#044: Should You Quit, or Should You Stick?

I occasionally hear from writers who are on the verge of giving up their freelance dream.

They’ve tried for months (or even years!) to make a go of it. But they haven’t been able to achieve the level of success they expected. So they come to me for advice.

In this episode, I share some of my thoughts on this issue. And, no—it’s not all “rainbows and sunshine” advice. In fact, some of these ideas may surprise you.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

I’ve Been There!

Years ago, when I was getting started my freelance business, I had so much going against me, it’s a miracle I was able to launch a six-figure writing business!

I look back at it now … and it’s amazing I didn’t think about quitting every day.

Yes, I thought about quitting, but only occasionally. Yet the daily outlook was rarely pretty. And the journey seemed so darn LONG!

Quitting is an important topic for self-employed professionals because:

  • Choices for striking out on our own have never been greater
  • Barriers to entry have never been lower
  • Opportunities to grow and expand your freelance writing business have never been better.

But these opportunities also bring challenges:

  • Ease of entry means more competitors
  • Better technologies and platforms (Elance, oDesk, Fiverr, etc.) mean more competition, more choices and lower prices.

Launching or growing a high-income freelance writing business is hard!

Sometimes It’s OK to Quit

Contrary to popular belief, it’s OK to quit sometimes. In fact, sometimes quitting is the best and smartest option.

We’re most tempted to quit when the going gets tough. Every worthwhile endeavor starts out as fun. You think about the end result, which fuels your excitement. And that excitement gets you over the initial humps.

But as obstacles get bigger and continue to pile up, the initial excitement wears off.

This is what Seth Godin calls the “Dip.” The dark place where you feel you’ve hit bottom, and you start questioning whether you should continue or quit.

How to Decide If It’s Worth the Fight

#1: Recognize that all worthwhile achievements have a dip

It it’s worth doing, there’s going to be a dip. It’s the dip that makes the goal worthwhile.

  • The fact that it’s hard to make it in this business limits the number of people who get in and STAY in. The dip creates scarcity.
  • If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. In some cases, everyone IS doing it. But how many of those freelancers will be around a year from today?
  • There’s no such thing as overnight success. We don’t see the years of hard work, fear, self-doubt, rejection, failure and major setbacks that happened before that success.

#2: Know WHY you’re going after your goal

A strong WHY is an anchor to get you through inevitable storms.

#3: Love of the process can be a good reason for continuing (but not always)

If you want to create a side business for the sheer joy of it or if you want to take your existing business to the next level because you find that challenge exciting, that’s OK.

But there’s ALWAYS a price for going after a goal. Make sure you know what that price is and that you’re willing to pay it!

#4: If you’re going to go for it, go all the way

Don’t just “give it a shot.” If your heart is not in it, don’t even start.

Benefits don’t come early. They come late! So you have to be willing to push through the dip.

#5: Quit what no longer makes sense

Take a hard look at all your side projects and initiatives. If you’re not…

  • Passionate enough
  • Willing to pay the price
  • Not willing to be the very best in your area right now
  • Don’t have a solid fundamental reason for doing it

…then quit before you sink more into it.

Additional Resources

I recently recorded two other podcasts on this very issue with my good friend Pete Savage. Here they are:

  • Episode #33: The Spiritual Side of Freelance Success, Pt. 1
  • Episode #34: The Spiritual Side of Freelance Success, Pt. 2

These two shows offered a different and more detailed analysis of the “how hard should you try?” question, and Pete offered some very important advice and insights.

If you haven’t already listened to them, make sure to do so. They’re important discussions for freelancers at ANY stage or season of their business, not just for those who are struggling.


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Finally, if you have a question you’d potentially like answered on a future show —or if you’d like to be considered as a guest for a future episode — please let me know: ed at b2blauncher dot com.

Thanks again for your support!

Till next time,

-Ed

  • James palmer

    Great points, Ed. It’s good to know that sometimes it’s OK to quit. There could be something even better on the horizon. For me, I realized that I don’t have what it takes to make six figures at this thing: specialized knowledge in an in-demand niche. After thirteen years, I can honestly say that I tried my best and explored every possibility. Now I can focus on what I wanted to do from the start. Thanks, Ed for everything you do for freelancers everywhere.

    • edgandia

      Thanks, James. Absolutely! Plus, you never know. Maybe you’ll come back to freelancing but with a very different idea, angle or market. Timing is a huge factor in the success formula. Sometimes the timing just isn’t good. And sometimes it’s just right.

      • James palmer

        That’s very true. I haven’t given up on freelancing altogether, but I’m focusing on fiction right now versus copywriting. It will always be there for me to return to later if I need to.

  • Donna Glidewell

    You are a natural teacher Ed. I can honestly say that Your podcasts have kept me going when nothing else would done that. I haven’t given up yet, but I am definitely in the dip.

    • edgandia

      Wow, thanks for letting me know, Donna! Means a lot to me to hear that. 🙂 Hope this particular episode provided you with some valuable insights and motivation.

  • Mike Sweeney

    Great topic Ed. “We’re most tempted to quit when the going gets tough.” This sentence reminded me of a quote by Napoleon Hill: “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”

    • edgandia

      Love that quote! Thanks, Mike!

  • Mark Soroka

    Tremendous show, Ed. I went through this experience about 10 years ago. I was giving freelancing a try (out of necessity because I had just been laid off). But it wasn’t the right time and I was wise to bow out then. I went on to land a good full-time job as a corporate writer. Since then I learned a lot and built up a great portfolio. Also, the resources for freelancers are even better today (such as this great podcast!). So I’ll be better prepared when I become a full-time freelancer again (hopefully very soon). The moral of the story is just because you quit, it doesn’t mean you can’t try again at a more opportune time.

    • edgandia

      That’s right, Mark — right on! Thanks for your comment. 🙂