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How I Used Negative Feedback to Improve My Writing

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

At some point in our lives, we give up and fate takes charge – that’s the world’s greatest lie. On 13th April, I received an Upwork job invite. This was going to be my second job in Upwork. So I had to end my first contract to give space for this project. The client in the first contract was paying peanuts ($1 per 500 words). I thought it was time to look for greener pastures. Did God just answer my wish? Read on for more.

I accepted the offer and waited for the task. The client was willing to pay $20 for the first milestone. This was the best offer I had ever imagined of.

In Kenyan currency, $20 is 2,000 Kenyan shillings (KSh). When Upwork deducts its fee of KSh.400, my earnings are trimmed to KSh.1,600. Of course, Upwork deducts 20% of my pay and the fee reduces depending on how much I earn from a client. I didn’t care – at least I would have some KSh.1,600 in my kitty. After all, a Kenyan tout takes home roughly KSh.1,500 per day. So, if I was able to write an article in a day and earn KSh. 1,600, ooooh my! That was an achievement!

I submitted the article but didn’t expect such negative feedback…

In four days, I had completed the first milestone and it was time to submit my work. Before I submit any work in Upwork, I make sure I send the client one article to review so that they can tell me where they need changes. That’s just my way of doing things. It’s my ace in the hole.

I sent the article for review on 16th April, 2018 at 4:41pm. The client sent me a feedback on 17th April, 2018 at 10:46am. The feedback was “Poor English”

I was embarrassed and disappointed. I quickly replied, “Hello, Where can I make changes?” Here’s exactly how he replied:

Negative feedback

He went on to write, “These are spun articles; the English is not proper English.

I gave up and had to look for a quick solution. I asked my trainer for a suggestion. I decided to end the contract with no pay. I took it positively and was convinced that my English was poor.

So, what next Denzil?

I never logged in to Upwork again. I was discouraged. This (online writing) is not for me.

Winners never quit. Quitters never win. I WON’T QUIT. I declared. A strategy had to be drafted.

I woke up one morning and sat in a quiet room – where I couldn’t hear the noise of my youngest adorable brother (Baby Hopkins). I wanted to establish a plan and come back stronger than anyone would have imagined. I called it my comeback.

The plan

After so much thought, I resorted to:

  • Google “how to write like an English Native Speaker”. Luckily, I found one article that gave me an insight. Surprisingly, the author of that blog wasn’t an English Native Speaker, she was an English as a Second Language ((ESL) speaker as well.
  • Download an android application called HiNative. This application enables you to ask questions to native speakers and you get instant responses. I only wanted to learn American English and nothing more. I learnt a bit of their culture and within some weeks, I had mastered their writing style.
  • Register for English courses online. You can get excellent courses in an application called Coursera.
  • Start learning in YouTube. YouTube has tons of knowledge. When searching, type in the right keywords. Just make sure you have strong internet connection and you are good to go.
  • Join Facebook writing groups run by native English speakers. I must confess that the groups helped me. I made some awesome friends in there. Some of the groups I joined include Writing Revolters and Copywriter Café.
  • Finally, I registered for Walter’s Complete Freelance Writing Course. If you need a mentor or trainer, you can follow Walter Akolo on Facebook or WhatsApp him at 0720754933 for the best since sliced bread 🙂

There are also African groups that are resourceful. For instance, you can look for Awesome Transcribers in Kenya and Remarkable Freelance Writers in Africa.

Feel free to join my young and growing group, Content and Article Writers in Kenya.

The above groups will help you especially if you are starting out in freelance writing.

The New Dawn!

I got a third job invite. Guess what, the client wanted me to write about myself and something about what I love. I would pocket $10 just like that. Unbelievable. I took my time and did my best.

The client was very responsive. Apart from that, we exchanged a lot about our countries. She was a citizen of the United States.

I submitted the articles for review and she was impressed. Have a look at her comments and the awesome review she gave.

Great review in Upwork

Don’t lose hope. Press on and God will reward you. The best of all is that I have helped Kenyans win a job with my writing. The article was about SEO for local business.

Final Thoughts

You may face ups and downs in your quest for success. Don’t lose hope. Keep pressing on and you will be successful. There is nothing as sweet as success – not even honey can be compared to success. You can turn negative feedback to something great.

Finally, remember these quotes:

“You’ll not be paid for what you know, but for what you DO. Whether you have a degree or not, DO things that matter”

“A lion wins in the jungle, a shark wins in the sea”.

Guess who I learnt that from? (Hint: He owns this blog).


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Denzil helps both startups and top dollar companies around the world meet their goals through digital marketing. He is the founder of Denzil Freelance Kenya.

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Naphtali Orare
Naphtali Orare

Hi Denzil,

Thanks Denzil for being sincere! It’s so encouraging, what you underwent through, how you persisted, and finally became successful. Still learning, all freelancers including the CEO ( Walter Akolo ), keep posting for us to learn and to encourage us. Thanks.


Reply to  Naphtali Orare

very true bro

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  Naphtali Orare

Hello Naphtali,

Thanks for your kind words.

During those difficult times, I could wake up very early to sit on my bed and think.

I’m glad I went through that process.

Norm Tedford

What a terrifically written blog post! And, it was so inspirational. I am heartened by your determination, and incredible enthusiasm. Many would have given up after the first rejection, but you pressed onward. I wish you boundless success in all your future endeavors.

Reply to  Norm Tedford

Hello Tedford,

Thanks for your encouragement. May God also open you the gates and prosper.


Hi Denzil,

That’s the way to go buddy! This is so encouraging. Keep on keeping on no matter what naysayers may think. You are destined for greatness. To those who have not enrolled for Walter’s course, please do it and you’ll not regret. He has actually extended the deadline so take that advantage. The quotes are from our one and only… Wally, hehe

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  Fridah

Hello Fridah,

Thanks for that.

Actually, Walter has extended the deadline. That was kind if him.

How I wish people to take advantage of that.

grace njenga
grace njenga

I am aspiring to be an article writer, thanks for sharing

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  grace njenga

Hello Grace,

Kindly find ways of joining Walter before his charges go up from $30 to $40. His charges will go up today (Friday at 4pm).

I would not wish anyone to miss this. When I joined, he was still charging $30. Before I joined, he was charging $20. This means that his charges are likely to go up.

Don’t worry though if you can’t afford to join before 4pm today. He will still be offering his FREE starters pack mini course.

Be blessed.


This is encouraging Denzil.Keep soaring higher and higher.God bless!


Hi, Denzil.
Your work is excellent. I love it. I am just starting my online career, and I think you are the one who made me to do it. Your situations are all almost similar to mine.
Alex Muiruri.

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  Alex

Hello Alex,

It’s good to hear that you got encouraged by my efforts. My prayer is that God grant me the wisdom to keep writing valuable and actionable content that will prompt many working towards their goals.


Denzil. You inspire me. More than you know.

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  Harun

Hello Harun,

I’m glad to read this from you.

I hope you found your way to the solution I gave you. If not yet, please let me know so that I can help.

Many thanks.

Anne Njue
Anne Njue

just what i needed to hear. came at the right time. thanks, much appreciated.

Denzil Otieno
Reply to  Anne Njue

Hi Anne,

God must have listened to your prayers today. “Came at the right time”.

Hope you got some encouragement.


Mmmh, learning from negative feedback. I love your zeal to carry on, regardless.

Reply to  Angie

Thanks Angie. Paulo Coelho tells me in his book that when you give pursuit to something, the entire universe makes an effort to make you succeed.

I’m glad to have awesome people like you around. Be blessed and succeed.

George Asigoh
George Asigoh

Denzil, eat that frog! Stay the course and you will reap big time

Reply to  George Asigoh

Many thanks George Asigoh. You’re a blessing and mentor as well. Thanks once more.


Indeed very inspirational you going places..

Reply to  Bryan

Thanks Bryan! Hope you were motivated by this!

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