An online dating assistant took one look at my Bumble profile and had some... feedback.


Have you ever successfully matched with someone on a dating app and thought of a cracking opening line only to receive…no response?

I once matched with a guy called Stu on Bumble and made a ridiculous dad joke that I thought was totally charming at the time, but he never replied.

I’m much too embarrassed to repeat it here, but it involved a word play on his name and a reference to “stew”, as in the food…

What the hell is wrong with me?!

If only I had someone to snatch my phone away from me and compose the perfect opening line.

Enter Holly Bartter, a professional online dating expert who actually gets paid to manage people’s online dating profiles.

She owns a company called Matchsmith, “a convenient approach to dating” whereby clients give her full access to their online dating accounts so she can pretend to be them and secure dates.

…Sort of like a professional catfish, though much less creepy.

“I was very much the match maker for all my friends and family and eventually colleagues,” Holly says of her inspiration to start the company.

“I had the opportunity to sort of play around on my friends’ apps, you know – ‘I’ll match for you, you match for me’, then some colleagues of mine actually let me go on their app and play as them.”


After discovering she had quite the knack for setting her friends up on dates, she started Matchsmith.

“It started as more of a chance to match with people they wouldn’t usually swipe on themselves, and have someone do the boring bits for them.

“A lot of my clients are corporate men and women between the ages of 29 and 52, so they have very different time allocations and don’t want to be having long, drawn-out conversations on Tinder or Bumble for weeks.

“They might’ve just come out of relationships where they didn’t have to use these methods – it was very much the traditional sense of dating. So for them, jumping back into the dating pool and having someone to manage their apps when they’re very busy and work long hours. They outsource everything else – so it just made sense for their schedules to outsource their dating apps, too.”

What your date really means. Post continues after video…

Holly says the purpose of her role is to cut through the noise and speed up the process of securing a date, which is often the hardest part of online dating.


“It’s not like I’m going in there and impersonating them, it’s more sort of to move their apps forward to a point that they’re happy with during the week – and just set up their dates for them, with all their physical preferences, their likes and dislikes.

“All I do is match for them and start the conversation, then come back to them and say look I’ve found a connection – I think they want to meet you. And then we take it offline together.”

Usually, Holly will meet with her clients to discuss what they’re looking for in a match – whether it’s a long term partner or casual fling, before they hand over their dating app logins.

For the purpose of this article, I sent Holly screenshots of my Bumble profile so she could tell me where I’m going wrong. (Disclaimer: I haven’t updated it in about a year).

Here’s what she had to say of my photo selection:

“When it comes to photos, less is more,” she says of my five.

“The first photo with the sunnies on doesn’t show you off – a single shot of you, just smiling would probably work better, and pairing down the amount of shots to your favourite three – ideally two of those should just be you alone.”

Holly adds that studies back her photo suggestions up.

“There was one that took about 1000 app users to talk about their profile photos, and the features that stand out for men and women. They vary in terms of what photos actually work best, but a formula that they’ve come up with is that solo shots are winners for both guys and girls.


“I think people think group shots look fun and social, but keeping the focus on yourself is best. For women it was smiling with teeth and looking slightly off camera, and for men it was closed mouths looking directly at the camera, and beach shots are a bit of a thumbs down.”


Moving on to my bio, which is: “My hobbies include spying on my neighbours and putting tomato sauce on everything”, she said this:

“It’s always good to keep it light-hearted with a joke, humour works well because it shows that you’re not taking yourself or the app too seriously, but the only thing I worry is that we miss a bit more of a personal touch from you. I’d probably counter a joke opening with something else about yourself, something like ‘I’m very passionate about XYZ’.

“If you were my client I’d get more of  sense of your personality and interests – so just balancing something funny, then something else about you.”

Holly added that the icons available for selection on Bumble (whether you’re a smoker, your height, etc) should also be reviewed in my case.

Currently, I have “what I’m looking for” set to “I don’t know”, because: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

“If someone says I’m really not that interested in dating, it might result in meeting the wrong type of person,” says Holly.


“If you do want to meet someone, you want to take a bit of time to put the effort in. Just like if you’re going for a promotion at work, you work harder to show you are capable of it.

“There’s a bit of shyness for people in 20s when putting any effort into apps – because they feel embarrassed to say they met someone on Tinder. But we all know it’s just a filter. I met my partner on Bumble so there’s absolutely the chance to find someone using an app.”

Her advice for those navigating dating apps solo (who might not have the cash to splurge on someone to manage them), was this:

“Maintain a bit of mystery.

“I never suggest linking to your Instagram or having a large gallery, you want them to want to find out more.”

Got it.

“And when you’re messaging for the first time, try not to just say “hi”. You know, if you get the wave, or a hey, or a smiley face – it just gets a bit lost. You want it to look like they’ve taken a bit of time to actually look through your profile and come up with something about you or your hobbies or your personality, so you should do the same for them.”

She didn’t say anything about dad jokes, so maybe Stu just deleted his account?