Guest Post from Mariana Ashley: Freelancer Etiquette When It Comes to Criticism

Like it or not, criticism is a part of the freelancing profession. Every freelance writer will come across someone who is not happy with their work at least once during the span of their career, though knowing that it is inevitable does not make the situation any easier to stomach. This is why all freelancers should have an idea of how to properly handle criticism, whether it is given from an anonymous reader or from a client.

Knowing the fundamentals of freelancer etiquette when it comes to criticism can make the entire episode much easier to manage, and it can also showcase to others including possible future clients that the freelancer is mature and respectful, and therefore someone worth working with.

Do not take criticism too personally.

It is easy to see why criticism can be so hurtful, as many freelance writers exert a tremendous amount of effort into putting together well-researched and well-written pieces. However, keep in mind to not take any criticism too personally, even if you do feel attached to the piece you have written. After all, when you work with clients such as individuals or publications, you are essentially writing a piece for them and not solely for yourself. This means that the client does have a right to look over your work and offer their opinion on it, whether it is a positive one or not. Likewise, whenever you publish anything, there is bound to be someone who does not like it due to the sheer number of differences between readers. Do not become too caught up in what some people have to say about your work and let it get under your skin.

Vent your frustrations privately.

When you do feel frustrated by criticism, release your frustrations privately. Talk about it with your close friends and family, but never attack your client or air your grievances to the public. After all, a future client could be watching or reading what you have to say, so you want to present yourself as someone who is professional, not bitter. If you behave unprofessionally online or through another public forum, you risk losing future project opportunities.

If you do address your critics, do so in a calm and collected manner.

There is nothing wrong with reaching out to your critics. In fact, it could even be a great learning experience if they have notes on what they think could have improved your writing. Just make sure that if you do send a message to your critics to do so politely and calmly. It may even be a good idea to wait for a day before responding to allow yourself sufficient time to detach emotionally from the criticism. Remain professional, and address your concerns in a rational manner without resorting to personal attacks or foul language. Perhaps you feel that a client unjustly mistreated your piece, or that a reader missed the entire point of one of your articles, but you should still take the higher ground. Chances are that if you approach a critic respectfully, you will receive a respectful response in return. Even if you do not receive a respectful response, you will have the advantage of remaining professional while the critic is cast in a negative light for reacting poorly.

Do not draw unnecessary attention to pointless criticism or blatant disrespect.

Hopefully, no freelancer will ever have to work for a client who is insulting, but if you do find yourself in that situation, do not add fuel to the fire. Respectfully thank the client for their time, retract the article if you need to, and disengage yourself from that individual or publication. If you feel that your case was particularly mistreated, it could be a good idea to report the critic’s behavior to the publication’s human resources department so that they may handle the situation. On the other hand, if you notice a particularly unfounded and disrespectful insult from a reader in your e-mail inbox or on a website, simply ignore it. You do not need to draw any more attention to that individual, as he or she has nothing of value to offer and is only interested in making you aggravated.

It is undoubtedly difficult to deal with criticism, but if you focus only on what is being said and not how it is being said, you could gain valuable insight into what makes your writing work and what holds it back. In addition, it is imperative to remain professional no matter what and to ignore those who just want to get a few personal jabs at you. This way, your readers and future clients will know that you handle criticism and praise respectfully and admirably, making you a better candidate for future freelance writing projects.


Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online college. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031

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