Ok friends, I have been asked dozens of times by fellow photographers, as well as other creatives what I think about the platform Thumbtack. After repeating myself several times on Facebook posts and in person, I thought I would just write a blog about my thoughts since I know other people are probably curious, too!
This all started for me back when I was a phlebotomist at Sutter (yep, before I was a full time photographer, I drew blood in a lab for 8 years!) and I was working with a patient who I found out was a wedding officiant. At that time, I was just doing photography on the side for fun, and was totally intrigued about her job. I asked her how she found clients, and she said most were either word of mouth, or an online community like The Knot. But, she said, recently she had started using Thumbtack and it was proving to be pretty good at referrals as well. So, while I was on my break, I downloaded the app and made a profile!
Basically, a person needing a service (in my case, photography), will Google for that service in their area or the area they will be in (I often get clients who are traveling and will be in my area and find this is easier than individually searching – I think this is why Flytographer was created!). Thumbtack has paid GOOD money to be on page 1 of searches, so their website pops right up. Then, clients out pertinent info- date, city, service needed, budget, etc. and that then gets send out to any service provider that fits those areas. For instance, I have my parameters set at Sonoma/Napa/SF Bay Area, so I get weddings, portraits, etc that are in that location. Then, I can either choose to bid (more on that in a sec) or pass.
Like I said above, if you are flying in for a family reunion, an anniversary, or a surprise proposal, unless you have friends or family in the area you are going that can refer you to someone, Thumbtack is great because you put in the info, and then get 10-15 service providers sending you quotes. They come to you rather than you having to do the work over and over.
Its free for the client to search!
So, basically- I get an alert on my phone through the app that someone needs a photographer. I then open the app to see what the client has requested. If I want to bid on it, I put in my fee, and then there is an area to write a text within the app, explaining more about what the client will get with that fee. It costs me to bid, and the cost has changed a handful of times since I joined 4 years ago. At first, it was based on what the client put as their budget. For example, I would pay $25 to bid on a wedding, but only maybe $3 to bid on a family session. As of this post, you only pay if the client actually reaches out to you, although the cost has gone up significantly. But, I’m ok with that because I am now only paying for jobs I am actually getting paid for,
So, here are some of my pointers for using the app BOTH as a client and as a service provider giving quotes-
1-I don’t bid on things where there are no additional notes in the bid. If someone is serious about hiring a photographer, I want some details! Please take the extra few minutes to give me more information, so I can give you a more accurate quote. If there are no notes, I tend to feel like these are price shoppers and I ain’t got time for that! 😉
2- Service provider- you will get tons of people who you think are low balling you with budget…and some of them are. But honestly? Lately I have been thinking that maybe people who don’t hire your type of service often just really don’t know what it typically costs…so the budget they put is their ‘best guess’. So…unless they want to hire you for an 8 hour wedding for $50, and its a job you really want, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt and just bid anyways. I had one come though a couple months ago for a surprise proposal and their budget was a tad lower than I like to offer, so I just put mine in as I would normally charge. They first messaged the lower charging photographer, but then contacted me! And ended up booking me. So you just never know!
3-Speaking of lower end bids- I actually started using Thumbtack when I was getting my business off the ground, so I was so thankful to have a new referral funnel that wasn’t just based off of my family and friends! And back when I was just learning how to use my camera and trying new things ( you know, like the 3 month stint where I thought I could be the next Anne Geddes and shoot studio newborns?) it was great to have quotes come in where they might not have a huge budget but were willing to give me a try!
4- Thumbtack is perfect for booking last minute dates you have available! I don’t know about you, but I was (and still am if its the right situation) willing to give a bit of a discount for a wedding or event if it was taking place in the next couple of weeks or month. The odds of me booking something for that date might be rare, so it was worth it to take a small hit if I knew it was soon. I have even been able to help out clients who needed an emergency replacement or who thought someone else had booked it and had to scramble.
5- Lastly, Thumbtack is ALL about user experience! I have emailed and texted their customer support when I have issues, ideas on updates, or ways to clarify bids…and it doesn’t go unnoticed! I have seen several of my ideas implemented! So, if you start using the app and you feel something isn’t working quite, TELL THEM!
I have done a few screen shots so you can see what it looks like from the pro’s side. The first image is the app showing me possible jobs, then me clicking into one to show you all the questions that get filled out (the three images are what you see as you scroll on your phone), and finally, how it looks when you are sending in a bid!
I hope this info helps, I know there are a million apps out there for referrals and it can feel overwhelming fast!
And, just to prove it really can be an awesome referral source- I met this family through Thumbtack for their family session, and then they hired me for their amazing destination wedding in Mexico!