How to get over rejection as a freelancer

Whether you’re new to freelancing or have been freelancing for a while now, the one thing that most, if not all, freelancers have dealt with is rejection. 

Sometimes it can feel bittersweet. Sometimes, it can feel much worse leaving your confidence reeling. Whether a potential client you wanted to work for has rejected your proposal, an existing client has given you negative feedback or you’ve been given the silent treatment from someone you reached out to, rejection is an inevitable part of being a freelancer.

It can be a hard pill to swallow. But I’m here to share with you some advice on how to deal with rejection and prepare for it in the future: 

Accept it

I like to think that there is no such thing as ‘failure’ but rather feedback that enables us to learn from our mistakes and improve in our career as a result. 

By adjusting your mindset and recognising where there could be a learning opportunity, you appreciate that rejection can help you to progress as a freelancer, coming out stronger on the other side and more motivated to prove people wrong. 

Ask for feedback 

 “Sorry, but I don’t think you are right for this particular project” sound familiar? Well, instead of dwelling on why they said no; just ask them! 

Asking for feedback is a great way to help you progress in your freelancing career and will give you a solid explanation into why they have said no. Usually, it is because someone they know has come forward or they have found someone with more experience in the particular sector they’re working in, but that’s ok! 

If you aren’t right for the project, it could have led to stress, sleepless nights, and prioritising their work, which alienates your other clients. Be thankful for the opportunity and make the most of your next one. 

Don’t take it personally 

Our natural instinct as freelancers when having been rejected is to instantly blame ourselves. 

Usually, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. You were asked to pitch for work for a reason – the main one being that you have been recognised as someone that could produce this work for the business.

Many people that are taken on for projects already have ties into the business, or genuinely have more experience in the industry. So while you could have done a great job, another person may be a better fit – you never know, it could be that in a few months time the same client comes knocking at the door (how many times have we all experienced that?!).

Try and take your mind off of it (look after yourself) 

Don’t let one rejection lead you to snowball into a pit of self-doubt. Think about all you have already accomplished and celebrate that instead, treat yourself and be around people you trust to remind you of your value and why you do what you do.

Believing in yourself is the first step to success.

Create a folder of positive feedback 

This is a great idea to make yourself feel better after a brutal day of rejection. Creating yourself a folder on your laptop or PC filled with all the positive feedback from your clients that you have gained over your time as a freelancer can help to remind yourself why you are great at what you do!

Don’t compare – (you’re further along than you think) 

When we live in a world where everyone only posts about their successes, it can be hard to feel optimistic when you haven’t experienced a good day in a while.  

Just remember, everyone progresses at their own rate, comparing to other freelancers isn’t healthy when trying to stay positive, it can often act as a motivator or a mood kill, either way, try to focus on yourself only. 

Prepare yourself for future rejections

Many freelancers are perfectionists and dwell on their failures instead of their praise and achievements – spend as much time celebrating your achievements as you do your downfalls. 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket 

Before putting all your hopes into a company approving your pitch or proposal, make sure you have other options just in case your first choice doesn’t work out. Being a freelancer means unexpected situations can occur so by having your options open and having a plan B can help soften the blow if a company decides to work with someone else. 

Debrief – what went well? What could you improve in the future? 

After you have just delivered a pitch, you know straight away if it went well or not. If you know that it wasn’t the best pitch, then this instantly prepares you for the next one by highlighting what could be improved.

Even the most successful people in this world have experienced rejection, JK Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before publishing harry potter, it’s just part of life. But when you finally get a “Yes” after so many “No’s” will be so worth it in the end and don’t worry you will get to that point one day.


Chris Bardsley

Chris Bardsley

Chris is our Digital Wizard at ipro and supports all of our search and online marketing activity. It’s what he loves doing, and with 10 years’ worth of experience implementing digital strategies that work, we can’t blame him.