Thursday Bram, the founder and CEO of Hyper Modern Consulting, is more than anything a writer. Her eclectic writing portfolio includes well-researched articles on aspects of small business, the freelancing life (of which she has considerable experience), and workplace dynamics.
Bram is especially the darling of the small business sector, who look to her for counsel.
Are you glad that you were named Thursday?
There’s a definite value in having a unique name, especially online. I’m very easy to find. There’s also a lot of family history that goes along with my name, so that’s a plus.
What made you start Hyper Modern Consulting?
I started out as a fairly ordinary freelance writer, but I’m ambitious. I didn’t want to just stick with the projects I could handle on my own or otherwise limit myself. As a result, my business kept evolving. I quickly reached the point where I needed a brand a little bigger than just myself. Hyper Modern Consulting was the result, along with a couple of related project also using the Hyper Modern brand.
When you were naming your enterprise, were you tempted to have Thursday in there somewhere?
Actually, I wasn’t really tempted to have my own name in the company’s name. One of my key goals was to make it easier to bring in other people to help me on projects — but if there’s an individual’s name upfront, most clients will assume that person is doing all the work on any given project. I’m also not sure what the future could hold. There are certain situations in which I could see myself taking a back seat role in the company or even selling it. That would be a lot harder if my name was on everything.
You’re booked a lot for speaking engagements. How do you deal with public speaking anxiety?
I don’t deal particularly well with public speaking anxiety: I just prepare as much as I can and power through. I’m sure that there are better approaches, especially since I suffer from pretty bad stage fright, but I haven’t found any particular approach to improve how I feel when I’m up in front of a crowd of people. I will say that having less specific slides has improved matters a bit: I’m just not good at following bullet points closely, so I don’t include them on my slides anymore.
Unlike many journalists and working writers, you started your career in high school.
Based on the other writers I’ve talked to over the years, many people start writing pretty early on if they’re going to wind up making a career out of it. I just started getting professional gigs a little early on. Part of that was due to family connections — and anyone just starting out should take advantage of any family connections you’ve got! But part of it was that I was willing to go out and chase the work. I wasn’t afraid to ask for the work, even though I was younger than other freelancers already working at certain publications. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you can’t bring yourself to ask for opportunities, no one will read what you’ve written.
With all this talk about the educational bubble, do you regret you went to college?
I absolutely do not regret going to college. I’ve even gone back and picked up a master’s degree since then. There are plenty of ways to learn to write (or the necessary skills of any career). But there are some clear benefits to being on a college campus: I went to a school most people have never heard of, but I was constantly meeting visiting speakers, getting to interview local entrepreneurs and building other connections that have helped me enormously.
I even ran a business out of my dorm on occasion and got some help doing so: everyone at a given college has an incentive to see students succeed — even your peers want to make sure you do well, so that they can brag that they got just as good of an education and that they knew you when. I don’t know if those benefits are enough to match the cost of college these days, of course — that’s something each person has to decide for themselves. I was on scholarship as an undergraduate and even graduated with my master’s degree with no student loans, so I consider myself pretty lucky.
How important is social media, and web marketing to building a business?
Online marketing, in general, has become crucial to building a business. No one goes to the Yellow Pages to find companies any more — everyone types a few words into Google. If you aren’t showing up in search results, you’re going to have a tough time building a business. Social media plays into search engine rankings, as well as adding a new channel for recommendations. Unless your business is closely tied to your physical location, I’d start with online marketing before making any other moves to promote your business.
Creative people are known procrastinators. How do you fight off procrastination?
I live by my timer. If I’m having trouble getting started on a project that I know I need to work on, I set my timer for fifteen minutes and sit down to work for just that long. There are times when I spend the whole fifteen minutes staring at my computer screen, but I usually can at least get started on some work. And it’s only for fifteen minutes — even if I really don’t want to work on a project, I can convince myself to just spend fifteen minutes on it. Then I can step away for a few minutes, before setting my timer for another fifteen minute block.
What are you most grateful for?
I’m grateful for my family. My husband is incredibly supportive — occasionally literally, because he provides my tech support. But he’s given me the room to build my business and grow it into a worthwhile endeavor.
The rest of my family is also worth a mention. I continually worked in family businesses growing up, which allowed me to learn from the many entrepreneurs in my family. It was a real head start in finding out how to operate a successful business.
Do you think it’s possible for non-writers to become good at writing?
Learning to write, at least to a decent level, is doable for almost everyone. But the process of learning to write well is tough: the only way to really get better is to write regularly and get a good editor to critique what you’ve written. You have to implement changes and revisit your writing to make sure that what you’re learning sinks in.
What words of wisdom do you have to share with those wanting to start a writing business?
Look for a way to specialize. One of the reasons my writing business took off quickly is because I was willing to focus on topics that no one else really wanted to concentrate — every editor I worked with at a business publication knew she could get me to write articles about taxes at the drop of a hat. I wrote about plenty of other topics, but editors loved that they could count on me for a fairly arcane specialty.
What do you see for the future of digital media and content?
There’s only going to be more demand for digital media and content in the future. Every business has to have an online presence these days, which drives even more demand. Even the smallest of companies are effectively becoming publishers, with the number of blogs, newsletters and other content that they offer to lure in new customers.
At the very least, it’s a great time to be a writer.
Check out Hyper Modern Consulting’s website HERE.