I remember when I published my first book many years ago how excited I was to see it on Amazon. What I really anticipated were all the glowing reviews I was bound to receive after having written such a wonderful book, until I got my first review. I got one star, and the reviewer basically said it was the worst book ever written and that I should probably be in jail. Not quite, but that’s what it seemed like at the time. The review is still up there if you can’t look away.
Reviews can sting, especially if they’re not what we feel we deserve. And that’s exactly what happened when I got my first review on UpWork. Oh, it wasn’t terrible, but it sure felt that way at the time. Here it is:
A 4 star review! My first thought was, is my UpWork career over? My thinking was that in an ecosystem with hundreds of freelancers competing for every project, many of them with nothing but 5 star reviews, how was I ever going to compete? Especially since this was my very first review. I don’t have a bunch of other, previous 5 star reviews to bring up the average.
As if that review wasn’t bad enough, something worse happened at that very moment. I actually paused to consider the possibility that I suck as a writer. That maybe I need to think about doing something else for a living.
It was a dark place I had just entered. Fortunately for me, because I had been down this road before, I didn’t stay there very long.
Getting a 4 in Skills and Quality to me meant my writing wasn’t very good. This client, who hired me because their English isn’t very good, said my English isn’t very good. And then I laughed, and realized how ridiculous the whole thing is. And I was not going to let it hold me back. Besides, there are plenty of clients on UpWork with less-than 5 star ratings and freelancers compete for their dollars without giving their reviews and second thought.
The other thing you may notice from the review is that I gave the client a 5 star review. Was that warranted? Hell, no. But being new to UpWork, I figured, I need to get in the good graces of as many clients as possible. All of which leads to lessons 4 and 5.
Lesson #4: Reviews aren’t fatal. If you get a less than stellar review, you just do what the tortoise does: keep your head down, put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.
Lesson #5: Give honest client reviews. They’re going to be honest in reviewing you, you may as well be honest in reviewing them. It’s only fair.
BTW, in case you don’t know, you don’t get to see the client’s review until you submit yours. So, there’s no cheating.
Join me in the next episode where something completely unexpected happens.
Also published on Medium.