Patricia Nguyen was in the process of hiring a photo booth pro for her brother’s wedding when a lightbulb went off. “Wait! I could do this,” Patricia remembers thinking. Today, the former political aid’s business, Just the Little Things Photos, has been hired 120 times on Thumbtack and has 50+ four and five-star reviews.
Not only is Patricia doing something she’s passionate about (“This business combines everything I love”), she’s able to support herself and her husband (an aspiring EMT) in the process. Here’s how the Top Pro built a bulletproof profile, perfected her quote message, and set herself up for success on Thumbtack.
What were you doing before Thumbtack?
I decided to start this business after helping my brother hire a photo booth professional for his wedding. It was so hard to find quality service and I remember thinking, “Wait! I could do this.” So that night I started searching online for everything that I needed to make a photo booth service of my own. I had just left my job in politics, and in less than a month I was up and running.
Do you remember working your first event?
The event was a Quinceañera. The family throwing the party said that there were going to be 100 people total. Over 300 showed up. I had nowhere near enough props for everyone, so I ended up calling my brother and begging him to make a Walmart run to pick up more materials. I was literally making props and backdrops while the party was happening.
What is the first thing a pro should do after joining Thumbtack?
Get on the app. It’s been such a benefit. I learn so much in real time. I’m not on my phone as much since I signed up for Instant Match, but I still use the app to see my Insights report, update my calendar, and understand the kinds of jobs I’m winning.
What is the best way to win reviews on Thumbtack?
The best way to get reviews is to provide a great service. Thumbtack sends reminders asking customers to write you a review. Reviews are powerful. It’s a way that customers speak directly to other customers who are considering your work.
Do you use any other marketing tools?
When I first started I tried advertising with Yelp and WeddingWire. I even tried connecting with my local chamber of commerce but the return was so small. I used each tool for four to six months, wasted a lot of money and then gave up. I have a website and my word of mouth business is growing, but when it comes to spending dollars on marketing, I only use Thumbtack.
What does it take to be a Top Pro on Thumbtack?
You have to be original while always catering to your specific audience. For example, your quote message should be original but it should also tell customers exactly what they want to know about your services.
Keep your profile updated. Every month there are more and more vendors on Thumbtack competing for business. So every time you have new proof to show (your work, a new headshot, a positive client interaction) make sure that goes up on your profile.
You’re using Instant Match now. What is your favorite thing about it so far?
The new Thumbtack calendar is a lifesaver. I used to have to set aside a lot to time check all of my engagements and track how much work I had in a week. Now everything I need is in one place and I know that Thumbtack isn’t quoting for me in the times that I’ve blocked off, so I’m not wasting money on jobs I can’t take. It makes everything so much easier for me.
What did you think when you first started using Instant Match?
I used to be in agony waiting to see if there was a new Thumbtack request waiting for me. I was anxious all the time that I was missing opportunities, even when I spent 24 hours staring at my phone.
Instant Match cuts through all of the noise. I hear from five or six new customers in a day and I’m generally 90 percent confident that I will win their business. A lot of the time they want to book me right away.
It’s an investment. You need to learn how to use Thumbtack in a new way and there is definitely a learning curve. But you need to invest to grow.
What are you doing with the time you’re saving with Instant Match?
I’m enrolled in photography lessons right now. I think offering event photography services will help put me over the top when customers are considering their options on Thumbtack.
What do you love about your photo booth business?
I’ve always loved working in photography and when I was ready to leave politics I knew I wanted to do something that I loved.
This business combines everything that I love: being social, being creative, working with people, using my hands. I’m always dreaming up new ways to grow and make my business better, and because it’s mine, I have the ability to actually make those ideas a reality.
What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t found Thumbtack?
I probably wouldn’t be in business today because I wouldn’t have any clients! In some ways, Thumbtack has made my life possible. I support myself and my husband (he’s taking classes to become an EMT so he’s in school full-time). Being able to support my husband in his dream, while succeeding at mine has been so amazing.
Do you have a favorite customer story?
I worked an event at the San Francisco Zoo once that I found through Thumbtack. There was a little boy photobombing the booth the whole time. He just really loved it.
The boy’s mom ended up hiring me to work his birthday party. I was surrounded by all of these really young kids who just loved the booth, being able to play with all of these props. It was amazing just watching how much fun they were having.