How to Deal with Criticism in The Freelancing World

Criticism can tear you apart, but only if you allow it to do that. Accepting criticism is an essential part of improving one’s skill. A person always has to face his own share of criticism. The best kind are those who take criticism in their stride, and learn to live with it. It is a lot difficult than it sounds.

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The world is a place where everyone has his or her own views. Whether it’s in the office or at home, different views may lead to opinion clashes, a breeding ground for criticism, if you will. When you are working freelance, you will also receive, your fair share of criticism from your clients. Each freelancer operates differently from the next, and while some can fulfil expectations of a particular client, others may be found lacking.

What is the best way for freelancers to handle criticism? Do they need to inculcate additional traits, or should they develop certain attitudes to get things under control? We will look into the few ways that can help you cope with criticism.

Accept Criticism

A person who accepts criticism gives himself a chance to dwell deep into his shortcomings and take a reality check. In the freelancing business, mistakes can take place and to make room for improvement, one must start by being open to criticism. Fending off any sort of criticism, will keep the person aloof about his shortcomings, hampering progress in the long run. A timely reprimand could save you from a big loss, as small chides help you to be fully aware of where you stand, and you tend to work on your shortcomings to come back to where you belong.

Accepting criticism is the hallmark of a successful freelancing professional. A successful freelancer understands the value of being condemned, and he knows that the only thing left to do is to fight back and prove others wrong.

distinguishing criticism

At times, there is a thin line between abusing someone, and criticizing him.

This seems to take place a lot in the freelancing business. A client gets irritated by the submitted outcome. He is not particularly impressed by what he sees, so he starts firing abuse. Criticism when directed from the heart rather than the mind usually comes in the form of abuse.

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It is important for a freelancer to ignore such criticisms as it will only bring hurt and resentment. Instead focus on criticism that pinpoints your shortcomings and gives you reasons or a direction in which you can follow for improvement.

Thinking Positively

I remember an episode when one of my articles was rejected by a print magazine, with good reasons. What impressed me most was the manner in which they refused me – polite yet with a tinge of criticism, wrapped up in gently worded sentences. The magazine declined to publish my article saying, "The article is well written, but unfortunately lacks the standard, which our magazine adheres to. The article could have been written in a much better way. We would love to publish articles, which digs deep and covers the topic elaborately".

This piece of criticism could have hurt me but the magazine chose to be more polished. And that spurred me to find out my own shortcomings in my work.

Take it in and Make Improvements

The magazine which declined my article had spotted and pointed out my mistakes effectively. I took a second look at my work and found that I agreed with them: my article lacked the quality standard which the magazine was looking for, and secondly, I had not explained my topic well.

The magazine game me a disapproving response, which did not have a touch of abuse, was well directed, and had value for a freelancer. It made me motivated and more determined to find my mistakes and improve on my work.

Freelancers should have the habit of reflecting on their weaknesses when pointed out. Having the humility to know that even they can also be wrong, and can be criticized by their clients allows them to never take criticism as a personal hit, but more as a step towards building a professional career.

Grapple with the Fear of Repeated Criticisms

Despite our best efforts, we should realize that the criticisms will never stop coming. We may believe that we have rectified our mistakes, but somehow, clients can still find fault in our work. If we let this continue, then an imprint of failure will cement its footing in our minds.

Carrying that attitude, or more precisely that fear, is certainly harmful. We would develop a negative attitude or even start doubting ourselves. Negativity of any kind for a freelancer is deadly for one’s career. Therefore, we should avoid being negative and stop bothering about mistakes being pointed out in the next completed assignment. Instead take measures that will prevent the same mistakes from recurring.

The best way to know what your mistakes are is to ask your client. if your project is rejected, ask your client polite what the problem was. I remembered when I had a piece of work rejected continuously by a string of clients. I had no idea what was wrong with my writing until one day, I decided to ask one of my clients, who told me, "You had incorrectly constructed sentences in many places, and had used singular and plural form together in many of your sentences, which is wrong."

And to this day, I never regretted facing up to my fear of being criticized and just asking point blank where I’ve gone wrong.


Criticism may haunt you, but as freelancers, you can only become successful by consistently negotiating the criticisms you receive in your career and making them help you improve. Insecurities are a dime a dozen for a freelancer’s career; here are suggestions on how to deal with them. While you’re at it, you may want to find out if what you are doing is actually causing you to lose a client!

Have you ever received criticism that came from the heart not from the mind?

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