Starting and building a freelance editing business is hard. It requires a lot of perseverance. What makes it even harder is not knowing when to stop doing what you’re doing to try something else.
For example, maybe you’re faithfully tweeting writing tips on Twitter five times a day, engaging with writers and others in the publishing industry, and so far you have nothing to show for it. Should you stop and try some other way of building your business?
Or maybe you’ve tried all kinds of things and just aren’t getting the kind of traction you need. You’re not making an income that matches your expertise and effort, and you can’t see a clear way forward. Should you quit and get a staff job?
When freelancers try to discuss these things they’re often bombarded with clichés along the lines of “Lots of people give up just before they would have succeeded!”
And it’s easy to think that might be true, that if you just hang in there, success will be yours.
But my question is, how could these cliché-launchers possibly know that? If someone gave up they by definition did not succeed at the goal they were pursuing so . . . how can anyone tell if it was within their grasp? What signs show that the person was almost about to succeed? And if such signs existed, why didn’t the person notice them? Surely they were watching out for them?
Look, if you’ve been trying to get your first editing client for the past year, and you haven’t landed one yet, you probably are doing something wrong. It is pretty doubtful that next week everything will pay off and you’ll be inundated with more clients than you can handle.
Almost no businesses operate like that and freelancing certainly doesn’t.
If you are getting closer to the success you aspire to, you will notice it.
Now, sometimes you need a friend to say, “Haven’t you noticed how you’re getting closer to success?” because we tend to start taking things for granted very quickly and we keep moving the goal posts.
Back when I wanted to be a romance novelist, my goal was to get a romance published by a traditional publisher. That would be success! But just as soon as it happened, I wanted to get the next book published. Then I wanted to earn more money. Then . . . .
So a friend very kindly said, “Come on, Jennifer, stop feeling so dissatisfied, you’re making progress.” And she was right.
Which leads me to my next point, which is that if you are getting closer to the success you aspire to, other people will notice it, too.
If neither you nor anyone else notices your progress toward success, it is probably fair to say you aren’t making any. That may be brutal to realize but it’s important. Now that you know, you can try a different approach, set a new goal, give up goals.
But don’t be misled by someone who can only think in clichés nattering on about how so many people have given up just before they would have succeeded.