10 Questions with Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd Bowles is a London-based designer and writer with fifteen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC.

His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Facebook, Stanford University, and Google, and is a sought-after speaker at technology and design events worldwide. His second book, Future Ethics, was published in 2018.

T: What are you currently working on?

C:  Marketing my new book Future Ethics, talking at various in-house and public events, working on some data and privacy design for various tech clients

T: What are you passionate about outside of work?

C:  Sport, cooking, literature and travel.

T: What drove you to freelancing?

C:  The right job didn't exist. After quitting my last full-time role I expected to find another design leadership position but was dissatisfied with the nature of the roles available in London; I eventually drifted away from that idea and decided to forge my own path working in tech ethics.

T: What was your biggest obstacle when you were starting out?

C:  Figuring out value proposition: what kind of work do I want to do, how do I position myself effectively, how much should I charge. All that alignment stuff.

T: What is for you the main advantage of Freelancing?

C:  Flexibility. A Mon–Fri job feels like a straitjacket now.

T: How about main disadvantage?

C:  Sales and marketing doesn't come naturally to me; persistence and overcoming embarrassment is the only way around it, sadly.

T: What is your approach to finding clients?

C:  I’m lucky in that they mostly seek me out, due to my reputation. I also partner with one or two consultancies in my space, for access to a broader range of work.

T: What is your advice on calculating rates and determining worth?

C:  I’m sceptical that a sole freelancer can make value-based pricing work; it just loads too much risk onto you. I stick to an hourly rate (although most UK workers price daily). Ask around for comparisons.

T: As a freelancer, do you feel you sometimes need to compromise to keep the client? Did you ever find yourself in that type of situation?

C:  No. I don't need to keep any client.

T: What’s your no.1 tool you rely on as a freelancer?

C:  Email, sadly.

T: Based on your experience - if you could go back, what would you do differently?

C:  Take it a bit more seriously, sooner. It’s easy to drift into freelancing, but shifting your trajectory towards the type of work you want to do takes proper planning and positioning. Don’t underestimate how important that is.

T: What would be your message to someone thinking about pursuing freelance career?

C:  Save up some money first. The highs are high, the lows are low. Make sure you put your tax aside until you need to pay it; don’t use it to cover cashflow gaps.

T: Thank you for your answers!

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Tom Kozacinski
Tom Kozacinski
I'm a London based product designer, creative entrepreneur, freelancer and advocate of remote work with over 12 years in the industry. I also have 12 years of experience as a stand-up comedian and I love to share my experience.
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