If you have home repair, electrical, or plumbing experience (and an appropriate license), you have an in-demand skill that can provide the basis for a lucrative side hustle. The key to making money from that skill set is finding people who are willing to pay handsomely for your services. That’s where lead-generation apps like Thumbtack can help you grow your business.
Of course, the service may also be a huge waste of money for contractors who have other methods of generating leads. This review provides a detailed look at how Thumbtack works, how it could be used to build a side hustle, and whether there are other options available for contractors looking to make more money.
- Thumbtack’s hyper-local app is designed to provide project leads for general contractors, electricians, plumbers, home repair experts, and a wide range of other professionals.
- You only pay for leads when a prospective customer reaches out to you.
- The dynamic pricing model allows you to set maximum prices for leads you’re willing to accept.
- Leads are qualified based on your availability, the services you offer, the prices you’ll accept, etc.
Lead prices vary based on project type, local market conditions, and the maximum lead price that you set.
What Is Thumbtack?
Founded in 2008, Thumbtack is an app designed to match people seeking professional services to professionals who can provide prompt services. Thumbtack boasts that professionals have completed more than 10 million 5-star projects since the platform’s inception.
Today, more than 300,000 professionals use the site to help generate leads for their businesses. While Thumbtack provides a market for just about every professional imaginable (videographers, caterers, DJs, and more), its core market is home repair, maintenance, and services.
When prospective customers use Thumbtack, they can find local pros who can do everything from installing a dishwasher to renovating a bathroom.
What Does It Offer?
Thumbtack is a technology company that matches people seeking to have work done with professionals who can complete the job. Customers don’t pay for the service, and professionals only pay when a prospective customer reaches out. The result should be a win-win for both customers and pros.
Only Pay When A Customer Reaches Out
As a Thumbtack Pro, you’ll receive qualified leads through the Thumbtack app. You will only pay for a lead if a customer reaches out to you about the prospective project. Unfortunately, you’ll pay for any customer contact, even if the customer ultimately hires another professional or chooses to cancel the project entirely.
However, Thumbtack takes measures to improve the quality of the leads it provides you with. Potential clients can only contact up to five Thumbtack professionals within the first four hours of their search in the platform, which improves your chances of being hired by a lead you paid for.
Update Your Calendar To Avoid Wasting Money
Thumbtack will send you leads based on the availability you provide to the site. If you say you’re not available on a certain date, leads requiring that date won’t come your way. Staying on top of your calendar inside of Thumbtack can keep you from wasting money. It also allows you to fill in the gaps in your calendar for those days or weeks when you don’t have quite enough work to keep you busy. If you only need extra jobs on evenings or weekends, you can update your calendar to reflect that preference.
The calendar feature in Thumbtack is a bit of a double-edged sword, though. You won’t pay for leads that you can’t accept as long as you keep your calendar up to date. To avoid paying for leads you can’t accept, you have to constantly update the calendar. This can be a challenge when you have non-Thumbtack leads coming in from your website, word-of-mouth, or social media.
Get Paid Through Thumbtack Pay
As a contractor, you don’t have to accept payments through Thumbtack. But Thumbtack Pay is a convenient in-app option that allows you to collect earnings directly from customers. Many independent contractors need to use a third-party service like Square to put money into their business bank accounts. Thumbtack Pay allows you to bypass that service and collect your payments without paying any additional fees.
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Set Your Price
Unlike many side hustle apps, Thumbtack doesn’t make you a “price taker.” You aren’t expected to take rock-bottom prices when customers will happily pay for your expertise. Thumbtack advertises a contractor’s hourly rate, but you can manage prices by quoting on a per-project basis.
If you’re doing handyman work as a means of earning money while studying, a price-flexible app like Thumbtack offers much higher hourly earning potential than most other side hustle platforms. In many markets, contractors can earn more than $100 per hour when booking work through Thumbtack.
If you want to accept service calls, on-site visits, or small jobs, you can turn on Instant Book in the app. Customers will book a visit at times when you say that you’re available. Instant Booking is a great way for you to get in front of customers and provide an accurate quote for the work that you do, and rescheduling an Instant Booking appointment is typically not a major issue.
Use Reviews To Build Your Business
When you’re getting started on Thumbtack, you can’t expect a ton of traffic going your way. Since you’re “unproven,” most people who reach out to you will expect to pay below-market prices for your services. It can be exceptionally frustrating for contractors who earn $45 to $75 per hour (plus benefits) from their full-time employment to be subjected to rates between $20 and $30 per hour until they get a handful of reviews.
But once you have reviews on the site, Thumbtack can provide a steady stream of qualified leads that can help you fill a schedule, earn extra money on the weekends, or build a small business on your own.
Are There Any Fees?
Thumbtack Pro doesn’t charge fees to consumers who are seeking professionals. Instead, it charges professionals a lead fee each time a qualified customer reaches out to you through the platform.
You can set limits on the price you’re willing to pay for a lead, but you’ll pay some amount up to that maximum as soon as a customer reaches out to you. The lead price you’ll pay tends to be proportional to the budget of the project. A lead for a small job, like installing a window AC unit, will probably come with a lower price tag than a full-scale kitchen remodel with a $100,000 budget.
The trouble with Thumbtack is that it is impossible to weed out “tire kickers.” If a customer wants a quote but isn’t ready to start a project, you’ll still pay for the lead. You’ll want to keep track of what you are paying as a whole compared to the jobs you get via Thumbtack so you can make sure it’s profitable.
As a Thumbtack Pro, you will have the option to set a weekly budget for spending on leads, but you can’t always ensure that a quality lead will come from all your spending.
How Does Thumbtack Compare?
There are a number of gig economy platforms that you might consider working with. The right platform for you depends on a variety of factors, including the type of work you specialize in and the fees you’re willing to pay to use the platform.
Like Thumbtack, TaskRabbit connects project-based workers with homeowners and other consumers in need of help. TaskRabbit’s workers (“Taskers”) set their own project rates, and you’ll receive free task invitations based on the details in your profile, which include the geographic area you work in, your availability, and the types of projects you’ll take on. A nice aspect of the TaskRabbit platform is that you can get a sense of how much you can expect to earn as a Tasker by selecting the region you live in and the gig category you’re interested in.
While TaskRabbit does support a range of gig categories, it differs from Thumbtack in that it focuses more on matching workers with shorter-term projects that require relatively little prior training or certification, like running errands, doing laundry, or washing cars. In some regions, there is a one-time $25 registration fee.
Handy is similar to Thumbtack and TaskRabbit in that it matches workers with people who need home maintenance and home management help. But its payment structure is unusual in that your hourly rates will increase based on how many jobs you finish and the ratings you receive from customers. The types of jobs you can complete in order to be bumped up to a higher-earning tier can be mixed. For example, you might be incentivized for an hourly rate raise if you complete 10 jobs in a 28-day period, and you can meet that requirement by mowing lawns and/or cleaning apartments.
If you choose to work with Angi Services, you won’t have to pay a registration fee or fees for job leads. But you might need to pay a fee if you cancel a job that you initially agreed to take. For example, canceling a job within 24 to 48 hours of its scheduled start time will result in a $10 fee; failure to show up for a job with no advanced warning of cancellation will result in a $50 fee and the potential revocation of your Angi Services membership.
Pay per qualified lead up to a set maximum
$10 to $50 for a canceled job
$25 registration fee (in applicable cities)
Lead generation for skilled home maintenance projects
Tiered payments based on project volume and client ratings
Matching workers with short-term, lower-wage labor
How Do I Open An Account?
You can open an account by visiting Thumbtack’s website or downloading its mobile app from the Google Play Store or the App Store for iOS. You’ll need to provide information about the services you offer, your geographic location, and your willingness to travel for work. In order for Thumbtack to verify your identity, you’ll also need to provide personal and business information like your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number.
After your identity is verified, you can use Thumbtack to respond to messages from potential customers, accept instant bookings, and begin to accept jobs through the app.
Is It Safe And Secure?
As a Thumbtack Pro, you’ll consent to Thumbtack sharing some of your personal information with prospective leads. Thumbtack will share your name (or your business’s name) and your general work location. It will also allow people to contact you through the app. Providing these details on a public forum such as Thumbtack is a risk to your privacy and security. However, Thumbtack does a lot of work (such as encrypting private information and not storing bank information) to increase the odds that your information is protected from hackers. And Thumbtack uses a third-party payment processor (Stripe) to process all payments in the app.
That said, Thumbtack tends to offer more financial protections for customers than for pros. You can dispute a lead charge in certain circumstances, like if you’re given a lead for a date that was already booked or the phone number provided for a lead is disconnected. But otherwise, you’re typically on the hook for paying for any leads that come your way, regardless of their quality.
Additionally, you aren’t guaranteed to collect payments through Thumbtack. If a customer won’t pay you, Thumbtack only promises to assess the situation and attempt to reach a resolution between you and the customer. Nonpayment is a risk that all contractors should keep in mind when using Thumbtack.
How Do I Contact Thumbtack?
Thumbtack’s customer service number is 1-855-663-9023. They also have a chat feature that is available 8 – 5 MST M-F.
The chat feature is a little tough to find. Go to their help section and fill out the form. This will serve up articles from their help library. If that doesn’t answer your questions you can click “I still need help” and the chat feature appears.
Is It Worth It?
If you’re willing to invest time and mental energy into developing your profile on Thumbtack, then the platform may be worthwhile for you. You can expect a slow start, and the platform’s lead fees may reduce profitability for shorter and/or lower-paying gigs. But over time, highly qualified professionals may be able to build up a steady stream of well-paid work via Thumbtack. However, those looking for short-term and/or lower-wage projects with fewer upfront fees may find other platforms, like TaskRabbit or Angi Services, to be better matches.
If you want to develop a highly paid side hustle and you’re ready to play the slow game, Thumbtack could be part of your overall solopreneur strategy. As a licensed contractor, electrician, or plumber, you should kickstart your business by creating a website, working to generate leads via social media, and building good word of mouth by providing excellent service. But a stream of qualified leads through Thumbtack can help you fill holes in your calendar and allow you to earn high hourly rates for your expertise.
Payment for leads varies depending on a project’s scope and your set maximum.