Being a freelance animator is no joke, and if you’ve been at it for a while, you know that sinking feeling you get when a proposal gets turned down or you end up not acquiring a job after having an interview with a prospective client.
You probably have various thoughts swirling around your head when this sort of misfortune strikes: How do you bounce back from a freelance animator job rejection? Or you might be wondering how to deal with rejection as a creative who makes their living off of doing what they love.
It can be hard to accept that someone didn’t love your work as much as you do, but that shouldn’t keep you from reaching out to prospective animation clients. The secret is to keep going, but how do you do that while feeling absolutely gutted from several job rejections?
In this blog post, we’ll give you our top tips on how to deal with freelance animator job rejection, and how you can end up using it to your advantage - and thrive.
When Facing Freelance Animator Job Rejection:
Know that You Are Not Alone
It is very important to realize that you are not the first person to experience rejection as a working freelance animator. Many others have been in your shoes before.
Other freelance animators might not be advertising their rejection letters or failed proposals on social media, but you can be sure that they’ve gone through the exact same thing before landing a client.
The best thing you can do when faced with rejection as a freelance animator is to reach out to others who are currently going through the same thing or has plenty of experience in how to handle freelance animator job rejection.
Freelance animators that have experienced job rejection before will be able to give you good advice and support you emotionally. They can give you advice on how to deal with it and even share with you how they landed their first clients.
Another way you can deal with job rejection as a freelance animator is by using the resources on the internet.
There are plenty of podcasts like “The Animated Journey” and “Animation Addicts” that will provide you with plenty of inspiration and motivation, as well as YouTube channels like BAM Animation and Philip VanDusen that provide advice and tips on how to build your freelance animation business.
Spending time listening to podcasts and watching channels like these will allow you to hear from people who share their own experiences and how they managed to land clients, which will help you feel less alone and motivate you to keep trying.
Don’t Take Freelance Animator Job Rejection Too Personally
One of the hardest things to do when dealing with job rejection as a freelance animator is to not take it personally.
Your first reaction might be to feel like you’re a failure, but that is simply not the truth. You need to put it into context and realize that all freelance animators face rejection in their careers - you’re not the first, and you most certainly won’t be the last.
You won’t and can’t get every job you apply for, and that’s okay. As soon as you adopt that attitude, rejection will sting a little less.
Your first reaction when you get rejected for a freelance animator job might be to cry into your pillow or punch it in frustration. This is actually not a bad thing.
Venting can be very good for you, even therapeutic, but you need to approach it the right way. You can talk to a trusted friend or give yourself some time to take it slow and come to terms with the job rejection.
Listening to music, journaling, or exercising are all constructive ways to deal with job rejection and will help you to process your emotions and move forward with renewed enthusiasm.
Don’t Play the Comparison Game
Keep in mind that your fellow animators on social media who seem to be thriving most definitely aren’t running to the platform to share their own job rejections, and therefore you shouldn’t compare yourself to them.
GIF via Giphy
Clair Rossiter, a freelance illustrator, is adamant that you shouldn’t measure your success according to how your peers seem to be doing on social media.
“No one else advertises their rejections, so don't be fooled into thinking it only happens to you. It's part of the industry, and you do recover, even when it hurts. Sometimes it's just about taking what you can from their feedback and learning where your work does fit.”
Ryder Design, who is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer shares this sentiment. "It's important to recognize that we all get rejected sometimes. We might not admit it: We only hear about success – not 'failures' or rejections. So take what people say on social media with a pinch of salt!"
Don’t See Freelance Animator Job Rejection as a Reflection of Your Work
This is incredibly important to remember. Just because you are facing plenty of animation job rejections doesn’t mean you suck.
Keep in mind that there are various reasons why you might not land a specific freelance animator job. You might be contacting the wrong people or perhaps you just contacted the right people at the wrong time.
It is always useful to put yourself into the hiring manager’s shoes and realize that many factors could have been at play when a decision was made not to hire you.
The company could have been in the middle of a deadline, maybe they received an insane amount of applications, or perhaps your animation portfolio just didn’t showcase the exact skills they were looking for for that specific role.
Have a Thick Skin
As a freelance animator, you’ve probably realized that the freelancing industry is not for the faint-hearted. The animation industry might be booming, but it’s an incredibly competitive environment, and therefore freelance animators face job rejection every day.
GIF by CBS via Giphy
Some prospective clients might never come back to you, while others might give you pretty harsh feedback. As hard as that might be to endure, you need to learn to brush it off and not take all criticism too seriously.
Vicky Scott, an illustrator, says that the best thing you can do is to accept that you can’t please every client you pitch to. “If you put your work out there, some people will tell you they don't like it...and that is okay. You need a very thick skin, self-belief, and friends!”
Constructive Ways to Deal with Freelance Animator Job Rejection
Realize that Rejection Offers Valuable Information
Dealing with rejection as a freelance animator is hard, but a great way to deal with a rejected job proposal is to try and see what you can learn from it.
Job rejection can be more than just a punch in the gut - it can provide you with some valuable information if you’re willing to look past the initial disappointment.
- Ask for Feedback on Your Work and Skills
The best thing you can do after receiving a dreaded rejection email is to email the company back, thank them for taking the time they took to look at your proposal, and ask them if they’d be so kind as to provide you with feedback for why you didn’t get the job.
Very few people take the time to do this, and it will show that you are genuinely interested to work with the company and are open to improvement and learning new things.
You might be surprised at how some companies provide you with feedback. They might tell you that they are looking for someone who has experience with specific animation software or that they ended up not hiring anyone for the job, in which case you will have the opportunity to re-apply.
Knowing why you got rejected for an animation job provides you with invaluable information that will help you better your proposal next time. It will also help you to deal with job rejection more quickly and move on to the next opportunity.
- Look for Recurring Rejection Themes
Facing job rejection as a freelance animator can either bring you down or build up your skillset. Make sure you use it to do the latter.
A good way to do this is to pay attention to similarities in feedback from prospective clients that ended up rejecting your job proposal. If you keep getting the same feedback from various companies that decided to reject your freelance animation services, you should take it seriously.
GIF by CBS via Giphy
Maybe plenty of prospective animation clients said that your use of color doesn’t work well or that your 3D animation isn’t up to standard. While hearing this might be hard, it’s a great opportunity to better the skills that you know potential animation clients are looking for.
Try out some different color palettes and spend some time on your 3D designs. Keep track of the work in your showreel that gets positive feedback, and incorporate more of that into your next project.
Use Every Freelance Animator Job Rejection as Fuel to Propel You Forward
We’ve already established that facing multiple rejections as a freelance animator should be used as a tool to catapult you forward in your career. So how can you do this?
Perhaps you can try a different approach when it comes to your work, or maybe you can promote it differently. Whatever you do, don’t allow the disappointment of a freelance animator job rejection to keep you from trying again.
Evaluate which aspects of your work are working, and which are not, and make the necessary changes.
If you want to be a successful freelance animator, you’ll have to develop grit and resilience, and the best way to do that is by living through countless animation job rejections and trying again.
Adopt a mindset where you see every setback as a new challenge that can help you grow in your career and abilities. See it as a chance to learn how to deal with disappointment and bounce back stronger than before.
The best thing you can do when you find yourself dealing with job rejection as a freelance animator is to take those feelings of disappointment and harness them in a positive way, using them as a drive to succeed instead of a reason to quit.
Illustrator Maggie Stephenson has learned that keeping things positive is the best way to stay ahead.
“I've had my fair share of rejections. Let rejections fuel your focus and drive to push forward, to redirect, to go after something much better. Let it fuel your perseverance and thirst for things that are there to align with your vision.”
Designer Darnell Brown shares Stephenson’s view.
“Sometimes, folks aren't ready for your excellence. Other times, the opportunity exceeds your grasp. Either way, you're simply too early. Appreciate the setback for what it is because it will improve the merit of your eventual success story.”
Apply to Animation Jobs More than Once
This might sound like silly advice, because if a company rejects your freelance animation services that’s it, right? You couldn’t be more wrong.
Just because your animation proposal was rejected by a company once doesn’t mean they won’t ever make use of your services. Don’t be afraid to make a nuisance of yourself - if you qualify for a specific freelance animator job, apply. You should be putting yourself out there.
Apply for dozens and even hundreds of jobs. Even though that means you could face just as many rejections, it’s the only way to find an animation job and make a name for yourself as a freelance animator.
Be Patient with Freelance Animator Jobs
When you send an animation proposal to a company and they don’t get back to you, it’s easy to write it off as a rejection.
However, keep in mind that the company might not have any work for you right now, but could need your services in the future. Some animators get contacted months or even a year after their initial proposal to be offered work.
Use Your Own Psychology to Your Advantage
Constantly facing job rejection as a freelance animator can become incredibly tiring and disheartening if you don’t learn how to deal with it properly. Luckily, there are ways to help you deal with it constructively and move on.
Greg Findley, who works at Mantra, a graphic and web studio, says he tries to reflect on rejections with a sense of detachment. He says that he’s mindful that he has no control over how people respond to his work, and that feeling frustrated by rejection is a normal, human reaction.
Findley then tries to observe his response from a third-person perspective and think of the advice he would give to a friend in a similar situation.
He says, “rejection doesn't reject any of your previous work or successes. Nor does it define your future opportunities. You try and learn what you can from it, then let it pass like a cloud in the sky."
GIF by CBS via Giphy
Lauren Rasberry, a designer and illustrator, saves all the positive feedback she gets from clients on her projects in a folder called “Read When Sad.” Whenever she is faced with job rejection, she opens the folder and reads all the positive commentary to keep her going and trying again.
Colin Kersley, also an illustrator, says that he employs a very simple mind trick to deal with job rejection. He visualizes throwing the problem (in this case the rejection) into a big bin and moving on.
Keep Putting Your Animation Work Out There
Whatever you do, don’t allow freelance animator job rejection to drive you to quit something you’re passionate about. Keep sending out your animation proposals, no matter what.
As a freelance animator, you should allow rejection to become a part of your regular workday. See every job rejection as a sign that you are trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
GIF via Giphy
The amount of disappointment you feel when your animation proposal gets rejected is a sign that you deeply care about your work and can help you to reassess why you want to work as a freelance animator.
You should get comfortable with being uncomfortable and allow the setbacks you face to build resilience and affect your work in positive ways.
Freelancing Is a Business
This is one of the most important realizations you have to come to when it comes to freelance animation job rejection.
When sending animation proposals for prospective job opportunities, keep in mind that you are up against hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of other animators.
GIF by The Godfather via Giphy
Companies looking to hire freelance animators will “shop” around for the best candidate, and the best you can do is simply to be personable, communicate very well, and be easy to get along with.
You can also work on coming up with something that can make your work stand out from the rest to help you score more animation jobs.
It’s also important to remember that any freelance animator job rejection you will face is simply redirection to something better. The advantage of being a freelance animator is that there is a wide range of clients out there you can work with - the sky is the limit!
When one opportunity ends in a job rejection, another one is right around the corner, you just need to keep putting your work out there.
Take Some Time Out from Freelance Animator Job Searching
Freelance animation job rejections are common, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get a little tiring after a while, especially when the rejection emails keep rolling in.
Therefore, it’s good to take a break from applying for animation jobs every now and then to give yourself a breather.
Once you took a little break from job-hunting, you can start with a fresh perspective and new energy to chase after your dream animation projects.
How You Deal with Freelance Animator Job Rejection Will Determine Your Success
Does dealing with rejected job proposals as a freelance animator suck? Most definitely. Can you use it to your advantage? Absolutely!
As a freelance animator, rejection is part of the package, and you’ll have to deal with it one way or another. We suggest you use it to your advantage.
The best way to deal with rejection as a freelance animator is to use it as an opportunity to learn how you can better your skills for future job proposals and to remember that getting rejected for an animation job is rarely an indicator of how good your work is.
Use rejection as fuel to push you forward, and keep going until you find your dream job in animation. It might be just one more rejection email away.
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