How I Did It: From Full-Time to Freelance Entrepreneur

Thursday Bram talks about her journey from corporate cold-caller to launching a successful consulting business

  • Share
  • Read Later
Gregor Schuster / Getty Images

Thursday Bram started the traditional job hunt after graduating from college and landed a job fairly quickly. She left that job even faster, after less than two weeks, throwing herself back into the freelance writing she’d done in college. That writing evolved into Hyper Modern Consulting, focused on providing online content consulting and creation. Bram talks about how she transferred from a full-time position to a successful freelancer.

When I was in college, I was notorious for picking up all sorts of odd jobs around campus. I worked in the housing office, reviewed resumes for the computer science department, managed the student newspaper and anything else that came my way. When I graduated, I didn’t think I would have any problems working a job.

(LIST: Top  24 Most and Least Affordable Colleges)

It took me almost two months to land something, and by that point, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. I had money coming in (I had been a freelance writer all through college and kept going after graduation), but I figured I needed one of those “real” jobs everyone was so fond of.

The job listing was for a writer/researcher and during the interview, the manager swore it was more writing than anything else. But on my first day of work I found out what was really expected of me. I was to call up businesses and “research” who made buying decisions in the company. I had a list of companies to work on every day and — here’s where the writing came in — I had to fill out a form about each company.

Culture clash is how I’d describe what happened next: I got the feeling that I wasn’t really their type. But I kept trying. At the end of my first week, I got assigned a well-known corporation. I started making calls and working my way up the corporate phone tree. I got some advice from my manager, along with the expectation that I would do what it took to get the information on this particular company.

So I lied. I suggested that I was a student doing research for an MBA, that I was compiling statistics. No, I was not compiling a database for salesmen to use to get past all the gatekeepers that are intended to keep annoying salesmen out. And I got every last piece of information I needed. I knocked the socks off my manager and headed home.

By the time I got home, I felt like throwing up. I knew I had done something incredibly wrong. I knew that if I kept working there, I’d need to lie like that every day. No company gives out information on decision-makers like I was asking for just for the heck of it.

(MORE: What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths)

That night, I started looking even harder for writing clients. And the next day, unable to face going back, I quit, without notice.

Freelancing full-time wasn’t a bed of roses, honestly. I had examples of my work — clips, as they say in the business — but nothing that would immediately land me the sort of gigs that would pay my bills. But I worked at it. I followed every freelance writing board, picked up odd projects — including creating organizational rosters — and built up a client list.

The hardest part was not having the security of that job. I’ll admit that I applied for a few full-time jobs while I was looking for clients. I took on work for a couple of content mills. But my big break came when I found a gig blogging for a productivity site. I figured out how to transform that gig into selling myself as an expert in online content creation.

Within eighteen months, I had matched my salary as a writer/researcher — without needing to feel uncomfortable with what I was doing. Within three years, I had other writers working for me. Business today is great, even if the way I really got started came straight out of a situation I felt like I couldn’t even face.

Young Entrepreneur CouncilFounded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.