How to Get Good Feedback on Bid Sites
If you’re anything like me, your excitement at winning your first bid will be immense, even if you’re not making very much money. It’s the proof, the moment that says that you’re going to have a chance at making a future out of this thing. Somebody thought your skills were good enough to hire you. If you’ve been wise you’ve insisted on using the bid site’s escrow service, and if you’re wiser still you wait till that puppy is funded before you do a thing. Then? It’s time to show this client what you can do.
Yet simply doing the job isn’t enough to ensure good feedback. Communication is important, too. For example, when you first get the job it’s a good idea to drop the client a note so that they know what to expect from you. Perhaps you might ask the client if he has any questions or further clarifications before you begin.
I sometimes just say, “Thanks, I look forward to working with you!” Then I make sure that I get a work-in-progress into the client’s hands fairly quickly. Since I’m a writer that usually takes the form of the “first chapter” of the client’s e-book. I tell the client that I want them to give me feedback on tone, style, and direction now, so that I can change course if need be. I very rarely have a client tell me that I’ve done it all wrong, however. One of the reasons you provided samples was for the express purpose of showing the client your work style. You can usually feel content that if they liked the way you handled “All About Dogs” they’ll like the way you handle their “All About Cats” project too, so long as you don’t make a complete 180 and change your style on them.
If the client does have feedback, make the changes right away and show the project again at about the halfway point.
Some clients are a bit fussier. They want to be handheld and reassured at every step of the way. These clients should just get an update every time you do something new. You’ll know, because if you stopped to finish up someone else’s projects before beginning theirs (and this will happen if you spend any time at all on Elance) you’ll get a mail that says, “How’s it going?” and that tells you that you’d better give that project some attention so you have something to show them. Clients, by and large, don’t understand (and don’t care) about the process by which you juggle your various projects. Even if they know they’re barely covering your electric bill, even if they know, conceptually, that you’ve probably got to do other work for other people. They’re only interested in their own project, and that’s their right. There’s no sense telling them that they finally accepted your bid in the middle of Major Deadline Week, that you’ve got them on the calendar, that they set their own deadline a month and a half from now and you haven’t even thought about their project yet. When this happens I just say, “You should see something in a few days!” Smile big, and make sure that they do, indeed, see something in a few days.
Nobody ever said the freelancing lifestyle was easy. Half the time it’s like you’re the only firefighter in the big bad city and everyone needs it yesterday. Those are the lucrative times. They’re also the times where you’re going to work 18 hour days. Then there are the times that look more like the fantasy of the flexible work-from-home lifestyle, where you can put your feet up and watch Oprah because you’ve done your bids for the day and that was all you have to do, times you can’t fully enjoy because you’re wondering if you’re going to get to eat next month. The best way to combat that is to have bids out constantly, and to have a back up plan or two, and to convert as many of these clients today into regular clients tomorrow, if at all possible.
With good communication, when you turn the project in you will already know that the client is happy with it. Waiting till the day of deadline to make the finished project your first communication is a crap shoot. If you’re really good, and really confident, and really pressed for time you can do it, but you risk hearing that the client hated everything and you risk having to do it all over again. If you work with the client at every step of the way, the good feedback that you expect to receive and want to receive is a done deal. As your feedback and reputation grows, so do the prices you can charge. Many people say, “Go in confident!” But that’s not how it worked for me. I made $200 my first month, $1500 my second month, and nearly $4000 my third month, and I did it by stepping up prices. 30 100% positive reviews made my platform a lot stronger than zero reviews or even 2 good reviews. I imagine there’s a case for doing it either way; I just know what worked for me.
As a word of caution, never let your client change terms and never change terms yourself once the client has anything in hand. What usually happens is a scam; the client gets 50% or 75% of the work done to completion. Then they change the terms. The bid site refunds their money and waits for them to refund the escrow. The client never funds the escrow; you never hear from them again, and they repost the project as “finish blah blah blah” at a fraction of your original cost, because, after all, the project is mostly finished! It’s a nasty thing they do, and it’s happened to me three times. Once you accept the terms they’re set in stone unless the client hasn’t seen any work yet. The good news is, they know you know that you’ve just been scammed, and nobody gives any feedback under those circumstances because each knows something scathing and nasty is on the way if that feedback happens.
Always do your best work, whether the job is $50 or $500. The $50 jobs have an amazing habit of growing much, much larger later down the line.