• Tom Keene

Bark, Thumbtack and others - How do search companies work?

Updated: Feb 7

We know few of you will ever take this link, but we do get asked on occasion wondering how do these companies who spend a ton of money to keep themselves at the top of searches for wedding photography or wedding photographer or any other services that clients look for for their events.


In order for them keep those high positions on page one, they spend millions of dollars and since they are competing for all this money, the spend more and more and more each year to hold on to those top 3 spots. Having just searched for a Pasadena wedding photographer, I found that the number one is Weddingwire followed by The Knot, both of which are now owned by the same parent company. The next one showing is Thumbtack. Bark is another company just below that.


Both Weddingwire and the Knot both have similar setups. As a photographer, we can have a free listing there and we often show up in the top page or maybe one below that, that is due to our scores there and the number of reviews we have. You will see others listed there with more prominent positions. Those are the paid subscribers. Photographers pay to get on top or stay on top.


Thumbtack and Bark and others do it a whole different way. With these companies, you search for a photographer, you get to Bark or Thumbtack and ask to get quotes. It's free for you to use and it costs the photographers from $28-$38 dollars that we pay upfront to be able to get your contact information. We can either text or email you and sometimes your phone numbers are listed there and we can call you directly. Sadly these companies consistently do not provide us with how many hours you want for each service. Many companies have packages that it does not matter if you hire them for 6 hours or 8 hours etc, you will pay the same amount and this is pretty common in England which Bark is from. So we can send a quote not knowing you only need 3 hours or if you need 9 and so we have to usually ask clarification questions. The sad part is that we often never ever hear back from these couples. We spend $300-$400 a month for access to you as clients to help fill gaps in our calendar. Most of our clients are from referrals and our network of venues that we are partners with that provide us leads from open houses as well as bridal shops in the Pasadena area who trust us to take care of their clients. Whether you chose us or another company, be nice enough to message all of them back and let them know you took them under consideration and maybe provide feedback as to why you chose another company. It would mean a lot!


As of late we hear back from 1 or maybe 2 people out of the 8-10 we message when using these companies. So as a whole we are using companies like this less and less. We used to use them heavily when their costs were down around $10 a lead. And we were top rated at that time when we were able to close 1 to 2 in 10 clients and few did better as we were told and constantly asked how we do it. We can only guess many have gotten more aggressive in their offerings and more are just plane new to the industry and sadly this is a great catch for couples, not knowing that the equipment we bring and carry all day provide a huge difference in the final product. We have even found a few of them who stole our work and calmed it as their own and even worse are those companies there that are flat out fraud and take your deposits and never intend to show up at all, then close their sites down and start all over. Yes, this is happening. So please do your homework or ask us to do research on them, we know what these sites look like and the fact that they cannot share a single event in its entirety are huge flags. Notice we have years and years of our clients still posted so you know we are the real deal.


In the end it is up to you to decide who you want. We know price is a large part of your choice. We are happy to go line by line with any other photography companies and dare to compare. Some things to consider are how many photos will you get, how large are the files, how long will it take to get your final products among other key questions. I recommend you go read our blog entry on What Makes Us Different to better understand what we do, that others do not, like share your photos instantly during your event. We also have a 10 day turnaround average for getting you back your full resolution edited photos and a 2 month turnaround for videography.


So when we reach out to you, we ask you to look us over, view our work, read our reviews and ask as many questions as you would like. We really want to get to know you so we can best help you for what ever event you need us for on your event date. Our pricing is totally upfront and listed on our site. We don't judge you by your city or your car or your venue to decide what we will charge. It is simply based on time.


Any questions? Text us anytime at 714-394-4263. We cannot wait to hear from you.


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