I recently attended a networking event where one of the participants was releasing her frustrations about a friend who turned into a client. Her frustration was that she’d done all this work and her friend was now dodging payment and making unrealistic expectations.

By the end of the meetup, we’d all come to the same conclusion. We very boldly said “Dude, this client is taking advantage of the situation. Actually, this client is taking advantage of you.”

There comes a time in every business owner’s life when this happens. The good news is you have the freedom to nip it in the bud as soon as you notice it. Here are three signs that a client is taking advantage of you.

Dodging payment.

As helpful as online accounting and invoicing software is, sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes a client insists on dodging payment for work. (Side note: this is why it’s important to have legal protections and charge deposits.)

I was recently in a Facebook group where the owner was telling the story of the excuses clients kept giving her as to why she hadn’t received payment. It ranged from the invoice number not being long enough to a glitch in the system. What they didn’t know was that she used to do accounting for a small business so she knew the excuses were a way for them to stall on paying her.

Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does it’s usually a clear cut sign that a client is taking advantage. As Paul Jarvis explains, the minute they stop paying is the minute you stop working on their project.

Having unrealistic expectations.

Another sign that a client is taking advantage of you is when they start putting more on your plate.

The same woman who was talking about her friend turned client taking advantage of her was describing how the company was hiring her as a freelancer but wanted her to work 40 hours and log them in a time sheet. This took time away from her other clients and she was not happy about it.

“I feel like they are trying to get full-time work out of me and trying to avoid having to fork over money for payroll taxes,” she said.

The consensus from the group was that they probably were.

Keep an eye out for this kind of behavior. If they keep asking for more without wanting to pay, it’s time to drop them.

They don’t respect your boundaries.

As a freelancer, you must set boundaries with your clients. This includes boundaries with your hours, availability, the scope of work, payment terms, time, etc. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of of having a client take advantage of you.

If you do have set boundaries and your clients are still pushing them, then it may be time to drop them and find another client.

Final Thoughts

It’s up to you as a business owner to pay attention to when a client is taking advantage of you. By keeping an eye out for these red flags you’ll know when it’s time to move on.


Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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