How rejection can sharpen your skills as a copywriter

Letters of rejection, the never replied email, the word no: we all get them. Especially in copywriting. But they are the best things to happen to you as a copywriter.

Just think back to every single time you asked for a job, a date, a higher rate, a better contract and they said no. They’re telling you something. They’re giving you information—not necessarily about you, not necessarily about them, but they’re telling you something.

And if you want, you can dig into your brain to figure out what. If you listen and figure out why you were rejected, you can channel that knowledge to supercharge your progress, skills, and become even better at copywriting than you were before. Here are a couple of ways to do it.

1. Think about feedback for yourself

Think about the reasons you’ve been rejected as a copywriter. Really think.

Like that last client who had you redo everything: you know your copy didn’t quite match their audience. Or your cold emails with a 0% response rate: you’re not going in personal and engaging enough. Or your last job interview where the interview went well, you had the relevant skills and you came fully prepared but you know what? You just weren’t good enough.

Ouch. That hurts to hear and that is why no one says it—because it hurts. But sometimes it’s true.

There are loads of reasons a client might turn you down, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is you. Still, you should think about that rejection to see if there is something useful you can take from it. Because often that’s what it is: feedback.

So ask yourself. Did I give that my all there? Did I truly go about that copy in the best way? Do my samples really match up?

This is hard because, well, we don’t know what we don’t know. And often we can be pretty biased and limited when thinking about ourselves. But often, if you dig deep enough and be honest with yourself, you’ll be able to find some gems about your latest pitch that didn’t quite go down so well.

In fact, often you’ll know what you’re doing wrong while you’re doing it. Or you just know by your client’s reaction. And when you’ve seen that, you’ve got to think about their feedback too.

2. Get feedback from the client

Now asking for feedback is really useful (especially on your work) so if you can, ask your client to tell you how you can do better. Simple.

Sometimes it’s not appropriate though. So dig a little deeper. Even if you can’t ask for their feedback directly, you can still get feedback from them in another way: in their responses. Think back to how the interaction went, what happened, what was said (if anything at all.) Because their responses can tell you more than their words could. So think about it.

3. Improve your skills

Once you’ve got the feedback, you’ve got to act on it. When it comes to some things, you’ve got to come correct.

Having the right skills is important. So improve them. Get better at that you were lacking and then you can fast-track yourself towards being better. A couple of things that help:

  1. Write down how you can improve (we’re writers, right?)
  2. Redo the copy
  3. Remember to implement next time you do similar work

4. Remember that even if your skills aren’t there yet: you are

Remember not everything you dig is gold. Not everything you do is going to be great and nothing you do is actually you—good or bad.

I think this is the reason that rejection hurts us. It’s why men tremble at walking up to women in bars and why Jessie never leaves that job she hates. Because deep down, somewhere in our souls, we are terrified of stepping out and having someone tell us that we are not enough. Not that our skills aren’t enough but us. That we aren’t enough as people.

That is the scariest thing of all and it’s something to remember when looking for jobs, contracts, and gigs as a copywriter. It’s why some struggle to ask for their deserved pay in markets of bottom-barrellers because they don’t think they’re worth it.

The only way to fix it is by sorting out the way you think. Even if you might not have been enough in terms of your copywriting skills, remember: you’re always worthwhile as a person.

5. Enjoy the process

Enjoying the process is the best way to move forward with anything and going through a cycle feeling miserable isn’t any way for anyone to do anything. So every time you get rejected, celebrate a little because that means you’re one step closer to being better.

And if you don’t believe that?

At least celebrate because it’ll keep you sane the next time a client asks for a revision.

Continue Reading: 5 copywriting tips to put a little pep in your step

About the Author

Ross Muir taught English in Glasgow and then Vietnam before becoming a freelance copywriter back in Glasgow again. He likes to write, so feel free to email him about it.