How To Overcome Rejection

(Last Updated On: May 9, 2016)


In last week’s post I shared two of the pitches that landed me paid work.How to Overcome Rejection


What I didn’t show you were the hundreds of pitches I’ve written that have been rejected.


Rejection has been one of the constant factors of my freelance career. As you may have suspected, rejection sucks. But, there are a few things you can do to lessen the sting.


Remember That Rejection Is Normal


If you work a typical 9-5 job, you don’t deal with rejection on a daily basis. In fact, after you landed the job, you probably rarely felt rejected.


If you freelance, you are going to get rejected. All. The. Time.


Companies hire freelancers because they want someone with the perfect skills for a specific job. If anyone could do this work, then the project would stay in-house. You bring specific skills to the table. Therefore, you are not going to be perfect for every job. That is okay.


Here are just a few reasons why pitches get rejected:


  • Sometimes the client did not write a clear job description, so your pitch isn’t a perfect match.
  • Sometimes you write a pitch that isn’t well suited to the company’s needs and it shows.
  • Sometimes there is just one person who was a slightly more perfect fit than you.


This is all normal.


Take a deep breathe, and let go of the idea that rejection means failure.


Don’t Take It Personally


Business guru Ramit Sethi said something like “When one person rejects me, I usually just blame them. But when eight do, I have to take a hard look in the mirror.“
Take away two things from this advice. First, you will get a lot of rejections, and you should not blame yourself. You don’t have to get as sassy as Ramit and blame the client, but you can at least tell yourself that your pitch was simply not the right fit. You did nothing wrong. You are still a skilled professional.


Getting rejected is not a reflection of you as a person or your work as a whole, it simply means that you aren’t the right fit at this moment for a specific project.


Second, if you are getting a lot of rejections, or clients are kind enough to tell you why they are rejecting your pitches, listen. Women, in particular, tend to take negative feedback to heart. Instead, stay neutral and view feedback and rejection as a learning opportunity.


Maybe you just need to proofread your pitches better. No one wants to hire an editor who can’t write well.


Maybe you need to write a pitch that focuses more on how you can benefit the client and less on how awesome you are (because you are awesome, and you will help your client, but he or she can’t always see it unless you tell them directly).


In sum, don’t take rejections personally, but if you notice a pattern, learn from it.


Find Support


Some days you are just going to feel like crap after yet another rejection.


This is normal, and the solution is to find support.


One strategy is to spend time with friends and family who are not all connected to the freelance world. Let these people remind you that you are perfect just the way you are and that work isn’t everything.


Another strategy is to find support from other freelancers who know this feeling. When I’m having a rough day and I want support from a fellow freelancer, I head over to Gina Horkey’s blog. Gina is really transparent, really positive, and she hustles like nobody’s business. Seeing her successes, hearing about her stumbling blocks, and internalizing her advice that the worst that can happen is somebody says no helps me perk up and get back to work.


There are also some great freelance support groups on Facebook you can join. I recommend The Careful Cents Club, which is a private group where freelancers and solo entrepreneurs can ask questions and find support. The group moderator, Carrie, does a wonderful job of creating a supportive and welcoming atmosphere.


Keep Pitching


In the early days, I would get rejected for a project and feel like giving up. I would shut down my computer, mope, and take a break from pitching. Now, rejections motivate me to pitch more. I want to try again, do better, and see improvement.


The fastest way to get over rejection is to pitch again. When you stop focusing on rejection and focus on putting more pitches in the pipeline, you will stop stressing. Writing more pitches gives you forward momentum.


Ironically, the more you get rejected, the less it hurts. I recently wrote about how hard work is the best way to grow your confidence. This principle applies to pitching, too. Keep working hard on your pitches, and you will feel more confident. As your confidence grows, rejections will sting less.


Still feeling stuck? Send me an email. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times, and I’m standing by to give you a digital hug or pep talk.

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  • Learning rejection isn’t personal is a hard lesson! If you are losing more than you are winning, then it is definitely time to check everything – your prices, your pitch, your process and pitch turnaround time. If you are winning more than 90% of your pitches, then you are probably under-pricing yourself. And virtual hugs from colleagues help on the days when it all gets to you!

    • I haven’t been tracking my rejection/acceptance rate Ingrid, so this is really helpful. I think I’m in the 50-70% window where I’ve found my niche, I know what I’m doing, and my pricing is right for the market. Thank you for stopping by!

  • “The fastest way to get over rejection is to pitch again.”

    Yes, exactly!
    Having only one pitch out there means that all the weight of the expectation is on that one opportunity.
    Having multiple potential opportunities at any given moment really helps when one of them falls through.

    I used to take rejections to heart, but now that I have so much going on, sometimes one potential project that falls through is actually a relief! I trust that it wasn’t the right fit and move on.

    • Great point that if you have enough pitches out there it can be a relief to not land one of the projects. I love that thinking! I also find that most rejections aren’t really out right rejections. Potential clients just never get back to me, which makes it easier because I start to forget about them anyway.