How important are Elance ratings for writers?

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Profiles | 4 Comments

A recent discussion on the Elance Water Cooler reminded me of the importance many writers place on the ratings they receive from Elance clients.

An Elance writer—who currently has a perfect, five-star rating—started a thread about his growing fear of receiving a low rating. He asked, “Is there life after 5.0?”

Here’s my answer…

YES. Not only is there life after losing a perfect Elance rating, there’s success. There’s wealth. There’s growth. There’s a long, increasingly rewarding career. Honest.

True story:

After my first year on Elance, my feedback score had “plummeted” to 4.6. With many Elance writers seeing anything less than five as game over, you might think my ability to earn jobs would suffer. I know I thought it.

But it didn’t. My job acceptance rate increased, my earnings grew, and I was able to continue gradually increasing my rates. Of course, that’s just one person’s experience—mine—so it’s hardly a scientific measure. However, it seems to reflect other people’s experiences, too. Try this experiment: take a look at the top-ranked Elance writers and count how many DON’T have a perfect rating. When I checked the top-listed writers, I found a 4.8, a couple of 4.6’s, a 4.2, and even—gasp—a 4.0!

In fact, I remember coming across a screenwriter on Elance who had been given two disastrous ratings consecutively—a 1.0 and a 1.6. Two in a row! No one could recover from that, could they? They could. He did. He’s doing better than ever these days, and if you don’t believe me, you can check out his profile and work history here.

We’re all trained to measure our success in numbers, from test scores to the numbers on the bathroom scale. And when you’re establishing yourself on Elance, it’s natural to pay obsessive attention to every kind of metric, looking for the magic formula for success.

Sure, feedback IS important. In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter of my book for Elance writers (available in the Amazon Kindle Store) to tips for earning great feedback.

But it’s not the ultimate measure of success. And no writer should live in fear of not achieving perfection with every job. Whether it happens because you messed up or because you had the misfortune of working with a vindictive or misguided or unreasonable client, you WILL recover from a less-than-perfect rating. Or even a downright bad one.

Tips for handling bad Elance ratings:

  • DON’T let anger make a bad situation worse. Too many contractors leave a defensive, insult-filled response to bad feedback. It’s unprofessional, and will scare away future clients more than the original feedback.
  • DO wait 24 hours before posting your feedback response, and ask a friend or colleague to review it first. They can make sure the tone and message are appropriate and that your response is typo-free.
  • DO consider improving other parts of your portfolio to draw attention away from the poor review. Have a work or academic credential verified. Improve your portfolio. Quote from a glowing client reference in your overview. Take a few skill tests, or try retaking them to improve your score.
  • DO petition Elance to remove the feedback if you feel it’s unfair. In some cases, Elance WILL remove feedback from your work history if you can prove that it is inaccurate or that the client was using feedback as an incentive or threat.

I cannot believe not a single person has commented on this. This is by far the best resource I have come across as a writer on Elance. I was seriously considering deleting my profile and starting again(not even sure if you can do that).Thanks for this. 

Hayden moderator

 @TheZenWithin Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you're finding the info useful. 


Definitely, DON'T delete your profile. Elance doesn't allow freelancers to delete and start again: it would mean people could walk away from a history of bad feedback. I'm not sure how they monitor this--possibly through IP addresses?


Anyway, much better to polish up the profile you have now!


 @Hayden  @TheZenWithin  I would imagine it would be through your bank details. Or if you were verified they would have the info on record to be able to identify you again.  Probably even your email address to. It was a passing thought after I saw my rating plummet from 5 to 4.4. I have noticed I am not getting invited to as many projects since that happened. I will probably buy your book if things don't start to turn around for me soon.  It seems to be well received by those who have read it. 

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