Inappropriate things to ask freelancers

The conversation code of conduct seems to not particularly apply to those people talking to a freelancer.

Questions which in everyday life might be considered at best a little uncouth and at worst plain creepy are suddenly perfectly acceptable.

We all have those phrases we say to fill the silence, crack the ice and get the conversation started. Asking whether someone had a nice weekend when you don’t really care, pretending you’re interested in the fact I’m allergic to gluten, that kind of thing.

Most of all it’s pretty harmless, conversation filler and I’m fine with that. But some are best steered clear of.

To help those of you who are unsure, I’ve come up with a handy list which you can print out and keep by your phones:

What are you wearing?

You probably meant to ask if I’m wearing pyjamas. A hilarious and unique joke about how freelancers don’t get dressed. But, for the record, it’s best never to ask a woman what she is wearing. Especially when it’s a business call, and particularly if we’ve never actually met. To sate your curiosity – no I’m not wearing pyjamas, but I will often be wearing ‘athleisure’ gear.

So how much do you earn?

Are you my accountant? Are you my significant other? No? Well I’m not going to give you the details of my finances then. In all my other jobs, through new roles and promotions, no business associate has ever asked me about my salary. But because I no longer have an employer paying me a regular wage, it is apparently acceptable for people to ask me about the contents of my bank account.

Are you working in the garden?

Have you ever tried to read a screen outside? Or sat with a burning hot laptop on your legs in the sunshine? Have you noticed it’s actually raining right now? No, I’m not working outside. I can’t see, it’s not comfortable, and even if I were I’d go right back inside after you asked this question because it makes me feel like you’re watching through a small gap in the fence.

Do you manage to get into London often?

Yes. It’s where meetings are, where day shifts are, and it’s often where the free alcohol is to be found. I haven’t moved to the moon and, thanks to the miracle of train travel, I can get to the City just as easily as I ever could. I just get to avoid rush hour now.

Would this work for your readers?

I’m not saying I expect bespoke press releases but I think having a ‘staff’ and a ‘freelance’ version would be a good idea to implement. Emails that say ‘I thought this would be great for your pages’ or ‘Your readers might be interested in this’ just aren’t relevant to me – I don’t have any readers or any pages.

Have I missed any?


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