My Gig-Winning Quote Template for

I’ve gotten a few requests for it, so I thought it might be helpful to share the quote template that I use on; as you may know, I side hustle fairly hard as a face-painter. It’s not my main source of income, but on any given month, I land 1-3 gigs and can count on an extra $200-$400 per month. 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 is nothing but a big ole’ 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.

My Thumbtack Quote Template

Hi _first_name_,

[My face-painting business name] is my personal face-painting business, and I’ve operated in the area for 10+ years; I have painted, quite literally, *thousands* of faces! I can paint any and every design, in the form of face-masks, cheek designs, body art, and glitter tattoos.

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]

[attach pictures]

Is it perfect? LOL, good one. But, there’s a few things I want to point out.

Let’s break this down…

Shorter is better

It’s a harsh truth (especially for a blogger), but 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. So, your goal is to make the process as easy as possible for them. The shorter your quote is, the less work they need to do. 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. But, it sounds like I’m providing a whole slew of goods when I write out ‘face masks, cheek designs, body art, and glitter tattoos’.
  • A compelling reason why you are better than the other quotes they’ll receive.
    • Mine: 10+ years of experience, extra services beyond face-painting (those glitter tattoos are extremely popular)
  • A call to action.
    • Mine: I give my ‘direct’ cell (I don’t have another number, but the adjective ‘direct’ sounds earnest and personalized). Also, what you don’t see, I always send a follow-up message, which reiterates the call to action to book me.

My quote template used to be way longer and full of unnecessary information. I was none-the-wiser until Thumbtack recently started providing some analytics and insights.

thumbtack insights
949 letters? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Pare down. Trust me. If your quote is too long and inundating, clients aren’t going to read it. If they don’t read it, they’re probably not going to internalize the compelling reasons why you’re the one to hire. They’re going to ignore your call to action, and you’re not going to get the gig.

Brevity is the soul of wit, friends.

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. Think as if you were the client: you are in the midst of event-planning, and maybe a touch stressed-out. You want to get your ducks in a row right. now. You go with options that are affordable, easy, and convenient. That is why you, as the freelancer, need to be the convenient option in the client’s life.

In the screenshot above:

  • I sent my quote in first, minutes after the client created the request, and he viewed it 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 illustrates the next reason why it’s good to send quotes quickly: there’s a high likelihood that the client is actually still there, 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.

 reactions barney stinson do want dibs GIF


Okay, here’s the thing: the quoting process requires a little bit of trickery.

Your goal is to send a quote as fast as humanly possible, so that’s why you make use of a prefabbed quote template. But, a client can be put off if they feel like you sent off a quote without even reading into their request. That’s where personalizing comes in (quickly, remember. Time is of the essence).

The “_first_name_” tag is handy because it will auto-populate with the client’s name, exactly as they wrote it (for the love of God, if you’re going to call a client by name in your message, don’t use the wrong name†).  Additionally, if they write out the theme to their party, I will usually lie and say, what a coincidence, I just did a birthday party last week with that same theme!

The possibilities about what specific detail you could comment on are vast and vary between freelance categories. If you can’t come up with anything else, check their location; are they nearby? Mention how close you are (i.e., play up the convenience factor).

Be prepared to play tech support

This isn’t necessarily related to quote templates, but it’s still important to keep in mind during the bidding & communication process:

I’ve been using Thumbtack for nearly a year now. More than once, I’ve had to play tech support. I think when a client fills out a project request, they assume that the freelancers are actually employees of Thumbtack. It’s not a big deal, but stay long enough, and I guarantee you will get questions about how the site works and be expected to resolve problems.

‘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?’, etc…

 seinfeld idk shrug unsure i dont know GIF

While it’s incredibly tempting to tell them you don’t know††, I personally believe that a bit of know-how here is good customer service. Sure, Thumbtack has their very own sector of dedicated tech support, but it doesn’t exactly smack of professionalism when you pawn a client’s trouble-shooting off on someone else. Plus, if the issue is something that’s delaying them from hiring you, and the goal is to get hired, wouldn’t you want to take charge of the situation and resolve it quickly? 9 times out of 10, when a client says, ‘I’ll call you back,’ they don’t.

I repeat: do not give clients the time and opportunity to wander off and hire someone else.  Trust me, it happens.

Good grammar & spellcheck are your friends

Here’s a fun and maybe polarizing fact about me: I detest when people pass judgments based on someone’s grammar, spelling, and linguistic choices. If you’re the type of person who becomes absolutely derailed at someone’s misused ‘their/they’re/there’, calm down and hit a blunt. There are bigger problems at hand.

 90s words language depeche mode dave gahan GIF

That said…

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.

This isn’t speculation on my part. A friend of mine recently sourced bids for a home improvement project. All things being equal (comparable prices, equidistance from his house, all had good reviews, etc…), he went with the contractor whose proposal had less typos than the competition.

It happens. So, do what you need to. Run it through spell-check and Grammarly. 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.



Remember, even if you do have what’s objectively a perfect quote, there’s still no guarantee you’ll land a gig. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. Using a good quote template is only part of the whole, and it shouldn’t be the only tool you rely on.

Any other tips or tricks you use for your Thumbtack 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.

††Sometimes, I’ll put my phone on mute while they ramble, look heavenward, and say, “Sounds like a whole lotta not my problem.”

†††Why, yes, I did get a solid B in my socio-linguistics class, thank you for asking. We have fun over in r/badlinguistics. Join us, sometime. Truly, this is all just to defend my God-given right as a Midwesterner to use ‘real’ v. ‘really’ as an adverb and ‘anymore’ to mean ‘nowadays’.

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