Transcript: How I Handle Criticism as an Online Marketer

January 18, 2018

Amy Porterfield: Hey there, welcome back to another episode of The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I’m your host, Amy Porterfield. Today we are talking about something that you cannot hide from. You cannot run away from it. You cannot pretend it’s not there because it will find you. 

If you are doing business online then you’ve got to come face to face with criticism. Worst yet, even criticism from strangers. It’s just something you’re going to have to deal with although I can give you some tips and tricks to deal with it in a graceful way that will actually save your sanity and your overall wellbeing. 

You can actually turn that criticism into something more productive for you in your business. That’s what we’re going to be talking about on today’s episode and I’m going to share some personal experiences with criticism that I’ve had to deal with and share with you how I’ve dealt with it in hopes it will inspire you as well when you come face to face with it. 

Before we jump in I wanted to let you know that this episode is brought to you by my online training course, List-Builder’s Lab. If list building has been something that you know you need to do but you’re just not getting to it and your list has not really grown this year and you’re not really sure where to start; or, if you think you’re way behind in list building then I want to invite you to sign up for my free master class. 

It’s called The Ultimate List-Building Catch Up Plan: My Proven Three-Stack System for Leveraging the Most Powerful, “What’s Working Now” List-Building Strategies (without the stress, tech confusion, or crazy overwhelm). That’s a pretty long title for a free master class, I know, but it is wildly popular and I think you’re going to learn so much from it. 

I jam packed it with tons of examples so you can see what it takes to get started to build your list-building foundation. Again, it’s absolutely free. You can check it out at http:// 

Let’s go ahead and jump in to today’s episode. 

The other day I was in one of my private Facebook groups for my program, Courses That Convert. All of my students in there are creating digital courses. One of my students, Gina, posted this: “Three weeks until my launch and I’ve been trolled. I’ve had my course name pulled apart all in the space of just two hours. I’m feeling very low.” 

As I read that I thought the sad truth is that these trolls are not new to the online marketing space. Unfortunately, they come with the territory. However, even through you can’t change the existence of these trolls you can change how you react to them. For that matter, you can change how you react to any criticism that comes your way. 

The truth is, not all criticism is going to come from these trolls. Most of it is going to come from your audience, your clients, your students that have good intentions but their delivery is likely just a little bit off. 

We’ve got to deal with criticism as it comes our way when we’re building an online business. 

When I worked at corporate I got criticism in the form of “feedback”. Every six months we would get these performance reviews and I would get feedback about ways to improve my style of managing people, feedback about how I’m showing up at the live events, or feedback about what I was creating inside of the content we would put on stage or inside the digital products or anything like that. 

I would get feedback a lot. That just came with the territory of being in corporate. However, when you build your business online that’s a whole different type of feedback or, let’s just give it the right word, criticism from total strangers to people that you’re trying to help but they seem to have a lot of opinions. 

That’s the funny thing about doing business online. It feels like everybody and their brother has an opinion about what you’re doing. I think it goes without saying that we’ve got to just develop thick skin. Coming from a girl that’s pretty sensitive that’s easier said than done. 

The truth is that when you build a business online people aren’t just giving you criticism or feedback about how you’re showing up. They are also giving you feedback about how you look or how you sound or how you show up in video or your messaging or your website. There are a million other things they might want to give you feedback, criticism, or their opinion about. 

Today I want to talk about the three-point approach I use when dealing with feedback or criticism. Again, I am guilty of taking things to personally or allowing some of that feedback to just sting. I think we’re human so that’s normal. 

I want to talk about some of my own experiences and how I’ve dealt with it because I think I’ve gotten better over the years. The goal is to give you some tips and tricks to allow you to bounce back from some of that criticism a whole lot faster than you may be doing now. 

If you haven’t gotten any criticism yet, believe me, it will come. I don’t want to sugar coat it so I want you to be ready when it happens. So let’s go ahead and dive into my first approach for criticism that I’ve got for you today. This one is best explained with a story. 

Last year I offered an opportunity for some of my students to participate in a small group coaching program with me. I was experimenting with a new idea and I opened it up to just a small segment of my list. That small segment was a list of people that were students of one of my specific courses. 

One woman got wind of my beta test but she was not included as part of the small segment that got invited to the opportunity. She was furious with me. She sent in a scathing email about the fact that she had been in two of my other courses for a very long time. She had been a B-School bonus member with me so she actually attended one of my live events in San Diego. 

She had been on my email list from the very beginning and she was an avid listener of my podcast. She was a raving fan and a paying student. She just couldn’t believe she wasn’t included in the special beta small group coaching opportunity. 

When I read her email I started to think she was right. She should have been included. Why would I ever exclude anybody? How could I do this? My immediate reaction was just to feel terrible. I thought I had to make the situation better. 

I recorded her a personal video and in it I apologized and apologized. I told her she was right. She should have been invited. I was so sorry. I told her I had to segment the list because I was doing just a beta test and couldn’t invite everybody but I would make an exception for her. 

I invited her into the special small group coaching program with open arms. I told her I would love to have her. 

She took me up on the opportunity. When she showed up into the online small group she was terrible. She felt very entitled that she was meant to be there and that she should be there. She was really difficult. She completely threw off the entire vibe of the group and almost actually ruined it. 

She just had a terrible attitude. Her scathing email she sent me was basically her real personality. She just comes across really harsh. She made the experience tough for me and for those involved. 

I essentially realized I had fed the monster. I had encouraged her to behave that way with me. You know the saying that we teach people how to treat us? I really do believe by giving in and making that video and apologizing that I fed the monster. 

Here’s what I should have done and what I’ve since done moving forward as different situations like this have come about since this one incident. I should have handled her criticism of the way I was operating my program with grace and elegance. 

Let’s talk about how that might look. To me, if you handle criticism with grace and elegance that means you first have to show up really clear on what you stand for. 

After the fact I realized I should have stood up for myself and my decision. I was clear as to why I was only inviting a segment to the beta test. I knew it had to be a small group. I knew I wanted that group to come from one of my programs and I knew that I would learn a lot from those students and I could make the program bigger and better if I just took a small segment and experimented first. 

I knew why I was doing it but I wasn’t standing with confidence in that decision. The first bit of criticism I got I crumbled. 

So here’s my advice. The next time you make a big decision that could possibly sway people to get frustrated with you or have a lot of opinions or even criticize you for doing what you’re doing I want you to get really clear about why you’re doing it and why you’re making the decision you’re making. 

Actually even create a little bit of language around it in case somebody questions what you’re doing online or they think it’s a terrible idea and they tell you so. I think it’s important to explain to your audience why you’re doing what you’re doing but it doesn’t mean they have to agree with it. 

You just need to stand in confidence of the decision you’re making. 

The other thing is to be ready for criticism. I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t think about how people might react. So the first person that came at me with some nasty response I wasn’t ready to handle it. Be prepared mentally that it will happen. 

Have some language around it if you want to communicate with your audience, which I don’t think is a bad idea, from there I want you to stand your ground. Again, articulate why you are doing what you’re doing. 

I think over communicating with our audience, students, and clients is not a bad idea. They come to us for knowledge and for know how and for us to teach them whatever it is we’re teaching. They look to us for that so I think it’s only fair that when we make decisions that could possibly affect them that we give the why behind it. But that’s all. 

That’s all you need to do. If they are still not happy then that’s about them and not about you. You’ve done what you need to do and you’re moving on. 

Speaking of moving on, let’s move on to criticism tip #2, “Get in there.” 

What does that mean? It means that sometimes you have to confront the criticism head on. Confronting it head on is a little bit different in this example than the example I just gave you. Let me tell you another story to paint the picture. 

I have two students in my Courses That Convert program, Hilary and Shannon. They are about to launch their program, ReLaunch Love. It helps divorced professional women over 40 get back into the dating game. They just started running Facebook ads a few weeks ago and ran ads to an article they wrote that expressed the number one mistake most women make on a date. 

They talk about letting your date talk more. Well, the comments of that ad were abundant, to say the least. I’m going to read you some of them. 

Lynn said, “Why would anybody want to be asked out on a date with a guy who didn’t ask them a single question? I wouldn’t go out with him even if he did call me back.” 

Michelle says, “Not to mention that the article starts off badly telling women what they shouldn’t do on a date. Do what you want and be yourself. If it doesn’t work out it’s because you weren’t compatible. Don’t change who you are for anyone.” 

Susan just says, “This is a stupid article.” 

Those are just a few of the comments that Shannon and Hilary saw from their blog post article when they were running ads to it. At first the ladies were taken aback. Then they realized they had to jump in and take on those comments head on. 

That’s exactly what they did. This is what they said: 

“Thanks for the great feedback. Please, please, please know we aren’t suggesting you spend your precious time with a man that isn’t attentive and interested in getting to know you. What we are saying is that we know so many women who do an amazing job carrying a conversation on a date and fall into the rabbit hole of asking 20 questions about him. The problem is that at the end of the date he hasn’t gotten to know you better. Enjoy the date. Relax and let the guy worry about keeping the conversation going.” 

I think that response was absolutely fantastic. The fact that your content is resonating with an audience, even striking a nerve, is a good thing. These commenters may not be buyers in the long run. They may not be able to see a different point of view or a new method. But you want your content to strike a nerve sometimes. 

If it does you have to take on those hecklers or those people that just flat out disagree with you. I actually think that’s a good thing. It’s all in how you show up. Be very mindful of that when you see criticism when you know you can offer a different perspective. 

Now let’s move on to the third and final approach to criticism. This one is a little bit more of a humble take. Sometimes you can learn from the criticism. I’ve got one more story for you. 

I had a comment come in through a direct message on Instagram. The guy said something along the lines of, “Hey, you should stop coming across so salesy in your InstaStory videos. It’s really off putting and you can just be normal on video.” 

Yikes! His approach was terrible, if you ask me. I think the way he gave me the “feedback” was really rude. However, it’s interesting because just the day before Chloe, my project manager, was recording some videos for me for InstaStories. She actually said, “You know what, Amy, try a video where you’re a little less excited and a little bit more conversational like you were just talking to me inviting me to come on one of your master classes.” 

She told me to tone it down a little bit. I did so and I really saw the difference. I did sound a little bit salesy like, “Hey, have you signed up for my webinar.” The other one was more like, “Hey, I’ve got an idea for you that could be really valuable if you’re struggling with XYZ. I’ve got a master class.” 

I instantly saw the difference and I changed the way of doing the videos and it really did make a difference. The way Chloe approached it with me and the way this guy approached it online were very different. However, I knew that what he had to say was actually really valuable. 

Sometimes you have to sift through the delivery of the criticism and ask yourself if it could be true, “Could I actually learn from this?” 

You are actually doing yourself a huge disservice if you discount every bit of feedback and criticism coming your way. I tell you this because there is a fine line I want you to walk. I know that’s a little bit tricky. 

I want you to be able to take the criticism and the stuff that really doesn’t apply to you and brush it off. It’s easier said than done but that’s what I want you to do. I want you to address it head on when it’s necessary. I want you to stand in confidence with the decisions you’re making and explain the “why” when it’s important. 

I want you to be open minded when some of that feedback could be really helpful to you. I appreciate that guy saying something I just wish he had been a little bit more tactful. That actually leads me to the wrap up. 

Before I go I want to talk to you about how you deliver criticism. If we can get better with how we deliver criticism then maybe some good karma will come our way and people will get a little bit better with giving us the criticism as well. 

A little disclosure about me giving feedback and criticism. I’m on the whole other spectrum of this in the sense that I am actually a people pleaser and I don’t like giving criticism to anybody. But the problem is I might sugar coat something and that’s a huge disservice, especially if I’m giving feedback to my team. 

Regardless of if I’m sugar coating it or this other guy is saying it in a really rude way I don’t think either of those approaches are helpful. So I started to be really mindful of the feedback and criticism that I would be giving to someone on my team or a friend that asked me for my feedback or advice. 

Here’s how I do it. I always start with what’s great. I give a genuine compliment or acknowledge something that’s going well based on the situation. Then I give pointed feedback about what could be improved. 

I make sure to be really specific, not wishy washy at all. I want to be clear in what I want and I think that is just as important as being honest. Then I ask for feedback. If I’m talking to my team I will ask if it was clear and if I am making sense. I ask how it feels. I want it to be clear and I want to walk away from the conversation where the person I just gave the feedback to is not feeling defensive but feel they could take it and do something with it. 

They don’t have to be super happy about it but they have to feel it was productive. That’s my goal walking away from any situation like this. 

You might have a totally different approach to how you deliver criticism. That is perfectly fine. I just want you to be very mindful in terms of how you deliver criticism because it is definitely a two-way street. I wanted to create this episode because we give criticism and we get criticism. I think you need to be very mindful of how you approach both. 

So thank you so very much for being here with me today. I cannot wait to connect with you again next week. Remember, this episode is brought to you by my free master class called The Ultimate List-Building Catch Up plan. 

If you’ve been struggling with building your email list and you want to know how to get started, what you need to do to start building your list-building foundation to grow your list by hundreds every single month then this is the free master class for you. 

All you need to do is got to and you can sign up for free. I hope to see you there. Thank you so much for tuning in. I cannot wait to connect with you again next week. Bye for now. 

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