How Do I Overcome Rejection in Freelance Writing?

Rejection is a big part of the freelance writing world, especially when you’re first starting out and trying to establish yourself.

As writers, having our work rejected is a lot like someone telling us our baby is ugly. It’s our word art, arranged just so, and it’s hard not to take it personally.

How Do I Overcome Rejection in Freelance Writing?

Though I’ve been a writer for several years, I’ve only now just started to try and make a living from it. So I am in the thick of rejection, as I try to hone my writing skills and find my place.

As writers, having our work rejected is a lot like someone telling us our baby is ugly.

I am working around the busy schedule of my family, so it can be disheartening to get so many rejections as I work in the nooks and crannys of the day.

But I have not stopped trying. The rejections in fact, have fueled me to try even harder.

Here are five ways I have found to overcome rejection in the freelance writing world.

1. Don’t Stop Pitching

I don’t stop pitching long enough to really feel rejected. I am mindful of who I am pitching to, and I take care in finding a good match, but I keep the train moving.

I always have a few extra irons in the fire somewhere so I can look forward to future possibilities if something doesn’t work out.

2. Know It’s Not Personal

I have pitched to both paying and non-paying publications for exposure and experience.

Large publications are inundated with submissions, so sometimes the sun, moon and the stars have to be aligned just right for it to happen.

I have had several posts accepted, but I sometimes feel like Goldilocks in knowing what will hit and what won’t.

I’ve had a post rejected because it had too much of me in it, and a few others because they didn’t have enough of me in it. From the same publication (different editors.) Sometimes it’s fish in a barrel, but I keep shooting.

3. Know Someone Needs What You’re Saying

Sometimes it just takes time to find that audience. I’ve reworked rejected articles for use on my personal blog, and they were some of my most successful posts.

Your writings are still valuable whether they fit specific editorial needs or not, and someone out there needs to hear what you are saying. Keep going!

4. Write To Help People, Not SEO

The articles I wrote to simply get accepted and gain exposure for myself were not successful. I changed my voice to suit an audience I desired, and it didn’t work out.

My greatest joy is helping people from my own life experience. These are by far my most popular posts because they speak to people. And that keeps me on track to remember why I fell in love with writing to begin with.

I once had a post only get 100 hits from my personal blog, but it had over 70 shares. I’d call that a win over a post with 10,000 hits and no comments or shares any day.

Write for people. Not just SEO.

5. Take The Focus Off Of Yourself

Yes, really. I block out a specific period of time every day where I do nothing but read and promote the work of others.

I comment on great posts, and I share them on social media. I don’t do it willy-nilly either, I find stuff I genuinely like and give credit where it’s due. If you get a compliment from me, it’s real.

I think a lot of times we just assume someone that’s been writing or singing for a long time just knows they’re good at it. But that isn’t always the case.

This is also a great way to take the pressure off of myself and learn what other people are doing. It never hurts to build relationships with others in your field, no matter what stage you’re in.

I am continually pitching and looking for a consistent home. I know it will happen. And I know that rejection is a continual part of working as a freelance writer.

I’m not saying I’ll never be disappointed. But I’ll always keep trying.

What do you do to overcome rejection as a freelance writer? Let us know in the comment section.

Audra Rogers has always been a writer, but entered the freelance writing world less than a year ago. She always has a notebook in her purse chock full of post ideas and notes. She gets up early and stays up late, and finds all of the nooks and crannys of the day to pitch clients and run her website You can also connect with her on Twitter.

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Thank you for sharing this Audra! I found your article just in time, before I went on a full-on doubt-myself Pittyparty. A pitch that I thought was excellently formatted and worded was quickly rejected (and a little mean). Thanks for pointing out that I should continue to pitch and not take it personally. And I really like #5 where you promote other people, it’s about giving back and helping others which makes me feel better.Reply to Christine
Thanks so much for the kind words Christine. I’ve found myself coming back and referring to this post often, this is a tough business! But perseverance is key.Reply to Audra
Great post! Rejection is hard, and sometimes it feels like you are on a streak of rejections, but as you said, “someone needs what you are saying”. I also like how you say “write to help people, not SEO”. I don’t know how many times I have come across a post that is all about SEO and not helpful at all for what I am reading. I agree that 100 hits and 70 shares is better than 10,000 hits with no comments or shares!Reply to Cassie
Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words!Reply to Audra
“Don’t Stop Pitching” is a point I’ve learned the hard way and am still learning. Whenever I’m in the feast stage I forget to market and the cycle continues. Something I’m trying hard to work on!Reply to Taylor
I agree, it’s hard to keep that momentum going but it’s so worth it. Thanks for reading!Reply to Audra
Audra. I like your point 5 – supporting the work of others. Also important to share the love! And helps builds relationships too.Reply to Deevra
Thank you! Yes, it really takes the pressure off of me to get to focus on others, and I make friends in the process. Win-win 🙂Reply to Audra
Great post Audra. As a writer myself I know all about rejection. I think this line really sums up the whole experience: “I’m not saying I’ll never be disappointed. But I’ll always keep trying.” The problem with a lot of writers is that they get knocked back for a few gigs early on and think that they cannot write at all or that the market is so saturated that they have no hope of breaking into it. Think of how many websites there are out there that need great content. This is what keeps me going if I get turned down. There is always space for a good writer somewhere. When you’re creating a proposal for a job that you actually care about or have experience with yourself then in my opinion you have a much higher chance of GETTING that contract. I stopped applying for any gig that was advertised and instead focused on what I could actually create a great piece of content for. It might narrow the amount of websites/contracts you can pitch to but the article awarded/declined ratio really flipped in my favour. It sounds cliché but never give up as a writer. Just think – The Catcher In The Rye was initially rejected by a publisher. That should be motivation enough to keep going!Reply to Alasdair
I totally agree, I really focus on my niche because I’m a lot more confident there, and that’s my bag and what I want to get paid for. And a lot of sites need great content, I will definitely never give up. I know this is my gift and the doors will open in time 🙂Reply to Audra
Audra, What a great spirit you have! Being a freelance writer can be hard when you’re discouraged. I know when I first started out, I kept pitching and pitching and received nothing. But, you just have to be persistent and your time will come. Thanks for your valuable tips! ElnaReply to Elna
Thanks so much Elna, I loved thinking through the process and writing it down. I will keep referring to it and the other great posts on Freelancer FAQs!Reply to Audra
Wow. I love what your shared here. Rejection sucks and is hard to shake off. But I agree. The more real I am and the more of me I really share, the more the post resonates with others. When I try to be cheeky or if I’m not brave enough to be vulnerable and tell the whole truth, the post generally flops. Thank you for the inspiration to keep pitching!Reply to Alexis
Thanks so much for the kind words Alexis, I agree transparency is best. I plan to keep on trucking! 🙂Reply to Audra