My little brother is not so little — he’s 30. But I’ll always be his “big sis” (to his chagrin, I’m sure), and give him advice on everything from finances to furniture. One day, he was lamenting that he wasn’t getting great results with online dating. That made me wonder: He was cute, employed and had a heart of gold… what was the problem? “No one ever emails me back,” he said with a shrug.

Being the nosy big sister I am, I decided to dig a little deeper. What was his profile like? What kind of email messages was he sending out? I knew there was more to the story than he was letting on.

Since I write about relationships for a living and can provide a woman’s perspective, I felt I was in the unique position to help a brother out. So I made this offer: I would be my brother’s online dating coach for two weeks. He actually had to implement my suggestions for those 14 days. At the end of the two weeks, I guaranteed he’d have at least one date or he’d get a fancy dinner on me. What did he have to lose? He reluctantly agreed. Game on!

Tip #1: Tailor your emails

His problem: The first thing I checked when he signed in to his profile was his sent mail. Appalling! Most contained two words: “Your hot.” Um, DELETE. The sentiment was lame at best, and the error of using “your” for “you’re” was unacceptable. I explained that he would never get a girl’s attention this way — he was sending out the equivalent of spam.
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The solution: I told him his emails needed to be well-crafted, not slapped together in two seconds. No wonder he wasn’t getting any responses back — his messages were essentially form letters, and they completely sucked! He needed to personalize each response and include specifics from the woman’s profile. A little care and attention to detail would go a long way.

Tip #2: Thou shalt not spam

His problem: My brother’s inbox also revealed that he was sending 20 to 30 email messages a day. It seemed he would send an email to anyone and everyone — there was no filter whatsoever.

The solution: I explained that it is best to spend several hours going through profiles and make a list of women you like. From that list, narrow it down to your top five, then target those women first. Remember: Quality over quantity!

Tip #3: Pump up your profile with things women look for in a partner

His problem: My brother’s profile was an absolute mess. First off, he mentioned drinking six times. “Hobbies: I like to go to happy hour with friends. Vacation? There’s nothing better than having a cold one on the beach.” In two pictures, he was holding a beer. I told him that most women would infer one thing from that: drinking problem. Which he doesn’t have, honestly!

The solution: He toned down the drinking references and accentuated his assets — that he had a nice home, a great family (ahem) and a good job. He loved to golf and enjoyed travel. These are the sorts of things a woman is looking for in a guy — not that he can put away a six-pack!

Tip #5: Take the extra step to stand out from other online daters

His problem: Even after my brother was following my advice, he wasn’t necessarily putting himself ahead of the pack in any way. I knew he didn’t see the need to push the envelope, but I felt he needed to step up his game in order to make himself stand out.

The solution: I told him he needed to look for opportunities to knock a girl’s socks off and take advantage of them. For instance, one girl he was interested in said she spoke a little German. So instead of saying “Hello” in his email to her, I suggested he say “Guten morgen!” instead. (Thank you, oh mighty search engine, for that one.) Little gestures like that go a long way and stick in a girl’s mind. Be memorable!

Tip #6: Put in the time — and effort

His problem: My brother was guilty of saying “Call me” at the end of nearly every introductory email he sent to a woman. He essentially didn’t want to put in the time emailing back and forth — he just wanted to cut to the chase. Translation: l-a-z-y.

The solution: I gave him the following formula: There needed to be at least three email exchanges (that is, three from him, three from her) before he even brought up the possibility of a “phone date.” It’s called online dating for a reason — he needed to spend more time getting to know the person online before moving to the phone line.

The results? I’m happy to say that my brother was a willing pupil who followed my advice to a T. After cleaning up his profile, he targeted five cool, dynamic girls who actually seemed like they’d be good matches for him. With a little coaching, he sent eloquent, heartfelt email messages that even made me swoon. And before we knew it, his inbox was full of women just dying to know more about him.

At the end of the two-week trial period, he met a beautiful, successful woman for drinks and dinner, and they had a spectacular date. This proved the point I was trying to make: It wasn’t online dating that wasn’t working for my brother — his approach was actually the reason things weren’t clicking before. He was working against himself. But with a few simple tweaks, his online dating life completely turned around. Now that he had the knowledge and the tools he needed, it was his turn to take the reins. My work here was done.

Julia Brown is a freelance writer who has contributed to Redbook and Cosmopolitan, among others.