Rejection. It’s a bit of a dirty word. Not really something we like to think about in our personal or professional lives, right?
But hear me out.
As a freelance copywriter for almost two decades, I’ve learned rejection isn’t always the bad thing it may first look like.
That’s why I’ve come to embrace it, uncomfortable as it can be. Here are 3 types of rejection I’ve experienced and which I see, ultimately, as positive:
1. When you’re ghosted by the promising prospect you met at a networking event
This is a classic. You’re mingling at a networking event and you share the fact that you’re a copywriter with a friendly stranger.
They brim over with enthusiasm, telling you all about a project which could benefit from your attention. Exciting! They’re going to call you as soon as they’re back in the office. You feel your copywriting senses twitching with the excitement of a new piece of work.
That’s it. The rejection. There’s no denying that it’s gutting at first glance.
But when you look a bit closer, you can view this rejection as a good one. Because, despite their initial enthusiasm, your exciting new contact probably didn’t really know what they wanted.
So, that ghosting is a good thing. If someone can switch their stance so swiftly, they probably wouldn’t be the easiest person to work with anyway.
While the project seemed on the surface like an easy win, it would most likely have taken a lot of work to actually turn into work! So, they’ve actually done you a favour.
2. When a client chooses to stop working with you
It’s the news every freelance copywriter dreads. That regular client (you know, the one you enjoy working with so much, it almost felt like a friendship) tells you they have to stop using your services.
Ouch. There’s no way it doesn’t sting. They loved your work and often told you so. It was all going swimmingly. This rejection definitely seems like bad news.
This is a good thing. In the long-term.
First, if they rejected you because of their opinion about your work and didn’t discuss making changes with you, it was a fragile relationship anyway.
Second, if they rejected you and it had nothing to do with your work, they simply made a business decision.
And going with the ebb and flow of business is pretty much the lifeblood of freelance copywriting.
I know exactly how tough it can be. I lost my biggest regular client in the same week I bought my first home… I knew for a fact it was nothing at all to do with the quality of my work. It was a business decision.
Yes, that rejection will always, always have a place in my top ten toughest freelancing copywriting moments, but it was a long time ago.
Looking back, I can see now it gave me the space to find different clients rather than relying on the same ones I’d been lucky enough to have for quite a while.
It gave me the drive to network even harder. And kept me focused and motivated. All positive things.
3. When you’re not the final choice from a shortlisted group of copywriters
‘We’re talking to other copywriters as well.’ the potential client tells you at the initial meeting. So, you feel even more pressure to prove yourself. But you’re confident you’ve got the goods.
You wait to hear from them. Then you get the email or the phone call. They’ve decided to go with another copywriter. How could you not feel rejected? Of course you do.
They’re just not that into you. And that’s okay.
Because really, you should only want to work with clients who actively want to work with you, for you. For what makes you unique as a copywriter.
Not because you beat down the others on price or because you can throw in a little extra work for free. Or because you happen to be best friends with their mother’s sister’s cousin twice removed.
This rejection is clearing the way for you to work with clients who really value what you personally have to offer. It’s keeping your space and time open for more suitable opportunities.
Seeing the good side
In freelance copywriting, we lean towards celebrating the obviously positive things. The great new contact made in an unlikely place. The confirmation email telling you a client wants to go ahead. And of course, that warm feeling when the big project is finally finished and your client is happy.
Rejection? Not so nice.
But, if you can change your perspective, you may start to see rejection as a positive thing.
That ‘No’ may well sting in the short-term but it leaves you free to find clients who really want to work with you. And to pursue the types of projects which really excite you.
It builds up your resilience and creativity.
I’m definitely not saying you should ignore the effects of rejection. It’s important to take care of yourself. Every freelancer needs a support network.
Whether it’s someone to celebrate your latest win with you, the person who will listen and administer reassurance when you’ve had a bad day, or even just a friendly furry being to snuggle with after a demanding meeting (dog, cat, ferret or whatever floats your boat).
But the very nature of freelancing is about embracing uncertainty. Because without change, no new freelancing opportunities would ever come up!
So, change and rejection are your friends.
These types of rejection keep you adapting. Responding creatively in the face of challenges is, for me, one of the greatest rewards of being a freelance copywriter.
Without rejection, I wouldn’t have had the space and motivation to try out fresh marketing approaches, new networking events, or meet new allies and friends.
Rejection may seem like Very Bad News at first, but it’s helped to make me a better copywriter.
And that can only be a good thing.