11 Real Freelance Horror Stories


Working as a freelancer is great - you forget the commute, you work your own hours...but it can be also unpredictable! You can work with incredible easy-to-work-with clients, but a crazy one can slip in from time to time. You might have a lot on your plate and with an overloaded schedule, there’s room for mistakes!

Freelancing can be a dream, but it can also be a nightmare.

On this Halloween, we have picked a few freelance horror stories to scare you and hopefully make you laugh. Do you dare to read them all?

(You'll find a terrific offer at the end of the article!)

Video creator

As a joke I sent my buddy (a fellow freelancer) a very very inappropriate video when he asked for a link to a video we had recently produced together. He forwarded that video to another client (to showcase our work) without vetting it first....

Needless to say he didn't get the gig.

Moral: Always double-check what you are sending a client to make sure it’s the right document, mock-up or e-mail what you are sending.


Web developer

One client wanted a three-page static website (home, services, contact) and I agreed to the job. I delivered the work that we had discussed, but then the client told me that he was hoping to have all the data from the contact form - essentially a CRM in the back-end as well! It was impossible to make the client understand that what he wanted was much more complex than what we initially agreed upon.

The second struggle was to agree on the price for that increase in work scope.

Moral: Haggling with clients can be dreadful! Clearly define the scope of work in your proposal before starting working together.


Product Designer

I was going to be working with a big-time influencer in the field, and I was so excited to be able to add a project of theirs to my resume.

We had discussed the goals they were aiming for and more details on the project at hand, and I felt pretty secure, so I went ahead and started designing. I came with all new sketches to the first in-house meeting. I hadn’t sent them any mockup before and when I showed then the initial design, and they didn't get it. A little odd, but okay.

I went home and completed the agreed changes and came in for another meeting. It was a bit annoying, but not out of the ordinary.

Fast-forward months later after over forty different sketches and prototypes for this piece. After all the time and work I’d put into this project, all I was given was "We are unsure if we want to move forward with this project. We'll get in contact after we decide."

The client paid for only about three-quarters of the work I’d done and sort of ghosted me, and I didn’t feel like it was worth it to go to court. So I’d basically given away a ton of sketches for free and then, because of all the alterations, didn’t have any other projects going on at the time, which left me stranded.

I should have made a contract. I was blinded by the fact that this large, well-respected company praised my work and wanted me to “work with my own vision,” so I failed to ask the essential questions and enforce limits on revisions upfront. Major mistake.

Moral: Never start a project without a contract! It makes it too easy for a client to back out last-minute, wasting your time and causing you to lose potential income from work that you could have been doing instead.



Content Marketing Expert

I worked on a project with a team for an extended project. There were four of us: three women and one man. The male managing partner was dating the other female partner, which was not a problem until they went through an explosive breakup.

The end of the project was incredibly awkward. After about six weeks of he-said-she-said, the man fired his ex without any real, well-founded reason. He knew she wouldn’t pursue anything legally. It made me really uncomfortable and I decided to quit, after which he “forgot” to (and never did) pay me for my time talking with him during our exit interview. What a jerk!

Moral: Avoid in-house relationships...being both in them and around them. While working with your significant other can seem amazing, mixing work and pleasure oftentimes leads to a myriad of problems, both romantic and productive.



A client contacted me saying they loved my portfolio and wanted to hire me to design a new product campaign for their website. They gave me a really vague brief but basically said they loved what I did and trusted me with the project.

After spending weeks on this project, I sent them my work and was met with silence. I had to chase them for weeks before they admitted that they had changed their mind and were going to go in another direction. Eventually, they paid me for some of the hours I worked - but it wasn’t worth the stress of chasing them every day!

Moral: Always agree to a clear brief and put your rates in the contract so you don’t end up shortchanged if a client changes their mind.



I worked with a client who had worked with a number of freelance writers in the past. Once I had submitted my work, however, he said he wasn’t going to pay me.

I decided to take matters into my own hands by contacting his advertisers to let them know that he was using the work of young writers without authorisation. He was furious. He told me writers have no morals. He couldn’t fathom that he was in the wrong, having requested a service and then refusing to pay.

I did eventually get paid by him but it’s helped me learn a lot about setting up a contract and finding out more about my clients before I started working with them.

Moral: The importance of having a contract having your back can’t be stressed enough.


Graphic Designer

I started working with a new client re-designing their logo and a new look for their website. When we started working together I told them about a vacation I had scheduled for the following week, and told them I wouldn’t be available to take calls or respond to emails as regularly for that week, which they said was fine.

Once I was on vacation, however, that totally changed: the client was emailing and calling me every day with requests for updates and complaining that I hadn’t finished the work yet, and my vacation was ruined because of how often they called me.

Moral: If you really want to enjoy your vacation, leave your laptop at home!



I was asked to do a very well-paid trial piece for a client that I was keen to impress. I spent hours on the article to ensure it was the best writing I could possibly offer and sent it back to the client excited to hear their thoughts.

For the next couple of weeks, the same pattern repeated: I reached out asking for feedback on the trial, and when I would be paid for it. The client responded saying they had run into a few difficulties but would be looking at it today and getting back to me tomorrow. For about a month, this continued, until I had to admit to myself that they weren’t going to pay me or respond to me about the job.

Moral: Even if you agree to a paid trial, get it in writing - and trust your instincts! If something seems too good to be true, maybe it is!


Community Manager

I was working remotely while travelling last year, and would send my client regular updates on how the work was progressing. One day, however, I mixed up my emails and accidentally sent my client an email that was meant for my parents, packed full of holiday snaps of all the fun I was having - not very professional!

Luckily, the client saw the funny side and we laughed it off - I'm just glad there was nothing too embarrassing in that email.

Moral: Be careful if your client shares a name with any relative or friend. It could get very uncomfortable!


Mobile Marketer

I am an immigrant and I entered this studio that creates posters for movies. The idea was that I would work for free and she would sponsor me to get a work permit. So there I was working more than 12 hours a day and she was really intense pushing everyone - no one was good enough for her. She would expose and humiliate other workers in front of everyone else including me (She always told me that she wanted to put me on the “fast lane.”)

After three months she came to me and said that because of the lawyers’ fees, she wasn’t going to pay for my time and that all the money would go to pay the lawyers. She added that I didn’t deserve to get the money cause I was a “piece of sh*t” artist! At that moment I was so drained and burned out that I felt that I was the problem. I would only understand that I was in a depression way later.

Moral: Whenever you feel there is only ONE option and it’s someone else’s option... that is what abuse feels like! Be aware.


Marketing Expert

I was about to get on a flight for a well-deserved vacation when I received an angry phone call from a client who I had just completed a large marketing campaign for. They said that the video I had sent her had no sound on it, and threatened not to pay me if I didn’t come and fix it before I left. Eventually, I agreed to go to the office to attempt to resolve the problem - once there, I played the video and simply unplugged her headphones.

Luckily, the client didn’t go nuts when I billed them for the flight she made me miss.

Moral: Point out your clients to potential scenarios that you think could be happening before driving to their offices. It can get cheaper for them and more convenient for you!


You’re not alone, right?

To cheer you up, we have a horrific offer. Today we will be giving out 50% on all upgrades!

Use the code: HORROR18 on the checkout and start landing new clients!

How to use the discount code?

Go to the upgrade page and select the membership that you would like to upgrade to: Premium or Business.

Select your preferred payment method and contract duration and click on the "Use coupon" link:

A pop up will come up where you can enter your halloween discount code:

The 50% will be immediately deducted from the invoice!


Happy Halloween!



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