Toughen Up: How Your Blog Can Benefit from Rejection & Criticism
By: Taylor Davies

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“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Aristotle

Remember when you were a kid and you got picked last for the kickball team at recess? Ouch. Rejections and feelings of inadequacy that come from assessment by our peers are often the most brutal of all.

On the other side of the coin – perhaps you also remember getting a little gold statue at the end of your tee-ball season, just for participating? You showed up, you wore a uniform, and you swung a bat – hooray! Well done, at least you tried.

As we grow, rejection takes different forms. In school it could be a bad grade on a project, maybe you’ve been rejected by a love interest, and in the professional world perhaps you didn’t get that job you were so right for, or that promotion you thought you deserved.

There’s no application process or letter of acceptance you need to start a blog. No one is going to stop you, except yourself. This is both good and bad, because when you’re the only one calling the shots, your content is completely of your own design but also potentially free from the healthy dose of criticism it may need.

Have you ever faced rejection as a blogger?

 

Well, have you? Has a brand ever rejected your pitch? Has a post fallen of deaf ears without a single tweet, comment or click-through? Have you received negative comments, lost a contest, failed to hit the traffic goals you’ve set for yourself?

Good.

Rejection is important for growth and self-awareness. It shows us when our work (our posts, our photography, our proposals) or our skill set is simply not good enough and needs improvement. How is anyone expected to be better at anything or to push themselves to the next level if they’re never exposed to their shortcomings?

One of the brilliant things about being a self-publishing blogger is that rejection and criticism can only stop you if you let them. Like all the rappers – ever – have always said, haters gon’ hate. If you can pick through the negativity and feedback to find what will help you improve – and then keep on doing you thing, just better – then you’re on the right track.

Grow from criticism (and rejection, too).

 

The development of thicker skin comes from understanding but not dwelling. Some of the rejection and criticism that will come your way (especially as you grow your blog and gain exposure) will be completely unfounded, and the product of bitter, angry, useless people. Much of it though – while having a bit of a sting – will contain truths that will profoundly change your perception of your work, yourself and the business you’re in.

Pain is temporary and scars show that you’ve been to battle and lived to tell about it.

Read the negative comments. Study the response of a rejected pitch to a brand. Figure out why this person is saying what they’re saying, and if there’s something you can do about it. Does your photography need work? Take a class! Is your writing sloppy? Get back on your editing A-game. Do you need more traffic? Go out and earn it.

As with so many things in life – those who can put a positive spin on things and learn from their experiences – both good and bad – will be the ones who prosper. Shrug off the haters and adapt with the constructive criticism you receive. 

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.” – Jessamyn West

How do you deal with rejection? Have you experienced criticism that has helped you grow as a blogger and as a person?

Comments

  1. Jenny says:

    I am so thankful you wrote this! I started my blog two months ago, and just received my first few negative comments. Nothing major, just “I don’t think that bag matches with that dress”, or “short people should wear long dresses, not minis” (I’m short by the way and always wear short dresses). It shocked me how much I let these little comments affect me. I started my blog out of sheer passion for fashion and wanting to connect with fabulous women who share that same interest, but it never crossed my mind that people would take the time to write anything negative. I mean, if you don’t like it, why are you reading it? Then I started to think that this is just the beginning. How am I going to react when someone says something that’s mean or very personal?

    It was actually last night that I was questioning whether I had the confidence to continue blogging. I even debated writing a post or contacting other bloggers asking how they handle rejection and negative comments. After many hours of flip-flopping and questioning myself, my style and my ability, I finally determined that I was being totally irrational by letting these little comments get to me. I have connected with and discovered so many fabulous women in the blogosphere. I am absolutely blown away by the positive support I’ve received thus far, and really would never want to give that up. I just reminded myself that I needed to be confident and trust my own opinions and self. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I’m asking for it by putting myself out there. I can learn and grow from criticism, and I need to find the positive in it. Also, some people are just negative by nature, and I can’t let them bring me down.

    Sorry for the long winded reply, but I really wanted to let others who feel the same way know that they are not alone. Thank you again for this motivational (and timely) article!

    XO Jenny
    http://www.crazystylelove.com

  2. Hua Jing Li says:

    This is so true. My first negative comment was taken quite badly, as I was upset with anon’s comment. However, as I spoke about it to my friend, he commented that this person has taken time to read through my blog and leave a comment, unlike others with ‘I love this’ comments. When I thought more about the negative comment, the more I agreed with their point. My blog didn’t have much substance, and it did look like I was just seeking attention. Through this, I began thinking about why I was blogging and how I could improve it.

    • Avatar of Kashara
      Kashara says:

      That’s such an interesting way to think about negative comments! I have gotten a few negative comments (some of which were personal). I always say that negative comments are either based on some amount of jealousy or on some honest truth. I would much rather someone write an incredibly nice comment or rude comment. If the reader is apathetic that means the content I’m writing is not compelling enough to make them want to comment.

  3. Toni Styles says:

    Great post and perfect quote! You definitely grow from adversity – it makes you much stronger. Sometimes it’s constructive and other times it can simply be from a place of envy and pointless. I say keep your head up and move on – you can’t win everyone over, but you can be proud of what you accomplish every day. We are all different and we are all brilliant!

    Sometimes I sit back and think – “it really takes guts to keep putting yourself out there…”. It does. :)

    http://rhythmandruffle.com <3

  4. Joanne M says:

    This is such a great post and something that needed to be said – or writting in this case. We can grow from many experiences but negative one’s actually make us stop, reflect and decide how to move forward from there. If you truly want to grow from it, then take time to analyze the situation and see if the comments left are true. Yeah, some may be pointless and only made to hurt but from that you should at least learn to not let it get to you. Take that time to grow thick skin:)

    xo, Joanne

  5. Ley says:

    I used to take negative comments really personally–but then my boyfriend flat-out asked me why I cared if someone hates my blog. That kind of opened my eyes, because as much as I like that others enjoy my writing, ultimately I’m blogging for me. The only time I get (moderately) upset is when the comment is actually personal–that’s a whole other kettle of fish though…

  6. Loved this article, sometimes rejection can be in the form of doubt. This article is just the right amount of motivation any blogger should need.

  7. Yeah! When I first started blogging there was a definite lack of knowledge and skill in managing a blog. Some people said my blog looked elementary or plain and that really hurt my feelings..especially since I’m not a plain person. Once I got the knack, I thought it would be better. But lately some anonymous people have been commenting that I shouldn’t hang with plus size bloggers or participate in challenges sponsored by them because I’m not plus size. I have definitely met some really nice bloggers in the blogosphere who have helped me with my confidence in both blogging and in fashion. Thanks haters!

  8. Avatar of Olga Choi
    myblondegal says:

    Somewhere I heard a phrase “not talented people never hesitate on what they are doing”. Since that time I am trying to read all the negative comments (unless delete them without reading) and try to ask myself “is there anything wrong that I can’t see because I am too satistfied with my work?”
    Usually it helps, but still hurts a little )

  9. This is pretty timely for me too! I submitted some photos to a recipe site & they rejected me because of my “composition & lighting” (which I didn’t think was horrible except for 1 that was with an iPhone & sucked & I figured they’d reject it) . At first it seriously hurt/offended me to see the rejection bc I do put effort into my pictures, but then I realized that it’s okay & I should be thankful that they rejected me. It’s sort of a wake up call. Now I’ll have to work harder and actually learn how to take more professional, creative & detail oriented food & product shots… which is my new goal for the rest of summer : )

    So I mean, I guess this doesn’t really have anything to do with haters, but I think it still fits with rejection & negative feedback! Thanks for the article!

    Victoria

  10. Anika says:

    When I started my first blog, I wanted to join community in any way so one of my first steps was- weardrobe.com. But, next day, in my inbox came message – sorry, you are rejected because of blah blah blah… I was very disappointed, I meant, what’s the point of real people fashion if you reject people for stupid reasons! Today, they are canceled (bad karma:)! Same happened to me when I joined Lookbook, and received not even 1 hype! (This moment I would like to thank to Vahni from Grit&Glamour and her post about this networks, it was real comfort for me)!
    Haven’t had bad comments (yet), but I felt sad when I did all my best to make post great, good photo, everything, and then- 0 comments! In vice versa case, I made blah post, and gained many comments-but I’m used to this (I finished art school, and according to experiences from there, it was like: when I shown to my prof idea that I liked, she said – NO!, but when I shown just some stupid sketch made in 3 minutes it was- OH, GREAT!)
    Last time when I was rejected was when I send request to one snobbish online boutique, and got back an e-mail: try again next time! It hurt me because I’m not the one who can afford expensive stuff, so I really felt disheartening! Then I said to myself – NO! There won’t be next time! If I lived my life normally before them, I can continue without them!!!
    All in all, I’ve bitten bullet many times, but am still blogging, working! Okay, my traffic isn’t like BryanBoy’s, but I have a bunch of regular readers, am constantly in contact with them, and our comments are actually real friend-buddy intercourse! One comment from them means more to me than 50 “check out my blog & follow meee” comments!

    P.S. Thank you for an article “5 things that doesn’t make you succesful blogger”! It was also really helpful with facing a rejection/s!!!

  11. Avatar of
    Dessinatrice says:

    Though I haven’t been blogging for very long (only 2 years) I have seen comments that fall into all of the categories; positive, negative, and self-promotional. At first, I followed up with every comment, even the “check me out”s and then quickly realized that although I was a faithful and regular commenter, something about my blog wasn’t worth the revisit. Several redesigns and content evolutions later, I’m happy and confident in my blog, and am not concerned about whether other bloggers I read (or even my close friends) read it, because I am enjoying what I do and somewhere, a small base of people keeps coming back! I’ve learned so much about myself through blogging, it’s become a part of me, and I don’t see myself giving it up or “moving on.”

  12. Avatar of The Style Kaleidoscope

    I think if you’re going to put yourself out there on the internet then you just have to deal with whatever you get thrown at you, and expect to hear things that wouldn’t be said to your face. And you have to learn when to hit ‘ignore’ as well.

    Regularly, I get people ‘talking down’ to me until I point out my age – so I really do feel sorry for all the young bloggers out there, as people seem to assume that you are one knife short of a cutlery set. Well all I can say is that you’re the future of blogging, and you should be proud of what you are doing so screw the criticism. Learn not to care.

    Of course the age thing can work both ways. I had a very patronising comment made by someone a decade younger than me trying to give me photography advice that didn’t even warrant a reply, based on the fact I did photography as a business and therefore I don’t give a monkeys about any criticism surrounding my shots – so all I’m saying is don’t feel you have to justify your existence to anyone, either. Just hit delete, you don’t have to reply to everybody. That’s just a waste of time! Just keep doing what you’re doing, and keep going forward!! Like a blinkered horse on a racetrack!

  13. I actually had my first negative comment only last week left by an anonymous and gutless person.
    Basically they told me that I had no skill as a writer, blogger or stylist. While I do have thick skin and this has not stopped me pursuing my goals, it did annoy me that someone had the audacity to come into my space and try to make me feel badly about myself. I did retaliate in the form of an outfit post entitled retaliation, which caused them to leave more below the belt comments but that just really speaks volumes on them doesn’t it? That they’d rather take time outta their lives to try and destroy someone else. Yeah it does. My point here, in my post I basically told my readers to believe in themselves and not bullies who only seek to destroy you. Negative comments can help us grow but there are some that are just flat out cruel and it’s these that a thick skin is needed.
    You should always try to look at elements of your blog as the reader would see it and try to see what it is you can improve on but when the comment is a personal attack on you, just remember to laugh at this persons stupidity (that irritates them more) and keep doing what you do. You started your blog for you so don’t stop for the haters :)

  14. Aunt Pearl says:

    Love the Style Kaleidoscopes comments. Wise words I will be taking out with me into the sometimes wacky world of cyberspace.

  15. Avatar of Fabiola Rostran

    Ugh..I actually got a couple negative comments today. I never let it get to me but I find it so rude how some people can act on a keyboard. Love this post! Whatever their doing is only benefiting me! Sending more traffic my way!! Bloggers keep your heads up!

    http://www.onegirlsempire.com

  16. Sparkle says:

    work. work. and more hard work!

    xx

  17. Amber says:

    Oh heck yes, I’ve been criticized by fellow creatives who read my blog. Not only did they point things out that needed improvement but they said it very harshly. Though my feelings were hurt in the beginning and sometimes still does I built a fighter mentality and learned from those comments. Most of them were true when I really stepped back and looked at my work. I started improving them and now they don’t have much to say anymore so in that case is benefited me greatly. As far as rude comments on my posts I’ve had some not much but I know it is inevitable that they will arrive at some point. I don’t take them personal I make it a positive thing: they were so compelled that they had to leave a comment good or bad. Most of my rejection came from interviews that didn’t fall through and companies I pitched that pretty much ignored me but I got over it and moved onto the next. It is really that simple! Once you realize in your heart that you are unstoppable you won’t feel like a failure with someone or another business doesn’t want to work with you. Think about it, someone you don’t care for will come along and you will also have to say no. See? At the end of the day life goes on!

  18. Avatar of Travelle McFarland

    I say, ‘bring it on!’

  19. Avatar of JayMarie
    JayMarie says:

    I wish people were more honest! So many people just say how much they love your blog in hope for a follow or follow back even if you ask for criticism! I think it’s healthy because we are able to see our weaknesses and improve them!

  20. Sarah says:

    This is such a well written article…and it’s also an excellent reminder. I have a blog, but before that, I’m a fashion photographer. I think I knew everything you’ve said here, but somewhere along the line, I forgot, and let a few rejected photo spread get to me. Time to pick up the pieces (and the camera) and get back to work!

  21. As a highly opinionated blogger, I get a lot of negative comments, from people who disagree with my criticism. First of all, when you put yourself out in the public domain, expect to be criticized. But stand by what you believe in. While I am extremely critical and often harsh, I always justify my opinions. I never say something is crap, I will always say something is crap BECAUSE of x, x, and x. And when someone disagrees, I will continue to defend my position. There are of course times when someone brings a new angle to the conversation, which I welcome, but in most cases, my readers respect the fact that I stand by my opinions (whether they agree or not.) If you believe in what you write, and are willing to defend yourself, then your blog will become stronger for it. The only time I delete comments is if they contain abusive language.

  22. Sekine says:

    I was a writer before taking up blogging, which I do mostly for the practice. Rejection is par for the course in writing and I have to deal with rude and snarky editors and nasty ratings and comments on book sites on a regular basis, so I thought absolutely nothing of people not leaving comments or leaving negative comments on my blog before reading this article. I can understand why personal comments would bother people. Instead of automatically onboarding the thought that there’s something wrong with you or your blog (“It shows us when our work (our posts, our photography, our proposals) or our skill set is simply not good enough and needs improvement.”), remember that some of these commenters are just classic trolls and their problems are most likely psychological and have nothing to do with you at all. As for rejected pitches, just ignore those and keep improving. Don’t let anything or anyone get you down. It comes with the territory.

  23. Yes, I had haters comments, rejections from brands, rejections form other bloggers, etc. Every time I try to take a lesson – what is not good. First hater comment – they told me I’m wearing the ugliest dress on Earth, I thought maybe I need to be more thoughtful about my outfits… I improved my style significantly since than. I grew my traffic by 500% and now my blog is my job. As for the brands which rejected my proposal – well, fine because they were not a great fit anyways. I have better goals to pursue. As for the fellow bloggers rejection – that’s fine too. I founded first official community for Australian bloggers to network and really don’t care about a few of snobbish people while we have almost a hundred wonderful individuals gathered under one roof :)

    So yes! bring it on more rejections – we need that push to work harder and grow larger ;)

    Thanks for the article!

    xx

  24. Jill says:

    Thank you for posting this article! It really got me thinking about my own blog and how I can improve it. Although, I haven’t received any negative comments/criticisms my blog yet (not that I want them), I did notice that I RARELY get any comments which in a way is kind of negative right? I mean I see my statistics grow in number regularly but no one really leaves a comment except for maybe one or two people. One who is a real friend of mine and the other with a “Nice blog! I’ll follow yours if you follow mine” kind of a comment. My hubby said that that’s ok because it’s easier for people to be a voyeur. But then again maybe, like what another blogger said, I’m not writing articles that are compelling enough for others to actually leave a comment? Hmmmmmm….

    I have also been going back and forth for about a month now about writing articles and even videos that are more personal but I have to admit that I am a little bit scared of what it might entail especially now that I am currently on a job hunt. I’m scared of what future employers might think and have it be the reason why I get rejected for a job. But then again it might also help me get one. I guess at the end of the day, it’s about taking risks and how much you’re willing to put yourself out there.

    Xo,
    Jill

  25. Awesome, awesome article… well written too! THANK YOU as ever!!
    Whitley at the Queen City Style

  26. Patience says:

    Funny how I stumbled upon this, I just received my first negative comment last week. It hurts, but you just have to move on and learn from it.

    http://www.justpatience.com

  27. Sabina says:

    I definitely appreciate the need for constructive criticism. Key word= constructive, since some people are just trolls and are looking to provoke an argument by being nasty.

    But then again, even more often, there’s just too much butt kissing in the fashion blogosphere, with bloggers hoping for link love and not being at all genuine. That’s just as unhelpful as leaving comments, like: Damn that’s an ugly outfit.

    • very true, I hear you on this, but then i see people leaving bad comments only as ‘anonymous’ why? People cannot understand you can disagree without being rude or judging the person. There is a very nice blogger I know and sometime i read people tell her ‘you look like a poor in that shoes’ or stuff like that. Why can’t you just say ‘I would not wear thise shoes’ instead??

  28. Actually, when I started my blog I had something useful in mind for the reader, but as one of the rare plus size fashion bloggers in Italy I was ready for harsh criticism. To tell the truth I wanted to convey a clear message and that meant taking bad comments into account. I always have moderation on, but only in case of real haters or trolls, but I feel like negative comments are a sign of success for me because what I want is changing some people’s mind and you can’t do that without being criticized. It hurts a lot at first, but then I have learnt it means being noticed too. Once I had a very bad arrack from a youtuber who even made videos on me, but I realized all she said was based on guessing and she hadn’t read anything of what I write. This helped me go through it as a real and serious critique cannot take reading for granted.

  29. Sascha says:

    I haven’t received lots of negative comments, but the ones I’ve had were somewhat ridiculous. When I wrote about going freelance, one reader told me that “a lifestyle like the one you want doesn’t exist. You’re immature and need to grow up.” I was very happy to read that. Meant I had less competition than I thought. And I love being called immature, as it means I’m good at keeping a youthful mind.

    Months from that comment, I’m a successful freelance writer.

  30. Fran says:

    Sometimes I wish people left more constructive criticism comments instead of just “love it!” comments. The whole point of blogging for me is to explore my closet and wear my clothes in new ways, and while the love it comments are nice to get, I would love some actual advice too! I read a ton of blogs and whenever someone says something along the lines of “im not sure how I feel about this, what do you think?” I always try to give an honest opinion and suggestion. I think we owe it to each other :)

    • Fran says:

      I forgot to mention that sometimes rejection can be something that can make your blog a lot stronger. I don’t go around begging for sponsorships, but have contacted several companies that “go” with what my blog is about. I’ve heard back from a few saying they like what I’m doing, but they would prefer a bigger following before they collaborate with me. I wouldn’t know what I needed unless they told me, so I’m glad the “rejection” is helping me build my blog.

  31. I agree with every word!! Great article!

  32. Lucia says:

    Thanks for this post. This is what I have been looking for. I am started a blog earlier this year, and have had to face negative comments about my post, which at times has been challenging…to say the least. This article has taught me that I can learn from this feedback and help me make my posts better… thanks :)

  33. Avatar of Ivana
    ivana says:

    The post is so inspirational for newbies, or anyone who deals with criticism. It is a way of improving yourself as a blogger for sure, however, some of them can be hurtful. The most important is not to give up, but keep doing your best, doing it for yourself with passion and dedication and people might like it.

    xoxo
    Ivana
    http://ruedetreschic.blogspot.com/

  34. Mrs. Kolca says:

    Thank you for this blog post. Now I know what to do with haters. Wooott!!!

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