fbpx Skip to main content

Kelly Gurnett from Cordelia Calls It Quits is featured in this episode. Kelly shares her experience going from a full-time gig that she got comfortable in, transitioning her writing business into a side hustle, to finally quitting her day job to become a full-time freelancer.

Kelly shares her very personal story of knowing when it was time to follow her dream and push herself out of her comfort zone, how it all worked (and what didn’t), and how she partnered up with the right people to help her get to where she wanted to go, faster.


  • How to make a side hustle work with a full-time job
  • Something on the side to test things out without needing to take on every freelance gig
  • When feeling caged in a good job, leads to having to try
  • Her wakeup call when she knew she had to take action
  • Leap in a smart way
  • The universe’s devious sense of humor – staying on track when things don’t go as planned
  • Energy management versus time management
  • How to land a mentor


  • Kelly’s website: CordeliaCallsItQuits.com
  • The new career website for Millenials that Kelly manages (and I’m a contributor at): CareerMeh.com

Want to get in touch with Kelly?



Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. She also appears in all these other places online. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.




Melissa Anzman (00:00): This is the launch yourself podcast with Melissa Anzman episode. Number eight, featuring Kelly Gurnett.

Melissa Anzman (00:07): Hello, hello, and welcome to the launch yourself podcast, career, business, and brand advice to help you be seen, make it impact and deliver at your maximum potential. And now here's your host, Melissa. Anzman

Melissa Anzman (00:27): Welcome to the launch yourself podcast. I'm your host, Melissa Anzman. Today, we are going to be chatting with Kelly Gurnett. Kelly runs the blog Cordelia calls it quits, where she documents her attempts to read her life of the things that don't matter and focus on the things that do. She also appears on a lot of other places, including brazen life as the assistant editor career, as the editor in chief and at career attraction as a managing editor, you can follow her on Twitter @Cordeliacallsit and you can hire her as a blogger extraordinary from her page on Cordelia calls it quits. Hi Kelly. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Welcome. You're welcome. Thank you for having me not a problem. I'm so excited to chat with you. You have such a great story and so much share with our team here.

Melissa Anzman (01:19): So why don't we go ahead and get, just sort of jump in and get at it. One of the things that I love about your blog and your business that you've created is it's all about quitting, but quitting in the right way. And obviously I'm a fan of it for the right reason. But more than that, I really like your story behind what led you to where you're at today. And so at launch yourself, we really think of a launch as that one moment in time, that specific point in time, when you purposely decide to take action to fulfill your maximum potential in your career, your brand. And I think with you, your w your original launch story made up of smaller launches is really the essential component of that. So if you could just give us an overview of the launch you'd like to share with us today, that would be great.

Kelly Gurnett (02:06): Sure, absolutely. Just a little background to give you an idea of where I first started out. I went to college as an English, English major. I always loved, you know, writing and reading and copying what I was reading, mimicking it growing up and always just assume that I wind up becoming an author or a journalist or something along those lines. And in college some things actually kind of went off the rails. I had some health issues that kind of derailed my plans. And when I graduated, I was basically not prepared for anything I had envisioned myself doing. I hadn't really been able to do any internships or network with people, or really do much beyond keeping up with my course load. And that was it, no extracurriculars, which I was the star of in high school, none of that stuff. So when I

Kelly Gurnett (03:00): Graduated from college, I was kind of just stuck looking for something as a paycheck. I was not prepared at all to, to go into this, you know, dream career that I had assumed I would have. So I wound up clerking during college for a law firm part time around classes. And then when I graduated, they offered me a full time position and it was like, great, this is in my lap. I don't have to think about it. I'm good. I'll take this as a stepping stone. And then, you know, then I'll do something I really wanted to do. And years and years and years later I was still there. So I decided that I, you know, I kind of not only was stuck in a job. I hated, I never wanted to be in the nine to five. I just don't have the personality for that.

Kelly Gurnett (03:42): But in addition to that, the longer I waited, the more I felt like, well, now I'm never going to be able to do what I wanted to do. You know, I haven't gotten a portfolio up. I have, I have nothing, you know, for the past several years, I've just been kind of twiddling my thumbs. So kind of on a whim and kind of, because I figured like, what have I got to lose? I decided to start a WordPress blog and just kinda see what happened. And from there, I was really fortunate in being able to network with a bunch of people being able to guest post for larger sites and eventually decent contributor posts and started to realize that it might become something viable I could actually pursue. So the launch I was going to talk about is actually over the course of about two and a half years. I slowly kind of transitioned away from the day job into first doing like a Friday's off schedule with the day job and doing a little freelancing on the side. Then I went down to part time and I did part time freelancing part time, day job. And then this past may, I was actually able to finally make the big official leap and go full time for myself.

Melissa Anzman (04:41): That's so great. And I love that you talk about it not being an overnight thing. Like you didn't just go out into the world without a plan or I'm tired of this and let's make it work, but you try things out before you made that big leap. You figured out

Kelly Gurnett (04:55): About what would work for you. Yeah. I always advocate that for people. I'm actually working on an ebook slowly but surely about how I kind of did the side hustle thing for that many years, because to be honest, if it had just been up to me, I have a very go bigger go home personality. And if I were totally on my own, I probably would have just quit. My job lived in a cardboard box, eating ramen and just kind of like, that's, it I'm finished, but since I'm married and I have a house and two dogs and other responsibilities, I was kind of forced to do it the smart way, thankfully. So that's, that's kind of what I advocate for people because not only, you know, not only will you not be on the street eating out of a cardboard box, but it's better, I think for your ultimate dream as well, because if I were just stuck and I needed to take on any job that would have paid the bills, I would not have been able to be as selective as I had been in, you know, developing my voice and taking on the right kind of clients.

Kelly Gurnett (05:47): So it really is better, not only as a chance to test out what you're doing, but to kind of do it your own way. You kind of need, I think that security of having something on the side, even if it's only part. Absolutely.

Melissa Anzman (05:58): And I, you know, when you were talking about that moment of the longer I'm in this job, the harder it is to break out of it, right. So once you get comfortable into that position, it sounds like that mindset shift was a difficult one, but also the biggest hurdle and the biggest change.

Kelly Gurnett (06:17): Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you know, for, for, as far as jobs go, it wasn't a bad job. I, I went up from being a clerk to being like the receptionist and then I was assistant to the partner and eventually I became a paralegal because I've been there so long. I knew how to, you know, draft my own pleadings. And it was really, it was really kind of tough, especially with these other responsibilities to say, well, you know, technically according to the world, I'm not doing badly. I can afford my mortgage. You know, I got a nice secure job. They're nice to me, everything else. But I just, I, the longer I was in it, I just started to feel that kind of panic attack, like I was caged, you know, and it got to the point where it was like, even if this doesn't work out, I have to at least say that I've tried because I wouldn't have been able to, you know, live with myself, but I didn't.

Melissa Anzman (07:00): Absolutely. Was there a day or an action or a specific thing that just sort of was the straw that broke the camel's back for you?

Kelly Gurnett (07:08): Yeah, actually not to go out. I don't want to say more, but not to go all like dark on you and your podcast. The health issues I was referring to that it kind of derailed me in college. I'm actually diagnosed as bipolar and currently I don't even think about it because I'm on medication. I see someone regularly to talk things out. My life is the work life balance is a lot better. I don't even notice it anymore. But it really started to hit me in college. And I didn't realize until a couple of years after I graduated what it even was. So college was just really, really Rocky. And that was something that even after I got diagnosed, you know, it took me several years to really get a good handle on and the longer I was stuck in this job and the more trapped I started to feel actually started to get extremely depressed about it.

Kelly Gurnett (08:00): And the moment that kind of was like my aha, you know, I have to do something moment is I was driving into work one morning and I take an expressway or I took an expressway to get there. You know, crazy me, one of the things I'm so glad every morning I wake up, I don't have to do this anymore. You know, insane drivers, everyone on everyone's tail, everyone's mad, no one wants to go where they're going, but they're going there. And they're mad that you're in their way. You know, always hated it. And the one day I was in really bad traffic and someone had cut me off or something had happened. And I had this fleeting little thought that went through my head. Like if I just jerked the wheel a tiny little bit, and I went into the guard rail, like that might be easier. And I still to this day think like I never would have actually done it, but the fact that it went through my head and for one split second, I was like, that kind of makes sense. That to me was like, okay, this is not a joke anymore. This is not me being, even if it is me being dramatic, I have to do something. So that was the moment where I was like, you know what, just try something, see what, see what happens.

Melissa Anzman (09:00): Absolutely. And, you know, I appreciate you sharing that story with us because I think there is that moment for so many people. It may not be, you know, while driving in the car or that dramatic, but it's really a, this isn't worth it moment, right? Like are, there's gotta be something better out there for me, cause this is just killing me. And so I love that you shared that with us. And I think that's super relatable for many people and it's sad as well, right. To see so many other people in traffic, so angry to be going to where they're going. Cause I often think that now on the other side of, you know, why is everyone driving so bad and well, I'll get there I pass, but maybe that's just me being a crazy backseat driver, but anyhow that's, that's very helpful. Thank you for sharing that now onto, you know, the planning stages. How did you, you know, you gave us that brief overview of stepping down work at your firm. And I think it's amazing that you had a company that allowed you to do that. Which isn't all the time, the case. Right. We all know people who didn't have that luxury, but what was the plan like when you started, what was, how did you foresee this launch and in transition happening and did it work as planned?

Kelly Gurnett (10:22): First of all, I know definitely that I was extremely fortunate. Like I said, my friend treated me very well. It was a small little company. We were all kind of like a family and I'd been there for so long that I kind of had a little more leverage in terms of working out a flexible arrangement. But you know, people in other situations, if you're really serious about doing that, you might have to find a different, you know, find a part time job instead of a full time and just make that switch a little bit more suddenly I was able to step down very gradually, but I know that's not always feasible. But for me, my ultimate plan, I didn't have a timeline. I didn't know how long it would take. And it actually, once I started to a lot quicker, some of the stages that I thought they would.

Kelly Gurnett (11:03): But my ultimate goal was just the, at each time that I stepped down, whether it was taking the one day off or then going down to part time or then leaving altogether, I had to, for my family's sake, basically make sure that I was leaping in a smart way that whatever I was giving up in terms of a day's salary or half a week salary, I would be able to either have that much lined up and coming freelance work or be able to see that once I took that time off, I could quickly make up the difference. So, you know, in the beginning I just had a couple of small freelance clients and they were enough to kind of get away with losing a day's worth of work. And then after that I was able to get some blog editing jobs and a couple of larger clients who let me take the step down to part time.

Kelly Gurnett (11:51): And then when I left altogether full time, I pretty much had the gap covered. I had a tiny bit of savings, saved up to cover some of the slow periods, but I had talked to enough people before that networking and putting out, you know, cause if anyone knew of anyone who needed somebody that I could kind of see, even though I didn't have everything accounted for when I had the time to devote my time to a hundred percent, I felt confident enough that I would be able to without spinning my wheels for too long. But there was definitely, it's funny the way it works and I really hate to go out woo and new age people, but I really believe the universe puts like a devious sense of humor sometimes. Because I was just about ready to put in my two weeks notice at my day job in April getting ready to like sit down and, you know, write the thing out.

Kelly Gurnett (12:43): So excited. I'm going to finally, after like 12 years with a sperm, I'm going to be like, ah, guess what? And my husband actually has fibromyalgia. And for a while, I mean, I knew he was struggling. I knew he was not, he was getting a little bit worse, but I didn't know how much worse. And all of a sudden one day just kind of out of nowhere, he's like, you know what, I don't, I don't think I can work anymore. I've been pushing myself. It's just, I don't think I can do it. So all of a sudden I had everything lined up. My ducks were in a row, you know, I was, I was just about ready and we lost half our income. It was like, Oh, wow.

Melissa Anzman (13:20): Right.

Kelly Gurnett (13:22): Especially because I had already mentally kind of prepared myself, like I'm free. And then it was like, Oh, I dunno how much longer I'm going to be stuck here. But again, you know, the universe has a devious sense of humor and I kind of was like, you know what, okay, that's cool. You're going to try to knock me down. You're going to test how much I want this. I still want it. So you know, I kept, I kept hustling. I actually sold my car because since he wasn't commuting anymore, we didn't need to be a two car household. I use the profits from that to finish paying off his car, pay down some debt, get our monthly budget down a little bit lower. And then kind of hustled and hustled til I found one more project that would begin to get us back on the, you know, back in the clear. And it was like a month later that I was able to finally quit. I mean, I was, I was astonished. And you know, luckily it wound up working now, but you know, there's always going to be no matter how well laid your plans are, there's always going to be something. And that's part of being an entrepreneur and a hustler is having that spirit to just say, okay, that's fine. You know, brush my flip off and I'm going to find a new way to make it work.

Melissa Anzman (14:26): Absolutely. That's a crazy story. And I'm so glad to hear that even with something so devastating as that, and I hope your husband's doing better now, but even with something so big that you were able to be like, you know what, that's fine. Like not happy about it and not loving it, but I can do what I need to do to make it work. Cause this is still what I need to be doing. I'm heading in the right direction and you just kept going. Right. Right. And

Kelly Gurnett (14:52): It was definitely a matter too of, you know, at that point, both of us realized that I needed to make this switch. I was not happy where I was, I was going to be better off. And you know, we still had to cut our budget down considerably and we had to let go of a bunch of things, but the ultimate trade-off was worth it for both of us because you know, I'm home. He can, he can rest up. I can spend time with him. I'm in a better place mentally and physically and emotionally as well with more balanced. And you know, it, it, wasn't easy and we're not, you know, we're not living luxuriously, but overall it we're much happier.

Melissa Anzman (15:25): Absolutely. and I just want to sort of side note for a minute and if you could share with people how you do earn your money, so what, what your business is and how you are earning money. Cause I think we, I know you and I know how you are in your money. Right. I don't think a lot of my listeners understand sort of your business model, if it's something they're interested in. Okay.

Kelly Gurnett (15:45): Absolutely. It's it's basically 99% blog related at this point. I have a number of staff positions where I'll write weekly or monthly or whatever for different career blogs, lifestyle blogs you know, entrepreneurial blogs. I also manage the site career attraction and assistant manage this like brazen life. So, you know, getting in contributors, posts, formatting. So they're, you know, consistent with the style, getting them organized promoting it on social media, things like that. And then the, the one extra percent is actually my original, original freelance client for back in the day. I still do stuff for her and that's a lot more copywriting. I actually like staying in the blogosphere, but she has been very nice to me and I enjoy working with her. So she's, I won't get rid of her. But you know, it's largely blogging. I also do some blog consulting through my own blog. I'll, you know, release the one's blog if it needs help or I do coaching calls as they just are trying to get over a particular hurdle and they need a little bit of advice. So it's largely logging, logging and more blogging.

Melissa Anzman (16:51): Yes. So right. But writing, it's writing, tell yourself sure. You get paid for being a writer. And I love people to know that because you do work so hard at it and you're great at it. So absolutely. So that isn't is sort of your background and, and, and the journey there. What mentally has been the biggest shift for you going from a full time employee to a hustler, to an entrepreneur, to be honest it's

Kelly Gurnett (17:20): And I didn't know what it wasn't until I actually just purchased Amanda Abella his book make money your honey. And I didn't realize that that was the term for it, but it's a perfect term. I suffer from the employee mindset, which is how she puts it. And it's, even though I consider myself an entrepreneur and a hustler and I could not stand being in the nine to five, I didn't realize how much of my view of what work is and what constitutes productivity derived from the nine to five mindset. In other words, you know, I have to get up at six o'clock every morning and go to bed at 10 every night and work constantly, you know, in between that. Even though I am working for myself and that's, you know, the work life balance is a large part of that. I still feel guilty if I'm not doing something billable or if I go out to lunch in the middle of the afternoon, like I should be working.

Kelly Gurnett (18:15): So it's been kind of hard to, to realize that I'm able to not just have control over the work that I'm doing and on what terms, but that I have more control over my time than I think I realize. And it's been difficult over the past, you know, eight months to kind of get used to what kind of schedule will work for me now that I'm not on someone else's time clock how I can be most productive without having to worry about, you know, filling out a time sheet for somebody else. You know, how I worked as an employee and how I work as a, basically a business owner now is a lot, it's evolved a lot. And that's definitely something that I'm still currently working on, but, but getting better, hopefully.

Melissa Anzman (19:01): Yeah, that was a big struggle for me as well. It still is. And not necessarily the mindset cause I, I think I actually was opposite personally. I think I've always had the entrepreneur mindset and try to apply that and then nine to five, but the scheduling piece for me has been very difficult to overcome. So how are you, you know, working through all of that, is it just trial and error? Do you have any best practices that you can share with us are still totally a work in progress

Kelly Gurnett (19:31): It's been trial and error to get to this point, but I think the one big breakthrough I've had, which I would recommend to anyone, no matter what your employment situation but it's easier. You know, when you set your own hours is to focus more on energy management as opposed to time management. Because I I've slowly started to recognize my own natural rhythms in terms of when I'm at my most alert, when I'm most up for taking on challenging work versus, you know, when I'm entering a blog post on word process, that's pretty mindless. So it's taken me a while, but I've kind of realized that, you know, right after I wake up, I have my cup of coffee. I'm all jazzed up in the morning. I don't look at my email. I don't look at anything, you know, that that could possibly take away from my focus or my attention.

Kelly Gurnett (20:20): And I just jumped straight into the hardest stuff, whether it's, you know, tackling a post that needs to be written that I've had trouble with or, you know, editing something that's a little bit challenging that needs some extra attention. I get all that stupid, hard stuff out of the way first. And then I'm able to get more done by like lunchtime then I would throughout the whole day, if I just kind of, you know, I'll check my email here or let's just do this because it seems easier. And I don't feel like dealing with it now, I just to focus on when I'm most able to do certain tasks and refuse to be distracted by anything else, which is really hard. I love multitasking. And then I I've found that I've been able to, you know, it's, it's ridiculous the amount of stuff you can do if you just focus on where your energy peaks, ebb and flow, not just throughout the day, but even, you know, throughout the week.

Melissa Anzman (21:07): Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I saw a great talk about that at one point and I, you just reminded me, I wanted to put that into action. That's so great. And you know, you do a ton of writing and writing for me, at least as a very quiet and sort of very focused activity. Do you have that same habit or like, do you, have you just sort of go with your energy and right when you feel it, or do you have a specific writing schedule you keep too? Yeah,

Kelly Gurnett (21:36): I definitely with the help of my mastermind group and I totally recommend, you know, a mastermind group or an accountability partner, someone who understands, you know, what you're going through and can kind of show you things that you're too close to to see. I was able to realize pretty early on that I need to set aside a time of the week just for my writing. I mean, I can, I can turn out, you know, an assigned blog post on a certain topic fairly quickly, but something like for my blog or if it's going to be an opinion piece where I really want to insert myself into it strongly, I need to, to have that kind of like Zen focus too. So I tend to try to get all of my client work done between Monday and Thursday. And then Friday is just my day.

Kelly Gurnett (22:21): I can focus on, you know, the ebook if I'm working on it or my posts or the upcoming week, because, you know, especially for a personal blog or your, your own voice is so strong and that you really have to kind of be in the group or else it just falls flat. So I find it best if I can just carve out possibly a day, half a day, whatever my schedule allows to just kind of, you know, focus and let them use find me as opposed to trying to punch out words. That don't really mean much.

Melissa Anzman (22:47): I love that. So let's say somebody is sitting there in their corporate job or traditional job and have been there for 10 years or so, and have realized that, you know, are in that spot of, I need to do something different. There's definitely something better out there for me, but think it's too late. What advice would you give that person?

Kelly Gurnett (23:08): Yeah, definitely. You know, first of all, it's, it's never too late. I mean, I literally started out with nothing, you know, all my, all my big accomplishments and all my big successes I can show off in terms of writing were from like high school, you know, and here I was several years out of graduation. And as long as you have that drive in you and something has been bugging you and you know, you should be doing it and it will not, let go, don't let you know, don't know, let it go, listen to it. And the beauty of the internet today is that you don't, there are no gatekeepers, like there used to be. You don't need to, in order to be published, you don't need to go, like, I don't know, random house or somewhere, you know, with the huge portfolio and a list of internships to show that you're a good writer or whatever you mean to be, all you need to do is establish yourself and make connections and promote yourself.

Kelly Gurnett (23:59): And you can basically build a name out of nothing. So, you know, start slow, start by looking at people who are doing what you want to do. I spent, you know, several, several months just devouring, every single lifestyle design blog I could find a, because I loved their message. When I first fell down the rabbit hole of the blogosphere and realized like other people felt this way and other people were actually doing something about it, like finding the artists of nonconformity and Chris Deebo was like, Oh my God, like this people exist. People actually do this apart from like in the movies. So, you know, start looking at people who are doing what you want to do, get some ideas, find some, you know, Facebook groups or whatever people who are working in your field start to learn from them, start to, you know, practice what they're practicing and just give it a try.

Kelly Gurnett (24:50): You know, it's really amazing. And the, one of the best parts about the internet too, is how accessible mentors are. The people, both who, what you want to do. If you tweet at them, if you comment on their blog, if you shoot them a well, you know, a personalized email and tell them, you know, what you're up to, they could respond back to you. These people that you are reading and, you know, thinking that they're off on a cloud somewhere, there'll be there and you can form relationships. And I dunno, it's just, I would say probably about 90% of the work I've gotten currently has been through word of mouth or referrals from people I have worked with or have made connections with. So just, you know, go out there and start doing what you're doing. You'll learn as you go, nobody is perfect from the beginning. I'm still learning everybody is, but you know, do what you're doing, make connections with people who are doing what you want to be doing and just don't give up on it.

Melissa Anzman (25:51): Absolutely well said, well said lots of good nuggets of advice in there. And before I let you go, I do want to ask you what's next for you? What's ahead.

Kelly Gurnett (26:02): Well I keep mentioning the ebook as though I am working on it daily and I am not, but I should be I'm working as we don't use, should I plan on working on it more? I will be this year I aim to put out an ebook on how to navigate that double lifestyle between having a side hustle and still working your day job. Cause it's a very tricky, frustrating, exhausting position when you're working like crazy to try to get something off the ground, but you still have to show up every day to this other thing that you really don't care about anymore and still give it your best. So I'm going to be focusing on know how to practical tips, like how to manage your energy, how to find clients in addition to, you know, how to keep your spirits up, how to not go crazy, how to not quit your day job suddenly cause you, you know, can't take it anymore.

Kelly Gurnett (26:56): So that's, that's one thing. And then one of my clients like currently work for is actually in the process of launching an awesome new site in like three weeks, which is crazy to think that's going to be happening, but it is we're going to be launching a new site themed, particularly at millennials, which I don't want to give away too much, but if anyone, you know, follows my Twitter or my blog, I'll be singing it to the high heavens when it comes live. So that's going to be a big thing to you because I'm going to be basically in charge of managing this. I'm putting my voice into it, you know, getting a team on board and, and promoting it and everything. So I'm super excited about that as well.

Melissa Anzman (27:35): Absolutely. I'm excited about it and I'll be sure to share all the information that we can and that's available with, with the peeps here in the show notes about that. So can you just remind everybody where they can find you online?

Kelly Gurnett (27:50): My site is Cordeliacallsitquits.com that C O R D E L I a calls it quits.com. Or you can just look me up on Twitter, it's @Cordeliacallsit.

Melissa Anzman (28:03): Absolutely. And I'll be sure to include that as well. Thank you so much for coming on. I think you shared some really great information about how to quit your job correctly and in the right way and how to really build a business instead of quitting a job. So I really appreciate your insight with that. Thank you for having me on, I hope you enjoy today's episode with Kelly. Gurnett Kelly is somebody that I have the opportunity to interact with quite often as she is the manager, editor, assistant manager, editor, and all those fun things that she does for many of the sites that I guest post on. But more than that, she's always open for a great conversation and sharing her own experiences. If you'd like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to launchyourself.co/session8. Again, that's launchyourself.co/session8. And if you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes and be sure to leave us a review until next time.

Melissa Anzman (29:02): Thanks for listening to the launch yourself podcast. Join the conversation at www.launchyourself.co.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

Leave a Reply