Client Work History and Feedback
(Page 2 of 2)
Some sites allow freelancers to assign numeric ratings to clients; some do not. If they do, then the client’s average rating is something you should certainly consider. However, I urge you not to pay too much attention to it, because of the many flaws associated with numeric rating systems. I discussed these in my review of freelancing sites in the context of how sites allow freelancers to be rated, but nearly all the same criticisms apply to client ratings as well.
One big danger with the average rating is assuming that a large number means a client is safe to work with. Contractors are often loathe to give clients poor numeric ratings even when they deserve them, either out of fear of retaliation, or because they’re concerned about losing potential future work. Many clients have high averages despite being very difficult to work with.
The opposite problem also exists: clients sometimes have bad experiences with poor quality contractors, who give them bad numeric ratings that are not deserved.
For these and other reasons, I think it is better to pay attention not to the numeric rating, but rather to specific
If you want to really get a handle on what a client is like, you must go beyond numbers and read what past contractors who have worked for the client say about their experiences. It’s not necessary to read every word of every review, especially for clients that have been around a long time. Scan through the comments, and read the first few sentences of several of them, and you’ll pretty quickly get a good idea of what the client is like.
The idea here is to look for general patterns, not outliers, so assess the overall body of the reviews. Remember the Golden Rule: you’re human and not perfect, and wouldn’t want to be rejected because of one or two bad reviews out of several dozen good ones. Grant your clients the same benefit of the doubt. However, if you see a long string of complaints from freelancers—especially the same types of complaints—then it’s time to head for the hills.
Also remember that clients can change—for better or worse. When you’re reading reviews of people who have been around a long time, always start with the most recent ones, as they are the best indication of what you should expect when working for the client. I generally pay little attention to bad reviews that are over a year old if the more recent ones are good—and vice-versa.
Every time you agree to work for a client, you are giving that individual or business the right to post a review of your work and yourself, and to assign you a rating when the project is complete. As such, you are putting a portion of your freelancing career in his or her hands, and it’s worth seeing how the client has used that power in the past.
Not all freelancing sites let you easily see client reviews of past projects, but if it is possible, use it to your advantage. Take a quick look through his or her most recent project reviews. Is the client fair with ratings and comments? Does he or she show a reasonable understanding of how to properly use the rating system? Are there any patterns that indicate that you’re likely to get a review not up to your expectations even if you do the work well?
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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