Denny Weigand is living proof that no matter where you started, it’s never too late to make a living doing the thing you’re passionate about. Weigand’s career path took him all over the place, from vending machine sales to healthcare, before landing on the trade he loves — photography and photo restoration. Today he’s the owner of DigitalWhims, a San Francisco-based photo company that provides expert image restoration, memory videos, scanning services, and more. Here’s Weigand’s advice for making a mid-career transition, and how Thumbtack can help you find the clients you need.
How did you get started with Thumbtack?
I was looking to take on more photo restoration and video work, and poking around the internet to see how I could get myself out there. That’s when I stumbled upon Thumbtack. I thought it was worth the gamble, so I gave it a try and all of a sudden I started getting work. I’d say maybe 20 to 30 percent of my work now comes from Thumbtack.
What advice would you give someone just getting started on Thumbtack?
I referred a fantastic photographer to Thumbtack recently. Here’s what I told her: Take the headshot job you might not want to get started. Even if it’s not your end goal, it’s building your customer base and getting you reviews. Start small. If you do a headshot for Company A and you do a good job, Company B is going to call you for a different kind of project.
That’s what I tell everyone about Thumbtack. Take the things that you don’t think you’re going to want to do. Go ahead and take the engagement photography or the family photography. Because if it’s an engagement, there’s probably a wedding there too. And if you’re good, word gets out.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started using Thumbtack?
Use the resources that Thumbtack gives you! I have absolutely loved the support from Thumbtack — it is just incredible. One thing I really appreciate is the attitude when I call. I talk to a person, they’re intelligent, helpful, and understand the problem. So often you call a customer service and they don’t understand and it’s very frustrating. But at Thumbtack, everyone I talk to is willing to help me.
What do you think makes you a Top Pro?
The most important thing is to know how to talk to the client. I can’t tell you how many calls I get where I don’t get the job, but they remember, “Oh, that guy was so pleasant. He knew his business, he knew how to do it, and he’s willing to help.” That person will come back.
What are your best tips for getting Thumbtack reviews?
I generally ask for reviews within a week of finishing a job. I don’t ask for reviews before the job is done because all kinds of things can happen, and you want to know you’re asking for a good review. If at the end of a job the client is really happy, I might say, “Thumbtack is going to ask for a review. Please do that, if you wouldn’t mind.”
What advice do you have for creating a great profile?
I think what you write has to be short and sweet because people are not going to read past four or five lines. They’re not going to read all of the stuff, but they will look at the pictures.
Anyone in a really visual field should have pictures in their profile, because those speak without words. If you do restorations, include before and after pictures of the restoration. If you’re a wedding photographer, put your best foot forward in the wedding images you pick.
Do you have a most memorable Thumbtack job?
I had a lady in a retirement home come to see me. She called and said, “I have this painting, but my son took it, and he won’t give it back to me. I do have a picture of it though and I’d like to see if you could reproduce it and enlarge it.” She brought it over so I could take a look. It was a 3×5 Polaroid picture with the painting sideways in the background. I remember thinking that I might not be able to pull this off, but I told her I would give it my best try.
It was a very nice framed painting of a milkmaid mixing something a bowl. Using software I was able to reposition the image so that it was head on. Then I enlarged it, but the spoon the milkmaid was mixing with was underneath the frame. Using my software, I was able to actually paint in the spoon back into the background.
When I brought the woman back in to do color adjustments, she became very emotional. I asked her who the artist was. She looked up at me and said, “I’m the artist. I made that.” In the end, it looked almost exactly like the original. I printed it on canvas and gave it back to the woman — it felt like I was giving her something very important.