How much is a good rating worth?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately since I started on Upwork, one of several freelancing sites that hire voice talent. Like many services these days, Upwork uses a ratings system to help employers find good talent and to help talent keep track of how they’re doing. I’ve only been on Upwork for a few months now, but I had been so proud of my solid 5-star rating, 100% job success score, and 100% of clients who would recommend me. I knew that ratings like these were helping me land more jobs and get noticed. Well, that and my audio quality, which is pristine. It better be. After all, I’m co-founder of the Voice Recording Bootcamp! If I can’t deliver top quality audio from my home studio, then who can?
You can imagine my disappointment when I took a look at my stats page to find that my ratings had dropped below 5-stars and that my job success score had fallen to 96%, and the clients who’d recommend me down to 91%. What had happened to my perfect ratings? The answer: I’d demanded pay. You see, about a month ago I was hired to record a spot that would air online. I promptly did the job and sent it in. The client never got back to me and two weeks later they were automatically billed.
Several weeks after that, I finally heard from them. They wanted to add a legal disclaimer to the 15 second spot. While I could have recorded the disclaimer, sped it up, sped up the original recording, and spliced the two together, I knew that the only way it would sound good is if I re-recorded the spot. Now imagine if I didn’t know how to do all of those fancy edits in the first place, then my ONLY option would’ve been to re-record. And if I’d booked studio time and hired an engineer to produce it? My profit margin would have been less than zero.
Now, I don’t mind a script re-write here and there. I take that back, yes I do mind. That’s why it takes forever to receive a final script from professional ad agencies -- because there’s a ton of back and forth between the client and the advertisers before the script is finalized. As an audio professional, I’ve had clients who re-scheduled voice over sessions several times before they finally had a script to work with. So, as a voice over professional, I don’t appreciate being a part of the editing process UNLESS I am paid for it.
So, there I was, debating if I should re-record a spot for a client over a month later for free to keep my perfect ratings, or if I should request to be paid again. Now, if they were a regular client, or if it had been a few days after delivery, I would have begrudgingly re-recorded the spot, no extra fee incurred. But this was over a month later! So, as politely as I could, I requested to be paid again. Sure enough, they dinged me on my star rating. But that’s OK. Because while it might hurt my chances landing future jobs, a 5-star rating in self-respect is worth not getting a perfect score from every client.