Reviews = tipping in the gig economy

Published on: October 24, 2018

By: Julian

Categories: Freelancing,Reviews,

In the service industry in Canada and the US, it is customary to give a tip of anywhere from 10 to 25% of your cost as a sign of appreciation to your server. If you feel that the service was attentive, courteous, and the demeanour of your service provider respectful and friendly, you should leave a monetary tip indicative of how well you feel your server scored on these or other metrics that matter to you. Furthermore, for some industries like the bar and restaurant business, at the micro-level of engagement between you and your server, there isn’t really any other way to communicate your satisfaction with the service you’ve received.  (You may leave a review for the restaurant online, but the server doesn’t really benefit from that directly).

In the app-fueled, web-enabled gig economy, in many instances the ONLY way you can show your pleasure and approval of a service provided to you is via some form of review. The lowest cost option is simply to click on an appropriated calibrated star-level that matches how you feel, and the more generous, lavish tip is the one where you actually write out a statement expressing how you feel about the service provided, and what specifically the service provider did to earn your praise (or in some cases, criticism).

Reviews serve many purposes:

  • -A review encourages the gig worker you’ve recently hired to keep on going
  • -A positive review encourages other buyers to buy from the same service provider, enabling them to grow and develop their business
  • -A review is a signal to the marketplace that the gig worker you’ve recently dealt with is reliable, cares about the service they provide and wants to deliver quality
  • -Negative reviews, if warranted, send a powerful signal to the service provider to course correct and improve


Reviews are not one-way streets, though in many cases the current review platforms (Google+, Yelp, Facebook, etc) don’t provided as much opportunity to review the reviewer as they should and expose a vulnerability in the review system that allows unscrupulous reviewers to unfairly mar the reputation of a service provider.

Reviews are a powerful new tool in the hands of consumers and can make or break a freelancer, especially early on in his or her career. So how does a budding freelancer get more of them?


Ask for the review…carefully

As the famous Willy Sutton replied when asked why he kept robbing banks after he was finally apprehended, “That’s where the money is”.  In the gig world, good reviews lead to getting more money so don’t be afraid to ask for them.

But be careful in how you do it.

Yelp in particular is adamant about refusing reviews that are solicited by the business. Here’s a link to their review policy. I found this out the hard way years ago when I did what I thought was a pretty reasonable thing to do as a small independent freelancer and asked my clients for reviews. I wound up with 7 reviews put into “quarantine” for having asked for them, and personally abandoned Yelp as a tool for reviews. From the looks of things many (non restaurant) freelancers have done the same, as review counts on Yelp seem quite low compared to other sites.

I switched to Google+ (and notwithstanding their recent decision to pull the plug on the social network platform, they are keeping it going for businesses) I found a more reasonable approach to gathering reviews there.

You could also try  3rd part review gathering services like GatherUp, but again, be careful about how you go about gathering reviews – fake reviews or sites that are perceived as having provided fake reviews can result in your reviews being removed. There are some good articles on the Review Fraud site worth taking a look at.

I personally believe that your own direct contact with clients and asking in person can be the most effective way of doing it, because aside from a review you get feedback from your clients which is the most valuable intel you can have as a freelancer developing your business.