I’ll be the first to tell you — once my exes put their hands down — I’m not exactly a “dating expert.” And I’m certainly no pro when it comes to picking photos for my Tinder profile.

Thank god then for the Tinder team. They looked at which types of photos work (and which don’t) as men’s first profile pics, and assembled some essential tips every guy should know.

“It’s no secret that your photos can say a lot about you, and we’re always working on new ways to help our members maximize the possibilities for new connections,” says Maris Bodell, senior director of product design at Tinder. “Our Smart Photos feature already does this individually so that your photo that resonates most with potential matches is front and center. These broader insights can close the case on the burning question, does my dog deserve their own photo within my profile? Hint: It’s better to share the spotlight.”

Sure, Smart Photos is a great feature, but even with it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my current photos were leaving Likes on the table. So I took Tinder’s advice and embarked on a revamp.

1. Show your face.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you have to remember that the person who comes across you doesn’t know who you are or what you look like.

Before this experiment, my first pic was me playing ping pong in a jazz bar. It’s a fun candid shot where I’m brightly lit against a moody backdrop and having a great time. The problem? The angle shows only half my face, and as a result, I’ve been told it looks like I’m trying to hide. I waved off that advice for a long time because I just really like that photo. Then I learned profiles that start with a solid face shot get 27% more Likes than profiles that don’t and immediately deleted that pic.

I swapped out my beloved ping-pong action shot for a posed one that clearly shows my whole face, and my match queue thanks me for it. Of all the tips on this list, this one definitely made the biggest difference. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you have to remember that the person who comes across you doesn’t know who you are or what you look like. If your pictures don’t provide a clear portrait, it’s probably gonna be a Nope.

2. Smile.

In one of my all-time favorite photos of myself, I’m not smiling. I look at that pic and see someone stoic yet electric, eyes steeled yet (somehow) crackling with life. Nobody else sees that. I’ve been told it makes me seem “boring,” “lifeless,” and once even “a real Cate Bland-chett.” Haters gonna hate, right? I kept that one in my profile, too.

I earned a data-driven comeuppance here as well: Smiling in your first photo gets 10% more Likes. Down went another photo and up went my Likes.

I realize it never made sense for me to have a serious pic anyway. That’s not me. I’m too silly and goofy to pull off that look. It’s also not how I want potential matches to see me. I’m trying to look like a fun date, not a cologne ad.

3. Lose the glasses.

Don’t change who you are for a potential 2.4% increase in Likes. Well, unless “who you are” involves wearing sunglasses in every shot.

When I learned pics with glasses perform worse than those without, I felt like an advertisement for corrective eye surgery: “Now, I get 2% more Likes on Tinder. Thanks, LASIK!” I say, tossing my eyeglasses into the air as I walk away arm-in-arm with a date.

I bought my way out of this tip years ago, but if you do wear glasses, embrace them. Don’t change who you are for a potential 2% increase in Likes. Well, unless “who you are” involves wearing sunglasses in every shot, in which case I refer you back to tip #1.

4. Show your ink.

Two facts for you: First, guys with tattoos showing get 10% more Likes than those without. Second, that gentle sound you hear right now is me somewhere frantically Googling “tattoo parlors open now.”

Sadly, I don’t have tattoos (yet) so I can’t try this tip out. But to the 40% of Americans ages 18-34 with at least one tattoo, I hope this tip inspires you to let your ink flag fly.

5. Retract your tongue.

I’ve been pretty happy in life so far to cede the coveted “stick your tongue out anytime a camera comes out” niche to Miley Cyrus. I’m even happier now that I know tongue pics get 2% fewer Likes on Tinder.

6. Take a pic with a dog.

I’ve Liked so many profiles with some variation of “I’m just here for your dog” that it actually surprises me photos featuring one only get 5% more Likes. Here I thought you dog owners were drowning in matches.

I’m not going to argue with 5% though, so I happily threw in a cute looping video of a dog apparently trying to see how many licks it takes to get to the center of my neck. Sure enough, I didn’t see some huge increase in Likes compared to shots of just me, but on the bright side, taking and seeing this photo makes me happy.

This has to be the least surprising statistic of the day: Photos featuring a human do 69% better than those with only an animal. I have never been a person to do this and to be honest, I don’t really understand the motivation. Even if you’re the proud parent of a particularly cute chinchilla or some rare Peruvian shrieking bird, this is still Tinder, not “Planet Earth.” A cute pet is the icing, not the whole cake.

8. Skip the group pics.

Group pics have always been contentious though, and not everyone is as dogmatic as me about it. After all, group shots only take a 4% hit.

Profiles that open with a group pic are my biggest pet peeve on Tinder. I used to play along, trying to figure out who was the most prominent person in the shot. Now I just Nope and move on. It’s never the person I expected it to be, and I’m not ready to match with someone just to ask if their attractive friend is single.

Group pics have always been contentious though, and not everyone is as dogmatic as me about it. After all, group shots only take a 4% hit. So, in the spirit of experimentation, I set one as my first photo to see if it would cause a noticeable change in my Likes. I did actually see fewer Likes coming in, but it’s tough to know if that was because it’s a group shot or because people were too polite to ask me if my friend is single.

9. Don’t post a pic with your best girlfriend.

Profiles starting with a picture featuring the opposite sex get 6% fewer Likes than those that don’t, and that’s a tip I’ve never had trouble following. If there’s one question I don’t want my first photo to inspire, it’s “sister or ex?”

This is the kind of stat that makes you remember the other person doesn’t know much about you. For all they know, that person in the shot really is your ex, or maybe you’re in an open relationship and that’s not what they’re into. Sometimes it’s easier to Nope and move on. Personally, I’d rather just avoid the issue altogether.

10. Wear a uniform.

Professional uniforms get a cool 6% boost in Likes, and as with tattoos, it’s hard not to be a little jealous. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a writer uniform beyond nearsightedness and too many cups of coffee, so I couldn’t test out this tip myself. To the people in uniform on Tinder though, I salute you.

11. Lose the rock band pic.

That’s right — pics featuring musical instruments are correlated with 4% fewer Likes, and I’ve never felt more validated.

That’s right — pics featuring musical instruments are correlated with 4% fewer Likes, and I’ve never felt more validated. My years of bitter scowling at the guy interrupting the party to take another crack at Coldplay’s “Green Eyes” have finally paid off.

For a while, I did actually use a picture of me wailing on an electric guitar onstage, but it never did much for me. Now I know why.

12. Lose the gym selfie.

I’m not #feelingcute when I work out; I’m a red-faced, heaving mess. The last thing I want (or the fine folks on Tinder need) is a gym selfie. I’ve never been that guy, and I don’t plan to become that guy — especially now that I know gym selfies get 5% fewer Likes. I did not test this tip out, and I make no apologies. I’m trying to get more Likes here, people.

13. Be a beach bum.

Beach shots get 5% more Likes, and it’s easy to see why. Honestly, is there any place better for getting good pics for your dating profile? The beach is fun, vibrant, and as we’ve noted before, one of the few places where a shirtless pic feels natural. So I happily threw a couple shots of me floating along: one in the Dead Sea and one in some Turkish bathhouse. Not only have I been getting more Likes as a result, but they’ve been great conversation starters when people recognize where I was.

14. Ditch the suit.

I rarely wear suits, but when I do, it’s certainly because I’m at a wedding dancing hard enough to create a five-foot “danger zone” around me and attract the attention of the photographer. Occasionally, I do exclusively use those pics on Tinder to give my profile a theme that, if nothing else, makes me laugh.

Turns out my suit pics were doing something else: earning me 2% fewer Likes. I took the hint and cut down the amount of suit pics — especially those of me with a bunch of other groomsmen, since I learned group pics are a faux pas. I might not chuckle at my own profile anymore, but thanks to the extra Likes, I’m still smiling.

15. Get off your motorcycle.

Blame it on the helmets or the bike taking attention away from your face, but the fact of that matter is motorcycle shots get 14% fewer Likes

 

Nothing screams “bad boy?” quite like saddling up on your bike in your very first pic. Right? Actually, maybe not. Blame it on the helmets or the bike taking attention away from your face, but the fact of that matter is motorcycle shots get 14% fewer Likes.

For me, this is not a huge deal. I can barely ride a bike, much less a bike. I did try out a shot of me on a motorcycle though, just to see if maybe I could pull it off anyway. Sadly, the answer was Nope.

16. Say goodbye to the selfie.

Here’s the problem with a selfie: It looks easy. It’s not, of course, but that’s the magic. After dozens of takes and endless minute adjustments to lighting and angles, you come away with a photo that looks like you snapped it in a flash. Maybe it’s unfair, but that’s why you’ll get 7% more Likes when you swap out that selfie. I’m much more into candid shots anyway, so this wasn’t a huge adjustment for me.

17. Get artsy with a black-and-white photo.

Sure, they’ve been done to death and they’re total clichés, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Black-and-white photos earn 2% more Likes than color ones. Admittedly, that’s not a huge spike, but I’m not in a position to say no to more Likes. I took a photo of me that I didn’t think worked super well in color, threw it into monochrome, and it actually did the trick. It’s a bolder, more interesting photo now, and I’ve got the Likes to prove it. I don’t recommend going overboard with more than one black-and-white photo, but it’s worth experimenting.

Experimentation is the key here. It’s easy to read all of these stats and conclude there must be a formula for Tinder success, but there’s not. You’re not going to rain down Likes just because you added a shot with a dog or took off your glasses. Stay true to yourself and use these stats as inspiration, not rules.