Rejection: A Fact of Freelance Writing Life

No one likes hearing the word “No” when they are looking for work, and freelance writers are no exception. Part of doing this kind of work means that you are constantly talking to potential clients about your services, and you won’t get hired every time you answer an ad, submit a query, or send a pitch to someone you are interested in working with. Dealing with rejection is not always easy, and there are times when it can be very disappointing when you don’t get a gig that you felt you were a good fit for.

I have heard other people state that you need a thick skin if you are going to last in this business, but I don’t agree. I don’t know where I was when the thick skins were being handed out, but I don’t have one. It’s OK to let yourself feel disappointed if you don’t get hired, but…I’ve learned that it’s important to move on to the next item on your marketing list quickly.

Taking some kind of positive action to help your business grow means that you are less tempted to let a rejection discourage you from continuing in your efforts to get work. If you were looking for a job in the 9-5 cubicle world, you would probably apply for numerous jobs before getting hired, and it’s the same thing in the freelance writing world.

It’s Not You….

When you apply for something and you don’t get it, the rejection doesn’t mean that you aren’t good at what you do or that no one will ever hire you again. The word “No” is not meant to reject you personally. It just means that this potential client didn’t choose to work with you this time. That’s all.

If I get a response and the answer is “No,” I take the time to thank the person for letting me know and for having considered me. I let them know that they should feel free to get in touch if their needs change in the future. And then I move on and find something that will be a better fit for both parties.

How do you handle rejection?





11 responses
  1. P.S. Jones Avatar

    Never underestimate the power of politeness. I always thank the person and ask them to keep me in mind if they see something I may be more suited for. I’ve gotten several paying jobs from clients that have rejected me in the past and passed my name on to someone else

  2. Jennifer L Avatar

    You know, sometimes I wish I’d actually get formally rejected!

    So many people these days don’t even bother to respond to all the applicants for jobs, that I don’t know whether to assume that 1) I got rejected, 2) my application got lost in the thousands of other applications, or 3) the employer suffocated to death under the weight of all the applications and never even got around to reading mine.

    I’d just like an acknowledgement that they received my application and have chosen not to work with me. A form letter is fine.

  3. Lisa Avatar

    Generally speaking, I don’t think twice about rejection. After all, I apply to several gigs a day, so NOT hearing back winds up being the norm.

    But every now and then, a rejection really hits me hard. Usually when I feel that I am PERFECT for a particular job of work that offers a lot of wonderful perks. Or when I am recommended by three top references, all of whom say I’m fabulous – and I STILL don’t get the gig.

    I still can’t figure out why I was turned away from a couple of situations. And while we’re on the subject – how about situations in which you do terrific work, and are told halfway through the gig that it just isn’t working out?? (Only happened three times in 20 years, but BLECH!!!)


  4. Rose Avatar

    This post couldn’t have been more timely for me, I got a rejection e-mail just this afternoon. How did I handle it? I read this post to figure out HOW TO handle it. And actually, I feel quite a bit better. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one, and it seems like it’s easy to feel that way when you work at home and you only have your dog to bounce your feelings off of 🙂 So thanks!!

  5. Brandi U. Avatar

    I second what Jennifer L said! Most of the time after I submit a query, email a job application or send a resume, I never know when it’s time to move on or wait it out for a response. There’s also been several occasions when an editor has told me that they want to publish my piece but then I never hear from them again.

  6. Chris Avatar

    Most companies/clients will not acknowledge receipt of your application or query and don’t bother with rejection notices, preformatted or otherwise. Many of these same entities, however, expect a customized cover letter with your query.

    Sounds like the Golden Rule: He/She who has the gold makes the rules.

  7. Judith Avatar

    I do believe rejection should be viewed as a by-product of freelancing. Granted, people handle rejection differently, it should be accepted with a pitch of salt and one moves swiftly to other projects. Yes, I have faced numerous rejection (there is a pile of rejection emails sitting on my desk) but how do i deal with it, smile and note lesson learned. I did write a post about it

  8. Ed Avatar

    Two key points about rejections: don’t take it personally and learn from it. How you handle rejection depends on your personality. There is the victim personality (i.e.: you have no control – things just happen to you) and the active personality (i.e.: you are the ‘captain of your destiny.’ – things happen because of my actions.) Use the rejection to learn to craft better pitches, or simply build a thicker skin. Authors have lined entire walls with rejection letters, but we read mostly about the writer getting a $3M advance for her first novel. It’s not popular, but taking rejection is one of the most important skills of a longterm writer.

  9. Tameka Avatar

    I believe I am a little ashamed of how I deal with rejection. I must say that I deal with it by not dealing with it if you know what I mean. I will receive a “No” then the human side of my emotions will kick in and I will get upset for a brief moment, then the anger will immediately turn to offense, then I will totally forget the incident as if it did not happen so that I can move forward. So therefore I deal with it by not dealing with it.

  10. Jodee Avatar

    @ Tameka:

    There is no right or wrong way to deal with rejection. I’ve been in tears more than once after getting a “thanks but no thanks” e-mail. For my own emotional well-being, I’ve had to had to find ways to not take the rejection personally.

  11. Avatar

    Thanks for the article. Freelance writing is a great option to make extra cash. More people should read about this.

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