How Long Should I Struggle with my Freelance Writing Business Before Giving Up?

I gave up a secure job to become a full-time freelance writer four years ago. This decision felt so right at the time, but if I’d known how tough it would be, I probably wouldn’t have been so eager to make the leap.

I’m still passionate about my career, and I don’t even mind the struggle – it’s just the fear the struggle might be in vain that keeps me awake at night.

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Is it Normal to Be Still Struggling After Four Years?

I saw a steady increase in my earnings for my first two years working as a freelance writer/blogger but then I hit a plateau. Unless something miraculous happens in the next couple of months, I’ll have earned less in 2013 than I did in 2012. I expect there to be ups and downs in my business, but it’s hard not to worry when the overall trend is downwards.

There have been months where it’s been a close thing, but I do always earn enough money to pay the bills. I’ve also enjoyed long periods when I’ve been making a decent amount of money. There is so much I enjoy about the freelance life, and I’m grateful to be at least surviving – it’s just I never expected it to be so hard for so long.

I’ve become obsessed with stories of people who struggled for years before finding success. I love the idea of the hero’s journey – the years of hardship followed by great reward. I do get some comfort from these biographies, but I’m not sure how applicable they are to my own experience.

My yo-yo journey as a freelance has been so messy, and it often feels like I’m going backwards instead of forwards. I sometimes can’t tell if this is all normal or a sign from the universe that I should just give up.

Why I’m Not Going to Give Up

It would be so nice to see some evidence that I’m making progress towards a stable income, but all I can do is to keep pushing forwards. Giving up just isn’t an option for me– I’ve sunk too much of myself into this project. It is the first time in my life I’ve been willing to fully commit to something – maybe I’m deluding myself, but I have to believe this passion to continue means something.

The thing that gives me hope is the knowledge this struggle has made me a better person. It has done wonders for my humility, and it has made me appreciate all the good things in my life. It is hard to take things for granted when you are worried you might go bankrupt at any second.

There other thing that reassures me is that I’m not struggling because I’m repeating the same mistakes – I learn from the hard times, and I change my approach going forward. I’m sure that so long as I keep improving my game, there has to be a point where it all becomes easier.

How Long Should I Struggle with my Freelance Writing Business Before Giving Up?

Maybe there is a point in the struggle when we should just call it a day but how do we know when we’ve reached this point? How can we give up when there is always the possibility of success being around the next corner?

What do you think?