In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how they and their teams have adapted their strategies throughout the pandemic, what they have learned from it, and how they prepare to return to the new normal.

For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Peter McPartlin (PM) and Úna Herlihy (UH), the co-founders of The Indie List, Ireland’s first freelance talent service for the marketing community, which was launched just one year ago.

If you are a member who would like to feature in the In Conversation with series please send an email to


MII: Hi , how have the last 12-15 months impacted and shaped your business?

PM: “Covid had an initially devastating impact on the freelance sector as agencies and marketers reined in third-party costs. But the new pressures that the pandemic placed on businesses, particularly around digital adoption and ecommerce, resulted in an upsurge in demand for digital savvy freelancers who could supplement existing teams very quickly. So, since last September we have seen an amazing uplift in the adoption of our service by both agencies and direct clients, because it offers a fast and efficient and ‘no risk’ route to access a large and diverse community of freelance talent.”

How have the last 12-15 months changed how you work with clients?

UH: “We primarily specialise in independent professionals for shorter term, project-based work but since January we have experienced a notable demand for the recruitment of full-time people for senior roles especially in the areas of client service, planning, digital marketers who have hands-on experience of the digital transformation agenda and digital optimisation experts to work with clients on their e-commerce business.”

What work are you most proud of from the last year?

UH: “I think the fact that we have created a community now of over 600 people, facilitated over 200 engagements and generated over €700k in revenue for the freelance sector, is kind of hard for us to believe. We’re still a very young company but I think we have punched above our weight in terms of building a decent brand reputation and profile.

PM: “What stands out for me is the work that a range of creative freelancers across our community did last Summer in response to a challenge by the Irish Times for a creative campaign to persuade the public to wear face masks. We rallied our community and they responded with around 20 different concepts to persuade, cajole or at least make the public consider the sense of wearing a mask. We also engaged our community to do similar pro bono initiatives around buying Irish online at Christmas and then promoting staycations earlier this year”.

PM: “Our current campaign to promote the freelance ‘indie spirit’, as we call it, is also one that both Úna and I are really thrilled with. We’ve persuaded the legendary Bob Geldof to meet the winner of the initiative over lunch in London…and that’s really special.”

How has your team adapted to the new way of working?

UH: “Working remotely, meeting over zoom, pitching virtually and running the business using cloud-based software has been part and parcel of our model from the off. I’m based in Kilkenny and Peter’s in Dublin but distance has not been an issue. And like every freelancer and an increasing number of agencies and clients, there is an acceptance that this way of working is more nimble, efficient and effective. Of course, the importance of face-to-face meetings is vital at key times and can be accommodated with due consideration of social distancing guidelines.”


What changes will you keep in place going into the future?

PM: “I think all of the things which we have learned during Covid that really work, particularly using the available technology. We are in the service business and the essence of good service doesn’t change, even with great technology. This includes responding on time to briefs, dealing with queries and resolving issues speedily. They might be old fashioned but they are still essential. Picking up the phone or arranging one-to-one meetings will remain absolutely essential for the future.

UH: “As we build out our brand and service offering, we see part of our role to advocate on behalf of freelancers and call out practices that are unfair and to support them with the tools and tactics to grow their business.”

What brands or businesses do you admire most when you reflect on the last 12-15 months?

PM: I think An Post have generally been faultless in their communication and actions over the last year. They have reminded people of the importance of the service that they provide, above and beyond pure postal delivery, struck the right emotional chord and enhanced the value of a state asset along the way. Elsewhere, I think the work that the National Lottery and its agency has done to reinvigorate that brand is textbook stuff and I mean that in a complimentary way because not every brand follows the marketing rule book. I also love the initiatives done by ‘Other Voices’ – not a conventional brand but a brand nonetheless – and how they have showcased how valuable Irish music and musicians are to us all in a time of crisis and isolation.”

UH: “For me, the many independent businesses all over the country who responded so creatively to a set of circumstances none of us could ever prepare us. Those businesses and individuals who acted early and smartly and have risen to the challenges so brilliantly. Shine on.”


For further information on The Indie List see

If you are a member who would like to feature in the In Conversation with series please send an email to