Meredith Golden is the rarest type of person.

She found her niche early, stuck with it and did so darned well that people pay her thousands of dollars a month, and The New York Times writes articles about her success.

That thing Golden does?

I’m tempted to call it single e-dater optimization (SEO), because it sounds a whole lot like digital marketing for online daters. Only, the end goal in Golden’s game isn’t a sale; it’s a soulmate.

Here’s the idea: People who can’t figure out why their online dating profiles repel romance come to her for help. And she provides it for a fee.

As you might expect, this episode of Above the Fold quickly revealed itself to be one of the most intriguing yet. Here’s what’s inside:

  1. Lots of good advice about online dating.
  2. A few examples of what not to do on Tinder.
  3. The eerie realization that online dating is digital marketing in disguise.

Listen here:

How exactly does one get into this peculiar line of work?

It was a hobby at first – perhaps a chronic impulse, even.

“When I was in high school I tried to set up my SAT tutor with my mom,” Golden explained in the first few minutes of the podcast. “I raised my hand in front of a classroom of 30 people during an SAT prep class and said, ‘Are you single? … I think you’d be good for my mom.’”

That takes guts in its own right. Deciding to turn those matchmaking bona fides into a business is downright wily.

To be fair, Golden is also a trained psychotherapist, so she brings a lot more credibility to the table than that friend of yours who loves playing matchmaker.

Still, hers was a stroke of entrepreneurial genius. She built a site, shared it on Facebook, and within three days, had 8,700 hits.

Today, her services are divided into several dating consultant/coaching packages that range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars a month.

The part where she starts describing these services (around the 7-minute mark) is where the parallels between being an online dating coach and a digital marketer begin, and they’re kind of uncanny.

Cupid’s conversions

Golden describes herself as a dating coach, dating expert and dating app ghostwriter.

But she talks about her services the same way Jeff and Francis talk about marketing. In her world, a “conversion” is an agreement to meet.

The steps leading up to those conversions are “engagements.” Starting to sound familiar?

Golden helps with the different levels of those engagements. In the early phases, she’ll write a description and select a photo. There’s more to this than meets the eye. For instance, she pointed out that your profile description is a “guide” of sorts that helps other people figure out how to talk to you. It is most definitely not a place to list all the things you’re looking for in a partner.

But where things get really fascinating is in her ghostwriting services. She’ll spend time corresponding with her customers over email, getting to know them, how they write, their fun facts, etc., and will then use that information to correspond with other singles on their behalf. Once the conversation reaches the point where it’s time to meet, she turns it over to her client.

It’s basically what a content writer does but with more swiping. Or, as Francis put it, “the websites are people you want to date.”

Also, we know what you’re thinking, and Golden has several compelling reasons for why this isn’t a romantic bait and switch – which are best heard from her.

In fact these show notes barely skim the surface of the ground covered in this episode, so we’ll just say this:

If there’s only one episode of Above the Fold you listen to in 2019, do yourself a favor and make it this one.

A few things Golden wants you to check out

Context-free quote of episode

“There is unfortunately a small portion of the population that doesn’t exercise good judgement.”

Dominick Sorrentino is a senior writer in Chicago. He's a wordsmith who endeavors to use language, story-telling and creativity to solve problems. He enjoys pizza, the musical styling of A Tribe Called Quest, traveling, a good conversation and, of course, putting pen to paper.