Thumbtack: Local-Freelancer Service Finder

I’m always on the look-out for new income streams. I learned a long time ago that seven small streams that trickle in can add up over time. As Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned”. This is why forms of passive income as well as active income make for a good balance.

Thumbtack is a new one to me though they have been in business since at least 2010, and the way they run their services  is a lot like some of the bigger freelancing sites. However their fees and how they charge, as well as how they connect people is what makes this one so unique. So I opted to try it out and created my profile - Drakenhart Studios, on Thumbtack.

What’s so special?

First you pay a small fee per “credit”. These credits are used to purchase a bid on a job. I’ve seen a ton of other sites do this too, and it’s a simple way to pay for hosting services and other overhead costs.  The fee itself is nominal. As of this writing it’s less then $2(usd) per credit.

When you bid, however, you do not need to worry about competing against twenty or thirty other freelancers. You are pitted against up to four other people and that’s it. So the chance of shining and getting the job increases quite a bit.

There is also the simple idea that your credits are refunded if your bid isn’t seen.  Now the downside to this is that once the bid is seen, those credits are gone. I had erroneously thought otherwise because of a misconception. However if, within 48 hours, your bid is ignored you do get those credits back. So you are not entirely out of luck when purchasing credits for bids. The reason for this, their system does not track negotiations nor bid acceptances.

Now I’ve seen other sites that once you place a bid that’s it. You are out of those credits and there is nothing more that can be done about it. So it is a lot like playing the lottery. With Thumbtack, even though the system is similar, you have a higher chance to win the bid and if you play it smart you have the chance at a refund, so you don’t loose out on too much money.

Downsides

If someone looks at your bid, your credits are used. This isn’t as bad a thing if the client accepts your proposal.

However, there is also the chance that the person looking for work won’t hire you once you place the bid. Or they may not hire anyone at all. This happened to me recently and put a crimp in my otherwise bright outlook on this service.  Even with adjusting the bid, and dropping the rate, no one was hired. No one.

There is also the issue that Thumbtack does not let you know if your bid was accepted. You have to let them know if you’ve been hired. The client contacts you and lets you know if they want to use your service or not. Everything outside of finding the job for you is done by you and by the client.

Upon accepting the bid the client is given your contact information and it is up to them to start the negotiation and communication process. This has a lot of downsides, as just about anyone can sign up to be a client and gather personal contact information on people. As a freelancer outside of the net, this is a risk we take in general. We assume that people won’t sell of pass on our information to just anyone. Or if they do pass it on it is to someone who might benefit from the services we offer. However it is an assumption based on trust in someone’s moral and ethical standing that we take for granted. Scary to think about it that way isn’t it?

However, with Thumbtack the clients are faceless and generally nameless. Usernames do not always reflect personal names. So you don’t know who is gathering your information. Again this is based on trust that the client’s intentions are to find freelancers and not be jerks.

There is also no payment gateway between client and freelancer. Thumbtack acts more like a job “thumbtacked” to a cork board, rather then a typical freelancer-client site. Hence, I’m believe, the name.

So what now?

Well, as I spiff up the profile and work on getting my first assignments, I’ll write up more about it later. For now, if you have any comments, questions, or stories about working with thumbtack, please leave them in the comments below.