In December of 2015, I discovered Thumbtack, another source for freelancers to connect with clients looking to hire. I’m always willing to give something a try, plus there was no membership fee and they gave me free credits to help me get started. Now that I’ve been using the platform for several months, I understand better how it works and what it takes to succeed.
How Thumbtack Works
Thumbtack isn’t a typical bidding platform like Upwork or Guru. You can’t search through a list of project postings. Instead, job postings that fit your profile skill set are sent to you as they are posted. This is where it gets tricky. Each job posting is only allowed to have five freelancers respond to the job posting. Which five will get those coveted spots? First come, first serve!
That’s right. The first five freelancers to submit a quote/proposal to the client will be the only freelancers the client can choose from. How fast do those five slots get taken? On the best jobs, usually within minutes or even seconds after the job posting all five slots have been filled.
This was extremely frustrating to me at first. How was I ever going to win a job if I couldn’t even get a proposal submitted in time? How could you write a decent proposal in a matter of seconds?
You can’t. So, I quit worrying about the proposal part being great and just focused on getting my proposal submitted quickly. Sometimes I’d simply type in “Please see my profile. I’d love to work with you.” Other times, I’d copy and paste a generic proposal template I created. I managed to get my proposal into the five slots more often.
Like many of the other freelance bidding platforms, you must use credits purchased from Thumbtack to submit a quote. When you sign up as a new user on Thumbtack you will be given a certain amount of free credits to help you get started. Use these wisely, as they will disappear quickly when it takes 14 credits to submit one quote. Once your free credits are gone you will need to purchase more credits in order to submit quotes on projects.
The big question – how much do the credits cost? It depends on many credits you purchase at a time. The more you purchase, the lower the cost per credit, but the standard cost per credit is $1.67. If you are quoting on a general writing project, it will require between two and five credits for to submit a quote. $3.44 to $8.35 to submit one quote. Website content quotes cost 10 to 14 credits. Most of those I’ve bid on have been 14 credits which can be over $20 to submit one quote. That’s a lot of money to gamble for jobs you may not get.
Making Thumbtack Work for You
The number one key to making money via Thumbtack is to be very selective on which projects you bid on. I had bought a big package of credits when I started and was bidding on lots of job postings. My credits disappeared quickly without any success at winning jobs. It seemed like I was throwing money down the drain.
I got more selective about the types of projects I bid on. I didn’t bid on on-time projects, only those who fit my preferred client description offering ongoing work. I also reviewed my profile and made sure it was the best that it could be. I requested reviews from some existing clients to post on my profile to strengthen it.
With this improved strategy, I finally had some potential clients take the time to interview me. I got hired by my first client on Thumbtack in March, about two months after I joined the platform. It was a $600 website copywriting gig that could potentially lead to more work with the client. I gained my second client a month later. Again, ongoing work at a good rate. I had spent almost $200 on credits before I got that first gig. Most of what I bid on is website content so I do pay a premium rate for quotes I submit, but the payout can be significant as well.
Thumbtack is a viable option for finding new clients, but you do need to have a few things in order to make it work for you.
- Create a killer profile. On this platform, the client is going to visit your profile to find out about you more so than simply looking at your proposal.
- Immediate response. If you aren’t going to be able to respond immediately when you receive notices of job postings, you aren’t likely to get interviewed for the best projects. Create a basic template that is always available to quickly copy and paste into the proposal box.
- Be selective. Determine who your ideal clients are and the type of projects you really want to work on. If the project doesn’t fit those parameters, don’t waste your credits on it. Buy credits in larger groups to keep your cost per bid down.
If you think you’d like to try Thumbtack out, my referral link will provide you with several free credits to get you started (and a few free for me as well).