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'Pay-to-quote' platform a gamble - Inside Imaging - Jonathan Cartu - Wedding & Engagement Photography Services
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‘Pay-to-quote’ platform a gamble – Inside Imaging

‘Pay-to-quote’ platform a gamble – Inside Imaging

August 1, 2019

Several professional photographers trialling OneFlare have told Inside Imaging that it is difficult or impossible to secure well-paid work via the Australian online job leads platform, as clients often seek rock bottom prices or are just ‘window shopping’.

The five photographers we spoke to said OneFlare wasted their time and money, with the platform charging between $10 – $20 simply to quote for a job.

‘Most of the clients on there seem to be bargain-hunters so if you quote the standard price for work, you don’t have a chance of winning it,’ Melbourne-based photographer, Simon Woodcock, told Inside Imaging. ‘From what I can tell, most photographers think it’s a con. I won’t be wasting any more money on it. It cost me $11 last week to quote on a job that was worth $100. I didn’t get it.’

Simon, from Man With A Camera, was testing OneFlare and spent around $40 on three quotes. None even led to a conversation.

‘I don’t usually go for these auction/name-your-cheap-price-style sites – it was curiosity and the fact that a videographer [I know] has had some success with it,’ he said. ‘As it it turns out, aside from one decent regular client he now has, most of his leads from there aren’t that great. I guess it depends on how desperate for work you are in a particular month! I know another photographer who burned through $100 in quotes ($10-15 per quote) and also got zilch from it.

This Google ad didn’t appear at the very top of the page, but at $40/hr it does grab the attention!

The problem is fuelled by OneFlare’s powerful Google AdWords campaign, which places it toward the top of search results relating to professional photography, and the ease for anyone to post an ad for free in minutes. It results in countless unresponsive leads leaving a Melbourne photographer, who asked for anonymity, convinced that some jobs were fake – simply designed to generate quotes which in turn generates income for OneFlare.

After telling OneFlare that we had only heard unfavourable accounts, they provided contact details for several photographers who agreed to be interviewed, including Sydney photographer, Fletch Ruddick, of Vision House Creative.

‘My major work outside OneFlare is shooting kids’ dance schools, but that’s seasonal and the end of the year,’ Fletch, who has used the platform for around three years, said. ‘OneFlare just gets me those extra little jobs that keep me bobbing along throughout the year. If I didn’t have it, my business would miss it. It brings in that extra work.’

Fletch has a background in retail, which helps him register when a job description is genuine.

‘I always assume the type of person on OneFlare has a tight timeline or budget,’ he said. ‘I always factor this in when I quote. You don’t go on OneFlare and give normal prices, you give OneFlare prices. That helps me a lot. They are different to normal, ‘real world’ clients. They’re OneFlare clients.’

What is OneFlare?
OneFlare is a Sydney start-up founded in 2011 that serves as an on-demand marketplace which matches service seekers with service operators. Photography is just one service among dozens, including trades like landscaping, cleaning, carpentry, removalists, and so on.

Rachel Sheils, OneFlare’s head of marketing, informed Inside Imaging there are roughly 250 photographers in Australia using the platform, and an estimated 350 photography jobs coming through each day.

Photographers register their business through OneFlare, which involves supplying an ABN and speaking with a salesperson to confirm registration. Public liability insurance is optional, but OneFlare prefers photographers to have it. This ‘vetting process’ goes beyond that carried out by competing and better-known platform, AirTasker.

OneFlare charges photographers to buy ‘OneFlare Credits’, with each credit costing $1. Service seekers post a job, which specifies details including an estimated budget and date. It’s almost too easy to post a job, with a wedding shoot ready to post in less than five minutes.

Photographers then pay Credits to quote jobs, with a maximum of three quotes per job. The cost-per-quote is different for each job, with the price calculated based on ‘150 different attributes’.

It’s easy to receive three free quotes, but would the window shoppers and tyre kickers make a post if they knew it cost small businesses up to $20 each to quote?

The client then goes through the quotes and selects, or doesn’t select, a photographer for the job. OneFlare exits the booking process once contact details are exchanged, and doesn’t keep track of how many job leads are converted to paid jobs. (Quick mathematics: 350 jobs per day x 3 quotes per job x $15 credits per quote = $15,750 from photographers per day!)

‘You’re quoting on a job for somebody, and you have to pay for the quote,’ said Brisbane photographer, Roger Arnaud, who used OneFlare for a month back in 2016. ‘Where does that happen in the real world?’

The five photographers felt the pay-to-quote system isn’t fair. Quoting was once a…

Jonathan Cartu

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