How to Deal with Rejection: 5 Strategies for Freelancer Writers

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 05/02/23 •  9 min read

Dealing with rejection sucks.

Spend any time working on your freelance writing career, and there will come a time when you feel like all you’re getting are no’s, zero responses, and a lot of people saying, “NO, I don’t want to work with you.”

Look, it’s hard not to take that personally. I get it.

You feel like everyone is telling you that you suck.

Here’s the reality: you don’t suck. You’re good at what you do.

But it’s really easy to let all those rejections get you down.

Let’s change that.

Learning how to deal with rejection as a freelance writer means you can thrive and have a successful and long-lasting career.

Want to see how? Keep reading, or check out the video for more.

It’s Time to Deal with Rejection

Here’s the deal, you have to learn how to accept rejection.

What do I mean by accepting it?

Learning how to embrace it and not take it personally.

If you don’t? Then, you probably can’t count on a long and prosperous career because it’s a big part of becoming a freelance writer.

So, rather than wallow in it, I want to share some strategies and tactics to help you not take it personally and turn those rejections into positives.

And even if you’ve been doing this for a while, it never hurts to have a little reminder, especially since there are always moments when we get down.

Rejection is Coming

Yup, just like winter is coming, so are rejections. And that’s the number one thing you need to know to help you learn how to deal with rejection.

Even though 97.98% of rejections aren’t really about you personally, it’s easy to take it as a personal attack.

But what you have to realize is it’s not about you, personally. It’s about them and their business.

There are a million reasons why you could get a no (or no response):

If you’re still feeling stuck, think of it this way:

How many times in your life have you walked into a store, looked around, and bought nothing? Probably thousands of times, right?

When you leave the store, does the store manager come running out after you saying why didn’t you buy my stuff? Why do you think all my stuff sucks? No. They know it’s part of running a business.

On Monday, you may not need their widget, but suddenly next month, you do. So you go back and buy.

Freelancing is also a business. And you need to treat it that way.

When you don’t get a response, it’s a business decision. So that’s fair. Move on (for now) and don’t forget to follow up.

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Manage the Emotional Side of Rejection

The next thing you do is you have to learn how to manage the emotional side of dealing with rejection. One of my favorite ways to do it is to get rejected more.

You heard that right.

Send more letters of introduction, and send more pitches.

The more you get rejected, the more you start to realize it’s really not so bad.

One of my favorite examples of this is Jia Jiang’s Rejection Therapy. Jia said I’m going to go out for 100 days in a row and get rejected every day.

Yes, that’s really scary to think about at the start. But, it doesn’t take long for it to become second nature.

And the cool part is he got way more yesses to things than he expected (another bonus!).

So not only do you get some unexpected benefits from doing this, but you also become totally okay with people saying no.  He removed his self-worth from the rejection itself.

And that’s what you have to do as a freelancer.

Focus on the Positive

Even if you haven’t found your first client yet, there’s a good chance, if you’ve sent out some LOIs and pitches, some people said, ‘Okay, tell me more. Let let me have more information. Let’s have a conversation.’

Focus on that as a sign that you’re making forward progress.

If you spend all your time focusing on all the negatives, you are going to get swamped in those feelings. Then it’s really easy to spiral, give up, and not do anything at all.

I know how hard this is firsthand. I’ve been on YouTube for years, and I could get 99 amazing comments on a video and 1 comment on how I suck, and it’s so easy to focus on the one bad comment and ignore all the good ones.

It takes one bad thought to throw everything off and derail all the positive momentum I had.

So you have to start learning how to now dwell on the bad stuff.

That takes time and effort to train yourself to focus on the positives.

And here’s the honest truth: you don’t need that many clients to have a successful freelance writing business. It only takes 3-5 clients a month to start making a few thousand bucks.

So to get those 5 clients, you need maybe 20-30 people to be interested in hiring you and say yes to your emails, pitches, and job applications. That’s not a ton, and it may take only a few hundred outreaches to get them.

Here are a few places to start looking for freelance writing jobs.

Embrace Feedback

Earlier on, I said it’s not about you. It’s about them. You don’t suck, it’s just bad timing or whatever reason a potential client may have on that day.

But every once in a while, there might be a little bit of truth to the fact that, well, maybe you aren’t nailing things as well as you could be.

Again, it’s not something to take personally, but you may need a few tweaks to your approach.

Sometimes a reaction is because you need to improve your LOI or you don’t have great samples. But we can fix those.


And that’s why feedback is so important. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to look at some of those things and help you see the mistakes you’re making.

So by getting feedback on a regular basis, you’re able to make your work better, you’re able to make your pitches better, and you’re able to come across as more authentic. All of these can go a long way toward helping you land jobs.

I recommend is to find an accountability buddy, a mentor, or a community of like-minded people to help. With Location Rebel Academy, for instance, we’ve got forums full of other members always ready to chime in with construction feedback, tips, advice, and support.

If you want to learn more about LRA, click here.

But even if that’s not the right fit for you, there are plenty of places you can to to get honest feedback to help you improve your craft.

It’s going to help you deal with rejection better and, hopefully, mean you’ll experience less of it as you implement feedback and improve.

Set Realistic Expectations

Finally, the last thing you need to do to help yourself manage rejection and not get overwhelmed by it is to set realistic expectations.

I can’t tell you how many new freelancers think they are going to start freelancing and make $10,000 a month two months later.

Can you make that much freelancing? Absolutely. But two months in? Not very realistic. It takes time to build up a business — that’s why setting expectations is so crucial.

Otherwise, you’ll be a month into your new freelance writing career and send 10 LOIs and start beating yourself up that no one responded. You’re bummed out because you had lavish expectations.

So bring those down to earth. Realize you are going to hear a ton of no’s and a whole lot of nothing. In fact, expect no’s on everything you send out at the start.

Instead, put your focus on the actions and steps you can take daily.

Yea, they aren’t very sexy goals, but they are goals that work. All these baby steps seem small in the moment, but they added up.

stairs goals

I call it the Milestone Mindset.

Instead of having one big overarching goal, like making $10,000 a month, set a bunch of smaller milestones to help you get there. It’s going to be a lot easier to track your progress and build momentum that way.

One example is to start small: focus on your LOIs, pitches, and job applications, with a goal of 5 a day. That’s 80 a month (with weekends off). After three months, that’s 240 and really the number is closer to 300 because you should go back and send follow-ups.

That’s a really solid way to look at your goals. Chances are, with good samples and LOIs, and a bit of luck, you’ll hear from at least a few of those outreaches, and hopefully, landed yourself a gig.

With a goal like that you can see actual tangible progress. Yes, the vast majority will be rejections, but with every LOI you send, you’re moving closer to where you want to be.

Turn Rejection into a Superpower

If you take these things to heart, it’s going to make you a much happier and a much more successful freelancer.

Trust me, I get it. Learning how to deal with rejection is easier said than done.

But right now, it’s all about action.

Take one of these tips and implement it this week. Set better goals, try rejection therapy, and work on not taking rejection personally.

Doing these will give you the best shot to succeed.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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