An Ode To Losing Money: A Review of Booking Site Thumbtack

For those of you who have not heard of this website before; it is a highly trafficked website for searching for independent professionals (construction, IT work, entertainment). It is also a source of extreme frustration to entertainers because of the fact that it is system based on micro transactions that reward customers.


How Booking Sites Generate Their Revenue

Most websites use a fairly simple model for making revenue; you pay the site a subscription fee for posting your profile and each time the site earns you a booking you register that booking (allowing the client to review it and paying a small fee-20$).  Now almost all websites are based on this;  gigmasters, gigsalad, and even small scale third party sites (like entertainment starz) that few people use.

Now the revenue model for thumbtack is radically different; instead of a subscription fee the site makes it’s money from performers purchasing credits. Those are credits are used to submit your quotes to clients.  The amount of credits necessary for a quote is based off how many people with your specialty are in the area and how common the request is.  So a quote for a comedy magician will cost you three credits in my area while attempting a quote for a circus act is 0 credits due to the scarcity of requests and performers.  Each credit is approximately three bucks.

For the client side, the client sends out a request which goes to all the professionals on the list but only the first five professionals has their quote listed.   So the math for this is assuming a three credit quote;  each performer will spend about 9 dollars making the request.  Meaning that the site makes just shy of fifty dollars each time a request is responded to for a comedy magician.  That is assuming that the person making the inquiry hires the first person they find and do not make multiple inquiries (which about maybe a fourth to a third do).


Now this doesn’t seem bad until you realize that if you wanted to you could respond to probably about 5-10 requests a day. While on the other hand, gig master’s four month basic package is about 70$ and that you only pay per gig upon receiving payment.    While I keep an eye on thumbtack I normally do not take gigs from that site.  If I see any clients that I can contact independently usually I will reach out on my own directly to that client as I do not wish to support thumbtack.  Here’s the math as to why……

Assuming that you respond to three requests (low end) a week you will normally pay approximately 27$ a week and if you if you respond to about six request (reasonable)s it will be 54$ a week. Over the course of a month that turns into 216$ which in the space of four months will be 864$.  Without access to the websites metadata there is no way to see what the site’s ROI (return on investment) actually is.  Now between the services; I would definitely prefer spending 70$ at gigmasters and gigsalad in comparison.

 What does this mean to you?

Quality; at the end of the day when you hire someone to entertain you (be it juggling or magic or fire performance) you want quality performance.

Professionals don’t use it: Out of maybe twenty professional entertainers I know one who swears by it.  The return on investment (ROI) just doesn’t support using it.  Personally I found that the type of clients that I found on thumbtack generally speaking were looking to hire someone for an hour show at 50-100$ on average.    So what you get is a pool of young inexperienced entertainers who haven’t learned the business end of entertainment work.  This on average will lead to a  low quality show.


3 Replies to “An Ode To Losing Money: A Review of Booking Site Thumbtack”

  1. it would be interesting to present the same entertainer 3-5 different ways, with 3-5 different corresponding fees. a high priced yet reasonable fees with a complete audio visual marketing package, a mid-priced fee with a couple pictures and finally a bottom feeder priced fee with just a poorly written description of the entertainer and see which one gets more work?

    what would that marketing test prove?


  2. Sorry but your info is wrong. If you buy credits individually from Thumbtack they cost $1.67 each; getting a package deal drops the price even lower. Therefore, it cost less than $5.00 to send a 3 credit quote. Also, the average price most people are willing to pay for a magician (comedy or otherwise) is about $250 for two hours of strolling. Why would I want to pay a monthly fee AND a per-gig charge to a site where you have to wait for a client to pick you? I belong to both gig salad and gig masters for about 3 years and have only booked ONE gig between BOTH sites. In the same period with Thumbtack I’ve been hired over forty times! Yes, you might spend more with Thumbtack per month depending on how many gigs you send quotes to, but at least you have a choice to send a quote or not. Just book one gig and it could pay for a couple of months of quotes! Guess who I’m staying with?


    1. I appreciate you reaching out and giving your feedback about this. So let me rephrase the math then assuming a price ofprice of 5.00 (which it rounds down to) and six potential bookings a week. Then the average cost per week is down to 30$ and the cost per month assuming six average inquiries a week is 120$. In the same three month span the cost is 360 @ Thumback versus 70 @ gigmasters. I still value gig masters more highly.

      Also I do have to specify the locality of where one is might change ones experiences. I am not sure where you are located out of; but my experiences are based in the Greater Philadelphia Region ((My Range is From NYC/Pittsburg/Washington DC for bookings)) and most individuals here are not willing to spend any more than approximately 50-100$ on a booking for an hour show.

      Thank you for giving me feedback and a bit of correction though I still think we might disagree.


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