Unfortunately, a lot of freelancers let rejection get in the way of their success. And I totally get it. Rejection is brutal. It hurts. Bouncing back from rejection as a freelance writer isn't the easiest thing in the world.
But if you let despair and insecurity take over every time you get rejected, you're not going to get very far as a freelance writer.
I'm going to let you in on a little (well-known) secret about pitching: it's a total numbers game.
Rejection is a natural — and frequent — part of pitching. Whether cold emailing to find freelance clients or pitching an editor with an article idea, you're likely to get a least a dozen rejections for every “yes” you receive.
Even though rejection goes hand-in-hand with pitching, that doesn't make it feel like any less of a gut punch. The frequency at which it happens doesn't make it any easier, either. Before long, you may find yourself questioning your skills as a writer and wondering if it's time to hang it up and move on.As much as it sucks (and boy, does it), here's what you have to remember: rejection helps you become a better writer. Click To Tweet
So, how do you deal with rejection as a freelance writer?
Ask even the most experienced freelance writers and they'll tell you that they're no stranger to rejection. From Jorden Roper to Kat Boogaard, no one is immune.
If you want to succeed as a freelance writer, you have to learn to deal with rejection, and more importantly, keep pitching regardless of how often you're told “no.”
Here are some tips to help you overcome rejection and the complicated feelings that come with it.
01. Remember That It's Not Personal
When dealing with rejection as a freelance writer, it almost always feels personal. When your pitch is rejected, it may feel like you're being rejected. But that's not the case. A rejected pitch isn't a reflection of you as a person.
Your freelance writing pitch may have been rejected for any number of reasons, including:
- Your pitch is too similar to another piece of content
- The client doesn't have a budget for your services right now
- The client is prioritizing other marketing efforts
- Your pitch doesn't fit the brand's style or voice
- Your ideas didn't fit their audience or goals
- The company wants to keep marketing in-house
- The editor's editorial calendar was already full
Remember: If your pitch was rejected, there's always an explanation for it — and it may have nothing to do with you.
02. Silence Your Inner Critic
There's no doubt about it; having your freelance writing pitch rejected stings. It can really do a number on your confidence — which is a problem when pitching is such a big portion of your job.
Your inner critic is likely to bombard you with thoughts like:
- “Wow, I must be a really terrible writer.”
- “They hated my ideas.”
- “The prospect must not have liked me.”
- “Maybe I should just quit freelance writing altogether”
Don't let your inner critic win!
Tune out the voice in your head telling you that you're not good enough.
Turn the rejection into a positive by reframing the situation. Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?” Whether that's doing better due diligence or coming up with a whole new set of ideas, silencing your inner critic is necessary to deal with rejection as a freelance writer.
03. Don't Obsess Over It
Rejection is hard, and it can be easy to obsess over every single “no” you receive. But it's important to remember that there's another option: getting over it and moving on.
Is that sometimes easier said than done? Absolutely!
Shaking off rejection as a freelance writer definitely isn't easy, but it's a must. Allowing yourself to obsess over every little detail of a rejection is only going to hold you back. The faster you move on, the better off you'll be. The next time you receive a rejection, dust yourself off, send a quick “thank you” email, and move on.
Remember: Rejection may suck, but you get better at dealing with it over time.
04. Learn From It
It's common to equate rejection with failure. After all, you “failed” to secure a freelance client or writing gig.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity and thinking you failed, turn it into a learning experience. Assess your pitch to see where it could have gone wrong.
- Did you email the right person?
- Did you follow pitch submission guidelines laid out by the company?
- Is your writing style different than their brand style?
- Did you remember to follow up?
You can also ask the prospect for feedback. While they certainly don't owe you an explanation, it never hurts to ask why they didn't go for your pitch. Use their feedback to get better and fine-tune your strategy going forward.
05. Take a Step Back
Rejections are hard — there's no shame in admitting a freelance writing rejection left you feeling rattled. Sometimes you just need to take a break and give yourself time to regroup.
Spend some time doing something you enjoy and makes you feel good. Stepping away from the problem for a little while makes it easier to work through the complicated feelings that come with rejection. When you come back from your break, you'll feel much more capable of moving forward.
06. Don't Stop Pitching
Facing constant rejection as a freelance writer comes with the territory. Even so, receiving multiple rejections can make it tempting to stop pitching altogether.
Don't do that!
Cold emailing and pitching is still one of the most effective ways to find new clients and freelance writing gigs. The key is to accept that rejections are part of the process.
Freelance writer, Niccolea Nance, calls rejections badges of honor that have been earned on the way to success. That's an awesome mindset to have, especially when you're dealing with frequent rejection.
Understand that rejection is just part of the freelance writing game, and be willing to pitch constantly. And, I can't stress this enough, always follow up. Sending a prospective client one or two cold emails isn't enough. On average, it can take 5 emails to close a sale, with Propeller reporting that sending between 4-7 follow up emails can increase your response rate by 3 times.
If you took the prospect's silence after one email as a rejection, you're missing out on opportunities to convert them to a client.
Dealing With Rejection as a Freelance Writer is the Name of the Game
TL;DR: Rejection sucks, but it's all part of the process.
Finding strategies that make it easier to deal with may take some trial and error, but it's not impossible. Learn to brush it off and keep moving forward. Better yet, use every rejection as fuel for your next pitch. Eventually, your hard work and perseverance will pay off.
Don't believe me?
Look at every single freelance writer making a living from writing.
From content writers to journalists, I guarantee you they've all faced rejection at some point — myself included. Every rejection you receive is proof that you're willing to do what it takes to be successful.
“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”— James Lee Burke
I hope you found this article on how to deal with rejection as a freelance writer helpful! You may also want to check out these guides on how to write a killer cold email pitch and building credibility as a new freelance writer.
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