This post could also be titled: how I launched my business using Thumbtack.
There is a lot of negative attention on internet forums and Facebook threads dedicated to people angry with Thumbtack.
To this I say: if you aren’t successful on Thumbtack it’s not Thumbtack’s fault. It’s yours.
Failure is never someone else’s fault. Failure is an opportunity to figure out what you can do better. Does your portfolio need to be better? Does your approach need to be more personal or inviting? Whatever the reason, if you aren’t finding the customers you want using Thumbtack, you need to examine your process.
I was successfully connected to 29 new clients in the past three years via Thumbtack and it has amounted to 33% of my revenue in the last year alone. One of the biggest complains about Thumbtack is that it’s “expensive.” If you are successful on there, it’s one of the least expensive advertising campaigns I use and one of the most certifiable. I have spent less than 6% of my combined revenue in the last three years to be connected with qualified leads. As long as this number stays under 15%, I am a happy camper.
After a few years of experience, here are my personal tips on being successful with Thumbtack for photographers.
- Pay VERY close attention to what they want as a product. If you only offer digital files and they want an album, do not bid. If they literally choose EVERY SINGLE THING that you could possibly check as final product, they have no idea what they are looking for, don’t value photography, and aren’t worth bidding on. This is one in particular is an non-negotiable rule to follow.
- I’ve found that Thumbtack is best used to fill in dates you wouldn’t normally fill with small, relaxed weddings and clients that turn into great referrals. Most of the weddings I’ve booked on there are elopements and intimate, informal events. I’ve booked about 3 backyard DIY “rustic” weddings as well with about 100 guests in attendance. I booked a not-wedding on there that turned into one of the best weekends of my life. The point of this is that if you find the right clients, awesome things can happen on there. Read through the lines to seek people out who seem to have interesting stories or plans and they are the ones to bid on.
- I take my regular hourly rate for photography and I bid on those events with it. If there’s a super tiny wedding on a Friday morning with 10 people and they only want a photographer for two hours, I am personally okay with offering a discounted hourly rate if their budget meets my minimum hourly specifications. I will take on elopements and small DIY events on weekdays at a lower hourly rate than normal: it’s not a giant wedding, there are not details to capture, there’s no decor, there’s no DJ, there’s no cake cutting. It’s you and 25 people and an hour or two. The post processing is faster than other weddings, and you generate sales and income on a Tuesday morning.
- If it’s more than a year out, I never bid. I bid on things that are a month to 6 to months out only unless I have a really good feeling about the client. I bid on things that are on days I wouldn’t normally get hired. I bit on things that fall within what would be considered “slow” or “off” season.
- Build up your SEO in destinations. Thumbtack is most useful to me for building SEO for new destinations that I want to market to. By creating Thumbtack profiles in destinations that I want to focus on, I’m not only reaching my target audience with qualified leads, but also creating targeted blog posts after each wedding is completed.
- Keep very good track of what you spend and what you net from it. You should be doing this will every cent you spend anyways, but it’s especially important to do so on here or it can get out of hand. Devise a specific plan of what types of work you will bid on, bid only on those and keep yourself to it.
- Make sure you have a full website before you start bidding. A facebook business page won’t hack it. No one is going to hire you over the internet without it because you haven’t established trust. If you are a new or beginning photographer, there are tons of amazing and inexpensive templates from a variety of places that can accommodate your website needs.
- Make sure your portfolio reflects the work you are looking to get hired for. You may still be in the portfolio building stage and Thumbtack is a GREAT place to build your portfolio. That being said, you need at least ONE wedding under your belt so that you have examples of relevant work to show if you are trying to book a wedding. If you haven’t shot a wedding yet, DO NOT bid on weddings. Stage a wedding, offer to shoot a friends wedding, create a styled shoot: how you get the work in the portfolio is up to you, but it needs to be there before you try to win weddings. This goes with photography of all kinds – do not bid on portraits if you do not have relevant examples in your portfolio. Do not bid on head shots if you have none to show. After you have the work to show, your hourly rate may be a significantly lower amount than what I charge. That’s okay, we all start somewhere. Bump up those rates after every five successful shoots of that type if you fall into this category.
- The bid MUST include all the relevant information and in particular, a total number of hours if it’s for a wedding. If this information is not included, do not bid!
- Make sure you have reviews. Your reviews can come from past clients that aren’t associated with Thumbtack. Having 5 reviews improves your chances of hearing back by 400%. Every time I create a new Thumbtack profile for another city, I have previous clients review me before bidding on any jobs.
If your market is glitzy and glamorous giant hotel weddings, Thumbtack is not the avenue for you to pursue clients. If your client is rustic, backyard, vintage, DIY, and relaxed, then Thumbtack is a great place for you to be.
I’m so in love with every client I met on Thumbtack. They are the coolest people around. I have so much to thank them for. Frankly, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.
THANK YOU TO:
Vince + Courtney | Amanda + Jason | Amanda + Bruce | Heather + Gerrad | Brittany + Chris | Summer + Peter | Jeana + Tom | Paige + Daniel | Ryan + Rebeca | Sarah + Suman | Jeff + Eva | Heather + Raymond | Sawyer + Josh | Ashley + Matthew | Lisetta + Sam | Adam + Tracey | Sunny + Chris | Eddie + Lori | Stephanie + Garrett