Saturday , 23 June 2018
Use rejection as a motivator. Channel whatever energy you might use to yell “unfair”, “why”, or whatever it is you’re feeling into good ‘ole “I’ll show them”. After all, your own success is the best revenge.

Rejection Is A Great Motivator


Butterfly Map Natural History Display

Butterfly Map Natural History Display


Guest Article by : Fine Heart’s Mindstream

Three stories of how being rejected made my online jewelry shop a much better shop.

Recently, I have achieved some success in my online jewelry shop on Etsy. Knowing I am in an extremely competitive category and realizing that dumb luck just doesn’t cut it online, I decided to take the time and analyze why and how I feel like I am finally getting some traction online. What did I do to get here?

It occurred to me that it all started with rejection. I was rejected by three different entities. Unknowns. People whom I have never met and will probably never know, rejected my shop in one way or another. What I realized about myself and rejection were golden.

Rejection is never easy to take. It could be a boyfriend who says no, a co-worker who won’t lunch with you, a boss who passed you over for a promotion, or a potential client who walks away. What I have learned is this: it is not who rejected you or even why they rejected you that is important.

What is important is HOW you handle the rejection.

Rejection Story #1: How rejection made me mad and want to get even.

After working very hard on my online jewelry shop last year, I thought I was ready. My photos were attractive, my descriptions not only convinced but inspired, and my handmade jewelry line made me proud. I had developed my designs, techniques and honed my skills for seven years. Yes, I thought, I was ready.

Ready for what? You ask.
Ready to join an Etsy Treasury Team. This was not just any other team; this was a very focused marketing and calculating machine. They had one goal in mind: make the Etsy Front Page with their treasuries.

Treasuries are little art exhibits which are curated by Etsy members. They are a fantastic way to get exposure to other Etsians, their respective Facebook fans, and their faithful Twitter followers. Treasuries are a perfect mixture of innocent organic marketing and savvy social media. Basically, if your shop is featured in an Etsy Treasury, you get free advertising. Free exposure in my book is always a good thing.

Etsy Front Page glory is a mythical creature which when tapped into has the powerful combination of fairy godmother wish, Aladdin’s lamp juice, and Barbara Eden’s Jeannie complete with cute outfit and ponytail showing up on your doorstep. It’s a good thing.

I fell in love.
After researching treasury teams, reading their blogs, absorbing their posts, viewing many treasuries, looking at the shops on the teams, I fell in love with one. It was not easy, but I revved up the nerve to apply to join. And yes, I even held my breath a little, while waiting in anticipation of my approval letter.

While waiting, I ventured into the Etsy Forums. I found a few posts about shops applying to teams and being rejected. Nice Etsy peeps would encourage the rejected with words of wisdom like: “you don’t want to be part of such a snobby team”, “it’s not you, it’s them”, and “bah, you don’t need that team anyway”.

Uh oh.
It didn’t even occur to me that I could be rejected. Now, I was more than a little concerned that I may not be approved. (Not me, right?) Well, I woke up the next day to find a new note in my Etsy In-box. I clicked and there it was. A letter from the team captain telling me how my photos were not good enough and that I needed to work on my shop. OUCH! That stung.

I was hurt, humiliated, and embarrassed that I even presumed to apply to their team. I felt pretty low. What I didn’t expect was the next wave of emotions that came. I was mad, indignant, and felt like I was wronged somehow. I went to the Forums to find consolation but I did not have the nerve to start a post entitled, “I’m a reject”. So I resisted the urge to purge.

Instead, I went back and re-read the rejection message again. I took a deep breath, composed a polite note thanking them for their prompt response (yeah, like a band-aid being ripped off quickly – I thought). I explained that I understood their position and that I resolved to make my pictures better. And, I meant every word.

What ya gonna do about it?
That day, I went to task. I researched photographs from other Etsy Shops, magazines, internet shops and online publications. I researched photography in general and read every product photography advice I could get my hands on. When I came to the end of what I could understand, I called one of my good friends who is a professional photographer. I picked her brain. I asked questions about things I did not fully comprehend. I took a lot of notes.

It was an amazing feeling! I had enough “I’ll show them” energy to last me two months straight!

Armed with my new product photography knowledge, I re-photographed many of my jewelry pieces. I tried different angles, experimented with lighting (a biggie), and used different backgrounds. I studied what worked and re-took what did not.

With the new pictures looking better, I was still not finished. Now it’s all about editing. I used a software similar to PhotoShop. I pushed the envelope of my knowledge base on editing. I researched functionality I did not understand. I tried buttons I was afraid to use. I experimented and failed; I experimented and won. There was a huge learning curve to overcome, but I managed to learn. Finally, I had a handful of product photography I could be proud to use.

On a mission.
I made it a goal to replace all the pictures in my shop – eventually. Even if I had to upload only a few a day, I was determined to complete the task. I had over 150 listings and I knew it would not be easy. In the meantime, something unexpected happened. I started to enjoy the process of taking pictures of my items. I felt like I knew what I was doing so it did not take as long to set up a shot, or to edit small lighting imperfections. I was recharged to take pictures of new items I created and inspired to show off my new skills. I added new items to my shop daily.

Shortly after uploading new pictures of existing items, I started to receive inquiry e-mails everyday. After replacing 50% of my pictures, I was included in Etsy treasuries every few days. The more items I listed with the better photographs, the more attention my shop received. I have been included in more treasuries every day since that rejection convo. (Yeah, the irony doesn’t escape me either.) Frankly, this was all new to me. It’s not a normal thing for my shop to be busy and just keep going. Obviously, I concluded, the new photos made all the difference.

So, is there a happy ending?
Of course exposure is nice, but we are all here to sell right? Well, yes, I started to sell – more than I have ever imagined possible online. It’s been a great few months.

Rejection Story Lesson #1:
Use rejection as a motivator. Channel whatever energy you might use to yell “unfair”, “why”, or whatever it is you’re feeling into good ‘ole “I’ll show them”. After all, your own success is the best revenge.

Next Post: Rejection Story #2 – How rejection from a promotional company prompted me to promote.

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  1. What a great, inspiring post! Thanks much, I’m looking forward to the next two lemons-into-lemonade.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. What a great, positive response to the situation.

  3. Really great article.
    An inspiration for a lot of people!

  4. Great story…you truly have a positive attitude. Its great reading about how you took the negative and turned it into the positive!

  5. great great great… rejection is a great thing… lets take advantage of it… lets change and improve!

  6. Ha, I so relate to this. Same thing happened to me in a way. When I started I was so proud of my little shop and my items. I applied to a selling site in UK (one that you have to apply to not just set up shop) and they said no. It was a standard rejection but I plucked up the courage to write back and ask if they could give me any pointers. Response? my photos. Searched and researched, redid them, applied again, same response. This continued for maybe 6 months, eventually I bought a new camera which took good close ups and a product photography book. I applied again – ha ha – and still got rejected lol but… finally my items sell, I get included in treasuries and people comment on my great photos which every single time makes me grin from ear to ear. (A small rider – I was doing a web search – found a review of said site I was trying to get on and having read up am now quote pleased they rejected me, for two reasons, now my photos are good and secondly they are too expensive but this time its me rejecting them (in my mind at least).
    I totally agree, every single rejection can lead to improvement if you listen and learn from it. Great post.

    • Yeah, sometimes a rejection is a blessing in disguise. I didn’t bother re-applying to that team but I found another team that I totally adore! In fact, just yesterday, one of my team member’s treasury was on the front page. It was an awesome feeling to be part of such a cool and supportive group!

  7. Saw your post on Handmadeology- bravo! New follower…..

  8. I also had a very similar experience. The rejection was a big motivator, and I did improve my photos!

    It would be so much easier to be a seller and to take product photos if I did not need a model, but the truth is that it’s really helpful to have a person to wear your item in at least one photo. This has been the biggest challenge in product photography for me.

  9. Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I hope I inspire some to keep keepin’ on. It’s a tough race but I still believe those who work the hardest really get ahead :)

  10. Can’t wait to read the next installment.

  11. Such a great inspiring post…..Thank you!

  12. This was helpful to read – Thanks : )

  13. This is so true. The first wedding team I applied for rejected me because my pictures weren’t good enough, either. That was about a year ago, and I’ve improved my photos leaps and bounds since then. You can’t let it get you down.

  14. Disappointment is a reality check.
    Best to learn from it.
    Sally Anne

  15. Well done, what a great positive attitude. Funny how something like this turns out so positive. And better photos mean better sales. Something I need to work on myself!

  16. This is so true of life even outside etsy (is there a life outside etsy?) School netball team comes to mind. :+)40 years and it still smarts. Let it go woman.

    • Hi Pam. Boy, you hit a chord with that one! Me too. It was all about reputation then, we moved, new school and suddenly, I was a ‘jock’. Well, almost. LOL. Moral? Re-invent yourself, your shop, etc.

  17. Excellent advice! I think we all have a few rejection stories, but you are correct in saying that the best way of dealing with this type of situation is kind of a “Don’t get mad, get even” response. Continue to improve yourself & realize that the ‘critics’ don’t have all the answers, either, so take their thoughts with a grain of salt (whatever that really means…). Re-invent & improve in the ways that work for you & your shop.

  18. Thanks for the inspiration. It’s great to see such great results come from that rejection.

  19. Loves your articles, I am a fan of you!!!!

  20. Rejected just three times. You are lucky. Many people go through years of rejection and still keep coming only to find more rejection and failure even when they get mad and decide to promote themselves only to find more rejection. I say your very lucky.

  21. Interesting article! You did the right thing by not letting it get you down and by finding out all you could and changing it. As you found out it paid off.Regards,Michael.

  22. What an inspiring story! It also proves that putting your ego aside, you can learn a lot. Note to self….

    Carol Joy

  23. Someone once gave me a great quote that I always remember when things like this happens

    The best revenge is a life well lived!

    So you took the rejection and turned it into positive energy. Good to hear and continued success! Thanks for the motivation. I too was recently rejected from a regional team that I thought would be a great group of locals to know and work with because of the photographs of our handcrafted magnets. I am starting to redo the photographs of our magnets as well, but since the majority of our business is selling to museums, historic sites, wineries and gift shops around the country and this is our busiest time of the year filling orders, it will be a slow process, but I am determined. Thank you again for this motivating article!
    Fredda from The Magnificent Magnet

  24. What a great story and lesson! Glad you could show them :)

  25. Any fuel you can add to your fire can only be a good thing, and especially when someone tells you No! Just because someone else doesn’t like what you make, does that mean you’re going to stop? No! :0)

  26. It’s amazing how what we do with our rejections can either make us better or make us wallow in self-pity and self-doubt. I had my first show recently, and I did pretty well with my sales, but I had someone return an item they changed their mind about the next day. In that moment, ALL I could think about was that one person who didn’t like my work, rather than all the positive responses I had gotten. And I thought…I’m terrible at this, my work is crap! After a little pity-party I snapped out of it, but it was definitely a learning moment. Thanks so much for your honesty about rejection and triumphing over it! After all, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger! :)

  27. Thank you for the wisdom and inspiration in this article. I don’t feel like I’m there yet, but your story is a real shot in the arm. Perspective. :)

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