Free Advice Friday: Making Freelance Lemonade from Rejection

What I’m listening to: A Good Reason to Grow Old by Owl John

For my first week back, it’s been both busy and productive. I completed drafts on three new projects and have had talks with another new client about upcoming work. Plus I’m working toward nailing down a new client on project dates, focus, and payment terms.

I was talking with another writer offline about project proposals, namely those projects we don’t win. She’d told me about a particular project she’d bid on. Despite us both having our fingers crossed, the project went to someone else (and here I thought finger-crossing was foolproof). It was a disappointment for her.

Still, in the process, she made a new connection. She and her new contact swapped info so they could refer projects to each other as the situation warrants. Not a victory, but a darn nice outcome anyway.

To me, that’s a win.

Being no stranger to rejection, I’ve learned that a gracious acceptance and kind word can go a long way. In more than a few cases, the jobs I didn’t get eventually led to other jobs. It takes little effort to grab freelance writing success from nearly any situation. Not all, but in many cases, a savvy freelancer can use the connection to get new leads.

Every connection, no matter how brief, can be a new opportunity. It’s certainly a chance for freelance writers to build their credibility and reputation. Here are some ways you can make freelance rejection a win:

Take rejection like a pro. Don’t let that “no thanks” email sit unanswered. Thank them for taking the time to talk with you, review your portfolio, whatever. It’s a classy move to show you understand the value of their time. Add your regrets that you’re not able to work with them, and wish them luck.

Ask one more question. Ah, but don’t just say “thank you” and move on. Ask while you have their attention — are there any more projects coming up you could bid on? Do they know of any other companies or individuals who might be able to use your services?

Stay in touch. Two months from now, send that client a note. How did the project go? Did they get the results they were hoping for? Show that your interest goes beyond the negotiation process. They may have gotten just what they wanted, but you’ve now left the impression of a solid professional who cares about more than winning the job. And if they didn’t get what they wanted, you’re in a pretty good spot to step in and help.

Invite connections to, well, connect. You may not have the gig, but you can still connect with the contact person via social media. Particularly if you see the person in groups you frequent, it can be a great way to get to know them on a more conversational, less employer/contractor basis. It also shows that while you may not have been chosen for the job, you’re still interested in knowing the person and their business.

Writers, how have you turned rejection into a win?
What’s your most memorable rejection-turned-positive moment?

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  • Joy Drohan February 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks, Lori. I've filed away your great ideas about replying when the answer is no. Glad to be your inspiration!

  • Lori Widmer February 12, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    THANK YOU for the inspiration! You made the best possible outcome happen from rejection. YOU inspire ME!

  • KeriLynn Engel February 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    A few months ago, a prospect contacted me through my website, but before I could gather enough info to quote his project, he decided to go with another writer. I wished him well with the project – it would have been nice to get the gig, but I was happy for him that he found what he needed.

    I made myself a note to follow up this month & ask if everything worked out.

    Well, it turns out it didn't! So it looks like we may be working together after all.

    So, staying in touch definitely works 🙂

  • Lori Widmer February 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Keri, that's great! Proof positive it's a great idea to keep in touch. Congratulations!