How to Take Criticism as a Freelance Writer

I vividly remember my first freelance writing gig; it was an SEO article for an apparel company. Working online was still a relatively new concept, and it seemed like website owners everywhere were jumping onto the affiliate marketing bandwagon and looking for content.

After submitting the article (an article that I had carefully researched), it was immediately accepted. It became obvious to me that the software was only looking for backlinks, a certain word count, and keyword density. It didn’t matter at all how well it was written.

However, with search engines changing their standards, so too have freelance writing jobs become more competitive, with writers universally held to higher standards. Sometimes, these standards are reasonable, while other times, too much is demanded of freelance writers in comparison to what they are paid.

There are several things that freelance writers need to build, and ultimately maintain, their careers. A discerning eye for reputable jobs is, in my opinion, the most important. Secondly, there needs to be a willingness to constantly adapt to changing house styles/style guides. Thirdly, though criticism is inevitable, a lot more can be accomplished if it’s thought of as a professional learning tool, not as a personal slight.

In a perfect world, clients would tactfully point out something they would like changed, not be confrontational or condescending about it. In my time as a freelance writer, I’ve seen more of the former than the latter. Yet, I do still remember when, after submitting a difficult SEO assignment, the client told me it was merely an attempt to “keyword-load a few paragraphs.”

Sure, I could have told the client off and left things as they were, not getting paid in the process (and it was only an average-paying assignment). Instead, I chose to really evaluate what could be made better, do my best to fix it, and at least get partial payment.

My assignment did end up getting accepted at the full rate, although the extra revision time made it seem like it was still only partial pay. Looking back, I should have requested an apology, too. I did however, make a mental note to seek out projects elsewhere. So, freelance writing has a lot to do with trial and error. Some jobs are keepers, while others are just a pit stop towards other (ideally better) opportunities.

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