This article is written by Quin Hoskins. Having studied law and several science-related subjects at degree level, this has provided him with the perfect foundation to cover an eclectic range of topics in his freelance writing career. From the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs to countless travel sites, he is proud to be associated with companies and organizations that are definitely at the top of their game. The flexibility of his freelance writing business allows him to devote a significant proportion of his time to study and is finishing his last course – out of 6 – towards his LLB (Hons) this year. He is also an avid traveler and has proudly visited 40 other countries to date, with much more planned for the future.
So, you’ve been working contently as a freelancer for quite some time now, then BANG, you’ve been stung by a bad review on your most important freelancing account that you know will have a detrimental impact on your reputation. Reading through the testimonial, you realize straight away that it is spurious and completely out of the blue. What can you do about this competition at work and even more importantly, how can you stop this from happening in the first instance?
Signs to Look Out For
I’m not going to lie to you here: avoiding unscrupulous competitor freelancers can prove to be an exceedingly tricky task! At the end of the day, they are simply very jealous of your good standing on a particular freelancing site and want to bring you down; however, they do not want to leave a trail that will lead the powers that be back to them. They are very sneaky indeed. But, there are a couple of signs you can look out for that might help give the game away before you are stung by a devastating review.
Firstly, the value of the project you are being instructed to complete can be a sign: unscrupulous freelancers will usually only hire you for a small project. They want to affect your reputation, but they will not pay through the nose to do it.
Often, however, unscrupulous competitors may well hire another freelancer to undertake work that they have secured legitimately, but even when it has been completed to the best ability of that freelancer, they will leave a destructively negative feedback review to try to eliminate the competition. These projects may be valued at a much higher rate – perhaps in many hundreds of dollars.
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In my personal experience, I have found that the top category of spurious competitors is most common: the ones that hire you for small projects but make out that the work you have produced was of a low standard as soon as you submit it to them.
These jealous freelancers have usually worked on these venues for quite an extended period; therefore, they know how things work and how they may be identified as spurious if they put a foot wrong.
Investigate the Client a Little Before You Legally Bind
Another possibility that exists to help you avoid being stung in such a way would be for you to undertake a little research of your own before you legally and contractually bind with the new client. You should check out their profile for reviews from past providers. If there are a good number of reviews and the project prices all seem to be close to the value you'll be hired at – this is usually a good sign and certainly worth you taking the risk of this new client.
If on the other hand, the client is hiring you for their first freelancer project and there is a distinct lack of positive reviews on their account – this should start to ring alarm bells, and you may well wish to take your research up to the next level. If your freelancing venue allows you to, check out some of the projects you have won over the past months and take a look at the competitors who placed bids at the same time but lost out to you on these projects. Do you notice any patterns? Is there one in particular that stands out and seems to relate in some way to the client account you have been communicating with?
You will be shocked to discover just how easy it is to identify unscrupulous freelancers in this way. As they have to provide legitimate account details – or may even rely on the same account details in their client and freelancer accounts – you will know whom you are dealing with.
What If You Are Stung In This Way?
Even with all of the advice, I offer above, alas, I have to say that it is still highly likely for you to get stung by some spurious competitors the longer you work as a freelancer. If and when this happens, the first thing is to post your response below their feedback in a professional manner that is more inclined to damage their account. You should state that you firmly believe that the review posted on your account is arbitrary and spurious. Make it clear that you are happy to furnish any potential future clients with a copy of the work produced for this customer (making sure you adhere to intellectual property laws at all times) and finish by stressing that it is your full intention to report this matter to the venue’s custodians.
When future clients can see how well you have done before this review and can quickly notice that this review sticks out like a sore thumb, provided you have posted a professional response in line with the above, they will be inclined to believe you and continue to trust in your service. Also, do bear in mind that over time this negative review will eventually slide down out of sight on your account and you should be able to put the negative feedback all behind you.
Personally, I have experienced this sort of thing on some occasions over the past 8.5 years I have worked as a freelancer. Each and every time, I found this to be an entirely devastating experience, which I still wince from to this very day. Experience has taught me how to stay vigilant for jealous competitors. If you are new to the world of freelancing, please, please don’t let this blog put you off. However, feel free to rely on the expert advice that has been imparted here to help keep you safe.
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