Ever since I discovered there was a forum here on Thumbtack it's been no secret that many people have been extremely unhappy with some of the changes in recent months. I myself have contributed many posts airing my grievances, but starting today I don't want to do that anymore.
Now, this story applies to me, my industry (photography), and not anybody else. I'm quite aware that there are TT users paying exhorbitant fees in industries where the earnings simply don't justify the current situation. But, if I'm being nothing but honest, TT has been a lifeline for me over the past four months.
Five months ago, almost to the day, I was fired from my job of seven years. It still hurts to write that. My wife and I were 16 months into a new home purchase, we had a two-year-old and were expecting a second child at the end of July. Needless to say this wasn't ideal.
Let me back up a minute and tell you that I was the creative director for a northeast regional magazine in New York City. A role I never really sought out, but one day opportunity knocked. The pay was good, and the hours were flexible (anybody who's worked in publishing knows the deal... kick back for three weeks, crunch for one week, repeat).
It was a role I grew to love, mostly because it allowed me to take photography from a hobby to something I was actually getting paid to do, and on a scale I never could have achieved on my own. But, five years in I began to realize that every other aspect of the job that I hated had began to eat away at me–I was stagnating and everybody knew it.
Fast forward to early March and the hammer finally came down. Truth-be-told the writing was on the wall as early as January. If I'm being completely honest I should have quit two years ago, but I was afraid. This was nothing short of a mercy killing. My wife, ever the optimist, said "this is your chance to give photography a shot."
I had used Thumbtack in the past as casual curiosity. I would scroll through requests every now and then and if something caught my eye I'd send a a quote. It was no reliable source of income, just something to exercise my photography muscle and to get some play money if I ever booked something. I asked very little of TT until March.
Photography is one of those industries that was almost wholly consumed by the advent of smartphones. Essentially leaving behind an upper echelon and lots of free work, but not much in the middle. But, that middle does still exist, the question is how do you connect with it and how do you do it quickly?
Most photographers I know got into photography because their dad did it, or they built an enormous portfolio because the have tons of friends, or they were the high school newspaper photog, etc. I fell into none of these camps. I did it quietly for myself and never really considered doing it for a living. Before I got wrapped up in magazines I always figured I'd just become a bus driver. Not to mention, having a portfolio filled with "celebrity" portraits does little to instill confidence in a bride that you're the man who won't miss the decisive moment. So, how does one get their foot in the door?
For me, it was Thumbtack all the way. Once I was able to get my head straight and focus on what I needed to do. I installed the app, turned on notifications, and I quoted like a mad man until I found people willing to give me a shot. The result? In four months I booked about 25 gigs to the tune of just over $10,000 in revenue, on about $800 in quotes. It's by no means a long-term solution, but that is real money, that quite frankly saved my ass, and I've built quite a solid foundation of clients that has already resulted in repeat business. Without TT that simply would not have been possible starting from nearly zero.
I still think there's a lot of problems with TT... Instant match, high quoting fees, too many quotes, auto-responses (grrr), and probably 10 other things if I really think about it. Every now and then though I have to step back and put things into perspective. Without TT I'm not sure I'd be in the game at all. I'd probably be driving a bus.
@PhilFischPhoto There's nothing I love more than a good success story. That's awesome that you were able to overcome those trials and turn things around by starting your business! I hope you have a very happy Monday