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is Thumbtack Good for Photographers?

So have you seen ads for Thumbtack on Google, Facebook and just about everywhere else? You’re not alone, launched just a few years ago, Thumbtack is a website that allows people to request quotes from professionals for desired work. Just about every business needs to spend money on advertising to spread the word. Very few businesses can do without some form of advertising. So it would make sense that any professional would jump at the opportunity to directly connect with interested parties for a set fee, right? Of course, that’s the logic behind Thumbtack.

I have some questions, and I welcome your comments and thoughts. Now, I’m not an expert on Thumbtack so if I’ve made any errors, let me know. if you’ve used Thumbtack with good, bad or indifferent results let me know through comments.

Is Thumbtack a good value?

Yes, the leads are a seemingly good value. For example check out the price list here: http://www.thumbtack.com/pros/price_list

You’ll see that the base price of a credit is just $1.67 and many quotes require just two credits. So for less than $3.50 you can submit a quote to a potential customer.

Can I talk to a potential client before submitting a quote?

Yes and no. Yes, you may submit a public question. However, your ability to ask any real question that will help you create a better quote are limited. They either manually review each question, or have a very strict algorithm running a text filter as many valid questions are deleted or edited before posting. I’ve found that even if I follow the public questions guidelines my questions still get deleted or

Can a photographer make money on Thumbtack jobs?

That’s the goal, but it is a real possibility? For example, I’ve seen people requesting quotes for weddings for as little as a couple hundred dollars. When a professional photographer considers travel, session time, editing, processing, printing, posting, etc. it may not be a profitable endeavor. Now, for a new photographer looking to build their portfolio, this may be a good way to go. A budding photographer can take a few cheap jobs, build skill, references and technique so that he or she will be able to increase their value. However, in these cases, the work may as well be pro bono or an investment in the business.

That said, there are areas of photography that can earn specialists a good rate.

Can you see what others are bidding?

No. You make a blind bid based on what you think the job is worth to you. In a way that’s good because you’re in control of how much work you’ll do for what rate. However, without visibility into others bids you’re at a competitive disadvantage.

Do you receive feedback from people to whom you submitted quotes?

Possibly, but in my experience not likely. As a professional, criticism and feedback are important in the personal improvement process. It would be great if in the client choice process, unchosen professionals were provided a note saying, “Sorry, you weren’t chosen, here are some of the reasons why.”

Does Thumbtack pay you when you win a quote?

No, those details are worked out between you and the client.

My Take on Thumbtack

So all-in-all Thumbtack is a good lead source if you’re diligent, patient and don’t mind figuring out what it takes to win jobs. My suggestion is that if you have a marketing budget that you should try your hand at bidding on some quotes. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Don’t bid more than what your services are worth on the open market. Don’t take jobs at a big loss to simply win a quote. At the end of the day it is a good way to meet potential clients and create business relationships. Do jobs that will improve your reputation and your public profile.

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