Q) Who are you?
A) I’m Virginia, The Heartographer!
I’m an online dating coach based in Seattle, but I help clients all over the globe. I help people with all aspects of navigating the weird and (mostly) wonderful world of online dating! That means I help with a little bit of everything: choosing which site to use, figuring out how to fill out a profile in a compelling and fascinating yet accurate way, shooting or selecting great photos, figuring out who to message or try to go out with, making dates happen with those people, and navigating those early stages of dating into a relationship. (You can always call me for relationship checkups down the road, too!)
Were you hoping for a more personal answer? Maybe you should check out this About page.
Q) How did you get started doing this?
A) I met the love of my life online!
My husband and I met on Craigslist—the ad I wrote was actually voted best-of. (I don’t like to link to it just anywhere, but if you’re determined about poking around on this site you’re sure to find it.)
I had been trying online dating for years, and doing a TERRIBLE job of it at first. But I kept trying, and learning, and I eventually found my stride and really figured out how to write and present myself in a voice that connected with real, awesome people, on any site I chose. I also learned how to coach and improve the way others write about themselves in order to help out my friends and acquaintances, and before I knew it, I was charging people to keep up with all the requests!
I finally left my job in the software industry to pursue a career as The Heartographer full time at the beginning of 2013. Since then I’ve continued to study online dating to improve the overall experience for my clients. As each site and algorithm gets more complex, my corpus of online dating knowledge keeps growing!
Q) What is an online dating coach, exactly?
A) Someone who helps you find lasting love online!
I help singles identify their romantic goals, pick a site (or multiple sites or apps), craft catchy and engaging profiles, select (and sometimes shoot) awesome flattering photos, search for and get in touch with other singles, turn those messages into dates, and turn those dates into happy relationships. I make sure the entire process is FUN, too!
Online dating doesn’t have to feel like homework or a kick to your self esteem. You’ll naturally feel more confident about your online and offline game when you start working with me.
The level of service you receive depends on the package you book, but whatever you need, I’ve got you covered.
Q) How does a session with you work?
A) In a nutshell: I pick your brain; we write; you learn.
We schedule a time to meet together, either virtually or in person at my home office. We’ll talk for about half the time you’re here, with me asking a series of increasingly probing but important questions to get a feel for what you’re like, your sense of humor, what your past experiences have been, how you communicate, and what online dating approach will work best for you. Most clients get the best experience when they can book a full two hours with me, which starts at $249.
When I’m done asking you questions, I’ll use that info to make a recommendation on which site you should start out on, if you haven’t already got a profile set up. Then, we’ll work together on writing a profile that reflects your personality and interests, but is written in an eye-catching, results-getting tone that will attract and engage the kind of people you want to connect with.
Depending on your personality, pain points, and experience level, we’ll also spend some time tackling photos, messages, searching, and transitioning your online communication to actual dates. We may also discuss deeper dating and relationship stuff; the finer details of our consultation are tailored to your specific needs, and every client is different.
If you need help obtaining better profile photos, we might shoot a few in person. I can also set up a meeting with my photographer if you’re in Seattle, or give you some guidance about how to hire a photographer if you’re elsewhere. I’m working on building up a network of photographers in major cities so I’ll always have someone I can send you to, but this takes time! :) (Yes, I’d love it if you sent me a referral to someone fantastic you’ve worked with in your city.)
Q) How come you try to make me call or video chat with you?
A) It lets me get to know you better.
When I can see the whites of your eyes, and we can both appreciate various non-verbal cues, it makes the whole experience better. You relax more, you ease up, you tell me more about your relationship stuff, I glean what I need about your appearance and posture and facial expressions and everything. This whole process is pretty intimate, so anything I can do to breach the distance is great! (This is also why I urge clients to take advantage and see me in person when possible. It’s just a better experience.)
Q) What makes you so much better at this than me?
A) My years of experience, and my amazing track record!
I have TONS of experience as an online dater myself, and I went from bumbling and awkward dates to meeting and marrying the love of my life. I keep tabs on the industry and technology as it shifts, and I know which sites have which benefits and pitfalls. I’ve helped countless other couples get together via an online start, and I’ve worked my magic towards a few marriages, too! I understand the ways in which online dating is difficult, AND the benefit it can provide despite those difficulties.
My combination of experience, positivity, writing, humor, and determination will help you enjoy the entire online dating experience instead of regarding it like a chore you hate dealing with. Love is fickle, but with my assistance, your perseverance, and a dash of serendipity, you can meet the match of your dreams just like I did. Check it out, I even married him, see? And boy, do we have FUN together. (I think you can probably tell.)
Q) What if it doesn’t work?
A) With me in your corner, it probably WILL work!
I have a great success rate at helping people find relationships, learn how to represent and express themselves better online, and enjoy their entire online dating experience. But alas, love is a fickle thing. You may not find Mr. or Mrs. Right after your very first attempt—for what it’s worth, it took me a good five years to find my mate online, and I’m exceptionally good at this stuff, and far more determined than your average love-seeker. At the end of the day, online dating is a numbers game to some degree—but I’ve learned how to help you cut through SO many rookie mistakes, and speed up your learning process. We basically enter a pact where I try my hardest to help you, and you try your hardest to help yourself, too. (That means you actually take my advice, and you ask me questions when you have them!) Most clients come out of working with me feeling like their money was well spent, regardless of whether it takes them a couple months more to find that special someone.
Even if you don’t find your perfect match immediately after our sessions, you’ll start going on better dates with people who are better suited to you, you’ll know what makes a good ad or profile, and you’ll be able to tell which people online are worth meeting offline. You’ll probably even feel more confident about dating and approaching people in general. Applying the knowledge you learn with me about how to put your best foot forward is an investment in and of itself! But hey, if you’re still skeptical, get in touch for a free 15-minute chat.
I firmly believe that, with more than six billion people out there, there truly is someone (or several someones) out there for anyone. But since most people give up after one or two mediocre e-dates, they never get to the good stuff. Not with me in your court, baby. We’ll hone in on the right kind of matches and do whatever it takes to improve upon your dating process until you find success!
Q) Can I write a guest post on your site?
A) Probably not.
I’m pretty picky about my site’s content; I also usually get pitches from people who are my direct competition. I’m just not interested in hosting competing content; that’s what sites like YourTango are for. :) My clients and my readership value my voice and opinions, and they’ve generally chosen me from among multiple online dating and relationship coaches because they like what they’ve seen from me before. I don’t accept content that would water down my brand, if that makes sense. If you believe your guest post would be truly complementary and truly beneficial to my readership, let’s talk!
Q) Can I advertise on your site?
A) Maybe, but I’m kind of a pain in the ass. :)
I’m open to selling ads, but not ugly ones. Not competing ones. And not sleazy ones. I generally only get approached for ads or sponsored posts by companies that make sex toys, or that are making a dating app or service and want free publicity. Those aren’t a great fit. I’m happy to chat with potential advertisers about my site demographics and what would work well, though. A conversation with a real human is a good starting place. :) Please get in touch if you’re interested!
Q) Will you write a post featuring my dating app or service?
A) Not unless you completely blow my mind.
I’m excited to see innovation in the online dating space, but to date I’ve found that the more established online dating players are the best means for singles to connect. I’m not interested in promoting something that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly send my clients to, even if I’m being paid for said promotion—you’d seriously have to be the next Tinder (complete with IAC backing) in order to make that a logical thing for me to feature. But hey, IAC, if you’re listening, let’s chat! :) If you’re not Tinder, but you still want a sponsored post, I’d be willing to basically write up a critique of where I think you’re awesome and who should use you, and where I think you’re weak and who should stay away. If that sounds terrible, we’re probably not a good fit. :)
Q) Will you please link back to my site?
I get requests about this all the time, sometimes in a tit-for-tat way and sometimes in a please-do-something-illegal way. I’ve never gotten a link-back request that I wanted to say yes to. You’re still welcome to try, but again, setting expectations here! Any link would have to provide 100% non-smarmy, helpful information to my clientele, without in any way infringing on my own business interests or breaking any laws, duh.
Q) Would you like to interview X expert about Y dating or relationship topic?
A) Probably not.
I do sometimes reach out to people who are notable in the online dating world, but I’ve never received a pitch from someone else that made me want to conduct an interview. This site isn’t really meant to be a media outlet; it’s not the right type of channel for publicists who are trying to find more exposure for some dating expert. (Especially if we’re direct competitors.) That said, you’re welcome to try me if you’re convinced it’s a great fit. I get the sense that most publicists aren’t exactly reading the FAQ before they hit send, but I figured I might as well clarify here! :)
Q) Will you help us make our dating site or app better?
A) Sure, under signed contract.
I’ve consulted with plenty of startup companies working on dating sites; I weigh in about everything from algorithms to UX and most companies find my input wildly informative and instructive. However, this is a consultant role, complete with consulting fees. It’s also in both of our interests but mostly yours to work under an NDA for legal reasons. Reach out if you’d like my help with your dating company; I’d be happy to discuss rates, scope, and other details!
Q) Will you beta test my nearly-complete dating site or app?
A) Sure, but if I see major problems, I’ll charge you for insight.
See above. :) I mostly get approached by broke startups with no funding, so I have to make a distinction between “beta testing” and “asking for free consultancy under the guise of beta testing.” However, if you’re even remotely funded, put me in touch with the folks who write the checks. I’m happy to demonstrate the value of my expertise so they understand why you need several grand for an online dating expert’s help, haha.
If you do pitch me a site or app to test, please include a free test account with full functionality. I can’t really tell how good you’ll be for my clients if I can’t use your product like a single person would.
What I DON’T offer:
There are a lot of different services popping up that try to help single people out. This can all get a bit confusing! Here’s what The Heartographer is NOT prepared to do for you:
Matchmaking is a different skill set than online dating coaching. Matchmakers pair up real live singles whom the matchmaker already knows or has stored in a database, and these are often people who have paid the matchmaker several thousand dollars. That’s not what I do; I help you use the Internet to meet people online, who are usually strangers to both you and me. The skills you learn from me can be applied to meeting people on your own. I also charge much, much less than that entire industry, for what it’s worth. :) My services tend to be more accessible on every level. That’s not to say matchmakers aren’t also valuable, but there usually isn’t much overlap in our clients.
That said, there are a few very rare occasions when I have had two clients who seem like they might click with each other. I’ll usually introduce those folks free of charge—it’s not my core business, but it’s lovely if I can help spark a different kind of connection than any of us was expecting, you know? :)
Sometimes clients want to hire me to pose as them online, so they don’t have to do any of the work of finding someone to date them. That’s crossing a line, in my opinion. Sessions with me are always collaborative—I go out of my way to make sure your personality and values shine through in any profile we create. After all, we never want someone you meet to feel like they were deceived in any way, or like they ended up on a date with a totally different person than they thought they were meeting! It’s VERY important to me that my clients are comfortable with the approach we take. I may push you to write differently than you would on your own, but not so differently that you feel stressed out or upset or deceitful.
You’ll be sending messages to potential singles on your own, although I may help you figure out who to message and provide writing suggestions to educate you as to how to fine-tune your communication. You’ll be scheduling your own dates, and for the most part, I won’t be digging around in your online dating accounts unless there’s a very specific reason I need to.
I work with people who recognize that finding lasting love can be a tough process, which requires an emotional investment and an effort on your end as well as mine. The harder you work, the more progress you make! (Annoying, I know. But I’ll work hard right along with you to help you find love.)
Sadly, there are no guarantees on the internet. I can’t assure to a certainty that you’ll meet Mr. or Ms. Right, or that you won’t wind up someday divorcing the person you meet with my help. I can’t even guarantee that you won’t meet a string of jerks, or that the cute girl you messaged with your company email address won’t stalk you like a weirdo. But the reality is that I’m very good at helping people spot trends in communication, avoid dates with jerks, avoid putting themselves in unsafe situations, and generally really enjoy the process of finding love online.
If you’re not satisfied after all our work together is done, let me know and I’ll do what it takes to make sure you’re a happy customer!
Q: What if I want something different than what you offer?
A: Give me a call. Maybe we can work something out.
People reach out to me all the time wanting slightly different help than I usually charge for. Sometimes they want help contacting a famous person they wish to date. Sometimes they want some advice on how to get through a breakup, or whether they’re being too clingy, or how to make losing their virginity at 38 less awkward. I don’t necessarily profess to be an expert in every single aspect of life and love, but people tend to really appreciate my off-the-cuff advice about topics that don’t quite fall under the Online Dating umbrella. I haven’t really figured out how to formally charge for this kind of support, but I appreciate PayPal donations if you find my time and input valuable. (And, of course, referrals to people who need more online-specific support!)
Please get in touch if you have further questions about what I can or can’t do to help you find love online!