How to Handle Poor Feedback Received on Upwork


At the conclusion of a job on Upwork, both you and the client have the opportunity to leave each other feedback. This is a double-blind system; meaning that neither one of you will be able to see the feedback left, until you have listed your own for that person or until two weeks have passed and you failed to provide any feedback.


How Feedback Operates on Upwork

Feedback is a powerful tool, not just for you as a freelancer on Upwork, but for the client as well. It gives them a chance to provide you with valuable feedback and help to boost your profile in the search rankings. The more social proof you have from clients on Upwork who have been thrilled with your work, the easier it will be to land business from others in the future. I have used my positive feedback on Upwork many times over as a reference tool.

Particularly as a ghostwriter, it can be challenging to get people to be willing to give you a testimonial with their name attached to it. My Upwork profile feedback serves as a great source of testimonials because it is relatively private, but still shows exactly what people have said about me after working with me on the platform. With hundreds of positive feedback scores, a client who is on the edge about hiring you may decide to work with you.

So, how do you handle the situation when you get negative feedback on Upwork?

Discovering that you have received negative feedback can be frustrating, especially if you left positive feedback for the client.


Upwork Pro Members May Get One Bad Feedback Comment Removed

If you are a member of the Upwork pro group in your particular classification, you are eligible to have a one-time removal of negative feedback. This can be helpful if someone has gone out of their way to leave you unfair or especially cruel feedback. This can only be used once and is only eligible to people enrolled in the Upwork pro program. However, it’s good to know that there is a safety net there in case someone goes way out of line and leaves you feedback that you didn’t deserve. Working with clients will involve negative or less than stellar feedback at some point in time.

When I first started my freelance career on Elance and Upwork, I allowed that negative feedback to rattle me for days. Even if it was completely unfair and the client was just someone who couldn’t be pleased, I sat with the negative feedback and got very frustrated. Having worked with hundreds of clients, I have several less than five-star reviews on my own profile on Upwork. However, I have found that the more positive work you do and the more positive feedback you can add from clients who were happy with your work, the more prospective clients are willing to ignore negative feedback on your profile. When you have dozens or even hundreds of jobs on Upwork and the majority of them have positive feedback, there is a strong chance that that a negative feedback will drop out of view anyway.


Know That You Won’t Make Everyone Happy

Most people, including your prospective clients on Upwork, understand that you cannot please everyone. This is a very difficult lesson to learn as a new freelancer, but it is an extremely powerful one. Not every client is someone that you can please and the sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to handle the situation when it happens. There is no doubt that receiving any kind of negative feedback, including from a client on Upwork, has the potential to rattle you.

If the feedback is warranted, this a great opportunity for you to reflect on what you might have done differently. Every freelance client relationship is a learning curve and the more you can learn from your own mistakes, whether it was that you should have identified a client with red flags or that you should have established boundaries early on, the more you will be able to avoid negative feedback in the first place.

If negative feedback has happened, reach out to the client and apologize, if possible. Most clients should recognize that leaving one star or similar feedback scores on Upwork can be very detrimental to your future. Most people will only do this if you have truly bungled up the entire project. You may be able to avoid this situation by doing the right thing and recommending to the client in advance that you'll cancel the job and refund their money.

Negative feedback scores are not worth one small project and you should be focusing on providing an outstanding experience to clients at the outset of your tenure on Upwork. For that reason, if you suspect that the relationship is going south, you can help to avoid negative feedback scores by offering to fix whatever the client is unhappy with, within reason, or by filing an Upwork dispute with their dispute resolution team, if you are unable to come to an agreement on your own. If you close out the job and give a refund to the client, this may be less detrimental to everyone's overall perception of you on Upwork than if you simply went ahead and demanded to keep the money and they left a one-star review.

The other thing you can do to avoid negative feedback is to explain to your clients, in advance the role that feedback plays on your profile and possibility to land future freelance jobs. When closing out the job, give them one last opportunity to ask for any revisions or ask any questions, then share that you were happy to have worked together and that you will be leaving them positive feedback as a client. Reiterate that for you as a freelancer on Upwork, five-star feedback is something you are striving for every time. Some clients will never sign in to leave you feedback, but if you give them this extra motivation by explaining how important it is to you, you can increase the chances that they will not only leave you feedback but positive feedback if they've had a good experience.

If you have negative feedback on your profile and you are unable to remove it; take it as a lesson learned and decide what you are going to do in the future. Focusing on delivering an amazing client experience and not allowing yourself to get overburdened with work such that you make mistakes or have to deliver things late, is a great way to approach your freelance business.

Bear in mind that everyone is going to receive some type of negative feedback, even if you consider that to be a four out of five rating on Upwork. Some clients perceive that to be the best possible feedback they can give to any freelancer and it’s nothing personal against you. The sooner you recognize the value of feedback on Upwork, the easier it will be to focus on delivering outstanding experiences to your clients and garnering that feedback you need.

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