Reverend J. Patrick McDunn married people for 38 years. Nine years after he retired as an ordained Christian minister, he realized he could offer those same officiant services through Thumbtack. He now books 99 percent of his clients that way, eschewing other marketing platforms for the higher impact, lower cost results he gets at Thumbtack. In less than half a year, he’s already achieved Top Pro status. Here are his tips for success.
When did you and Thumbtack get together?
On June 1, 2016 I joined Thumbtack. By June 25th, I had already booked and performed a wedding. Prior to that, I had been retired for nine years. During my 38 years as an ordained minister I had done thousands of weddings. I didn’t even know this was a thing people do. Since then I’ve also gotten leads for piano and singing lessons, both of which I also used to do with my church.
Now that you’re here, how much of your work is from Thumbtack?
I get 99 percent of my work from Thumbtack. The leads I get from Thumbtack are more grounded. They are reliable sources that produce real leads. Other companies—I don’t want to name names—would take half of my officiating fees for a lead. I receive $150-$200 per job and that company wanted half.
What would have been helpful to know from the start?
How easy it would be to get photos. When I started doing this, I had no professional pictures. I actually put an ad on Craigslist, offering my officiating services in return for professional photos from a wedding. That was in July, and by the time that wedding rolled around in October, I didn’t need their photos! I had asked guests at different weddings to take photos with my phone. By the time I did the October wedding, I had so many beautiful photos I didn’t need them. Now I use one photo as an attachment to the quotes I send out. People are always willing to help, as long as you are receptive to them, and as long as you are empathetic to their needs.
How can other pros expand on Thumbtack?
- Have an assortment of pictures on your profile for clients to view.
- You need an external website—a fairly good quality website. Frequently I get feedback from Thumbtack which shows who has clicked through to my profile and my external website. People want to see you’re professional, organized, and have a plan in place. A good website reflects that.
- The pros who respond quickest are the most likely to get booked. Clients appreciate action.
How do you write wedding-winning quotes?
Tailor each quote and make sure it is professionally written.
During a pre-wedding interview with a bride, she asked if I knew why she picked me. She said, “It’s because you wrote so well, and I figured if you wrote so well, you would speak that well and I could count on you to officiate my wedding.” A quote is your first opportunity to address your audience. Another officiant she heard from was too casual saying, “We’re gonna have fun at your wedding.” Clients want to know you’ll be professional.
Do you have a memorable wedding story?
They all are memorable! There was one special wedding at a banquet hall called Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. It was a beautiful ceremony with wonderful decorations, but what the couple didn’t realize is they had gotten a marriage license for the wrong county! They lived in Chicago which is in Cook County. Once we figured it out, I told them not to worry, and that we would meet at a park the day before the ceremony in Cook County. I told them, “I will marry you in the park for the State of Illinois and then the day of your ceremony under the eyes of God.”
Any special guidance for other wedding officiants on Thumbtack?
You should have a good response you send in your quotes. Express yourself in a way that lets the potential couple know you’re warm and cordial to their needs. It’s also important to have good photos, a good website, and use those attachments.
What role has Thumbtack played in your wedding officiant business?
Oh, there was no business. This thing literally did not exist. After I came on Thumbtack and booked a dozen or so weddings, I tried other marketing platforms and the leads, fees, and outcomes just aren’t what I wanted. I have a wedding booked every Saturday in the coming months and in the next weekend alone, I have Thursday, Friday, Saturday booked. Even if I don’t book one more wedding for 2016, I’ll have booked over 60 weddings in a little over a year. The jobs keep coming in.
Any parting words on how you achieved Top Pro status?
It’s all the things we talked about, and especially it’s about responding quickly. When I get my monthly statement from Thumbtack it says I typically respond faster than my competitors. My prices are also very reasonable. Don’t try to get rich and charge exorbitant amounts of money.
More than anything, be good at your job. I’ve been doing this a long time. All you can do, all you can really hope for, is a trip to the plate. I just want people to give me chance to tell them who I am and what I do and the rest is up to them.
[Photos via Patrick McDunn]