Successful online dating exists for those that make the most out of their experiences, both good and bad. Just like everything else in life there are do's and don'ts. Advice should be taken just as it is, advice. I believe that anybody reading this is a completely competent person that just needs some direction. Never substitute your judgement with someone else's.
The internet is a wonderful, vibrant, and sometimes scary place! For as much as can come out of a pleasant online dating experience there is much to be said for bad experiences. Rule #1, no matter how "hot" this person is never give out personal information. Which includes your address, telephone numbers (right off the bat), social security, checking account number, license plate, etc. Anything that can be used to identify you. Why is this? Because not everybody on these sites is legit, con-artists exist in real life as much as they do in the online dating world.
With that being said, it's time to set up your profile.You don't have to do this but I suggest using a reputable dating site. Stay away from MySpace and other "social networking" sites to look for love, go to a site that was created for the sole purpose of helping people seeking relationships meet each other.
Decide what it is that you're looking for. If you're really into sports, reading, or animals it's important to find a way to incorporate that into your profile. By being honest with yourself, and on your profile, you stand a better chance of attracting someone that you can get along with. Let your personality show in your profile, if you like to cook and entertain friends say something along the lines of, "My friends love coming to my place for a great meal and conversation...I'm quite the wine enthusiast! My favorite vineyard is located..." It doesn't really matter what it is you like, it's how you present yourself. There is always going to be someone out there that shares your interests--you just have to know how to appeal to them.
Avoid being bland and boring while describing yourself. "I like to cook. I like wine." Wow! Fascinating, tell me more! If your goal is to alienate as many people from your profile as possible, use the above tactics.
Beauty is only skin-deep, never forget that. Pictures are important for online dating profiles, but remember to keep an open mind. Turning someone down based off of a two second look at their profile picture is unfair. Get to know the character first, if nothing else you're gaining experience in talking to the opposite sex. Now, when it comes to your pictures make sure that you're putting your best foot forward. Tacky pictures taken at 2 a.m. in front of your webcam are not attractive. Get a friend or a professional to go outside with you, yes sunlight should be involved, and take some quality pictures. Smiling never killed anyone, so try it.
Keep in mind that it's your profile that's going to connect you to the rest of the online dating world. Putting a decent amount of time and effort into your profile is going to make all the difference. Both men and women shy away from sketchy profiles, those that are very generic and say little to nothing about the person they're representing.
If you want to connect with anybody you have to leave some things up to mystery. As great as your profile should be it shouldn't contain every bit of information about you. Save some things for conversation. Make someone want to contact you. Maybe the person reading your profile also likes wine from the same vineyard, so they're going to message you. Now you have something to talk about. But if you went into seven paragraphs about why you like the wine and when you first had it there's no reason for that person to contact you, they already know everything. Does that make sense?