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  How to Write a Personal Ad

  The Personal Ad Headline

Your online personal is like an advertisement.  And in this advertisement, you are the product.  If your personal ad doesn’t sell a reader, he or she will breeze by it looking for a better model.

The key to creating a successful personal ad is your headline.  It has to get a person’s attention, it has to do it in few words, and it has to do it amidst a lot of other headlines.

This is a lot to ask of a description that’s usually less than ten words.  How do you do it?  The key is to appeal to the other person’s interest.

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Fact is, the person reading your headline doesn’t know you and can care less about you.  They want to know what’s in it for them.  So your personal ad’s headline — in very few words — has to show this person what’s in it for them.  This is what gets the reader to decide to open your personal ad or to pass it by.

The trick is to play to the wants that are important to your target reader.  In general, women seek honesty, security, sense of humor, confidence, someone who will make them feel sexy and special, physical attraction, and someone who will listen (when dealing with women, men can be pretty bad at this, so pick it up guys).  So if you’re looking to appeal to a woman, example headlines might be:
  • Get the love and attention you deserve
  • A man who will actually listen to you!
  • Secure man (or woman) with a sense of humor

Appealing to men works the same way: your personal ad’s headline should appeal to what a male prospect wants to find.  Surveys on attraction typically show that “physical appearance” is more important to men than women.  But men seek other things as well.  About one in two men polled are looking for a serious relationship.  This means you have a 50-50 chance whether you mention serious relationship or casual relationship.

In essence, when you design your personal ad’s headline, think of what the target prospect will want and promote it.  And try to avoid some of the highly-common horrible personal ad headlines, which go like:

  • A friend made me do this
  • Tired of being miserable
  • Life sucks, look forward to hearing from ya

Don’t promote negativity, it’s not too appealing.  That statement is common sense, of course, but there are negative headlines like these all over the personals.  And the “friend made me do it” approach is lousy also.  If we’re serious about meeting someone, would we want to waste our time and energy on a person who doesn’t seem serious about it?

If you have to use negativity, try to at least throw in some humor.  I saw a personal ad headline which did this fabulously.  It read: If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off.  This has to make you laugh.  And it has to make you think that this person has a creative sense of humor.  Nonetheless, I still succeed far more frequently when my personal ad uses a headline that focuses on what the reader stands to gain.

  When the Headline is Less important

There will be some dating services that display search results with your headline and a small version of your picture.  In this case, the headline’s value is a bit less important because your picture will also play a role in whether or not someone finds you appealing.

You can click here to open my personal ad picture tips.  It will open on a separate page and will help you produce the best picture you can.  Even if a search result displays a picture, you still want to create the best headline you possibly can.  Remember, your personal ad is meaningless if your headline does not get someone to read it.

  Your Actual Personal Ad

Your headline got them in the door, your personal ad now has to generate a response.  How do you do this?  Once again, it comes back to telling the reader what’s in it for them.  What are your favorable qualities?  What does the reader stand to gain by getting to know you … by meeting you … by dating you?

If the reader doesn’t see the benefit of knowing you, why would they waste time writing you or contacting you?

Let them know what they stand to gain.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t under-value yourself.  We all have majestic and wonderful qualities.  Let people know about yours.  Tell them what they stand to gain by having an awesome person like you in their life.

I usually make a list of my best qualities.  Then, I prioritize them in order of what I think the reader will likely find most valuable.  Then, I put them in the ad: “I am a great listener and I look forward to conversing with you and hearing your thoughts … I am adventurous and open-minded, and seeking someone whose thoughts and actions will broaden my views … and so on.”

I just told the reader that I will listen, that communication is important to me, and that I welcome and look forward to their feedback.  I also did so while stating what I’m looking for.

In too many ads, the person is totally caught up in what they want: “I want someone who is between 5’11” and 6′ tall, 187.2 pounds, and makes AT LEAST $900,000 a year.”  Most people read ads like that and think, Who cares?  Of course, that example is overboard, but a good percentage of ads are like that.  Avoid that route.  Tell people what you’re looking for.  But also let them know what they stand to gain.  I write my ads this way and I have had immense success.


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