A cautionary tale to share with you


New Member
I want to share an experience I had 15 years ago in the hope of helping stop at least one person making the same mistake as me.

Back in 2003 I had just started out as a freelancer and got a project from a local business. Being new they struck a very good deal with me, which required a huge amount of work for a very small fee. I worked so hard on it, doing 18 hour days during a long public holiday weekend. The weather was so nice and my friends were out enjoying themselves whilst I was sat in front of my computer slaving away. It was worth it though as the end result was so good I am still proud of it to this day!

I duly delivered to my client who was also delighted with my work. One of my first projects delivered on time and to a high standard. It was a VERY GOOD day! Glowing with the positive feedback and went off in search of more projects to show off my skills.

Naturally I handed over my invoice with my finished work with a 30 day payment term on it. The 30 days passed and no payment came. This is when I made my mistake. Being new to this I thought payment would arrive in full and on time with no questions asked as I had delivered on time & budget. Rather than call and ask for a status update on payment I wrote a very strongly worded email ending with the threat of legal action if they didn’t pay immediately. How naive was I?? I am sure you can imagine the unpleasant exchange which then ensued between me & the client.

After much waiting the payment finally arrived but in that time word spread around town about my conduct when chasing my payment. Since then I get very little local work and that client still won’t talk to me. Seriously! I see him around the city and he ignores me. It’s been 15 years!! I think that shows the damage you can do over the smallest of things. Looking back I wish I had had a mentor or some form of guidance on how to handle that sort of situation. Now I take 50% upfront and work on a 14 day payment term. If they don’t pay I politely ask for a status update on the payment, which usually results in immediate payment.

What sort of mistakes did you make as a newbie freelancer? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.