When you own your business, the work never stops. Still, we hope you find a moment to celebrate National Small Business Week beginning next Sunday — to reflect on how far you’ve come and to dream about what comes next. Every single one of you has a reason why you do what you do. Something that brings you joy and purpose, something that you can be proud of. We recently sat down with a few Top Pros to learn their reasons why. Take a look. Whatever your reason — sharing a hidden talent, creating a legacy for your family, embracing your inner “dog lady” — we celebrate the courage it takes to make a living doing your life’s work. What are you in it for?
... View more
When you own your business, the work never stops.
Still, we hope you find a moment to celebrate National Small Business Week beginning next Sunday — to reflect on how far you’ve come and to dream about what comes next.
Every single one of you has a reason why you do what you do. Something that brings you joy and purpose, something that you can be proud of.
We recently sat down with a few Top Pros to learn their reasons why. Take a look.
Whatever your reason — sharing a hidden talent, creating a legacy for your family, embracing your inner “dog lady” — we celebrate the courage it takes to make a living doing your life’s work.
What are you in it for?
... View more
I’m a copywriter at Thumbtack who’s helped with profile makeovers for dozens of pros at our community events. I always find that the hardest part to write is the profile intro. It’s a lot of work to find the right way to sum up who you are, what you do and why you do it. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional writer to create a good profile introduction. You just have to break things down. Here are some tips that seem to work for everyone. Get in touch with your “why.” Find out what’s really driving you, then say that in your profile introduction. Your passion will shine through what you say and invite more customers to contact you. A word of warning, though: You have to say more than you like to help people. That’s what I heard from my colleague Appio, a pro success manager who has helped literally hundreds of pros make their profiles better. “Every pro likes seeing happy customers, so what else motivates you to offer your services?” he says. “Do you like working with your hands? Do you like the collaborative process of working with your clients?” One photographer took Appio’s advice and wrote that he’s passionate about sharing stories through images. He started getting more leads almost immediately. Let your real personality show. “Pros don't have to put on a ‘business voice’ to come across as professional,” Appio told me. “They just need to be themselves and the right customers will contact them.” I heard the same thing from Scotty Kennedy, owner of Sparkling or STILL , an events company here in San Francisco. (He’s the pro who pulled together the incredible wedding we featured in our recent documentary .) Scotty told me, “Let people know who you are and where you came from. I always say when you write a profile, it should be like you’re speaking to somebody. You don’t want it to be sterile or like it’s copy-pasted from a cover letter. It needs to have personality.” Use keywords that make your profile easy to search and skim. Scotty’s rewriting his profile to make it even easier for his clients to know he’s the event pro they’re looking for. “What are the things people need done? For me, maybe they need help finding a venue, maybe they just need an extra set of hands or maybe they need consultation to find the right DJ. Whatever it is, I’m going to ask myself the question and give the answer in my profile intro.” Scotty’s new approach was inspired by a recent experience where a client asked for help finding the right venue for her birthday — a rooftop space that could host a live band. “I went looking for venues using keywords like “rooftop.” That’s the experience I want my clients to have. Think about it like you would on Google. Make your introduction searchable.” Picture your customer. Speak to what your ideal customer is looking for. If you’re not sure who that is, think about your best clients or the ones who’ve been with you the longest. Imagine you’re writing your profile for them. Here are some ideas: Maybe you’re a handyman. You’ve noticed your best clients are folks who’ve just moved into their home and need help with a few things. That might help you realize it’s more useful to mention that you can hang art and mount TVs (rather than start with your repair and painting skills). Maybe you’re a personal trainer. You’ve noticed your most committed clients are getting back into a gym routine after a long absence. That might lead you to specifically mention that you help people ramp back up with safe, effective techniques. Give customers something to ask about. You don’t have to spell it all out. As long as you’ve communicated your background, why you do what you do and what your specialties are, you can leave “a little mystery” as Scotty puts it. “I like to say, ‘I’m the person who does everything you don’t want to do,’” Scotty says. “It immediately puts people at ease. But it also leads to another question: ‘What exactly is that?’” That’s where a lot of his best customer conversations start. Get a refresher on profile basics here , and let us know what works for you in the comments.
... View more
Top Pro Jess Baldwin became a painter against the odds. She tells us how she found her niche and gives back to the community.
"Three months into the 10th grade, I was pretty much ready to quit school. I was so insecure and self-conscious. I felt like I had no friends.
I convinced my mom to let me finish my diploma at a government-funded trade school. These places had a reputation as backup schools for “bad kids,” but really they were life-changers for low-income kids who needed extra support — kids like me.
The girls in the program usually didn’t go into welding, carpentry or bricklaying. Most of them joined “business technologies,” which was basically training for customer service jobs. When I went into painting, there was only one other girl in the trade. Seeing her, I thought, “There’s another girl here. I could do this.”
I completed over 1,200 hours of training to earn my trade. But when I graduated, I was only 17 — too young to continue with the local union apprenticeship program. I got a warehouse job instead, and then I never went back because I was too intimidated. The other girl in the painting program used to tell me that guys on job sites would constantly second guess what she could do, like, “Hey, let me carry that for you,” or “Do you want me to do that instead?” I didn’t think I could handle that.
Then a couple years ago, I found Thumbtack. I created a profile and I instantly landed five jobs in a row. I actually went full time within a few months. And I found my own rapport with customers, something completely different from the male painters in the trade.
Most of my customers are mothers, wives, or couples who’ve built or bought a new home and want to make it theirs, or maybe they’re having a kid and painting the nursery. When they meet me, they’re instantly comfortable with me being around them and their kids or working in the house when they’re not there.
But it’s not just that I’m non-threatening. With women, it’s so much about the details. I get that I’m changing a room that they actually live in. With my training, I can offer that guidance around not just painting but also faux finishing and wallpaper. I consult on colors. I guide them to quality paints in their price range. I don’t think other painters take the time to do that.
Earning a trade was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ll never forget how much of an influence it was that there was that one other girl in that program, because I don’t know if I would’ve stuck with it otherwise. That’s why I try and do as much youth outreach as I can. I volunteer every other Tuesday at a support center for youths. They need to see that you can get through tough things and make it to the other side.
We need to set an example and help girls understand their self-worth. Otherwise, they won’t do what they really want to do, they’ll pick whatever’s normal or safe. There need to be pioneers out there beating the odds and showing other women what’s possible."
Jessica Baldwin is a painter based in Sandy, UT. You can find her on Thumbtack .
... View more