OPW INTERVIEW -- Feb 23, 2007 -- Kathryn Lord is a romance coach and writes for Yahoo Personals. She has written a book for baby boomer women and a book to help singles expand their social circles by hosting parties. She met her husband on Match in 1997, so she's walked the talk. She knows the ins and outs of online dating and provides great advice to her clients. Here's her story... - Mark Brooks
Kathryn, how did you become a romance coach?
I signed up for Match back in 1997 and met my husband there in 1998. I've been a psychotherapist for almost 30 years and I decided to get training in coaching and settled on romance coaching. I thought that it was something that people really needed. When I was doing online dating, I didn't know anyone who was doing it, nothing had been written about it, and it was pretty scary. So I was convinced that online dating could be better and easier and that I could help. I started in romance coaching in January 2002.
What is a typical client?
I would say my most typical client is a female and over 40. Although I'm having more and more men get in touch with me now, particularly around writing dating profiles. I do profile reviews and work ups for people, and romance coaching. I've worked with people as young as their mid-20's through early 70's. My average client is between 40 and 60 and female.
What kind of income do they have?
I think that one of the difficulties of that population is that the women do not tend to have as high an income as men. Their earnings are around $40,000 on up. I have some clients who are fairly wealthy. But, people want to find a partner so badly that they pull together the money that they need to, to be able to afford my services.
How long does a typical client work with you and what sort of hourly rate do you charge?
Almost all my work is done by phone. I have clients everywhere. My fees start at $75 a half hour and people buy them in packages, usually packages of four, so that's $300 up front. I do profile work ups for $99. When people sign up for four sessions of coaching I will do the profile work up as a part of that first package. Some people I've worked with for as long as a year to a year and a half, but sometimes people just need a little profile work or some help figuring out the mechanics of dating. Mostly clients stay with me 6 to 9 months with some intense work at the beginning tapering off as they get their feet under them. I will keep in contact with folks until they've found their partner.
When your clients first approach you, typically what dating services are they using?
I always recommend the big dating sites. My favorites are Match.com and Yahoo Personals. I usually suggest to folks that they pick one of those two and then if they have some other sub interest like they're looking for someone who is Christian or Jewish or vegetarian, maybe one of the smaller sites. E-Harmony as a third and maybe JDate.
Have you worked with any dating sites?
I think I was the first romance coach that had the experience of marrying through a dating site myself. I have the added experience of 30 years of psychotherapy work and have spent the last 5 years really learning this niche. I've approached Match.com a couple of times, and Yahoo Personals connected with me a year ago. I write for their online magazine.
I have one book already out called, Find a Sweetheart Soon – Your Love Trip Planner For Women which I wrote for those aged 40 to 60. I have another book coming out about how to build a social circle by entertaining.
How can people improve their chances on online dating sites?
I have recommended getting new pictures to every single one of my clients and virtually every single one of them has resisted. I always recommend them to LookBetterOnline.com. I think they do a fabulous job and give a fabulous price. I have a hard time understanding what the resistance is to getting a good picture, but that's the biggest one, bad pictures.
Secondly profile essays are usually poorly written. I did a job for this fellow the other day told him his profile was too sexy. Women understand that sex is part of dating but they don't want to see it in the essay. Men put too much sex in the essays. Women don't want to see that.
Then, the spelling and grammar errors. Frankly. I'm cleaning up their profiles and getting the "I's" out. People talk about themselves too much and they need to ask questions and engage the reader.
What should dating sites do to make their services easier for matchmakers to use?
I would make them all searchable in the same way. As a romance coach, I find it very difficult to go from one site to another and figure out how to find things. I would like to see a uniform platform. It would make it easier for the coaches. Secondly, weed out the scammers. I think that would be reassuring for daters. How do you spot a scam? I'm going to do some writing about that.