A Q&A with Thursday Bram

This is a Q&A with Thursday Bram. For more about Thursday, see below or check out her blog.

Jargon Writer: What was your first freelancing gig? How did you land it?

Thursday Bram: I actually didn’t have that much choice in my first freelancing gig: my mom ran a magazine from our basement (she’s since gone online) and needed a writer to handle a short article during my senior year of high school. She pretty much gave me the choice of writing for her or doing the dishes and, well, I really don’t like doing dishes.

JW: When and why did you decide to become a freelancer?

Thursday: I freelanced all the way through college. After I graduated with my B.A, I looked for a job that involved writing. It took me about a month to find a full-time job; in that time I took every freelance assignment I could get my hands on. I started that job and hated it. There were all sorts of reasons, but the short version is that I didn’t even last two weeks. I quit and went back to looking for a job, but I found that I was (barely) covering my bills with freelancing. By my second year, I made about as much as I would have if I’d stayed at that awful job.

JW: How do you measure your own success? Do you set goals for yourself & if so, what goal(s) are you currently working toward?

Thursday: I have a lot of goals. I have a daily goal for myself — a certain number of words to write and a certain number of dollars to earn. That daily goal plays into the income I’m planning to earn this year. I also have some bigger goals. I keep a bucket list relating to my work, of things I want to do. I’ve knocked off about half of my goals on it, but I’m thinking about adding some new ones. Those include building up my own websites to the point where I can really pick and choose when I’ll take on projects for clients.

JW: Either: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome? or What has your greatest success been thus fair?

Thursday: I achieved what I think is my biggest success so far last fall: my husband and I bought a house. I’m still a little amazed that we managed to do that, especially considering the fact that I make my living banging on a keyboard all day.

JW: What changes have taken place in the industry since you first began freelancing?

Thursday: I don’t think that there have been that many actual changes, although there have been many changes in how things are perceived. I know that when I started out, my entire efforts revolved around pitching print magazines. Now, the grand majority of my work is online. Most of the work I do for print lately has been for sections of books.

JW: What was the biggest thing you had to learn?

Thursday: Handling taxes and insurance have been two of the biggest things I’ve had to learn. If you keep writing, you’ll always learn how to improve. But figuring out how to get health insurance and how to keep the IRS off my back as have both been learning experiences. If you’re a freelancer, after all, there’s no perfect solution to either problem.

JW: Do you have a top tip (or two) for others who want to get into freelancing?

Thursday: Read a business book if you want to start freelancing. I’m a big believer that practice makes perfect, at least as far as writing skills go. But the business end of things is much harder to pick up on the fly. If you don’t know how to invoice or the key issues to look for in a contract before you land your first client, though, freelancing can be a real learning experience — and not the good kind.

Thursday Bram blogs about the business side of freelance writing at her personal site, ThursdayBram.com. Her work has appeared on CNET, OpenForum and other websites.

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