The art of rejection

The art of rejection

Or how to say no nicely

Recently, I’ve had several monster SEO copywriting bookings that have kept me very busy. This has meant I’ve had to write a lot of emails to potential clients turning down work, and I wanted to share my tips on how to handle rejection. Forgive me if I am stating the bleeding obvious here:

Take time to reply

I reply to every single email enquiry I get, no matter how busy I am. If someone has taken the time to find me and write or call, I think the very least I can do is reply. Sometimes this might seem like a wasted effort when it’s easier to just delete the email. Well yes, probably, but good manners cost nothing, right?

Explain why

I tell my customers clearly why I can’t take the work, I’m up front and honest and don’t make excuses. If I’m overloaded with work then I tell them, and I give them a future date when I’ll be free again.

Keep all enquiry emails

I keep a file in my email inbox of all my enquiries. Then, if a job gets cancelled or postponlearn-copywriting-coursesed at the last minute, I go back through recent enquiries and email them to tell them I’m now free. Often they haven’t found anyone yet and are pleased to be back in touch.

Recommend someone else

I ALWAYS recommend another copywriter, someone I’ve worked with before or who’s work I really like. There are some great writers here in Sydney and I want to help people find them. Of course this may mean when, a few months later, I’m actually free again, that this client won’t want to work with me, as they’ve formed a relationship with the new copywriter, but that’s fine. As long as they’re happy: there’s plenty of work to go around.

Provide some insight

If, in the course of answering an email, I spot a problem with the client’s website or have an idea about the project they want to brief me on, I tell them. Free of charge. No strings attached. What takes me a few minutes to pass on could save them a huge amount of time and money in the long run.

Ensure your email signature rocks

Now this is an obvious one, but ensure that your email signature contains all your contact details. Then, if a potential customer does want to find you later on, they will have all your details readily available to them.

While all this might seem a bit of a faff when you’re super busy, I think it’s worth the effort, not just for karmic reasons but because it makes sound business sense.

So far so good

By spending a little time writing considered rejection replies I’ve found that:

  • I’m able to pass on a great stream of work to other writers – sharing the copywriting love!
  • Clients are often willing to wait for me until some later date, which means I can plan ahead.
  • Several clients have returned many months after a rejection to find out if I’m free, and we’ve ended up working together.
  • I’ve had some great word of mouth recommendations from people I’ve never even worked with.

Nearly everyone that I offer a little chunk of free advice to comes back with a thank you and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

How do you approach rejection emails? Any tips you’d like to share?

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1 Comment

  1. Belinda Weaver

    This is a great post Kate! Especially your first point about courtesy. I was so relieved to realise that I do most of these although good copywriters are in such demand I often find that the people I refer clients to are also booked out. Still, there are worst situations to be in.

    This is usually the case when people leave the content as the last thing they look at. If you have a campaign date in mind you need to plan ahead and get the content written as early as possible. That way, you get the best copywriter for the job and you get plenty of time to make sure the message is right!

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