10 Questions with Joseph Benjamin

Joseph Benjamin, Born and raised in London. Joe has been here most of his life except for the years he spent studying Graphic Design & Photography in Chester. Joe has been working professionally in London for over 6 years.

His first job was in a print shop in Shoreditch before moving around a few agencies and finally ending up as a digital designer for Urban Outfitters. In the summer of 2017 Joe then decided to take the scary leap into the unknown world of freelance!

T: What are you currently working on?

B:  I am currently freelancing as a UX designer for Deckers. Their clients are footwear brands such as UGG, Teva + Hoka One One. I have been creating and improving their global e-commerce websites.

T: What are you passionate about outside of work?

B:  My number 1 passion (apart from design) is music. You can find me most weekends trawling through record stores looking for those hidden gems. I have recently discovered Nigerian synth-pop and other African genres. I’ve really fallen in love with it all. Otherwise I am fascinated with asian food and culture, which is delicious. I also do a bit of woodwork, I like to climb and watch Spurs try and stay in the top 4.

T: Anything else you'd like readers to know?

B:  My brother recently recovered from Cancer. He was diagnosed in April with a stage 2 lymphoma. It was quite scary but he got through it like a true champion. Whilst ill at home with his newborn baby he discovered the wonders of liposomal vitamin c. He started making his own at home and created his own unique and powerful recipe. He wasn’t admitted to the hospital once, and recovered abnormally fast. The doctors were really impressed. We were all very curios about the product asked him to make us some. Everyone has been taking it ever since. Its amazing! He is now starting a company called Eve&I to sell his magical vitamin c. So look out for Eve&I and give it a try!

T: I'm so happy for your brother! Now why we are here - What drove you to freelancing?

B:  I was tired of doing work I didn't love and I was also stuck with a 3month notice period. So I took the leap!

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

B:  With my experience I was quickly pigeon holed into retail and e-com. I wanted to do other work but struggled to get the variety of contracts.

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

B:  Now work when I want for who I want! And also, the money is waaaaaaaaay better, lol.

T: How about main disadvantage?

B:  I miss being part of the team. Even though I have worked on some long contracts, and they have always made me feel really welcome, I cant help but sometimes feel like an outsider. And taxes are hard to figure out.

T: What is your approach to finding clients?

B:  I have some really trustworthy recruiters who I owe a lot to and also I have great friends who have great friends. I'm lucky, I always seem to have a side project or 2 at least.

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

B:  This is so difficult. I was underselling myself for ages. I think I am still underpaid slightly compared to my peers who do the same job. I would say be bold, everyone has a price and most deals can be negotiated. Just be confident.

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?

B:  Sometimes, but I try not to anymore, I know what I'm worth and theres plenty of work out there. I also find it interesting that sometimes someone will come to me with a project or idea and I want nothing to do with it. So i send them a really high price and they agree to it. ha ha!

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

B:  Google calendar! I dunno how I'd live my life without it!

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

B:  Maybe do less work for free, I always fell under the spell of 'I cant pay you this time, but it will be GREAT for your portfolio.'

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

B:  Always be pro! Professionalism is key. More so if you are a freelancer because you are so expendable.

T: Great, all done. Anything to add?

B:  Be careful with recruiters. Obviously there are some angels out there but I have been taken for a ride by some smaller dodgy companies. You're on your own out there!

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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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