In this article, I join Jessica Yeo, Senior Creative Project Manager at Superside, in providing advice on how freelance writers can best accept and improve from feedback. Learning to do this sooner rather than later will help shape you into a better, more successful writer in the long-run. So let’s begin!

Feedback is something that every worker must learn how to deal with. But it seems to hit much closer to home for professionals in more creative fields and industries. In my own experience, I have received feedback while in an office marketing position, in the restaurant industry, as well as in teaching. But none of that has managed to go to my head as much as feedback on my writing has. That’s because writing feels so personal. And yes, I know that in saying this I’m breaking the cardinal rule of “never take feedback personally.”

Regardless of how accurately we try to capture the client’s desired tone of voice and style, it is still our take on that style that reflects onto the page. Writing is subjective and, as such, it can make receiving and accepting feedback quite the obstacle—but one that we must overcome to grow and prosper in this profession.

Knowing how to improve from feedback is crucial

As writers, we know that feedback is not always easy to receive and yet, we receive feedback nearly every day. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that feedback plays a significant role in the writing process. Before we discuss how to accept and improve from feedback, let’s establish precisely why it is such an important part of writing.

Improves learning 

First and foremost, feedback encourages learning. One of the most difficult forms of feedback I’ve personally received was from a client in need of a white paper. At the time, I only had one to two months of professional writing experience under my belt and had never heard of a “white paper” before. I mistakenly assumed that it was just another standard blog article. Little did I know upon submitting my blog-style, slightly humorous article that a white paper is actually a very formal, authoritative report, which rarely consists of humor and casual language. 

I will never forget what the client told my project manager after reviewing my work: “No offense, but this looks like a college student quickly researched the topic and threw together an average paper to hand in to her professor.” While the client was perfectly valid in his disappointment over the project, this was my first official client feedback and I couldn’t help but take it to heart. 

I felt horrible and began doubting my skills, wondering if I was even qualified to be doing this work. I eventually put a stop to those thoughts and decided to make this a learning experience. It was extremely difficult but now, I can confidently say that I have mastered the once terrifying white paper. And every time I complete one, I think back to one year ago and reflect on how much I have learned since that experience.  

Also see: The importance of quality content: What it is and why it matters for your career as a writer

Enhances relationships 

Another reason why feedback is so important is because it fosters a better relationship between writers and their clients. When a client feels that their opinions and thoughts are being taken into consideration, they feel more included in the creative process. And when they feel that they have played some role in the process, the chances of the client being satisfied with the end product are significantly greater. 

In addition to strengthening client relationships, feedback also helps to enhance professional relationships among colleagues. Take an editor, for example. When an editor provides feedback to a writer who then takes that feedback and grows from it, there is a sense of trust and appreciation between the two parties. The editor knows that the writer is willing and capable of taking constructive feedback, as the writer indicates that he or she wants to improve.  

Promotes growth 

The third reason why feedback matters is because it encourages growth on both a personal and professional level. It requires writers to actively listen, analyze, and self-reflect on things they can work on. Not only are these important skills to help improve in writing, but they are important skills to grow and improve as a person and a professional. 

With all that in mind, let’s discuss how writers can accept and improve from feedback.  

How to accept and improve from feedback 

how to improve from feedback as a writer


1. Listen and keep it professional

The first thing you must do when receiving feedback is listen—and I mean really listen. It’s easy to become defensive when someone is correcting you or telling you to do something differently than you normally would. But just remind yourself from the beginning that professional feedback is never personal. 

And yes, I know that this is much easier said than done. But if you can listen professionally, you will be better equipped to respond professionally later. 

Also see: 5 steps to becoming a professional content writer

2. Take a moment

Rarely does anything good come from responding without thinking, which Senior Creative Project Manager Jessica Yeo attests to:

“Usually, the first thing I do when I receive feedback is to just let it be and not react too soon,” she says. “I feel this helps to give me a fresh perspective because if I react too fast, sometimes I don’t get a full grasp or understanding of what the feedback actually means.”

When you receive feedback, don’t be afraid to take a moment and sit on it. This will clear your mind and help you to better analyze and respond to what your client or manager is telling you. 

3. Know the difference between objective and subjective

Another tip that Jessica recommends when receiving feedback is to understand the difference between objective and subjective. “My response often depends on the nature of the feedback, whether it is something black and white or subjective,” Jessica explains. 

If the feedback addresses a clear error or mistake you have made, that is quite different than something more subjective. Keep in mind that both forms of feedback are different and, therefore, may call for a different kind of response. 

4. Reflect

This next tip is extremely important in the feedback process. Because let’s face it, you can’t really grow or improve from feedback if you don’t reflect on it. If the feedback is objective, regarding a blatant mistake or error you made, ask yourself why you think it happened and how you can prevent it from happening again. 

For example, I once submitted a paper that had a few grammatical errors. This was clearly a black and white error that I made. After reflecting on the feedback that addressed these mistakes, I realized that they were the result of insufficient time spent on proofreading. Once I got to the root of the issue, I was then able to come up with a solution to better check and review my work before submitting it. (Hint: check out Grammarly if you want a high-tech writing tool to check your work as you go!) 

Also see: Top 10 apps for content and marketing professionals

If the feedback is more subjective, try to take a more empathetic approach when reflecting. Put yourself in your client’s or project manager’s shoes to understand why they think the way they do about your writing. You can then determine if their points are valid and if there is something you can change to improve your writing, or if it is simply a difference in writing styles and preferences. 

5. Respond

After listening and reflecting on the feedback, you are ready to respond. It’s important to maintain a level of professionalism while indicating to the client or coworker that you have really listened and digested their feedback. Emphasizing this will help establish a better, stronger relationship between you and your clients or your colleagues. 

And always feel free to ask them questions about their feedback if you don’t understand. Trust me, it will make all the difference to them knowing that you care enough to fully understand their comments. 

Take advantage of constructive feedback

There you have it: the importance of knowing how to accept and improve from feedback. Giving and receiving feedback is not easy but it is all part of the job and the day-to-day life of a writer. Once you learn how to take feedback, you will unlock a wonderful new learning tool to help you grow both as a person and a professional. 

Do you have any more advice on how to improve from feedback?