Every writer loves to get a piece approved and to receive the positive feedback that comes along with acceptance. The other side, though, isn’t so pleasant. Nobody looks forward to rejection, but it’s part of the deal as a freelancer. No matter how good you are, not every client is going to love everything you do. And even though you know it’s always a possibility, that doesn’t make it any easier when you get knocked down a peg.
It’s never fun to deal with rejection. Anger, frustration and self-doubt are just some of the emotions you’ll face when one of your pieces gets torn apart. And yet, part of a freelancer’s job is to put their best faces forward, even in the face of adversity. How do you dust yourself off and try again when your faith in yourself is shaken?
Don’t Take it Personally
Freelance writers are notoriously introverted, and that’s a negative when rejection comes into play. It’s not like getting yelled at by your boss in an office setting, where your co-workers will support you and give you a chance to vent afterward. Instead, you’re stuck in your home office or local coffee shop, stewing over the bad news, without any outlet for your frustrations. In some cases, this can lead to freelancers taking rejections out on themselves.
This is a tough trap to avoid, but it’s always good to take a step back and remember that none of this is personal. If you hire a lawn mower and they don’t do a good job mowing your lawn, you can and should say something. It’s no different here. Clients merely want to see their vision implemented, and when they request revisions, they’re just protecting their investment. Of course, there are some horror stories out there, but by and large clients are good people that just want quality work that they — and you — can be proud of.
Read Between the Lines
A good client will provide an explanation alongside any rejection. If your pitch isn’t good, or if your article falls short, they should tell you why.
However, clients aren’t writers. They might not be able to convey exactly what they’re looking for. That’s why they hired you. And that’s why it’s your job, as a professional freelancer, to try to figure out what your client really wants. If you’ve been through rejections before, this can actually help you here. The more you go through the process, the more you know what to expect. Each rejection is another lesson that will help to make you a better freelancer.
Get Back Up Again
It’s a good idea to take a step back and take a deep breath after your work gets rejected. But you also don’t want to spend too long licking your wounds. Not only does this damage your confidence, but it may make you apprehensive when you do attempt to tackle the problem.
Rejection always stings, but it’s never as bad as you think. In fact, the period of self-loathing following a rejection is almost always worse than anything a client has to say. So don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up. Read the client’s feedback, compose yourself, breathe… and then get right back to doing what you do you best.
Getting over rejection is equal parts following instruction and following your intuition. But it’s the last part that’s most crucial in recovering from a rejection. Yes, your initial approach was rejected, but it doesn’t mean it’s entirely invalid. You may have just had a bad day, or you might have been misguided in some way. But now, you’ve gotten valuable feedback from the client, and that should be enough to get you back on track — if you don’t let the hit to your confidence overwhelm you.
Remember, you got hired to do this job for a reason, and it’s because you’re damn good at what you do. Don’t let a rejection ruin that. It’s so important to continue to trust yourself and to go with the instincts that got you to this point. Again, clients can’t always articulate what they want, and sometimes it takes a well-intentioned attempt to help them realize that what you gave them doesn’t quite mesh with their vision. As you restore your own self-belief, your client will continue to believe in you — and that’s something you can take forward into your future assignments.
Don’t Dwell on the Past
In a perfect world, we’d all find ways to make peace with the inevitable rejections we face as freelancers. However, that’s not how it works in reality. The ugly feelings that arise after rejection can last for days, weeks and even months. Sometimes, it’s just really hard to get past. And that’s okay.
It’s natural for people to focus more on the negative than any positive feedback they might receive. But staying stuck on one rejection when you’re getting dozens of pieces approved doesn’t help anybody. It only prevents you from moving forward. After you complete a few successful jobs, you should feel the sting of the rejection start to hurt less. Go with this feeling and remind yourself that it’s all part of the life of a freelancer — the bad with the good, so to speak. Before long, you’ll have your mojo back, and you’ll be ready to take on the world once again.
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Bryan B. is a freelance writer who specializes in marketing and marketing-related topics. He writes both marketing materials and articles about marketing, consistently pleasing his loyal clients. His success in these areas has led him to consistently rank among the top WriterAccess marketing writers. In addition to writing about marketing, Bryan also writes about personal finance, parenting, sports and business topics. His status as a full-time working professional gives him unique insight into the corporate world and how his articles translate into reality.