We just released our 49th episode of TheProExposure in which we interviewed commercial and editorial photographer Joel Grimes. Over the course of an hour on the episode we discussed branding and defining a style, going to market with your work, competing as well as handling rejection.
I encourage you to check out the podcast (particularly the points he gives on how we only try to market to a client – like a magazine – maybe twice and the problem with that approach) but I also wanted to expand a bit on the topic of rejection.
It is stunning how much time and energy we spend to attempt to avoid rejection. We spend time developing a portfolio, maybe even marketing materials like a website and business card – but then never show it to anyone who can actually hire us (just our Twitter and Facebook followers).
We spend a significant amount of time (and sometimes even money) to grow our social media following to unbelievable numbers to inflate our personal feelings of gratification and self-worth – but never call up a client we want to work with or pitch to a magazine we want to connect with.
Maybe we send off an e-mail to someone, but once we don’t hear back we immediately assume they are not interested and that we have forever lost the potential to work with them (once again – check out the podcast which discusses this).
We can do this until our career turns into a hobby that withers into a fading interest.
And it is easy to understand why we want to avoid rejection. We are our own brands. So when a rejection happens – we take it so personally. How could they reject me?
What we often perceive as rejection is not. Perhaps the client we are pitching to is busy. Perhaps it is not the right fit today – but might be in a month. Perhaps they can’t afford you on this project but want you for the next one. Don’t automatically assume everything is a rejection.
And when it is a rejection, it is not typically a rejection of you – just whatever you’re pitching at that time. Perhaps it is refining the pitch. Perhaps it is an opportunity to work on building the relationship first.
However – by avoiding rejection we prevent ourselves from ever achieving success.