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Re: Job Success Score dropping nearly 20% without any explanation

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Ace Contributor
Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
1 of 34

Hey fellow freelancers,

I'm new to this forum and I'm only here because I can't get any kind of transparent answer from customer service despite multiple lengthy e-mail conversations.

My situation is this:
I started using UpWork back in May of last year and I had some great client and 100% JSS for a few months.  Then I moved and went through some personal upheaval, and unfortunately, there was one client for whom I couldn't complete a contract and had to issue a refund, and there was another client during that time who had messaged me with a request for some work and I didn't get back to him for a month or so (like I said, personal upheaval - unprofessional, yes, but there it is).  Those are the only two "negative outcomes" I know about with my work.  I started working for clients again in November and have had a lot of successful milestones and contracts in that time.  When I started, I expected my JSS to be low, because of those two negative incidents and the lack of any earnings for a couple of months.  I think it was still in the 90's, though.  I do know for a fact, however, that I had a JSS of either 94% or 96% (I can't remember which) in December after completing a lot of milestones and doing some great work.  I continued doing just that, then in January, my JSS dropped to 89%.  I contacted customer support, who gave me all of the "help center" articles and all of the accompanying vagaries, and after some lengthy e-mail discussion the first time, I was told that "With less negative outcomes, you can certainly increase your score as long as you keep on earnings positive feedback, In no time, you will see your score back to above 90% again." 

 

Okay, so a couple of weeks go by, many more positive outcomes, and still no change in JSS.  I submit another request.  Customer service (again after lengthy e-mail conversations in which I have to pull teeth to get ANY specific information related to my JSS, and that CSR suggests the following: 

Ask clients to close the job as soon as possible once the work on the project is done.

Ask clients to close jobs that have been open for several months, which will prompt them to leave feedback.

 

This prompted me to go back and end some old contracts with clients for whom I'm no longer working. That's it.  That's the only thing that's changed since the last go-around of JSS calculations, other than completing a five-milestone contract with a five-star rating and glowing private reviews to me via UpWork's messaging service.  

 

So I checked my JSS today, and it dropped another 12% to 77.  I can't even process this.  I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, and NOBODY in customer service, despite repeated conversations, will give me any clue as to what is happening.

Since customer service keeps their JSS calculations top-secret in true "good-ol'-boy" fashion, I'm wondering if anyone here on the forum has any insight for me.  The only thing I can think of is that one of my clients had problems with my work that they couldn't or wouldn't tell me.  If that's the case, shouldn't UpWork try to help me work through those issues rather than just give me a trashed reputation that makes it harder to get new clients?  Even restaurants have the right to respond to their critics on Yelp and work to make the appropriate reparations.  Why can't UpWork do the same? 

 

Please help.  I'm at the end of my rope here and I don't know what to do.

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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
2 of 34

You will never get anyone at UW, least of all CS, to comment specifically about your JSS. CS doesn't know. The JSS is something of a black box by design.

 

There's no such thing as a "successful milestone" in the JSS calculation. Only completed contracts count. You  have 12 completed contracts and four have no fb. That is probably hurting your score.

 

We can never assume private fb matches public fb, and it's the private fb that counts. The best diagnostic is % of clients who would recommend you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ace Contributor
Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
3 of 34
Do you ever get to see that metric?
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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
4 of 34

Brandon H wrote:
Do you ever get to see that metric?

Which one? Clients who would recommend? That one is listed in your My Stats section. We only see our %, not the who's or why's (to protect clients from being mauled). 

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Ace Contributor
Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
5 of 34

Just looked at that and it's 100%.  So, does that mean I need to stop freaking out about private feedback in this case?  If I understood you correctly in your first response, it's more likely the ratio of completed contracts with no feedback given - is that correct?  If so, can I still prompt some of the clients from whom I know I've had positive outcomes to provide me with feedback, or does UW throw up the force field on that one, too?

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
6 of 34

Brandon H wrote:

Just looked at that and it's 100%.  So, does that mean I need to stop freaking out about private feedback in this case?  If I understood you correctly in your first response, it's more likely the ratio of completed contracts with no feedback given - is that correct?  If so, can I still prompt some of the clients from whom I know I've had positive outcomes to provide me with feedback, or does UW throw up the force field on that one, too?


Congrats on that 100%! I think the problem must be the no-fb contracts--4 out of 12 is a substantial proportion. Some here would never dream of uttering the word 'feedback' to a client under any circs. But that doesn't make room for inexperienced UW clients who have no clue that neglecting to leave fb can harm a FL. At the same time, it's difficult to mention it at all without sounding like one is fishing for a perfect score. You just have to use your own judgment. 

 

BTW--you may already know this but just in case--you always want a client to close a contract, if possible. They are required to leave fb as part of the process, then you are notified the contract has been closed and invited to leave your own fb. If you close the contract, then you are required to leave fb and the client is notified and invited to leave fb. They may or may not bother, or get around to doing it. 

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
7 of 34

Brandon H wrote:

Just looked at that and it's 100%. (the "private feedback percentage)


That means little because it is not updated as frequently as the JSS, certainly not after every job.  So it is possible that there was poor private feedback which is not reflected yet.

 

If mine dropped I'd look at one of those factors:

 

What happened during the last 2 weeks?

This could be:

  • contracts ending
  • a contract reaching or exceeding the 2-3 month line without anything ever having been paid
  • contracts that fell out of the 6 or 12 month window, so affecting the proportion of outcomes within the calculation window
  • contracts that closed without earnings (or were fully (!) refunded)

Your biggest problem is your choice of clients.

When you work with the $ 5 for 500 crowd you work with the bottom-of-the barrel types, likely the farmers and wannabes.

They will never value you or treat you with a lot of respect, just as people don't look after their plastic disposable cups the way they look after their crystal champagne glasses.

It is (unfortunately) human nature.

 

And clients who are so cheap with money will also be cheap with their feedback.

Get out of the gutter, nothing good can be found there.

 

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Ace Contributor
Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
8 of 34

Petra R wrote:

Brandon H wrote:

Just looked at that and it's 100%. (the "private feedback percentage


...Your biggest problem is your choice of clients.

When you work with the $ 5 for 500 crowd you work with the bottom-of-the barrel types, likely the farmers and wannabes.

They will never value you or treat you with a lot of respect, just as people don't look after their plastic disposable cups the way they look after their crystal champagne glasses.

It is (unfortunately) human nature.

 

And clients who are so cheap with money will also be cheap with their feedback.

Get out of the gutter, nothing good can be found there.

 


A couple of things: First, thanks for taking the time to reply and help out.  As for your suggestion about looking at what happened during the last couple of weeks, I'm pretty sure it's because I closed a couple of those "gutter" clients contracts myself last week.  Beyond that, all of my work for the last two months (which was when I started being active here again) has been stellar.  There may have been some old contracts that have fallen out of the six-month window recently, too.  I didn't realize how much that kind of thing will affect your score - which is a whole other bag of worms and a futile soapbox for me to climb onto regarding JSS calculations.  So, as far as I'm concerned, I am persuaded that it was the confluence of those things, and the current contracts I have that have taken a while with no milestones or payments that are the culprits. 

Second, and I'm being as earnest as possible here, how do I "get out of the gutter?"  The last couple of clients for whom I completed contracts were much higher paying than the "$5 for 500 words" crowd, and I have tried to stay away from those types of clients ever since.  That said, I have yet to successfully land an hourly contract or anything that pays me more than about $.035 per word.  Any recommendations on how to attract better fish, if you'll excuse the metaphor?

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Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
9 of 34

Brandon H wrote:

Petra R wrote:

Brandon H wrote:

Just looked at that and it's 100%. (the "private feedback percentage


...Your biggest problem is your choice of clients.

When you work with the $ 5 for 500 crowd you work with the bottom-of-the barrel types, likely the farmers and wannabes.

They will never value you or treat you with a lot of respect, just as people don't look after their plastic disposable cups the way they look after their crystal champagne glasses.

It is (unfortunately) human nature.

 

And clients who are so cheap with money will also be cheap with their feedback.

Get out of the gutter, nothing good can be found there.

 


A couple of things: First, thanks for taking the time to reply and help out.  As for your suggestion about looking at what happened during the last couple of weeks, I'm pretty sure it's because I closed a couple of those "gutter" clients contracts myself last week.  Beyond that, all of my work for the last two months (which was when I started being active here again) has been stellar.  There may have been some old contracts that have fallen out of the six-month window recently, too.  I didn't realize how much that kind of thing will affect your score - which is a whole other bag of worms and a futile soapbox for me to climb onto regarding JSS calculations.  So, as far as I'm concerned, I am persuaded that it was the confluence of those things, and the current contracts I have that have taken a while with no milestones or payments that are the culprits. 

Second, and I'm being as earnest as possible here, how do I "get out of the gutter?"  The last couple of clients for whom I completed contracts were much higher paying than the "$5 for 500 words" crowd, and I have tried to stay away from those types of clients ever since.  That said, I have yet to successfully land an hourly contract or anything that pays me more than about $.035 per word.  Any recommendations on how to attract better fish, if you'll excuse the metaphor?


I provide prospective clients with links to articles that were ghostwritten by me (but are not subject to a non-disclosure agreement), work that carries my byline and articles that I have published via Medium, my blog or elsewhere. This allows them to quickly assess my qualifications.

But, you have to have the qualifications. I don't know what your research and writing skill level is and neither will clients unless you show them. 

Until you have a strong body of work that you can display on your Upwork profile and share in a proposal attachment, invest your spare time in creating the kind of content you wish to get hired to create. 

 

TL;DR Prove your content marketing chops by doing content marketing. 

 

 

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Ace Contributor
Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
10 of 34

Also, I have to take issue with a couple of things - (not to you, personally, but with UpWork policy that you quoted). 

First: "The JSS is something of a black box by design."  - I understand the need to keep people from doctoring their scores, but there HAS to be a better way than this.  A number like that - especially when most of the good paying jobs on UpWork require a JSS of over 90% - should not be kept as some sort of secret calculation where the affectee has no information whatsoever on how to fix their business.

Second: "and it's the private fb that counts."  This is the whole crux of my problem.  It's like you're in the middle of a battlefield and there are hits coming from somewhere, but you have no idea where, or which direction to even move to take cover.  I should at least get a notification that there was negative private feedback- even if they don't disclose what the actual feedback was - don't you think?   Or am I freaking out for no reason here?  I just can't wrap my head around being told in PM by clients things like "Brandon,...I have NEVER had the pleasure of not editing a blog we have received. I think I made one small grammatical change." or "Super great piece with tons of value!"
or "THANK YOU!
Would you pitch me another topic you'd like to work on so I can schedule the next piece with you, please? Thanks in advance!"  over and over again, and then just having to sit by helplessly as my JSS drops lower and lower and nobody new will hire me.  


I just wish I knew how to fix this.  Thanks for your help, anyway, Phyllis.

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