My Rejection Story – Without Your Own Platform, You Don’t Exist

November 22, 2017

A few years ago I pitched the idea of a long, super high-quality piece of content to a really big online outlet. The piece was to be a warts ‘n' all “exposé” style piece based on my experiences and my journey so far.

I spoke to the editor and after some back and forth, they gave me the eager go ahead to write it and submit it for publishing.

To put this into context, this was the first time, really, that I'd been asked to write something “properly”.

I'd always enjoyed writing and used to do a lot for my geek blog before that fell away because we just got “too busy”, as these fun little side projects sometimes do.

At this point, the only profile that I had was writing for a few outlets such as The Guardian, here in the UK and none of those pieces was particularly long-form. In fact, they were small pieces intended to generate a little PR for the agency here in Yorkshire.

I viewed this new opportunity as a real chance to begin creating more content on a longer term basis, for an outlet that I really respected and was excited about the prospect of building my profile and relationship with that outlet.

And so I began.

After some planning, I crafted an outline, spent time building out the avatar for the piece and spent a week creating a 12,000-word article that covered my entire experience in starting and growing a design & digital agency.

Once I'd created the piece I actually commissioned a professional editor to look it over, edit it, give me guidance and feedback and then together, we turned it into the final, approx. 10,000-word piece that I submitted to the outlet.

I was elated, excited and sat there refreshing my emails, ready and waiting for a reply to say my piece had been scheduled for publishing.

The email I wanted never came

Once I'd submitted the piece, the editor gave it a good read over and gave me some news that didn't expect:

“It's a great piece, but we won't be using it.”

That was it. No explanation, no reasons why, no constructive feedback and no other communication at all.

I was devastated.

My chance had gone!

I'd respected this outlet for years and I'd put its content and website on such a pedestal, how was I ever going to do anything better than writing for them?

The wind had gone from my sails, my motivation had been depleted and I assumed that my skills and my experience weren't enough to help people.

I became paralysed by that rejection and I left the piece stagnating in my Dropbox for a couple of months, completely forgetting about it.

During this time, I began asking myself why the outlet had turned the piece down after actually asking for it.

After spending WAY too long worrying about this, I realised that the outlet could have had a plethora of reasons for not using it. And more importantly, they may not have been anything to do with the piece or my skills as a writer.

In fact, the reasons for not using the piece may have been so abstract and tied to their business goals, that no matter how good the piece was, it simply wouldn't have seen the light of day.

That helped, it really did – it helped to shift my mindset.

F*ck it. I AM good enough.

After a few months, I was away on holiday and decided that I wanted to create something special for people looking to start their first business.

After all, I've done it a few times, had some failures and some successes and probably made every single mistake you can think of.

And so, Excellence Expected was created and that rejected post become one of the earliest posts on the site.

The post has gone on to become, and remain, one of the biggest posts on the site in terms of traffic generation and has been revised a couple of times to reflect changes in my experience and feedback from readers who have gone through the process.

Since the rejection that almost stopped me from pursuing the idea of creating content for early stage entrepreneurs, I've gone on to craft a growing speaking career, a successful podcast network and I've gone on to write for even bigger outlets than the original one that rejected me.

Why am I telling you this?

This isn't an exercise in bragging.

This is an exercise in illustrating that:

  1. You should never take rejection as final.
  2. You should always be true to your own voice and if that isn't right for some people, well then that's just fine thank you.
  3. The power of your OWN platform that shouts loud your OWN voice is, for the long-term, much more powerful than anything else you will ever create.

The notion of creating your own online platform can be daunting, but believe me, if you aren't creating some kind of content that throws in a mix of your knowledge, experience and unique approach to things then you are missing an opportunity to build something that is truly your own, and something that can be shifted and taken with you wherever you go.

You know all you need to know to start creating and there are people in the world who will clamour to hear your voice, telling them what they need to hear at the time that they need it.

Don't be shy, embrace your own viewpoint and create your OWN platform, on your own terms with your own goals and ideals – attract people to you through the use of your own words crafted into helpful, honest and specific content that allows people to really get to know you in a way that creating for other people just doesn't allow.

Without your own voice, you don't exist. Find that voice and build it upon a platform that you can shape to your own personality – take the time to do so and reap the rewards that will follow.

Do this for YOURSELF and do it now. Don't delay, tomorrow isn't a better day to do it than today.

You don't need to be a techie, you simply need to sit down and start writing, or recording.

What's stopping you?

Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!

Mark Asquith

That British podcast guy, Mark is co-founder of, the world's only growth-oriented podcast host. A Harvard, TEDx, Podcast Movement and Podfest speaker (amongst many more!), he's a wildly approachable Brit and Star Wars/DC Comics geek.

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