Day 6

Don't want to manage your own online dating profile? Hire a gig economy worker

In the age of online dating, finding a romantic match can be tough — so tough, in fact, that some people are outsourcing it. Daily Beast reporter Emily Shugerman tells us how the rise of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble has spawned a gig economy for dating.

For a small fee, they will pick your profile photos, write your bio or even manage your whole account

Freelancers on services like Fiver can write your online dating bio, swipe for your perfect match, then chat away on apps like Tinder, says reporter Emily Shugerman. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In the age of Bumble and Tinder, finding a romantic match can feel like a second job — and some people are hiring strangers to do it for them. 

As the rise of online dating apps has left many seeking advice on how to successfully land a date, gig economy workers on websites like Fiverr and Mechanical Turk have risen to the challenge.

For a small fee, they will edit your profile photos, write your pick-up lines, or even take over your account altogether.

Reporter Emily Shugerman recently wrote about the new dating gig economy for the Daily Beast.

She joined Day 6 host Brent Bambury to discuss the phenomenon — and why anyone would trust a college student to select their OkCupid profile pictures.

Here's part of their conversation.

You wrote "Like ordering a Task Rabbit to clean your home or a Postmate to deliver your dinner, you can now hire a 25-year-old in Taiwan to spice up your dating life." But why would anybody want to do that?

There are actually a lot of reasons. Sometimes the people who use these services are just new to technology — they're older or haven't been dating recently — and they need to learn how to use it. And sometimes they just need that extra boost of confidence that having someone help them out brings.

How much of my dating life could I be outsourcing?

You could be outsourcing pretty much all of the work on a dating app. That means matching with someone, messaging them, getting their phone number. That's usually as far as it goes. Once a phone number is exchanged, these people will send it over to their client and let them take it from there.

According to Shugerman, helping romantics with their online dating profiles isn't yet a lucrative business. (Getty Images)

If I was somebody who wanted to make a couple of bucks on the side helping someone, say, pick out their best profile photos, how do I go about doing that? 

There are a lot of websites geared towards freelancers or gig economy workers. The one that I explored in this article was Fiverr, which basically ... [is] an online marketplace for freelancers.

You create a bio; you let everyone know why you would be the best choice to review their Tinder profile, and then start charging.

And how much could I charge? Are people making a lot of money doing this?

From what I've seen, people aren't making a ton of money doing this. This is definitely something that a lot of students do, or people who already have a full- or part-time job just to make some cash on the side.

I've seen everything from $5 for a profile review to $200-a-week for full control of somebody's profile.

What qualifications do they have to go messing with a stranger's profile?

I don't know that it's so much about the qualifications as it is about their outlook.

A lot of people are just nervous about online dating. They haven't done it before or they don't know what to say.

So it's just nice to have someone with the confidence and experience of a young person who has been using these apps for a while to help them put their best foot forward and just make them feel a little more sure of themselves.

Better known for its graphic design and editing services, freelancer marketplace Fiverr includes a love and relationships section. (Sarah Smellie/CBC)

Some people still see online dating as an impersonal way to start a romance. Did you meet anyone who thought that getting somebody to work on your profile was a kind of cheat?

I didn't speak to anyone who thought that this was trying to cheat [at] dating.

What a lot of people felt was ... we all engage in what I called reputational sleight of hand when we're dating and try to enhance ourselves for other people. And they saw this as just another way to put your best face forward.

Did your research into this tell you something new about dating, or is this really about the infinite adaptability of the gig economy?

I think that's really what surprised me so much: the versatility of services that people will offer.

I logged on to Fiverr just to see what the site was and I had no expectation that there would be a love and romance category. And I was kind of intrigued by the creativity of people to offer these services.

[But] as far as dating goes, I think this is pretty par for the course.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To hear the full interview with Emily Shugerman, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now