapter 7: To date or to doodle?
I never understand it when I see members upload five, ten or more photos in their scrapbook and none of them are of themselves. They’re often pretty scenery or inspirational religious images. It may be telling to upload a few artistic shots if they shed light on who you are or what you enjoy. I can even understand a photo of your favorite saint or football team.
But your entire scrapbook?
CatholicMatch is a dating site. Members want to meet other people, not flip through your photos of an ocean sunset.
So here’s my rule of thumb: Before you start uploading photos of your interests, make sure you have plenty of photos of you. Strike a good balance and your scrapbook will make it much easier for you to meet people and for them to get to know you – both appearance and personality.
Think of online dating like a garden, You can’t just plant the seeds and let it go; you have to water it, pull weeds and trim the plants in order for the garden to bear fruit.
Well, your profile is no different, and your scrapbook is a big part of it. So get planting, watering and weeding and with some help from God, your scrapbook can bear the fruit of meeting your future spouse.