Dealing With Instructables Rejection

About: Grandma Van uses the Instructables website to share little print-and-mail books. Once in a while, she has other fun things to share.

Earlier this week I published my twenty-seventh Instructable.

I thought it was an original concept.

I thought it was fun and different.

I thought it would get featured.


I felt rejected and unhappy.

Then I took a look at my most recent failure. Good grief! I was in such a hurry to get it online that I left a typo in the introduction! Well, I fixed the typo and I decided to write myself a little book of reminders to help me deal with the next rejection.

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Step 1: Make Sure the Instructable Really IS Polished.

Check for more than just typos or spelling mistakes.

Is everything REALLY as clear as possible?

Step 2: Realize That Other Projects ARE Better Than Yours.

I wrote my first instructable in August, 2017, so I could enter the First Time Authors contest.

I thought my project was good, and original, and fun. I worked extremely hard getting the photos and the instructions uploaded. I felt very happy to have this project featured. But I didn't even place in the contest.

There were lots of other cool projects in that contest.

They were better than mine.

Moving on.

Step 3: Don't Expect to Get Featured for Projects That Are Not Unique.

I started putting my little print-and-mail storybooks online in order to share them with others. Grandma Van's Print-and-mail storybook #3 got featured. Others didn't. While storybooks 2, 4, and 5-26 were each unique compared to one another, they weren't unique enough to get featured.

But I still needed to publish them, because I need to...

Step 4: Remember the REAL Reason for Writing an Instructable.

It IS all about sharing.

Being featured is cool. Being a winner is probably really great (I would not know.)

But the real goal is to share my work with others.

Sharing is good.

I like to share my work with others.

I like to see that my work has been viewed by others.

I like it when people take time to comment.

Step 5: Remember That the Editors Are Looking For: "Content That Is Highly Reproducible and Has That 'wow, Awesome!' Factor."

I still think my basement maze was awesome.

But for someone who does not have an unfinished basement, it is not exactly "highly reproducible."

It was a cool project. It got featured. It got me started.

It just wasn't a winner.

Step 6: Do Some Research.

Yesterday, while feeling especially rejected, I did a google search for "not featured on Instructables." I saved five different articles and they gave me some good pointers.

Step 7: Study the Masters.

Yesterday, I took a closer look at some of the featured projects and contest winners that I have admired in the past. Wow! MarlenaT and ProfessorPi and LanceMakes and MadeByBarb and Kiteman are really good.

(And if YOU are really good and I didn't mention you here...I just haven't discovered you yet.)

Step 8: Eliminate Envy. Accentuate Gratitude.

Yesterday, I noticed that many, many people had more badges, more features, and more wins than luann2425.

Instead of feeling envious, I choose to feel grateful for all the great content out there.

I'm a member of an awesome community.

Thanks, you all!

Step 9: Focus on Quality, Not Quantity.

At the beginning of 2018, I set a goal to publish one print-and-mail book each week.

I was mailing one book each week to my grandchildren, and I thought to myself, "Why not share those books with others who might be looking for print-and-mail storybooks?"

But some of my personalized storybooks didn't really work well on Instructables. I tried to adapt them, or change them, or write them with Instructables in mind instead of my grandchildren.

My grandchildren didn't really CARE if a book was perfect. They just liked getting something in the mail.

For Instructables, however, I should have published fewer, better books.

Step 10: Don't Quit.

I won't.



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    18 Discussions


    7 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience;
    and if you have been /will be rejected, thanks anyway for trying to share;
    (sorry for my english...)
    Seen on the entrance of a FabLab here in Paris: "If both of us have an apple, and if we exchange apples, then we both will have one apple each; but if both of us have an idea, and if we exchange ideas, then we both will have TWO ideas." (I like so much this phrase...).


    8 months ago

    I've been away from Instructables for a few weeks. Hard to feel motivated lately. But I decided to add a little Christmas mini-book with hopes that SOMEONE may enjoy it. I entered it in the Big and Little contest, NOT because it has a chance.. but because I thought it may get a few more views there.

    I still wish for a comment now and then, but I realize that few people are really interested in the "little book concept." HOWEVER.... I want the resources to be there for anyone who happens to search for something they can print and mail to a child.

    Instructables "hosts" my PDF's and does not charge me for that benefit... so it is still the best option for sharing this kind of thing.

    Every time I post a new Instructable and feel invisible, I have decided to just add to this comment area. Now I feel better.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 months ago

    190122_published another invisible Intructable. IHYE


    1 year ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I've been on the site for 12 years and have experienced it both as an author and as a member of staff and you make so many good points. :)

    It can be so hard to work on something and have it not get featured or place in a contest. I've done it many times! But I have always tried to remind myself that what I make is still useful and wanted. It's out there now for free just in case anyone ever needs it and that makes me feel good regardless!


    1 year ago

    Tip: Make a checklist for stuff you need to do before hitting publish, checking for typos, optimizing the title, etc... I can share my list if it helps you...

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I would really like to see your list. THANKS!

    (I must confess, I get in too big of a hurry to hit that "Publish" button. I am a little addicted to the good feeling that comes when I see that little robot telling me another Instructable has been posted! But I have a new resolution to focus on quality instead of quantity.)


    Reply 1 year ago


    I actually have a list for stuff to do before and after publish Instructables and before and after I publish YT videos so here's part of it...


    • Choose a proper title for each step

    • Paste the Outro in the end

    • "What You'll Need": add links & add bullet points
    • Go over all of the pictures and make sure I didn't forget any tools or materials

    • Choose a title

    • Choose a thumbnail & add text

    • Embed YT video

    • Spell check & full preview: arrange pictures

    • Tags

    • Publish!


    • Add to "Promoted I'bles", on my profile page...
    • Add to collections
    • Share: people, social media, etc...
    • Download PDF (backup)

    I keep adding and removing stuff all the time but that's basically what it is... :)


    1 year ago

    Excellent tutorial! I especially agree with "Focus on Quality, Not Quantity." There are so many forces out there pushing people to create content as fast as possible, YouTube advisers especially. "If you're not publishing once a week, it's not worth doing," seems to be the accepted wisdom. But shenanigans to that! Even the pros have a tough time with frequent publishing and have to phone it in some days. So why waste the time and phone in it at an amateur/artist/spare-timer/doing-it-because-I-love-it level? The work won't pay off — and can even degrade the perception of the rest of it. Just not worth it. People should feel empowered to figure out standards that work for them and then use those instead.

    Thanks for your work!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    "People should feel empowered to figure out standards that work for them and use those instead."

    This is helpful indeed! I've never heard of the YouTube advice. I suppose for some people, it is helpful to have posting goals. I have found that writing once a week for my grandchildren works fine. Once a week for Instructables... probably a bad idea.

    Thank you for taking time to comment. I have really enjoyed communicating with other authors this past week. I vow to take time to add comments to all the great instructables that I enjoy each week.


    1 year ago

    It's not a contest. It is just a bunch of people sharing their projects and ideas. Have fun posting. Maybe something you post will help someone.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yep. This time, I wrote the Instructable to help MYSELF through a little bad spell. It has been fun to get some helpful comments!


    1 year ago

    "Being featured is cool. Being a winner is probably really great (I would not know.)

    But the real goal is to share my work with others."

    I agree with that, and I would like to add some words.

    As for me, the main goal is to share my work/idea/skills with others AND get a response. I need a response to understand am I doing right or wrong, how can I improve it, etc.

    The easiest measure for response are comments. If there are no comments, it means this particular ible is NOT interesting for the audience.

    Your instructable was not featured, BUT you got some comments. It means it is interesting for the society.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I agree... I like to share the projects AND get a response... and feedback is always helpful.

    <grin>But I choose to optimistically believe that:

    "No comment" DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL "not interesting!"<grin>

    Thanks for the comment!


    1 year ago

    I think that the way you present your Instructable is also important; the pictures should be attractive to look at (and maybe even eyecatching) for example, you can find information on the Instructables website on how to take good pictures.

    I think you're right by the way about keeping in mind why you publish an Instructable in the first place... it IS all about sharing and being creative, please do not feel rejected because the majority seems to ignore your projects.

    I think it's not about pleasing the majority, it's more about finding your own niche and enjoying what you do and even if there's just a few people who appreciate your work (like your grandchildren), or even if no one seems interested, think of what it has brought you to be creative, I often find that being creative opens your mind to new things for instance.

    Try not to get pulled into the competitiveness to much because it will diminish your joy in doing what you like to do... and it will never be enough, when your Instructable gets featured, you will want more likes, when you get more likes you will wonder why you don't get many comments, when your project gets accepted into a competition you will want to win... if it happens... offcourse it's nice but don't let it spoil your fun if it doesn't, just try to distance yourself from the whole 'rat-race' thing and do what you like!

    The reason I started entering Instructables contests is to get myself to do the things that I want to,do, I have a lot of creative ideas but have a lot of trouble starting with a project and not to get distracted by other ideas that I will encounter on the way, so I never get to starting (let alone finishing) a project.

    The Instructables contests have given me a cadre to start with a project and be organised enough to finish it before the deadline and I'm happy with that so I really try to push away the feeling of wanting to be appreciated, because that's not why I'm doing this... long story short, like I already said... you're right: keep in mind why you're doing this and don't be disappointed because of peripheral social phenomena because it doesn't matter!

    The only social phenomena that does matter is the sharing of ideas and inspiring and helping each other out, to bad us humans always have to feel competitive... I guess evolutionary struggles has left us with some bad wiring lol ;)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    These are some very helpful thoughts! I'm so glad you shared them. I will be updating my little booklet and adding more quotes. (I also had fun checking out your projects and have one bookmarked to try soon.) THANKS!

    Phil B

    1 year ago

    There is no explaining why some Instructables are featured and some are not. I have found submitting an Instructable in one category may result more easily in being featured, while submitting an Instructsble in a different category may not result in a featured Instructsble, even though both were of comparable quality. I once submitted an Instructsble that was not featured until month and nomths later. I do not know why. I have submitted Instructables that would save anyone using them a fair amount of money, but that did not count for anything. Often those featured are not very practical, nor will they save anyone any money. But, they have what the editors consider "cool." I gave up concern about being featured and simply hope people who need what I offer will find mine and benefit from them. In time your Instructable will turn up in a garden variety Internet search and oeople will join Instructables just so they can ask you a question or make a comment. It is really nice when someone says they had taken a car or an appliance to several shops but no one was able to find the problem. However, they finally solved the problem when they read your Instructable. That is nice.

    2 replies
    luann2425Phil B

    Reply 1 year ago

    THANK YOU for taking the time to comment. I lurked on Instructables for years before I took the time to write up my first project. Then I got a little caught up in the idea of winning a contest.

    I am going to add some quotations to my copy of "Dealing with Instructables Rejection" and the first page quote will be yours:

    "I gave up concern about being featured and simply hope people who need what I offer will find mine and benefit from them."

    Many thanks, again. You have added to my current state of being at peace with the world!

    Phil Bluann2425

    Reply 1 year ago

    There was a time when I siad I would never enter another contest. It seemed high quality entries (from others) went unnoticed, while prizes went to unremarkable efforts. Finally, I did submit an entry in a contest because the theme of the contest intrigued me and I had a fresh Instructsble that qualified. It won a decent practical prize, although not the top prize--a good battery powered drill. Later, I entered another contest and won one of the top three prizes--a MIG welder. I almost did not write and post that Instructsble because a series of similar Instructables I really think were better got almost no notice. Ten days ago I submitted an Instructsble that would save people who can use it some money. It was not featured, but it fits a contest and I entered it. Suddenly somebody is looking at it and marking it as a favorite more than if it had been featured.