How to Deal with Negative Client Feedback

Here’s what to do to do when receive negative client feedback, that soul-crushing moment that makes you question whether or not you really have what it takes as a writer.

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Written by:
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How to deal with negative client feedback

The sting! The horror! This negative client feedback is hardly the response a writer wants to receive:

“It’s okay, but what we’re really looking for …

This, after we’ve combed through client testimonials and tussled with taglines.

After we’ve written the blog post, tagline, sales page—what have you—and then revised, walked away, revised again.

Finally, at some wee hour of the morning, we shared the Google Doc …


“It’s a start, but this isn’t quite it … 

Well I’ll be a good goddam. At this point, you can see that the client has pulled out the headlamp and scalpel. Multiple stakeholders have descended on the document like ravenous blood hounds (you can see their little turtle and dinosaur avatars popping in the top right of the Gdoc, the venemous minions).

Subject matter experts.

Content leads.


They gnash it all up, sentence by bloody sentence.

“I don’t like this phrasing at all. Who wrote this!?

All we can do is sit there gasping as the cabin loses pressure and the ego enters a terrible flat spin. In an instant, a once promising career in professional writing is careening toward the deep, cold, and unforgiving waters of imposter syndrome. 

The clock has struck amateur hour.

The cursor blinks back at you in savage and perpetual silence.

Now what?

I think this needs to be rewritten …

The first impulse will be to react—to disagree, contend, and combat. Sidestep this impulse! Instead, step away from the screen. Jog to the breakwater and back. Sip on an ice cold Yoohoo (remember Yoohoo?). Slip into the hammock for a midday siesta.

Given time, the sting of negative client feedback does fade. In its place sprouts acknowledgement and acceptance. The level head regenerates like a severed gecko’s tail, which is exactly what the battered writer needs.

Because negative client feedback is not necessarily a death knell. It’s a natural part of an iterative writing process. It’s the writer’s opportunity to make a good faith effort to meet the client’s expectations and see the project through—to deliver a quality deliverable that supports larger business objectives.

As long as the writer communicates clearly, articulates the reasoning behind their choices and makes every effort to address the client’s concerns, the project will move forward, one way or another. The professional writing life, too, will go on.

Of course, this curious melodrama happens less often as one grows and improves. And there is always room to grow and improve. One might argue that no writer is even supposed to get it right the first time; nor did any writer make it their entire career without encountering some friction, pushback, even animosity.

An iterative process, writing is. Healthy and natural, as is the feedback we receive.

The difference is how the writer handles the situation.

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