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!