In modern retellings of the fairytale “Cinderella,” the story’s heroine struggles to find a suitable outfit that would enable her to attract a partner of her choice. Likewise, for centuries humans saw fashion as the key to getting an edge in attracting the opposite sex. Yet with the advent of online dating, modern-day Cinderellas of all genders may find themselves gravitating towards services that advertise their sexuality in a more ethereal way: through ghostwritten profiles and professionally–staged photographs, which have largely supplanted ball gowns and slippers as the first sight that a potential digital suitor sees when evaluating a romantic prospect.
In the past two decades, online dating went from being a stigmatized way to find love to an industry that market forecasters predict will reach $3.2 billion by 2020. An estimated 49 million singles have dabbled in online dating at least once, and one researcher found that 22 percent of straight couples and 67 percent of gay couples met online. Yet in order to cope with the anxiety that accompanies the advertorial aspects of online dating, some have turned to professional help to get ahead – creating a cottage industry of professionals who make a living ghostwriting and preening others’ online profiles.
The idea of hiring a professional to write your online dating profile might seem a little uncanny. After all, the goal of dating is to find someone who will love you for you. Yet for those who can afford the oft-pricey services, outsourcing the labor of online dating is just another way to save time and improve one’s prospects.
“Everyone is doing online dating, and now everyone is trying to optimize themselves and make themselves stand out more because there is a lot of competition,” Alex McDermott, the co-founder of Pimp My Profile, told Salon. “I think that what we are doing is going to be as common as Tinder down the road – online dating isn’t going anywhere.”
While there is no way to officially quantify the growth of these mom-and-pop profile–writing businesses, every one Salon spoke with said that they had experienced growth over the last couple of years. McDermott and his co-founder, Gillian Walker, started their business in 2015 after they both individually suffered the chaotic world of online dating.
“We were on Tinder seeing some atrocities out there,” said Walker, who was a life coach prior to founding Pimp My Profile.
While the two started their company four years ago, they said business has really taken off over the last 18 months. On average they have 15 to 20 clients a week, although it varies seasonally. Pimp My Profile offers three packages: the cheapest costs $, a service that is exclusively for messaging. In that package, a client receives ten pre-written messages penned by Walker or their freelance writers, specifically tailored to the type of person the client wants to go on a date with. For $, online daters can hire the company to write their profile and three opening messages, in addition to getting them to weigh in on the client’s picture selection. Finally, for $, users can get a personal consultation with Walker and professional photo editing, in addition to what is offered in the second package. The demographic of clients, Walker says, “range all over the map.”
By Nicole Karlis
“There are many variables as to why people come to us,” she says. “Men on average are anywhere from college students to someone in their seventies, women primarily are a little older and are often times reentering the dating game after a long-term relationship, or they are really successful and don’t have the time for it. They might be really busy with their career.”