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CLGPatrick
Level 7

Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

Hey Everyone!  Patrick Skinner of CLG Photography Here!

DISCLAIMER: I have not been hired by Thumbtack to write this. 

I'm writing this because I see many Pros in here stating they aren't getting a good ROI (Return on Investment) by using Thumbtack.  So, here are someone of the things I do to be successful with Thumbtack.

DISCLAIMER #2: I'm a Photographer, I know some of the things I do may not pertain to your particular business/industry.  But, I'm going to try to translate a lot of it as broadly as possible.

1.) Your profile reflects who/what your business is...  Make the most of it!

I see many people don't take the time to develop solid content for their Thumbtack Business Page(s).  If you're not a photographer, then hire one to take some professional images of your business.  The more professional looking your photos are, the better.  Trust me, it's worth the investment.

Also, if your description is too short, too long, or not very welcoming; then, you should consider rewriting it:  I try to write as if I'm having a conversation with that person.  I want my description to come off as someone they would be willing to invite into their home because, in many cases, that's exactly what they're doing.

2.) Compare Yourself and Reflect.

Take the time to compare yourself to those that are Pros within your immediate areas.  Also, don't be afraid to look at Pros that do what you do in larger and more competitive cities.  I'm in Dallas, and it's pretty competitive here but I think I have a pretty sharp edge by comparing myself to those in New York, Denver, and San Fransisco.

3.) Thumbtack is NOT the Enemy.

I see many people posting about how angry they are with Thumbtack about changes they make or about a glitch that cost them money.  I'll say this, THUMBTACK IS NOT PERFECT.  The best part about that statement is even they know it.  Don't be afraid to contact them with all the evidence to the glitch/issue, and you'll almost always get that lead refunded.

Seriously though, I get it...  I've spent days completely pissed off because some photography lead cost me $40 on a gig that only ended up paying out $200, because I had a lead contact me on a date that I was already booked for, or I ended up paying for a lead that turned out to be a scammer.  This stuff WILL happen sometimes, it's up to you to make sure that you report all these issues to Thumbtack to get them resolved.

4.)  If You're Losing "the Game", It's Probably Because You Don't Know The Rules.

I see many Pros say they spend way too much money and don't get enough ROI.

The way I use Thumbtack is as if I were playing a game.  If I'm finding that my ROI is low on the amount I spent for any given time period, then I know I'm losing "The Game."

What's the first thing to do when playing a game?  Know the rules... ALL OF THEM.  Personally, I played the game for almost a year before figuring out all of the rules, but that's because I didn't actively try to learn all the rules either.

What's the second thing about playing the game?  Know your opponents.  Many Pros spend too much time focusing on Thumbtack like they're the opponent when in reality they're the gameboard.

Lastly, how do you win the game?  Know your goals.  That's on you.  What are your desired results from Thumbtack?  Do you plan on always using Thumbtack?  If you do, then you need to get REALLY GOOD at using Thumbtack.  If you don't plan on using Thumbtack forever, then what's your exit strategy?

5.) Dispute... Dispute... Dispute...

I literally have Thumbtack Support on speed dial. 

To the Thumbtack Moderators that may be reading this: I never use the text service/instant message service.  Every time I have, I've had a very difficult time conveying what the issue is and the issue ends up taking 2-3 weeks to get resolved instead of within that day.  Also, phone calls are just more personal... I'd rather talk to someone despite hold times ranging from 2 to 20 minutes. Maybe Top Pros can get their own helpdesk line?  *Hint* *Hint*

My last disputed lead was because the customer put the wrong date, which was a date I was already booked for.  It probably took me 2 minutes of conversation and an emailed screenshot of the customer saying she put the wrong date via text message to get it corrected.  That was it.

I've even disputed little glitches like leads accidentally being sent to me on dates I was already blocked out for.  Again, a phone call and a few screenshots got me reimbursed.

I haven't won every single dispute, but every time I didn't win it was because I usually did something wrong or I didn't know about a rule to "the game."

I'll end this tip with this.  Again, THUMBTACK ISN'T PERFECT, BUT they're not the enemy either.  It's important to dispute charges so that they can find out what issues we're running into so that they can fix them in the future.  It's actually pretty rewarding to point out a glitch in their system and see it get fixed... it's kinda like, "Hey... that was because of me!" Lol.

6.) Know Your Numbers

If you say to me that you don't get enough ROI, I'll respond, "What's your current ROI percentages per services Monthly and Annually?" If you don't know them, then how do you really know you're not getting enough ROI?

I spend hundreds of dollars of Thumbtack per month, but I also make a significant amount to offset the cost.  If all you're looking at is how much you spent without looking at how much you made, it's easy to think it's not worth the ROI.  Here are some examples:

Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 3.12.46 PM.png

Leads / Earnings Percentages:

Leads cost me about 11% of what I make from Thumbtack.  No earnings from outside leads are included in this percentage.

Lead Style Count:

This shows me how many leads I'm getting contacted for per photography category. *hmmm... just noticed sports photography isn't showing up... I'm going to have to fix that... *Facepalm**

Sales Percentages:

This shows me out of 100% of all my hired leads, which ones I get hired for the most/least.

So... Why are Lead Style Count & Sales Percentages important?  Can you think of a reason?  Look at the numbers and see if you can solve it before you continue reading:

I'll give you a sec...

...

...

...

Just a few more seconds...

...

...

...

Ok!  63% of my purchased leads were for Event Photography, but Event Photography only made up 33% of my hired jobs?!  This means, out of all the photography styles, I was contacted for Event Photography the most without getting hired.

This could lead to two possible reasons with several possible solutions:

Possible Reason #1:

My profile doesn't reflect my capabilities as an Event Photographer, so they end up hiring someone that has a profile that shows off their Event Photography style better.

Solution #1:

I decide I don't like doing Event Photography that much, so I lower my budget on that category or I turn that service off completely.

Solution #2:

I step up my profile game for that category and start showing off more projects, videos, and images of Event Photography that I've done in the past.

Possible Reason #2

That category, unfortunately, has a lot of people that are just looking for quotes but rarely hire.

Solution #1:

Make sure your price is displayed so that they don't bother even contacting you if you are already more than they can afford.

Solution #2:

Still getting contacted, but not hired?  Raise your price so that people that want the quality work and can afford your services are the only ones contacting you.  You'll definitely get fewer leads contacting you, but it will definitely drive up your ROI percentage.

So... what did I do?  I raised my price.  That was DEFINITELY was the best decision.  I went from getting hired for small little parties that I was only getting me 80% ROI to getting hired by large companies like Microsoft, DHL, and Amazon and getting 95% ROI.  I did do fewer jobs obviously because of fewer leads, but I ended up making more money per month.

That's it!

If you made it this far and read my entire post, then... I love you... lol.  Seriously, I appreciate each and every one of you that took the time to read this and I really hope it helps you.  If you have questions, please don't hesitate to add them to this thread.

 

Cheers,

Patrick Skinner

CLG Photography


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Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
11 responses
Highlighted

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

Hi Patrick Kevin here from Bates Handyman Service in Louisville KY. Thanks for the article, it really has influenced my thinking about Thumbtack (especially the they're not the enemy part) I've been getting a little peaved because of their skyrocketing prices and a glitch that still hasn't been resolved. However when I really look at how my business has grown in the few months I've been using them, I ought to be praising them with highest honors, hell they honored me with Top Pro status instead. Anyway I just wanted to say thanks for what you wrote. Good insight and great tips ,kudos
CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@Bateshandyman I'm glad to hear that!  Thanks for taking the time to read my post!  I completely understand the issue with the price change.  Personally, I took that as a change in the rules of the "game".  As soon as their price changed, I knew that would affect my ROI, so I changed my prices.  Simple as that.  Though a million thoughts swirled around my head thinking I would get fewer leads, it actually didn't change at all for me.  I'm still getting the same amount of leads I was getting before I changed my prices.

Note:  I do understand we're in very different industries and markets/market values vary widely.

Good Luck and hit me up anytime!

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
DJStevie
Level 12

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@CLGPatrick 

I read your post in its' entirety. And I do agree that your insights do NOT help me in my business, and the way that I run my business. If I go into too much detail in my response, it may get edited or deleted as many have been because they're duplicates, according to the Moderators.

The new system may be working for you, and I applaud you for that. Mind you, Thumbtack isn't the enemy, but have you taken a step back to hear the many Pros who are angered by the changes and the same responses of "we are listening", "you're insights are being forwarded on".  Changes have taken place without warning. At least I can attest I never got a warning via email, text, private message. If you have, please let me and others know.

When I worked for companies in the past, Supervisors always notified employees of changes. Always being told to try it, or at least being warned first. Grant it, we aren't Thumbtack employees, but we are their paying customers. We should be notified of all changes so we aren't surprised and get upset. That upset and anger gets put towards the Moderators, who may have known of changes. One moderator has been very helpful to me as of late, but personally others seem not to care. I am speaking with another one next week, we will see what happens with that conversation.

Several months ago, I tried using the new system, even had Moderators and phone support help me. Against my better judgement, I did and it cost me. So now I have new system on pause, and use the manual system to get bookings the way I used to. If that's a case of playing the game and my winning a few, then yay for me. But if they want us all to play the new game(system), then it should be fair to everyone.

Other changes have taken place, push notifications is one. Again, a change without notice. Maybe you can, but I can't sit by my computer/phone 24/7 checking on new leads every 10-20 minutes. Now the notifications come in one email/text, instead of when new leads appear. I voiced my concern on that in several posts and private messages to moderators.  Not going to rehash the comments here.

I'm happy that you have Support help you with refunds, etc. In my case, I tried to get many refunds, but I get told the same whether it's in the Forum, 24/7 help, or via phone, "It's not within our guidelines". I can provide screen shots or show a date is blocked, but I gottenthe same response.

The ROI isn't too much an argument for me,  but the cost of leads are as they vary from lead to lead. And I'm sure many Pros feel that as well. If a customer wants a DJ for a wedding, why are there so many different costs for this event? Costs for leads should be by event, not as Thumbtack deems what it should be. But that's another discussion with Thumbtack I need to have.

Customers that reach out to me, and I'm told that "they only chose you". I click to reply, get charged the cost, send message(even follow up messages) and never hear back. I understand that's part of the game, I really do. You win some, you lose some. My arguments with moderators aren't about that. I took the chances on those so called only choosing me leads.

There is a thread by @MichelleT asking for Pros inputs to improve the system. Other threads are out there as well, but if all they are doing is just reading/listening and not hearing, then the anger of many Pros will not be gone. But the Pros will be gone

 

CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@DJStevie You're absolutely right.  I completely understand how our industries and our perspective clientele range wildly different.

I have still had some issues with the calendar bit, but I believe I found the reason as to why they keep booking me during blocked hours/days. (I'll let you know as soon as it's confirmed)

I completely agree with you about the notification piece.  We are paying for the service, we should be afforded the opportunity to read patch notes when changes are made.  That is something I've made as a suggestion myself, among others.

About the new system vs. the old system.  Have you looked for other DJ's using the new/old systems in other major cities and contacted them about what they're doing?  I would reach out to them directly and see what information I could trade with them to increase my chances of getting hired in both systems.

The issue of when clients choose you but don't respond after that, do you follow up with your clients regularly?  I do... but, I do understand the argument of not having time to sit around and watch for notifications/follow up with old leads.  Now, when you say that notifications are coming in groups or in a group of leads in one notification, I think that may be a settings issue.  I get notifications of leads immediately as soon as they contact me.  Let me know how that is working for you so that I can better understand the issue.

Lastly, I'll check out that article by @MichelleT.  I'd like to see what other pros are saying in that format.

Thanks for the response!  I really appreciate the dialog!

Cheers,

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
0 Kudos
DJStevie
Level 12

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@CLGPatrick 

Thanks for the reply. I truly appreciate it. Not many, including moderators, take the time to reply to comments.

I have reached out to several DJ's from major cities. Several have shared the same disappointment with the new system. I've only been on Thumbtack just over a year, and had success with the old system, changes happened couple of months ago, and it went down hill for me, except for a few bookings using the manual system. Those DJ's are using the old system too. Mind you, currently, I'm using other platforms as well. This is my full time job and I can't rely on just one platform anymore, as I've had for almost a year.

Yes, I do follow up with prospective clients, sometimes I'm never given contact information, as Thumbtack doesn't require all customers to provide that information.

You asked about the notifications..In a separate thread, @Meckell told me that they are consolidating notifications and batched it into one notification. It's not a settings issue. @Kameron said he passed on my concerns. As I said, I can't sit by my computer or phone 24/7 checking for jobs. It's more than frustrating. I've got Promote on pause for reasons that I mentioned prior comments, but I was receiving new leads immediately before last weekend. Changes happened as I just stated. Now when I'm able to, I check the leads every 10-20 minutes, when I could be sending a quote/message to a new lead.

Please let me know about the calendar blocked dates.

Nice to know that I'm not the only who wants to know when changes are made and not be surprised(at least that's my understanding from what you said.)

Hoping they don't edit/delete this dialog.

Thanks again

Moderator Meckell
Moderator

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@CLGPatrick This is so thoughtful, insightful, and beneficial, thank you so much for sharing! I'm sure other pros will really appreciate your suggestions. Congrats on the success you're finding on Thumbtack and for making it to Top Pro. Keep up the great work! 

CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@Meckell, Thank you for the compliment!  I felt that it was necessary to share my experience with those that may have struggled just as I had in the beginning.

 

Cheers,

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
0 Kudos
Magic1124
Level 1

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

I only complaints with Thumbtack is no customer phone numbers. I'm a furniture restoration guy. Any successful sales person will tell you it's very hard to sale your product if you cant speak with the customer. Let's just say if I have 10 leads with phone numbers I will get 7 to 8 of the jobs.
With Thumbtack if I get 10 leads I will land 2 to 4. Not good. And for the most part its because they just dont respond well to text.
0 Kudos
Moderator Kameron
Moderator

Re: Photographer with Some Actual Success - 6 Things to Help Make the Current System Work for You.

@Magic1124 thanks for sharing. We're definitely working hard to try and get the best types of information a customer can share when they reach out. Be sure to check out our recent post about pro feedback, including some of our reasoning around not requiring customer phone numbers HERE.

0 Kudos