The Way We Work
June 25, 2013 by Guest Blogger

As any online worker will tell you, there’s something we all want more of: 5-star feedback ratings. This is particularly true for freelancers who are somewhat new to online work. As I’ve seen from personal experience, a stellar feedback score can rapidly boost your visibility to prospective clients and significantly accelerate your earning potential. Simply put, the oDesk feedback score is arguably an oDesker’s most valuable asset.

So if feedback is indeed so important, how can you get more of it? What specific actions must you take as a freelancer? What should you do to avoid bad feedback? Here are some of my favorite feedback best practices.

Why Does Your oDesk Feedback Score Matter?

Having hired many online workers myself, I can tell you that clients almost always factor an applicant’s feedback score into the evaluation process. Some clients may even filter you out of their searches if your feedback score doesn’t meet their criteria.

Based strictly on your feedback score, are you portraying a positive image to prospective oDesk clients? If you answered no, it’s time to be more proactive in managing your score.

What Can I Do To Get More 5-Star Feedback?

There are obviously many things that contribute to building a “good” feedback score. However, I believe two factors have the greatest impact: integrity and reliability. If you’re always reliable and exhibit solid character, clients will typically reward you with great feedback. Let’s take a closer look at how to exhibit these characteristics throughout the lifecycle of an oDesk contract.

Pre-Contract Tips

You’re always making an impression — even before you win a contract. To lay the groundwork with a new client, I typically do the following:

  • Research the client before an interview. A simple web search will likely turn up plenty of helpful resources to prepare you for your discussion.
  • Be on time for the interview. Being late for your interview sets off warning bells for most clients, regardless of your excuse.
  • Act like you care (and mean it of course). Sound energetic and engaged during the call. This is particularly important for phone interviews, as your only form of expression is your voice.
  • Send a follow-up thank you email. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just the act of following up will help you stand out and conveys attention to detail.

Tips for During the Contract

Once you’ve been awarded the contract, it’s really your time to shine. Here are some considerations to always keep in mind.

  • Refer to “our” goals. If you want to be part of the prospect’s team, sound like it! From the moment I get started with a new client, I immediately begin referring to what “we can do” and what “our goals” might be. This reinforces your commitment to the client’s needs.
  • Insist on recurring client meetings. The importance of being proactive in your communication with the client can’t be understated. In fact, I dedicate an entire section of my book to discussing this very topic. Here’s an excerpt:

“A ‘normal’ job is much more conducive to facilitating communication than remote work. If a manager needs to speak to one of his teammates, he can easily walk over to the employee’s desk and discuss the topic face to face. In a remote setting, it becomes a bit more challenging. The natural tendency is to let communication fade over time, thus creating a divide between the goals of the manager and the worker. Therefore, I feel it is crucial that you proactively schedule recurring meetings with your clients.” – Executive in Sweatpants, Chapter 8

  • Don’t let your quality slip. Just because you take on a new client does not justify any reductions in quality for existing clients. If you’re getting too overwhelmed with client work, it might be time to reprioritize. You can try this free hour tracking and planning guide I’ve developed to keep all my projects straight.
  • Don’t “hide.” In a virtual work environment, it is sometimes easier to hide from problems than in a normal work setting. Don’t run away from problems — run toward them and get to the root cause. This simple practice can go a long way when it comes to client trust.

Post-Contract Tips

Just because the contract is about to end, it doesn’t mean your work is done. In fact, the following steps might be the most important things you can do to get positive feedback.

  • Ask for 5-star feedback (if you deserve it). I always ask for 5-star feedback if it is deserved. You will be surprised at how well this actually works.
  • Leave thoughtful feedback for the client. If the client treated me fairly, I typically reciprocate with a nice review. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many great clients on oDesk. Leaving a nice review certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of getting re-hired again in the future.

Take the First Step to a Better oDesk Reputation

It’s never too late to polish up your oDesk feedback score. Even if a few of your past contracts have turned into bad feedback, you can still learn from your mistakes and strive for better future results. With a little hard work, your score will begin to improve, leading to more opportunities on oDesk. Just never give up.

Feel free to share your feedback-building tips by commenting below.

matt keenerMatt Keener is President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and is also the author of the book, Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career. The book has reached #1 on several Amazon bestseller lists. Visit his blog for helpful tips on managing online workers, growing virtual teams, and more, and follow Matt on Twitter @ExecInSweats.



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  • nagkumar

    Scalable business needs branding and showcasing. However in open world like odesk, it is not essential that 5 star means good, as some how manage the clients to give 5 stars, sometimes clients do expect more to be done on the name of giving more stars too..some form of either side manipulations. More so each client wants to see he gives 5 start for the results he wishes to see, hence past is just a indication and not a guarantee on his work.

    The best way, we figured out with 10 years of research is, syncup and have client acceptance to the work every two or at max 5 days on a fixed bid model. This way, clients don’t have to worry about competence or team attritions or identification of resources. At the end of each two days client can see what was committed and what is delivered and if this worth the fixed bid cost for two or 5 days, he would pay, else, he can say the gaps and ask for free hours.

    Trust me any thing which sells, that gets misused by either side for sure. But if one observes the real business intent is, to give y thing for x amount. If client is happy with y client needs to pay x. No stars are needed in this model.. and with no side taking too much risk at the end. Provider has to give his best in the form results rather than time or sweat or slavery.

    Our fixed bid model allows easy enterprise grade results at low costs. As it is a fixed bid, many people (PM, Architect, Leads, developers and testers, release engineers etc..) of the provider organisation shall co-work to give the best possible results with best of their intellect, process, tooling and expertise.

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  • thanku2000

    valuable article, i loved your articles because i learned so many thinks about odesk. I am a new person in odesk.

  • regionallink

    My opinion is no contractor or client/customer should have an average 5 star rating.
    My logic is both contractor and client has to be perfect, the job has to be perfect. No average rating should be higher than 4.99, if someone has a rating at 5.0, then something is not right, or they only have 1 or 2 ratings. As you perform over the long haul, the adage “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can please all the people all the time”.
    As far as my experiences I’m not or have I had or met a perfect job or client/customer, they are very, very rare, but 5 star average ratings are not.
    To many times contractors award clients/customers 5 stars and great comments, but I suspect that many, many ratings are not fully accurate, and fail to deliver what the rating should inform, I suspect most are not fully honest, the pressure to give a high rating so you get a high rating or recurring work from that client.
    I have tried to be honest in my ratings, rarely if ever do I give a 5 star rating to a client, I try to be honest and informative for other contractors.
    However, I have felt pressure to give a higher rating,or hold back my comments, to date I have resisted this, but I’m aware of the pressures.
    Even though it is somewhat a blind rating system, you can still feel the pressure to give a better rating.
    And last, I begged, pleaded, cried, spammed, harassed, threatened, bribed clients/customers in the past to leave a rating and a comment. My last 2 contracts failed to do this. I completed the projects, they were satisfied and 1 came back for recurring work, but neither would leave a rating and/or comments. I spent a week asking for them to, but nothing. On average, despite successful completions, there are a high percentage that don’t leave any ratings. The average rating attempts are much higher for negative ratings, but even those are less then what you suspect as motivated clients to leave any type of feedback. This is far less than what contractors do vs what client do.
    So 5 star ratings are limited and can be skewed due to many factors, and have a limit of reliability. For clients, 5 star ratings are a minor element in judging projects, the number one is the clients history of payments, and project types. There also seems an anecdotal relationship to low rates and 5 star feedback, higher rates from contractors show more accurate ratings and comments and far fewer 5 star ratings.

    • regionallink

      That was to read:
      “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time”.

  • Jenn

    I’m just glad that lately I get 5 stars.

    One of my tips would be: don’t accept projects you can’t do.

  • Karen

    very nice and useful odesk tips

  • daybydaysoisay

    Good guide for new people at oDesk. But how do you get people to hire and believe in you if you have have a good set and legitimate portfolio but no feedback yet? How can they hire you?

  • Usman Shahzada

    Whenever I complete a project/job on odesk, I do ask the client to end the contract and leave me a 5 start feedback with excellent recommendation.

  • Matt Keener

    Hi everyone – thanks so much for the great “feedback” on this article. I’m so glad you found it to be helpful. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. oDesk represents a huge opportunity for online workers everywhere. If you’re proactive in managing your feedback, you can be assured long-term success is possible.

  • Erwin Boyones

    Thanks for this article Mr. Matt Keener. This gives us an idea on what we are going to do, in order to maintain good oDesk profile. Especially those that are new to oDesk. You did cover relevant topics that will assure us to have a good contractor feedback in the end.

  • Sk Arif Hossain

    It is a nice post indeed

  • Atal Chakma

    Thanks a lot to Matt Keener for sharing such an important article. This is most helpful to me. And I think it will help to the newest and semi-experience Contractor. You all should share such kind of important article.
    Anyway thanks again.

  • Raaz

    This is indeed a great post… Thanks Matt for sharing your thoughts on getting great feedback
    I am following many of your recommended things, though i am not a very experienced at oDesk… completed only 18 projects and all with 5 star rated feedback and hope to continue till the last….

  • Adil

    A very informative blog, it is all I needed to start in oDesk.

  • Steve

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve read on “how to” from home. Matt covers the highlights that are essential to be successful working at home especially staying in good communication with my clients.

    • Najiba

      very useful article

      • Waseem

        I was really need this tips..Now i will act upon this tips and get 5 star feedback