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5 ways to take feedback like a pro

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

Newsflash, copywriters! “Feedback” is not a four letter word.


I know it feels that way sometimes, but it’s not. Learning to accept feedback (and even critique) is essential to not only becoming a better copywriter, but also to being a better teammate.


But it can be hard. I know. Especially at the beginning.


So I want to offer 5 tips that come from years of experience adjusting to new ways of thinking about work. When you can take feedback like a pro, you’ll get better jobs, better clients, and… you’ll be a stronger writer for it.


5 Ways to Take Feedback Like a Pro


1. Have a Learner’s Mindset


The word “mindset” gets thrown around a lot. But it’s REALLY important when you’re in the world of creative professionalism. You need to set yourself up for constant and never-ending improvement and learning.


It’s easier said than done, but when you put your work out there, try to think of every draft as just that... a draft.


The whole point of putting your words down on paper (or really, yet another Google doc LOL) is so you can learn from the input and expertise of others. In fact, some of the most skilled copywriters I know actually pay to have their work torn apart and reconstructed in expensive masterminds and workshops.



So what makes the difference between accepting advice gracefully or having your ego fight to the death?


Your attitude.


That’s right. You have the power to determine what you learn and how you grow.


You can decide to filter valuable information vs. not-so-great information – without taking it as an insult to your talent.


Try to remember that no one on this earth knows everything. Not even Deepak (although he’s pretty close!).


Dissolving the ego is an essential part of fine-tuning your craft – at any point in your life and career.


You have to expect you’ll be wrong sometimes. (And learn the skill of pretending to be surprised when someone tells you you’re right lol).



Your ego HATES being wrong, but there are so many ways to push through it. That nagging voice doesn’t want to help you... it wants you to stay stuck where you are. It wants you to fight to prove that you know everything. So, accept right now that you don’t (and you won’t) and let’s keep it moving.


2. It’s Not All About You


It’s important to develop yourself as a writer. But the reality is when you work for someone else, it’s not about you. It’s about them.


You're being hired to complete the tasks and projects required of you, which is why it’s so important to choose who you work for wisely.


Choosing the right boss and team can motivate you to do some of your best work. And if you don’t, you’ll struggle as a creative, which leads to resentment and drama…


Remember, you're expected to do the work you're hired to do. So if you take a job and find yourself constantly complaining about the tasks you’re given, that’s on you. You have choices – go out and find them.


3. Detach from Your Work


I work with a lot of junior copywriters and I’m amazed at how intensely they take criticism or negative feedback on the projects they present.


It’s always a battle of “but you said this…” or “you just don’t understand”. Or feeling crazy bummed when revisions are made.


Now I’m not throwing shade here... it can be super hard to have your creativity judged and juried. And by people who honestly probably don’t get it most of the time. Because there is usually a method behind the madness.


Excellent copywriting skill doesn’t show the strategy… because you’re in the story. That’s legit magic.



But the reality is, you are not your work. I mean you are your work, in that it’s important you put your best work and effort forward when you produce something. But you’re simply a (super good-looking) vessel for the words and ideas that flow through you.


Fun fact: Harry Potter, The Catcher in the Rye, and even Chicken Soup for the Soul were all rejected multiple times before finally being published. That’s about as unbelievable as someone saying Santa Clause isn’t a real person. But it’s the truth.


So what does that mean for you? That even the greatest writers we know are susceptible to rejection.


It’s not personal. It’s work.


A former boss once told me, “Marketing isn’t organs in a cooler.” So when you find yourself getting too attached to your own work… take a step back, detach from the outcome, and just get that shit done. You know you have 500 other tasks on your plate, so wrap it up and move on with your life.


4. Hone Your (Passion) Skills


While you can become an observer of your work, sometimes that’s easier said than done.


Which brings me to this little trick that makes the feedback feel less like a bore and more like part of the work… passion projects.


We’re writers. We wear berets and drink wine and listen to jazz in smoke-filled rooms with, right?


Not exactly.


If that’s all we did, emails wouldn’t go out, blogs wouldn’t be posted, and the good people of the world would never get to read those quippy captions on Instagram.


Also, pretty sure we’d all have emphysema.


But if you’re finding it hard to take advice or get out of a negative funk with your work, I highly recommend you do in fact start a writing project just for you. This could be a journal, a blog, or even a novel.


Your creativity is a gift. It needs to be nurtured.


Liz Gilbert has a really amazing quote in her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She says, “I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”


Do you feel seen? I know I did when I read that the first time.


Remind yourself of this when you’re trying to force creativity. You need space for creativity to breathe, to live… to just be.


Understanding there’s a separation between the work you do for others and the work you do for yourself is key to keeping a healthy creative balance.


Writing is an art. So have some MF fun with it, mmkay?


5. Know How to Respectfully Disagree


Now I know I’ve said a lot of things here about detaching from your work, being open and objective, and having a learner’s mindset – things that make the feedback flow just a little easier. But there’s a little catch I want to talk about before we wrap up.


Sometimes… you… are… right. Like SUPER RIGHT. And you know it.


But you need to decide… is it a hill you want to die on?



It may be a grammatical issue or even an entire metaphor. Or a nonword people use as a word (I’m looking at you, “conversate”.)


I promise you will find yourself in situations where you have to agree to disagree. And that, my friend, is an artform.


A technique I’ve adapted personally when dealing with clients who want things that really aren’t in their best interest is the “I strongly suggest X, but I’ll defer to you”.


X may be the smallest detail, but I feel that if I’m doing my job properly, I'm to be the guide. I offer my expertise, data, and reasoning behind decisions.


But at the end of the day, when you work for someone else… it’s their business. Not yours. They get to choose whether to or not to listen.


And although your client may not see it immediately, what’s really important is to make them feel you have their best interests at heart. That you are a team player. The goal is to build trust, relinquish any feelings of combativeness, and develop open communication moving forward.


So try out: “I strongly suggest X, but I’ll defer to you”. It’s a short phrase with a lot of power.


One other quick pro tip when it comes to this sort of thing… data is your best friend.


Copywriting (really anything creative and/or marketing) is a blend of art and science. A blend of gut instinct and experience.


So, when you have a disagreement on copy, suggest a split test. For example, an email or a webpage. Then… let data decide the winner.


It’s easy to argue with an emotional person… not so easy to argue with numbers.



So there you have it. My 5 best tried and true ways to build up your confidence and get your mind right so you can take feedback like a pro.


If you’re interested in leveling up your skills and working with more (or better) clients, I got you. I’m now offering copy coaching sessions, where we’ll talk about where you want to go and why… and I’ll review your work and offer you feedback. I love mentoring up-and-coming writers and helping them develop their skills… and make more money. Book your session here.


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