Updated July 30th, 2018.
Today, I’m sharing the quote template that I use on Thumbtack.com; as you may know, I side-hustle fairly hard as a face-painter. It’s not my main source of income, but in 2017 alone, I earned $2,300 just from a few weekend gigs. I don’t presume to be the authority on how to make a full-time, livable income off of face-painting, but I can at least share what works for me. I’m aware there’s the prevailing idea that Thumbtack.com is nothing but a big scam (and I’ve certainly encountered that myself), but it’s still a handy tool from which I can consistently find clients and make money.
Without further ado…
My Thumbtack Quote Template:
[My face-painting business name] is my personal face-painting business, and I’ve operated in the area for 12 years; I’ve painted, quite literally, *thousands* of faces! With the quoted price of [$$$] for up to [length of time requested], I will arrive to your event early, bring all my own supplies–sanitized brushes & non-toxic, hypoallergenic paints and glitters–and make sure that everyone who needs some color in their life leaves with a smile 🙂
[maybe a quick note here about the theme of their party, if applicable]
My direct cell is [number], give me a call/text at your convenience to get everything booked. My email is [email].
Talk to you soon!
[my name – not my full name, but my ‘face-painting’ name]
Is it perfect? Hardly. But, I’ve been sending quotes on Thumbtack.com for nearly two years now – that is, I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error to figure out a few things about what works and what doesn’t.
1. A shorter quote is a better quote.
People don’t read, they skim. They look for the headers, the boldface words, and the dollar signs. They look for the important details and make a snap judgment from it in about a thousandth of a second. Your goal is to capture their attention and quickly, and a wall of text will not accomplish this. In as few words as possible, you need convey the following things:
- What services/goods you will provide for the quoted price.
- Mine: face-painting, duh.
- A compelling reason why you are better than the other quotes they’ll receive.
- Mine: 12 years of experience, extra services beyond face-painting (arriving early, extra clean brushes, etc.)
- A call to action.
- Mine: I give my ‘direct’ cell (I don’t have another number, but the adjective ‘direct’ sounds earnest and personalized).
- If applicable: a follow-up message.
- Even Thumbtack.com encourages this and will prompt you after 24 hours to send a follow-up message. Mine is no more than two sentences long, and goes something like: “Hi [name], checking to see if you’ve made any decisions about your party yet? I’m still available and interested! Give me a call / text at [number] to go forward with booking. Talk soon!”
My quote template used to be way longer and full of unnecessary information. I was none-the-wiser, but Thumbtack.com started quote insights so you can see how you compare to others:
949 letters?! I was writing a novel, compared to the others.
Pare down, trust me. If your quote is too long and inundating, clients’ eyes will glaze over. They’ll skim without internalizing the price, compelling reason, and call-to-action… and, ergo, you won’t get the gig.
Brevity is the soul of wit, friends.
2. Always be the first to quote
This is probably the millionth time I’m saying this, but you absolutely need to be the first to quote.
Put yourself in a client’s shoes: you are in the midst of event-planning, and maybe a touch stressed-out. You want to get your ducks in a row Right. Friggin’. Now. You go with options that are affordable, easy, and convenient. That is why you need to be the convenient option in the client’s life.
Let’s look at that screenshot again:
- I sent my quote in first 5 minutes after request came through; the client viewed it, literally, right away.
- The next two quotes he viewed within the hour, but not right away.
- The third quote he viewed a couple of hours later.
- The fourth quote, which was sent nearly a full day later, he didn’t even view at all.
Notice the downward progression? This is the exact reason why you should send quotes as quickly as possible: there’s an extremely high likelihood that the client is actually still there, browsing, on the website – and you can catch them. Personally, if it’s already a couple hours after the initial request and other people have bid already, I don’t even send a quote. It’s a waste of time and money (remember, you pay to bid on jobs).
Freelancing is not a meritocracy. Do not rely on your quality of work to speak for itself because, spoiler: it won’t. You’ve literally got to call dibs on gigs.
3. Personalize your quote
To help with point #2, you can avoid the misery of typing up the same quote every single time (or even tedious copy-pasting) by saving your quote template for future use.
BUT, don’t rely solely on shooting off your pared-down, pre-fabbed quote super quickly and having that be the end of it. A client can feel put-off if a quote is stiff and robotic. Again, put yourself in their shoes: they took the 10- to 15-minutes to fill out the Thumbtack.com questionnaire about their event with the expectation that a real person will read and respond to them personally.
Luckily, Thumbtack gives you a tool or two to fudge it a bit. The “_first_name_” tag is handy because it will auto-populate with the client’s name, exactly as they wrote it*. Additionally, I will personalize in the body of the quote, if I can. Example: if they include a theme for their party, I will
usually lie and say, “What a coincidence, I just did a birthday party last week with that same theme!”
Whatever specific detail you comment on, keep it brief (point #1)!
4. Be prepared to play tech support
This isn’t necessarily related to quote templates or sending quotes, but it’s still important to keep in mind:
More than once, I’ve had to play tech support. I think some clients fill out a project request, and then they naturally assume that the freelancers quoting to them are actually employees of Thumbtack.com. Not a huge deal, but I guarantee you’ll get questions on how the site works and be expected to resolve problems. Some examples of gripes I’ve received:
‘The site’s not letting me say I hired you!’
‘My password’s not working!’
‘When I went to pay through Thumbtack, they had the wrong date of the event. Does that matter?’
And on and on…
While it’s incredibly tempting to tell them you don’t know**, a bit of know-how about the site can be good customer service. Sure, Thumbtack.com has their own tech support, but it doesn’t exactly smack of professionalism when you turf a client’s problem to someone else. Plus, if the issue is something delaying them from hiring you, wouldn’t you want to take charge of the situation? When a client says, ‘I’ll call you back,’ they usually don’t. Again, it’s inconvenient, and a client will usually go with the path of least resistance.
So, buck up, and learn the mechanics of the site. Do NOT give clients the time and opportunity to wander away and hire someone else.
5. Good grammar & spellcheck are your friends
Your quote template needs to pass muster when it comes to Standard English. You don’t get to speak with the clients over the phone (unless they expressly request it), so your written word needs to represent you, your business, and your brand. You have zero control over how harsh or lenient people will be when it comes to grammar errors and spelling mistakes – and whether it’s the difference between landing a gig or not.
Anecdotally, a friend of mine recently sourced bids for a home improvement project. All things being equal (comparable prices, equi-distance from his house, all had good reviews, etc…), he went with the contractor whose proposal had less typos than the competition.
It happens. Take a minute, and do what you need to do: run it through spell-check. Read it out loud. Have someone else read it.
Also, unless you’re also in family entertainment like me, go incredibly sparingly (i.e., none) on the smiley faces.
Will it work?
Remember, even if you do have The Perfect Quote, there’s still no guarantee you’ll land a gig. Often-times, there’s circumstances beyond your control, and you can only do so much. As with most things in life, sending gig-winning quotes on Thumbtack.com takes time, patience, and perseverance. Using a good quote template is only a part of the whole, and it shouldn’t be the only tool you rely on.
Any other tips or tricks you use for your quote templates? Leave me a comment below!
*Re: calling a prospective client by the wrong name – yes, I’ve accidentally done it. No, I didn’t get the gig.
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