How To Control 80% of Your Online Dating Results

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How To Control 80% of Your Online Dating Results

Today I’m going to give you the one thing that will make or break 80% of your success or failure with online dating. It’s irrelevant what kind of online dating you’re doing, whether it’s an Instagram game, swipe apps like Tinder, sugar daddy game, or what have you.

-By Caleb Jones

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That one thing is your photos.

I mean this, guys. Eighty percent of all your success or failure with online dating lies with your photos. What you write in your profile text, how you construct your openers, how you pitch the first date, how you address objections—these are all important things.

But all of those things together add up to 20%. You can have amazing photos and do a bunch of other things wrong and still get dates. Conversely, you can do everything in that 20% perfectly and get no dates if your photos suck. That means 80% of your thoughts, processes, and resources need to go into maximizing your photos. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. And for some reason, there are still guys out there who think online dating is all about openers. That’s not right; your opener is the least important part of the process. It’s about your fucking photos.

What Not to Do

1. No selfies! “But Caleb, girls use selfies!” Yes, girls can use selfies. Are you a super-hot blonde Instagram model with big tits? No? Then you can’t use selfies.

2. Don’t use pictures you already have on your phone. A lot of guys do this. Years ago you could get away with that. Today, you can’t. The competition is too fierce. The photos you use for your online dating profiles must be specifically taken and designated for online dating.

3. Don’t use photos that friends or family took of you. They’re usually stupid and terrible. I have evaluated hundreds of men’s online dating profiles, and trust me, I have never seen one photo that was taken by a guy’s buddy or sister that looked really good on his profile. The elements are out of place, the lighting is off, you’ll be dressed stupid, it might be blurry, and so on.

4. Do not use shirtless mirror selfies! If you’re ripped and good-looking, you’ll have a much higher response rate if you take your shirt off and do something outside as part of an action shot. The stupid expressions guys use in mirror shots are ridiculous. You want to increase the odds that women will respond to your openers. That means your photos have to be the best you can make them, even if you are ripped and good-looking. Don’t use a mirror.

5. Do not use photos you took on your goddamn vacation! No one wants to see you standing in front of a mountain or pyramid. Those do not pull well for online dating. Put those on your Facebook. Don’t put them on Bumble. That’s not what gets women to match and respond to you.

Ideal Photos

This is an important point: Just because a photo is cool or has aspects that are pleasing does not mean it makes a good photo for your online dating profile. Here are some guidelines:

  • An online dating photo must feature you as the centerpiece. A photo showing you standing in front of a 200-foot pyramid showcases the scenery, not you. It’s not right for an online dating profile; I don’t care how cool the pyramid looks.
  • It also has to have perfect lighting.
  • You need to be dressed in a way that matches your vibe, personality, and persona.
  • There are certain colors that look really good on you; those should be the colors you’re wearing.
  • Your profile photo should be in focus and have a shallow depth of field. The photos on your phone do not check these boxes.


The number one piece of advice I can give you to change the game in terms of your online dating experience is to use a professional photographer to take your dating profile photos. Guys have done this and seen their match rates and response rates increase by double digits.

You can hire a professional photographer, or you can go on Craigslist and find a college-age photography student with a really good camera. Do not use pictures taken with a phone. Use a good, high-quality digital camera.

I did not say you go into a photography studio at fucking JC Penney or take a headshot like you’re a real estate agent. That would look terrible!

I mean you hire a professional or semi-professional photographer (or photography student) to take pictures of you in environments that look natural—not a photography studio. Outdoor shots look fantastic, especially for secondary and tertiary photos.

The best way to do that is to walk around outside and have the photographer take pictures of you doing things. Those shots are really good. Be honest with the photographer about what you’re using the photos for. Let them know you’re using them for online dating, and the photographer will help you avoid looking too stiff or posed.

The problem with most of us is that we’re not professional models, so we don’t know how to act in front of the camera. So don’t try. Walk around, talk to the air, and recite poetry, if it helps. It’ll help you look natural and relaxed.

Notice how different that is from pulling pictures off your phone or from a vacation. They’re geared directly toward showcasing you. That’s the idea.

There’s a lot more to this. This is one of the longest chapters in the Ultimate Online Dating Manual, and it goes through exactly how you get your pictures taken and how you process your photos for maximum match rates and response rates. It’s all in the book!

Click here to register for the FREE webinar I'll be doing on December 3rd on how to be successful with online dating in the 2020s, with a full Q&A at the end.



This article was originally published on December 1, 2020

Comments


  • Gamelives 2020-12-01 16:33:08

    I only use selfies but it seems like I get a good amount of matches (55 over 2 weeks Hinge, 10-20 per day bumble, 5-10 day Tinder)((this is after the newbie boosts)) esp considering that I'm not white and all (or like more than 80%) my matches are. My issue seems to be my text game. The holidays also seem to be putting a damper on things. Basically if I pitch the date immediately a lot of matches disappear. And a lot want to waste time "getting to know each other." Like it just seems like I don't maintain or maybe even garner high enough interest. I can link or send my profile on request. Since it's online I chalk it up to not being better looking than the competition at the moment.

  • Redbaron 2020-12-01 16:35:50

    Eighty percent of all your success or failure with online dating lies with your photos.
    This number will probably rise to 85%, then 90%, then 95%, then 100% over the next decade (I personally think it’ll happen much sooner than a decade given the speed of current trends, but I could be wrong) or so as online dating continues to get harder, more unworkable, and enter phase 5.
    The competition is too fierce.
    The best way to compete in fierce market is to not compete, but rather do something different that most (if not all) of participants in that market never considered doing. That way, you have little to no competition 🙂
    What Not to Do
    I have a feeling this list of 5 rules is going to grow to 50 rules, then 500 rules as online dating continues to become harder. Or at the very least be altered in scope. I’m curious to see how these rules will change over time.

  • Sandro 2020-12-02 05:21:01

    Men should forget about online dating, the vast majority of men will never have even a friction of success compared to what they invest in (if you are looking for many lays). If you need to hire professional photographers and do 100 other things then do it but ask yourself is it worth it compared to the outcome? If your competition is a hot guy laying on his coach with ripped jeans and a white t-shirt who gets more matches than you then maybe you should question what you are doing. I recently just went on tinder for the first time ever to see what it's like and boy is it boring. The women are boring as hell (basically 90% vacation/trip pics). I only have 1 pic, my face as a comic selfie because I am not really interested in meeting women through tinder I just want to see how it works. My bio says "If you are looking for an honest, nice and ambitious man you better swipe left, honey". For some reason I have got more matches than I thouht compared to my invest and even though I swipe left to maybe 90% of the girls. Then I wanted to see what my competition looked like so I changed my settings to men too and man a lot of guys really have no chance at all. They simply don't pass the looks threshold, as hard as it sounds. What I am saying is, there is nothing better than meeting women in person, it's the only way for most men to have any chances. Online dating is a lost cause.

  • El Barto 2020-12-02 06:25:13

    Online dating is a lost cause.
    Oh dear, that's a very fatalistic viewpoint. Of course it's not. Watch Caleb's earlier video on this topic. You have to adapt, use a good profile pic, a description that incites interest with females. And research which platforms are perfect at the moment.   I agree on Tinder. I started using Tinder in 2014/2015. Then it was excellent for getting a lot of dates (and more) with cute females. And quite easily. Nowadays it's filled to the brim with single moms, girls who just want valadation and many, many women who are just mindnumblingy boring. The same goes for Happ'n. Not much quality there anymore. At the moment I'm having immense succes with OKcupid and Bumble (I live in Holland). Many cute girls on those platforms and I don't have too much difficulty getting numbers and dates etc. There's more of a Leftwing/progressive vibe on OKcupid. Many girls have in their profile texts like: 'Vegan, BLM, uses she/hers pronouns'. Which I find hilarious, I'm smart enough not to get into politics with them.   If you're not convinced sign up for Caleb's webinar, which is free if you do that today. I will, I'm very curious about learning Instagram game.

  • AlphaOmega 2020-12-02 09:07:12

    Which I find hilarious, I’m smart enough not to get into politics with them.
    Speaking of ultra left wing women being hilarious my personal fav are the ones on sugar dating site desperate for money and complaining about patriarchy.

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-02 10:11:50

    Basically if I pitch the date immediately a lot of matches disappear. And a lot want to waste time “getting to know each other.”
    95% of those would have disappeared anyway if you had spent more time talking to them.
    Men should forget about online dating
    Yeah, they should. They should just get really good at jerking off to porn instead.
    What I am saying is, there is nothing better than meeting women in person
    During Covid lockdowns? Okay.
    Speaking of ultra left wing women being hilarious my personal fav are the ones on sugar dating site desperate for money and complaining about patriarchy.
    Haha I've seen those too!

  • Wired For Success 2020-12-02 10:57:20

    Yeesh...what's with the whiners in the first couple of responses to this post? Tough shit if you have to shell out a pretty penny for excellent "would swipe right on him!" dating profile photos! The biggest reason guys bitch and moan about online dating is because they think they are too good to get help from a quality photographer and/or a stylist! They think wearing jeans and their favorite t-shirt while standing in front of their bathroom mirror is good enough. Really, in general, too many guys think they are too good to get help at all! And really, why wouldn't you want to get a leg up on the competition? I mean, unless jerking off to Hatsune Miku's titties on your VR headset with lotion and a box of tissues is your idea of a good Friday night that is. In which case, you do you! And another thing, as Caleb says, online dating goes through five phases with every new app and site. That's just the way it is, but it does not mean that online dating is "a lost cause". But again, to all the whiners in this thread, you do you. Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right!    

  • Gamelives 2020-12-02 12:58:34

    95% of those would have disappeared anyway if you had spent more time talking to them.
    Oh. Didn't realize the attrition was that high. Well then I guess I'm doing fine, then.

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-02 13:10:04

    Yeesh…what’s with the whiners in the first couple of responses to this post?
    Online dating is the biggest topic I discuss that brings out the most complainers, as I explained here: https://youtu.be/nJnuMo4Zfho
    The biggest reason guys bitch and moan about online dating is because they think they are too good to get help from a quality photographer and/or a stylist!
    That is actually one of the reasons, yes.
    They think wearing jeans and their favorite t-shirt while standing in front of their bathroom mirror is good enough.
    I think that's the bigger aspect. I've addressed the common MGTOW-type excuse of "it's too much work why bother?" on this blog before. Jerking off to porn or Instagram hotties is sooooo easy these days guys just backwards-rationalize that it's "not that bad" and end up doing nothing.
    Didn’t realize the attrition was that high.
    That is not the attrition rate. Of women who balk when you pitch a date soon in the conversation, that is the percentage who will probably never agree to meet you in real life no matter what you do or how long you wait, because they're not there to actually meet a man in real life.

  • Gamelives 2020-12-02 13:28:01

    That is not the attrition rate
    You think 95% of women online aren't there to meet anyone at all?

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-02 14:55:37

    You think 95% of women online aren’t there to meet anyone at all?
    That is not what I said. Re-read what I said in my last comment. Slowly.

  • Gamelives 2020-12-02 15:11:31

    Ok 95% of the women who give some excuse for not meeting up, I mean.

  • Sandro 2020-12-02 18:58:08

    Looks like some of you read into things that I never said at all. I actually said I get matches even though I put little to no investment at all, I only have 1 pic with my face as a comic. I was actually complaining about the women being boring and trying to say that meeting women PERSON will give you better chances, since most of you are investing time and money in online dating with little to no success. I am good, I can't complain but you guys are the ones giving women validation online, you keep the circle going. But if you are happy with it, just do it. @BD: the Covid excuse is nonsense because we haven't had a lockdown for 10 years and also if lockdown was an issue then women wouldn't be willing to meet you at all, no matter whether you meet them online or in person. So why would anyone do online dating at all then? I still meet women when I go to the mall, maybe it's just me but women are still interested in talking and hanging out provided they like you. I even had two women approach me at the bus station and the bank account so it seems like women don't care either about Covid.

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-02 20:37:36

    if lockdown was an issue then women wouldn’t be willing to meet you at all, no matter whether you meet them online or in person. So why would anyone do online dating at all then?
    Incorrect. I and others have met women via online dating this year during hardcore lockdowns. Yes, in many cities/areas during lockdowns daygame doesn't really work but online dating still does (at least to some degree). If you're getting all the sex you need via daygame, that's great, don't do online and do daygame instead. But saying no men should do online dating is you projecting your personality, preferences, skills, and desires on hundreds of millions of men. Not all men are like you, nor want to be. (And that's true with me too.)

  • John 2020-12-03 11:58:20

    I use selfies and during a campaign can pull as many dates as I have free nights.  But I am not pulling the hottest girls and I always get the "you're a lot cuter in person" line.  Some of that has to do with my in person frame making me more attractive than I am physically am.  But I'd be the first to admit that my pictures are shitty.  I always say i'm going to get better pics but I'm too busy getting my dick sucked when ever I want so... shrug.  All that to say you're 100% correct.

  • John 2020-12-03 12:05:09

    I am saying is, there is nothing better than meeting women in person, it’s the only way for most men to have any chances. Online dating is a lost cause.
    Always be selling. Should be able to get laid by every avenue including online.

  • Franklin 2020-12-03 12:21:28

    I haven't commented in a while, and I know this is off-topic, but I just wanted to say congrats, dude. You're killing it these days. Must feel pretty damn good. Thanks for adding the videos. Informative and good for a few laughs, too.

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-04 12:35:46

    I haven’t commented in a while, and I know this is off-topic, but I just wanted to say congrats, dude. You’re killing it these days. Must feel pretty damn good. Thanks for adding the videos. Informative and good for a few laughs, too.
    Thanks man. Glad I could help (and entertain, since that's always a part of it too).

  • AlphaOmega 2020-12-05 00:57:43

    I am saying is, there is nothing better than meeting women in person, it’s the only way for most men to have any chances. Online dating is a lost cause.
    Its the other way around for many, myself included. The vast majority of women I banged and dated / had firsr dates with were from online. The problem with meeting women in person is that you have to hit way higher numbers and it takes too much time unless you have some unusual schedule for cold approach and for social circle game if you fail the first few you get a reputation and it messes up the rest. Also doesnt really work either way if youre older and more busy, this is for very young guys who like to party all the time and have nothing better to do.

  • Sandro 2020-12-05 07:35:45

      The problem with meeting women in person is that you have to hit way higher numbers and it takes too much time unless you have some unusual schedule for cold approach and for social circle game if you fail the first few you get a reputation and it messes up the rest.
    Actually it takes less time and feels easier for me. I don't plan approaching women, I just do it when I feel like it or when a woman gives me some strong signals. I don't use social circle game at all, never have actually.  
    Also doesnt really work either way if youre older and more busy, this is for very young guys who like to party all the time and have nothing better to do.
    I turn 40 soon and haven't been on a party since new years day. I would even say many men spend so much time online, regardless whether it's online dating or just browsing, that they can't be that busy. But I know approaching is not for everybody. For me online dating feels like tricking and kind of boring too. I like the kick of talking to women in person. I have a friend who just got divorced and he tried tinder and failed. He gave up on tinder after a month (lol) and went straight to cold approaching during summer and banged like 5 women - now he has a fwb girl. The only problem now is that we have winter so it's not as comfortable doing it but it's still possible in malls.

  • AlphaOmega 2020-12-05 11:56:52

    The only problem now is that we have winter so it’s not as comfortable doing it but it’s still possible in malls.
    In many places its not possible at the moment at all, the people freak out if you try to come close and talk to them, because most of them are paranoid and scared of the virus, also less people out and about. I did see a lot of women walking around on their own looking bored in the summer though, would have probably been a good time to do it. Approaching is definitely not for me, but I have hit on women in the past where they were in position such as "hired guns", or passenger sitting next to me on the train etc.
    He gave up on tinder after a month (lol)
    To be fair he would probably not have gotten any better success if he was doing it for a year. When you dont get anything after a month you are clearly doing something wrong (or using the wrong app for your city - but that is also doing something wrong).
    went straight to cold approaching during summer and banged like 5 women – now he has a fwb girl.
    That sounds very good yes, but I wonder how many he had to approach for such results. Anyway, you kinda need certain kind of looks and personality, both, to make it work with cold approach, otherwise the numbers you need to pull are way higher and/or (more likely and) its going to feel much more like a grind (which will also hurt the results because it will be clear youre not doing it in a natural way). Online is easy if you follow certain rules and dont live in tiny city - to get dates - but the first dates are harder because she hasnt met you in person yet so its much more easy to screw up (or maybe you didnt have a chance to begin with). From women you met in person the first date success ratio should be way way higher therefore. The question is how much work you need to put in in both cases to get same results and which one you can integrate more easily to your schedule. Problem with cold approach isnt that the guys don't have time for it, its usually you have to go somewhere at a specific time of the day out of your way, unless you live downtown big city and always walk around anyway... (and never in a hurry). Online I can do while waiting for something / commuting. I can start and stop any time in a few minutes (or even seconds) intervals.

  • gamelives 2020-12-05 15:36:04

    Wow. Every time I re read the blog... So last year I was killing it OLD. Probably close to 50 lays. I did this all while I was in a mono ltr. Yes, a cheater. I'm pretty sure at this point I'm an alpha 1 trying to move to an alpha 2 and slowly letting go of a lot of guy Disney notions. So I'm going to just go nonmono. Anyway i realized why this time around I had such a low first date success rate: I was 1 for like 7 conversions. Because I was talking too fucking much. Got back in touch with the rules here and voila last two dates are conversions. (Either we met at my place and had sex or that is scheduled). My problem is that I just think I have always underperformed with women given my face. I have a question just in case this situation comes up again. Met with a chick awhile ago, she's cute, 31, and had a terrible date. She'd ask me questions and I would try to redirect but pretty much any quick truthful answer I gave resulted in extreme judgment from her. Example: do you use rec drugs? "Very rarely." "Oh so you do, I don't do that and I dont want people like that in my life at all." Redirect to something else....and it's like I can't say anything right. So I'm absent mindedly swiping, and I swipe right on her again on another platform. She matches. She's down to meetup. Again. We meetup again and it's like the same story. "Do you like food?" "Sure yeah." "No like are you a foodie?" "No." She does the same thing of like saying we have nothing in common we would never do this or that. And she also gets annoyed that I'm asking questions, trying to get to her happy topic, and says she wants more of a give and take. Which lol....doesn't seem like it because anything I say is like wrong. So I lean back and she's like so if you just saw me at a bar, how would you hit on me? I try this out. But as soon as I start to kino she calls it out and is like you're getting too close. I back off. Then she says she knows what I'm doing and what I'm after. Then paradoxically says she's fine with that. I just take it to mean shes not fine with that regarding me. The weird thing is that I could have sworn she was giving me a lot of IOIs too like licking her lips, the eye contact with a faint smile. Idk. Is this just an outlier or can anyone make sense out of this? I'm trying to get out of the habit of just chalking everything up to physical appearance. It honestly felt like she was determined to not be receptive at all to me.  

  • A 2020-12-05 17:29:22

    What happens if the photos are much better than what you really look like?  Then the jig will be up when she meets you in person. Separately, what are your views on using Zoom for the first screening of a woman in online dating?  It might enable one to skip a step, and both you and she don't have to worry about to and from transit. I don't think a woman will come to a guy's house after just a Zoom face-to-face, but I think it still has a role in rapid screening and avoiding the real letdowns. Plus, if you can record your Zooms, you might be able to watch your videos and self-improve (you may have to disclose that you are recording).  

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-05 22:17:34

    What happens if the photos are much better than what you really look like? Then the jig will be up when she meets you in person.
    I've had hundreds of online first dates. I'm sure that happened a few times but statistically it doesn't matter.
    what are your views on using Zoom for the first screening of a woman in online dating?
    Doing a video call pre-date is a good idea espeically if she's nervous. But I don't use it as a screening tool. I don't screen.
    I don’t think a woman will come to a guy’s house after just a Zoom face-to-face
    A lot of the younger ones could (less ASD).

  • A 2020-12-06 15:58:41

    BD, By 'screen', I mean avoid instances where the guy drove 20-40 mins and wasted money on a drink, only to find that the woman is entirely a waste of time (either personality or looks much worse than her pictures).   That is the only purpose. <i>I’ve had hundreds of online first dates. I’m sure that happened a few times but statistically it doesn’t matter.</i> OK.  But if the picture of the guy is way better than how he looks in real life, how can that not work against the guy when he meets the woman?  Won't she feel deceived (just like a guy would if the situation is reversed)?  

  • Blackdragon 2020-12-06 16:57:29

    But if the picture of the guy is way better than how he looks in real life
    It will never look "way better than how he looks in real life" (unless he photoshops it to hell which is not my advice.) It will just be a really good picture of him.

  • AlphaOmega 2020-12-07 01:22:12

    I don’t think a woman will come to a guy’s house after just a Zoom face-to-face
    A lot of the younger ones could (less ASD).
    yes and not just the younger ones. I had women I never met in person literally get on the plane and fly to meet me for a weekend. We chatted for longer time and did video calls though.

  • AlphaOmega 2020-12-07 01:26:04

    By ‘screen’, I mean avoid instances where the guy drove 20-40 mins and wasted money on a drink, only to find that the woman is entirely a waste of time (either personality or looks much worse than her pictures).   That is the only purpose.
    I usually have the women come to me for first time / first few times till we are actually dating. That solves it for me and shows shes very keen on me at the same time.