3 Freelance Business Lessons From a Bankrupt Client Owing Me Over $20,000

January 11, 2022

“I’m sorry but I can’t pay you, I’m going bankrupt.”

Words no freelancer should have to hear. Words that meant I was out over $20k. Words that kicked off the direst financial situation I’ve ever experienced in my 13+ years of freelancing.

Words that shined a spotlight on the three biggest mistakes I’ve made as a freelancer.

How Did I Let it Get So Bad?

In the beginning of my freelance career I landed what I thought was a dream client.

The projects were frequent, they gave me creative freedom, and life seemed good – until I had to send my favourite client to collections.

At first I thought I couldn’t have predicted it. But afterwards I realized if I hadn’t made these mistakes, I wouldn’t have been in the situation to begin with.

I Worked Without a Contract

I was diligent with contracts for the first few projects but then… I got complacent.

But not having contracts for the work they owed me for meant I was out of luck in their bankruptcy proceedings and couldn’t legally prove they had hired me.

Turned a Blind Eye to Red Flags

They started to get later and later with their payments. And I accepted their excuses.

But something in my gut kept saying this wasn’t working out. I ignored it and continued on, thinking only of the revenue I would earn eventually.

Ignored My Cashflow

Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business. And I bled mine dry.

I went into debt thinking just next week I’d get those payments and all would be well. Next week turned into the next, and the next, until my debt was so large it took me 3 years to pay off.

Don’t Follow in My Footsteps

If any of these mistakes sound familiar to you – please take this as your sign to address them sooner rather than later.

Send the contract, act on your intuition and resolve to make your freelance cash flow a priority. You’ll thank me for it later.

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