Online Reputation: How Freelancers Can Deal With Bad Reviews

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"online reputation"Wouldn’t it be great if freelancers get all the rave on the Web?  Picture perfect, perhaps.. yet, that’s not really the case.  Somewhere, we encounter outraged clients, personal attacks, negative feedback and anonymous bad reviews made by a competitor you out-shined.  Just as getting paid on time has become an important goal for any smart freelancer, taking care of your online reputation should be on top of your list if you want to thrive and survive.  You don’t have to give someone your business card these days and all s/he has to do is type in your name in the searches.  A small slip can cause you – your job.  Have you checked out what people said about you lately?

Online Reputation Management 101 for Freelancers

Did you know that consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than all the branding efforts you make?  Yes, your clients care about what others are saying about you and it helps them decide whether to hire you or not.  Improving your social influence can simply start at cleaning your own backyard, your name.  While you can’t please everyone with your service, you can do damage control if you:

Take Your Online Presence Seriously

Yes, we really mean it!  Have you made an assessment lately?  Google is the easiest way for you to find out and all you have to do is type in your name.  Scroll down the pages and check for details.  Someone may have left a negative remark about you in public forums, in blogs, or posts made public on social networking sites.  If your name is common, the more you need to check as you can be mistaken for someone else… with a bad feedback.

Commit to Customer Service, Not Lip Service

We all know that the Web is dynamic and consumer-created content makes up majority of what we read these days.  Treat every client as someone who has the power to build or destroy your online reputation.  Everyone is a publisher these days and we all know that content marketing is a powerful tool.  If you stick to delivering what you promise, with your client’s satisfaction in mind, the less the chances of you getting the final cut that can scar you for the rest of your freelancing lifetime.

Take Fight, Not Flight

We’ve seen big brands whose reputations were damaged beyond repair simply because they chose to ignore the issue.  No one is a ‘nobody’ these days and one simple complaint can spread like a plague. What do you do when it happens?  No matter how unfair you think the feedback is, don’t ever reply in anger.  Calm your mind and face the issue with tact and maturity.  You can always contact the unhappy party to resolve the conflict, or you may ask the third party site for a petition to remove offending content if it violated their TOS.  Some sites, like Ripoff Report, don’t do that – but you can respond to complaints posted about your business.  After the offensive content is removed, you may use Google’s URL Removal Tool so the cached copy won’t appear on their search engine.

Learn to Optimize

What if the negative content is posted on a high-traffic site?  While the chance of competing for search results may be tough on this case, you can still push down the content by posting more positive information about your freelancing business.  If you can’t take that review off a site, the slimmer the chance to take it off Google.  But all hope is not lost!  You can still get a second chance through reducing the visibility of that link on the search results.  For you to achieve this, you can create search engine friendly content like blogs, articles, and so on.  Sometimes, the best defense is good offense, so long as you do it the white-hat way, coupled with the next step:

Build Relationships on the Social Web

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing and there’s power in numbers, no doubt.  Take your digital influence to the next level by engaging like minds and influencers who can be your strongest allies in creating a powerful, positive story about your brand.  You may not have all the time in the world to do this and you may argue that your social skills are lacking.  Think of it this way:  Anyone you meet on social networking sites can be your potential client, mentor or business partner.  That should motivate you , for starters.

The next time you see an unflattering mention of you and your services on the Web, take that one shot to set things right – make it count.  Hiring managers are using the internet to source information about new hires.  Search engines can’t recognize truth from a smear campaign.. and the simplest way to put your best face forward is through telling your side of the story, the honest way.

What About You?

Have you found yourself confronted with bad reviews?  How did you face it?

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