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My Experience With Thumbtack Thus Far (as a Photographer)

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My Experience With Thumbtack Thus Far (as a Photographer)



 Thumbtack is an online bridge between professionals and customers. It’s a service that can help photographers market themselves and build a client base.

An uncle of mine who does contract construction recently told me how valuable Thumbtack is for his employer: “It’s our primary source for leads.”   Their web site tells customers,

Thumbtack helps you accomplish the personal projects that are central to your life. Whether you need to paint your home, learn a new language, or plan your daughter’s birthday party, Thumbtack is the easiest and most dependable way to hire the right professional for your projects.”

Thumbtack does not charge professionals for signing up for or viewing leads.  To respond to a lead and bid your services out however, you purchase reasonably priced credit. This lets you send a message to the potential client, who can review your professional profile and contact information. The price of responding to the lead depends on the budget listed for the job.  So far my quotes have cost me $3 – $10 each.  Not bad, considering I’ve spent about $100 on quotes and gotten over $1,500 in gigs from it this last month.

It’s easy to identify the service or services you offer. For example, one that I checked was Event Photography.  This means that when a customer fills out a Thumbtack work order with a job in Event Photography, I automatically receive an email and text (I can opt out of either if I choose to) detailing Event Type, Number of Attendees, Location, Products Needed, Total Budget, etc.  This lets me provide that potential customer a quote and my qualifications. 

Fast response to Thumbtack leads is crucial. If a number of qualified professionals respond before you do, your chances of getting the job diminish. As you would expect, the higher paying jobs typically get more responses and go more quickly.

I’d advise you to avoid Thumbtack jobs with no budgets listed or budgets described as “I don’t know.”  This generally means either that the poster is fishing for a lowball quote, has no idea what the job should cost, or both. I initially quoted several “I don’t know” budgets, received no replies, and quickly recognized that this is most likely why.

Of course, Thumbtack is no magic carpet for work. I sent in maybe eight quotes before I finally got my first response, and that one went nowhere.  But I decided to stay with it, update my Thumbtack profile, request reviews from past clients as well as try new methods including personal messages.  Finally the work paid off with a photography gig, then another one.  These first gigs with Thumbtack strike me as like any other start-up business: Start small, learn, and build your way up.  So far I’ve made an 85% return when comparing the cost of quotes to profit earned from leads.

Not every photographer has had the same experience with me.  Thumbtack is met with a lot of skepticism and suspicion, as you can see from the video below.  What the vlogger below is referring to with changing lead prices is something Thumbtack has been doing since I joined: re working and changing it’s pricing structure.  Yes, I find that frustrating.


Rav doesn’t believe that all Thumbtack leads are legitimate, and he’s right:  some leads actually come from other Professionals in your field who are doing a bit of poking around to see their competition’s work and prices.  If you catch on, report it to Thumbtack and you’ll get a refund for that quote.  It’s happened to me several times.

I’d say Thumbtack is a great tool for networking and getting new clients relatively efficiently.  Having recently moved to a whole new city and region, I am using it to build up a network of clients and in-turn referrals.  I’m offering better deals than I normally do, until I get established again in my new market. 

Applying quickly to posts on Thumbtack can actually be quite exciting, and you have an advantage if you’re in a position where you can respond do a job quickly.  In fact, I submitted a quote while writing this post.

And no, they didn’t pay me to blog that 😉


*Update* I have to say that after 5 months of using Thumbtack, I am pleased with their customer service.  Every time I email Thumbtack’s customer service with a complaint or question, it’s resolved almost immediately and gracefully.  I even suggested that they make hyperlinks within quotes active, so that the potential client can click on them.  A few days later, they heeded my advice and added that feature to the quotes system.  I was blown away.

After tax season of 2014, I added up all the money I spent on quotes from October 2014 to December 31, 2104: $427.37.   Sounds like a lot of money, but it’s money well spent on marketing.  I made that amount back more than 6fold , and also gained a few valuable return clients.  Is Thumbtack worth it?  Yes, but you need to be prepared to spend money to make it.  Also, make sure you have a good portfolio to link to and a professional-sounding quote.  There are people out there complaining that they never get responses, even claiming Thumbtack is a scam.  All I can say is if your quotes aren’t eliciting responses, try another approach with your wording, format, etc.  Good luck!



  • Jazmin / 1 June 2016 12:41

    Thanks for this article. I’m a videographer and have been really good at getting leads through Facebook and Craigslist. I signed up for Thumbtack yesterday and completely set up my profile, invited my past clients to post reviews, provided previous wedding videos, and answered every single question. My profile looks amazing after setting it up just last night! But after all of that, I decided to read around to see the experiences other professionals had with Thumbtack. I’m not really skeptical, as I’m familiar with how it works from a customer standpoint. I found loads of horrible reviews from professionals on I think they were being a bit dramatic. However, I wouldn’t put it passed Thumbtack to do some of the things that were claimed (i.e., false leads). But after reading your post, it reaffirmed that I made a good decision. If it doesn’t work out, of well. The price of credits isn’t that bad. But if it does, then it’ll be totally worth it. I suppose Thumbtack tests new professional accounts to see if you can get hired, then when/if you do, they send you more leads. If that’s the case, I can see this new marketing relationship going pretty far. Thanks!

    • scottm18 / 3 June 2016 11:20

      Jazmin, thanks for your comment. The other good news is that the cost of credits is all tax-deductible and Thumbtack can provide you with a link to a list to see all of your purchased credits for each year which will help you sum the cost up. I usually email support to retrieve this list, but there might be an easier way of accessing it.

      And yes I agree, generally the people who are pissed off are being dramatic. They become impatient because they don’t see results right away or every time, and sometimes they’re just suspicious. I can tell you, there are some fake leads. However the only “fake” leads that I’ve come across are from other pros who are trying to thwart/discourage you, or price check their competition. There is the occasional scammer that created a lead, of which I’ve dealt with two so far. In either instance if you can google a name and show that it’s another pro that put the request out, or just alert Thumbtack that you believe it’s a scammer making a request, they will refund your credits right away. This company wouldn’t have been around this long if they were being dishonest.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Tim / 10 July 2016 6:51

    I have been using Thumbtack for about a year and spent just of $1,000 on leads. So my advise in the following:

    –Write a friendly, chatty email and don’t push to get a phone number. Describe what you can do and refer to examples of what you can do.
    –Do not waste your money on bids that are a year out…although you might land something, the chances are more likely that those clients are in the very early stages of selecting a photographer.
    –Do not bid on anything for which you cannot provide good visual examples
    –Decide what price you are willing to work for and don’t bid on low priced jobs
    –Follow up with email reminders if they don’t reply to you
    –Get lots of “verified reviews” that means reviews by clients booked through Thumbtack
    –Be suspicious of leads that are too good to be true, call customer service and alert them o possible scams. There are several scams going on. One of them is for birthdays parties, with bid requests near $1,000. If you reply they will try to text you outside thumbtack to suck you in for a credit card fraud
    –I am videographer but I am also developing a wedding photography business and I always mention in my emails that I have a package that does both.

    • scottm18 / 14 July 2016 6:24

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thought, every suggestion in your post is solid. I spend roughly the same as you ($1K +) a year on my bids and even though that may seem like a lot of money, it’s still an investment. You can’t drop $20 into any investment and expect to see immediate results.

      On the subject of scams, it takes a while to develop an eye for them. A lot of the high end requests coming in are scams. I had one come in the other day that seemed fishy immediately due to the fact that the budget was so much higher than most others. After quoting, TT reveals the customer’s full name, in this case the customer’s last name was also the name of my city – extra fishy. Didn’t seem legit. I wasn’t surprised when I got an alert 30 mins later that ThumbTack had refunded me for that quote. I assume someone blew a whistle and TT took action.

      Again, great suggestions. Much luck to you with your business Tim!

  • Take These 13 Essential Steps For A Successful Photography Business | Architecture & Real Estate Photography - Scott Mason / 27 July 2016 9:45

    […] -Submit quotes on  See post: Is ThumbTack A Scam? and also My Experience With ThumbTack Thus Far (as a Photographer) […]

  • Antonio / 30 December 2016 7:03

    Very good to know that some people are having success with Thumbtack. I have just signed up and set up my profile and will start bidding on jobs real soon.

    • scottm18 / 31 December 2016 12:35

      Hi Antonio,

      Thanks for stopping by. I wish you the best of luck.

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