Matt Dowling, founder of Freelancer Club
Chloe Shakesby

Meet the MD: Matt Dowling on how the Freelancer Club grew from 30 members to 40,000

Freelance photographer Matt Dowling has been using his skills and network to create and support a 40,000 strong community of freelancers.

Matt is founder of London-based site Freelancer Club, which helped place more than 20,000 jobs last year.

Founded in 2014, Freelancer Club connects freelance workers to jobs, as well as connecting with other freelancers.

Matt spoke with Bdaily about setting up the Freelancer Club, seeing its members succeed, and what’s next for the company.

Can you tell the readers about yourself first of all - i.e. your background, where you are from etc?

I grew up in Dublin and moved to London, via a year in Italy, around 20 years ago.

I studied Contemporary Art with a focus on photography and videography at the University of Westminster where I also set up my first business. My love affair with entrepreneurialism started around that time.

Straight out of uni, I fell into freelance photography as a side hustle that spanned the best part of a decade.

What does your role entail?

As we are an agile startup, my role is a mix of everything. I manage my team of freelancers remotely and tend to get involved in everything from recruitment, marketing and content creation to finances, roadmaps and strategy. No two days are the same.

In addition to the operational work, I lecture on the future of work, teach a course on freelancing, campaign for the rights of the self-employed, sit on discussion panels and comment on various freelance-related topics.

When was Freelancer Club set up, and how has it grown since then?

We set up as a bootstrap company in 2014. We started with a team of 2 and around 30 members. It has grown very organically since then. As so many of our members collaborate with one another, word spread quickly.

Our members are at the heart of the club. They have been the driving force behind most of the new products and development decisions on the platform.

Today, we have over 40,000 members predominantly based in the UK with new international members joining on a daily basis due to the remote work we’ve been posting since the global pandemic.

What is it about your organisation that motivates and excites you the most?

Seeing our members develop and grow is really satisfying. We are not a faceless jobs site, we nurture our members and know their stories.

Seeing them use the site to build their freelance business, learn new skills, collaborate with other members and connect with amazing companies brings a big smile to my face.

We also campaign against exploitative unpaid work and continue to pressure the Government for more legal support in the self-employed sector.

Looking back on the past year, what has been your biggest achievement?

From a business standpoint, helping to facilitate over 200,000 freelance jobs was a pretty amazing landmark for us.

However, I’m most proud of the campaigning work we did during the crisis that helped hundreds of thousands of freelancers receive the financial support they desperately needed.

What have been your biggest challenges during your time at Freelancer Club so far, and how have you overcome them?

We’ve steadily grown for 5 years until the pandemic hit a couple of months ago. Our focus immediately shifted from growth to support and how we could help our members through an extremely challenging period.

We set up a support line and offered one to one sessions to help freelancers adapt their business to the current crisis, invested resources into online remote-based work and launched an Academy so our members could develop their business know-how, attend well-being sessions and learn new skills to help them now and in the future.

What does the future hold for your company? Any exciting projects in the pipeline we should know about?

We’ve recently launched a new service called the Concierge Service. It is a new way for companies to hire freelancers without the ongoing fees or the administrative faff.

To help reignite the freelance economy, we’re giving every company £200 worth of Concierge Credits to spend on freelance recruitment and a complimentary consultation to help them build an agile workforce.

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