Freelancing is a vast, promising, and lucrative career — but not an easy one. You need to start from scratch, teach yourself and invest in yourself before becoming your boss. The entire process is about growth and change, which is painful.
Right after this painful journey, there comes a time when the chances of you getting rejected seem higher. Though it’s a part of your journey, how you handle rejections defines your future.
Being a former freelancer myself, here is a definitive guide on handling rejections as a freelancer and thriving in your career.
9 Ways To Handle Rejections As a Freelancer
1 – Turn Down the Negative Feelings
Rejection is a heart-breaking event that makes you feel sad, anxious, incompetent, and helpless at the same time. It’s alright if you think that way, but do not take it to your heart, PERSONALLY.
Remember that it wasn’t YOU who got rejected. It was your piece of effort that got denied, and it can happen because you are a human who is destined to make mistakes and learn from them.
So, do not let your negative energy take over your mind to let you down, doubt your capabilities, and resent your efforts. These destructive thoughts will only make you feel devastated and anxious. Just turn them down, get rid of them and say to yourself,
‘It’s okay to get rejected. However, I and my work can be improved, and it will open the door of more opportunities.‘
2 – Rejection: A Growth Fragment
No one predicts rejection. But to get the most out of it, what you can do is ask why you got rejected.
Because from your end, you must be thinking that you have put your heart and soul into it. The reason you got rejected is the secret, or you can say the accurate picture of your efforts and skills.
Whether a post-interview email or any event, make sure you reach out to the person/organization/employer and ask them the WHY behind their decisions. There are TWO main benefits of doing so.
- They will take you as a serious and committed person.
- You will understand what you are missing to work on it.
Once you know the answer, start looking for ways to cope with that. Or if the employer has said, “reach out to me for further assistance,” then it will be best to ask what they think of how you can improve it.
So, if you are being rejected, DO NOT take it as a setback. It’s okay to feel sad but activate your growth mindset and start self-improvement.
3 – It’s Time to Reshape Your Strategy
Once you understand what you missed or the reason for getting rejected, it’s time to work on your strategy; think about how you can express it via written or verbal communication or is it something you could add to your resume or CV?
While working on the improvement part, do not just stick to one source of information. Instead, learn from several sources to get precisely what it takes. If it is something that you can learn from an online course, coaching, YouTube videos, blogs, or even if some influencers are talking about that specific matter on TikTok, go there.
It’s time you become the master of what you do and start showing the world that you have got what it takes to be there. As a result, your rejection will become the building block of your massive success.
4 – Refine Your Elevator Pitch
Update your pitch layout and add the element of personalization to it. No one wants to be treated like a general crew out there. It would help make them feel unique, valued, cared for, and essential.
You can elevate your pitch’s status by
- Addressing the due diligence. You can use social media, especially LinkedIn, to help with it.
- Clearly define how you can help clients solve their most significant problem in a specific timeframe.
- Avoid saying exactly what you have got. Personalize it as per your client’s issues to trigger the pain points.
- Go beyond enlisting the needs and demands and add value with robust suggestions. Even a little tip from someone with expertise will make a solid impression on the employer.
- Add a link to your rock-solid portfolio, expressing all of your outstanding skills appealingly.
- Take your pitch one step ahead by mentioning testimonials and contacts for references.
Adding these elements to your pitch will surely make you stand out. However, if you’re still struggling, do a skill analysis and see if you should learn or improve.
5 – Make It Your Protective Shield
Rejections are not meant to disqualify you for a specific thing. They’re also meant to protect you from what isn’t for you.
If you are trying your best to accomplish something, i.e., a new role, getting a new client, or a unique business partnership opportunity, and didn’t qualify, ask the reason behind their decisions. Then, once learned, start working on self-improvement.
If you do not hear back, start the performance review. Look for things you might have missed, ask someone for help – because sometimes things that you can not see from near can be seen by a third person.
Once you are sure that you have given your best, it’s time to take the rejection as a protective shield.
For example, there are times when you desperately apply for jobs and do not hear back from ones you like. Instead, you get offers from low-paying, or sometimes, low-quality clients.
At this time, you might think that it is best to settle for low because you’re desperate. However, if you take rejections from your preferred clients as a protective shield, you will soon find yourself available for something better than you’ve imagined.
So, those who’ve rejected your application, respond to them with best wishes and luck courteously and gracefully. This is how you react to rejection with dignity.
6 – Rejection Isn’t a Failure
One of the biggest mistakes many freelancers make is rejection as a failure. They think that if they have been rejected by an employer, client, publication, firm, or organization, it means that they’ve failed.
But it isn’t like that at all.
Failure is about not doing what you are supposed to do or what you can do. However, rejection means your efforts aren’t up to the mark.
We can continuously improve rejections, be better, and become successful. But if you do not make any effort to undo that rejection, it means you’re going to fail, or you are planning to fail. So, instead of doing nothing, create a strategy of undoing the rejection.
7 – Rejections are Meant to Be Accepted
Rejections aren’t red lights to stop you. Instead, they are reg-flags or alters showing ‘it’s time to improve.’
Taking rejections as a setback or something that you can’t fix or you can’t do anything about isn’t the right approach. Instead, accept that you might have missed something, or there must be something that you could improve to thrive.
- Are you being rejected for overpricing? No worries, adjust your pricing strategy.
- Did you get rejected because of lacking skills or expertise? No issue, you can always learn something new.
- Are you, perhaps, overly experienced or too good for a role? No worries, look for other opportunities.
It’s all about being flexible, looking for what’s hidden behind the sadness and anxiousness of the rejections, accepting them, and living while improving them.
8 – Do Not Forget Your Purpose
Accepting rejection and taking it as a growth opportunity is a challenging thing. There will be days when you’d learn so many things, and then there will be days when you can’t even figure out something.
The process can be challenging, but the most powerful thing that will help you stay motivated is your goal or purpose for which you came all along the way. Remind yourself about that purpose whenever you feel down, wasted, and unmotivated to work on your targets.
You will find rejections as potent negative energy that can take away your goals from you. But standing still with a clear picture of why you started and what you’re going to do to stay on track will help you out.
9 – Jab, Jab, Jab, and Hook!
Recovering from rejection is a painful process. You will find yourself approving, condemning, and resenting your capabilities and skills. However, the key is to visualize what could be better and stick to it.
Whether starting a new business or a new role, once you find the problem, look for a solution and start working. Then, keep trying one way or the other. This is how you reach the pinnacle of self-growth and become unstoppable.
As soon as you start seeing improvement in yourself, you will recover from rejection.
Over To You!
Your journey in freelancing is all about growth. It’s a journey of life-long learning where it is always YOU versus YOU. Rejections are meant to let you know what you’ve missed or what could be improved.
In the end, rejections are building blocks of your success. If J. K Rowling wouldn’t have seen the rock-bottom and rejections from 12 publishers. We wouldn’t be able to watch the Harry Potter series on Screen.
Rejections happen to all of us, but how we handle rejections rebuilds our life. So, take rejections as a growth fragment, work on them, improve yourself, and become unstoppable.