Who out there binge watches “The Millionaire Matchmaker”?
C’mon, I know I’m not the only one.
I enjoy watching the flops, but what I love even more are the success stories.
It just seems like such a beautiful thing — helping people find the love of their life. Is there anything better? So I started wondering…
How the heck does one become a matchmaker? I’m outgoing and love setting up my friends — could I get paid to do what I’m already doing?
I decided to look into it.
I talked to four professional matchmakers, who collectively earn millions each year and together have more than four decades of experience.
I asked them how they got started as matchmakers, and their advice for others interested in this unique career.
Here’s what I found out…
Striking a Match on Their Careers
All the matchmakers I spoke with had similar stories: They were matchmakers long before they started getting paid for it.
Janis Spindel — who runs Janis Spindel Serious Matchmaking with her daughter Carly — is a perfect example.
Nearly 25 years ago, 14 couples she’d set up got married in less than a year.
That’s when she looked at her husband and said: “I can turn this into a business.”
“I went to a bunch of other matchmakers and picked their brains and decided I could do this better than anybody else, because I had an uncanny sixth sense to just know who belongs with whom and that was it,” she says.
Michele Presley, vice president of sales and marketing for online matchmaking service Tawkify, has a similar story.
“I was always that person my friends would come to and ask for relationship advice,” she explains. “The minute I would meet people who were single, I would be putting them together in my head.”
While working in marketing for a regional matchmaking company, she realized she could turn her passion into a profession.
“I was supposed to be over on the sales and marketing side, and I would always find myself in the matchmaking room,” she says. “I kept getting more drawn to that, so then I just kind of dove in.”
She attended the Matchmaking Institute in New York City, which costs $3,500. Though she doesn’t regret going, she does emphasize there are less expensive avenues to a matchmaking career. (More on that in the last section.)
Is Matchmaking a Viable Business?
With the advent of online dating, is matchmaking even a thing anymore?
Yes. In fact, the matchmakers I spoke with said their businesses are booming.
“We love that the dating apps and ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker’ have made matchmaking and publicly dating so common and so popular,” explains Carly Spindel.
“People usually get tired of the dating apps and hire us because it’s about quality over quantity.”
Her mother Janis, who is one of the most experienced matchmakers around, charges men a premium for her services: from $50,000 to $250,000. Carly, who “was trained by the best,” charges similar rates: from $25,000 to $100,000.
For women, the Spindels charge an application fee of $25, and if accepted, a one-time consultation fee ranging from $250-$1,000.
Together with their international team, the Spindels brought in $5-$7 million last year. “I’m a very happy camper,” Janis says.
Stefanie Safran, who owns Chicago’s Stef and the City, started her matchmaking business in 2009.
Her starting rate is $3,000, which gets a man six to eight matches over the course of a year. For women, she charges a rate a la carte: $50-$200 per “introduction.”
In addition, she offers a slew of other services, including dating coaching, which costs $1,400 for six sessions.
“It’s definitely a six-figure job if you do it full time and you get experience,” Safran says.
At Tawkify, which hires matchmakers around the country, Presley says: “We have full-time matchmakers earning above $100,000 and part-timers earning a wide range of incomes based on their preferred client loads. Safe to say, though, that roughly half of the full-time rate is doable for half-time work and client load.”
In other words, you might be able to earn $50,000 per year as a part-time matchmaker with Tawkify.
Could You Be a Matchmaker?
Interested in following in their footsteps?
The money may sound nice — but are you a good fit for the job?
If you don’t have these essential qualities, you’ll never make it as a matchmaker:
A Genuine Love of People
There’s no way around it: You must enjoy meeting and engaging with people to be successful.
It’s important “to really be a people person, and like spending time with people and getting to know them and to see who would be best for them,” says Janis Spindel.
Strong Debate Skills
Yes, matchmaking is all about love — but it’s also about tough love.
That’s the only way people are going to change their habits and actually find a mate.
“You have to be a good debater,” says Safran. “Somebody might come with a laundry list of what they’re looking for and you have to [tell] them if it’s not particularly attainable or is going to take them down the wrong road.”
A Knack for Matching
Even if you have both of the above qualities, you still might not make a good matchmaker. One common refrain from the pros is matchmaking isn’t necessarily something you can learn.
It’s a skill — you either have it or you don’t.
“You definitely need to be intuitive,” says Janis Spindel.
“I don’t really honestly think you can teach somebody, per se, to be a matchmaker,” adds Carly Spindel.
“You have to a very definitive, outgoing, vivacious personality… You need to be able to talk the talk, walk the walk, go up to anyone, anywhere, anytime and start a conversation with them.”
Ready to Don Your Cupid Outfit?
If you’re chomping at the bit to be a matchmaker, you’ve got a few options:
1. Work for Another Matchmaker
You could work as another matchmaker’s apprentice or affiliate.
“If they’re really, really awesome, tell them to send us an email. Maybe they can be an affiliate under our umbrella, because that’s what we do with a lot of people who want to attempt to go out on their own,” says Janis Spindel.
Though the Spindels didn’t share a lot of details about how this process works, I bet working for renowned matchmakers like them would be an excellent way to kickstart your career.
2. Work for a Matchmaking Service
Or, work for a matchmaking service like Tawkify.
This year, it’s expanding in San Francisco and New York City, as well as hiring matchmakers in the following locations, according to Presley: Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis.
“We need matchmakers everywhere,” Presley explains. “In the cities we don’t have matchmakers actually on the ground, our matchmakers work with the client remotely over video chat.”
The application process is straightforward: a resume and cover letter, followed by a quiz that compares your strengths to those of successful matchmakers. Then there’s a video interview.
If you’re hired, Tawkify takes care of the business side of things.
“We bring them in and we train them on everything,” Presley says. “They don’t need to open their own business, they don’t need to market themselves. They can save all that money, and all that time, because we do all the marketing… and then just deliver clients to them.”
As a matchmaker with Tawkify, you’re paid for each action you take, including recruiting new clients, meeting clients, matching clients and planning dates.
3. Start Your Own Matchmaking Business
Starting your own matchmaking service has the potential to be the most lucrative, but it’s also the most difficult.
One key? An entrepreneurial mindset.
“You have to be a business person in order to be a business owner,” says Janis Spindel.
“There’s a very big difference between a worker and an entrepreneur. Just because you think you have the skills to be a matchmaker, that doesn’t mean that you can open up your own business… I’ve known many people that have tried and failed.”
“You have to have an action plan; you have to have a goal,” adds Safran, who found her first clients by handing out business cards at networking events. She told men she’d find them dates very cheaply, and once she proved her skills, her business grew.
However you choose to pursue this career, remember these wise words from Presley:
Matchmaking is not what it looks like on TV… Successful matches and the love stories and all of that keep us going, and is really an exciting part of what we do.
But there’s also a side to matchmaking that’s tough. When people have been looking for the match for a long time… It’s also a matchmaker’s job to tactfully and delicately challenge that client.
Regardless, I think it sounds like a fun and interesting side gig… So much so that I’m going to apply to Tawkify right now. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Your Turn: How about you? Do you think you’d be a good matchmaker?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.