How to try online dating (Tim Robberts|Getty Images )

If this is the year you vowed to start dating again, join the club. In a poll by Match.com, 64% of single adults listed that goal as their New Year's resolution. But if your single social circle has dried up (hey, you're not in college anymore), it can be tough meet new men, which leaves online dating as the sole option for scoring regular dates. Creeped out? Don't be: Online dating is now par for the course among singles of any age.
Need proof that you're not the only one looking for love online? An estimated 1 in 6 new married couples met on dating sites, and all told, online dating is a $1.9 billion industry. With so many people convening on the web, there are bound to be a few princes in the mix. "The truth is, we now live our lives online and off," says Laurie Davis, author of the new book, Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating. "So it makes sense that your dating life would follow that trend, too."
To disprove common misconceptions that might have you anxious about getting started, we chatted with Davis and Julie Spira, online dating expert and founder of Cyberdatingexpert.com.
Here, their three rules for beginners.
Rule #1: Realize that online dating isn't for desperados.
"If you're new to online dating, know you'll be in good company," Spira says. "You have opportunities to meet people who, like you, maybe haven't done this before." She also suggests you make a commitment: Sign up for at least three months, and be patient. "It's a numbers game. It does just take one, and they might be signing up two months from now!"
Among clients who are over the age of 35, Davis finds that many perceive online dating as a strategy exclusive to desperate people. "That is absolutely not true. When you date online, you're just opening yourself up to the possibility of love in any shape or form."
Rule #2: Get a swoon-worthy profile--and photo.
"My top photo rule is to upload more than one," Davis says. "It's important to give your matches a sense of what you really look like. Upload four to six images, and make sure there's a variety of different types of photos."
And yes, we know: Writing a profile of yourself elicits dread you haven't experienced since penning those college entrance essays. Make it easier on yourself (and fun to read) by telling specific stories and anecdotes you enjoy. "You want your matches to get a sense of who you are through your words, and the best way to do that is to tell a quick story," Spira says. She recommends brainstorming key words that describe your life and what interests you. "Put this word cloud of your life together, and it will help you build out the most important things to cover and where you might find connection points with other people." Avoid cliches (um, who doesn't love to laugh?), and be genuine and authentic (translation: don't lie about your age), Spira says.
Rule #3: Know when to take it offline.
Once you're hitting it off with guys online, what's the right way to turn e-flirting into something more? "Emailing is e-courting, so you want to get offline soon," Davis says. That means after three emails back and forth, if you're feeling a vibe, it's time to meet.