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PostPosted: October 27th, 2003, 8:42 pm 
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Joined: October 27th, 2003, 8:36 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Westbrook, CT
ClientA currently pays me 10K (about 25% of my salary) a year to write technical industry articles, press releases, etc. I have never signed a contract or agreement with ClientA. I have recently been approached by ClientB, a competitor of ClientA in the same industry, to also write technical case studies and press releases. ClientB could amount to at least another 15K a year or more. I have a good relationship with ClientA and would like to inform them about the offer from ClientB. However, I think that ClientA will not want me to write for any competitor. On the other hand, ClientB has informed me that they will permit me to write for competitors as long as I sign a non-disclosure agreement. Should I stay with ClientA at 10K a year, or do I accept the offer of ClientB, which could be a potential for more money but a risk of losing ClientA? Is agreeing to write exclusively for one client in an industry a smart thing to do? It could cost me a lot of potential work in that industry. I've only been freelancing for 3 years and I need some advice!


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PostPosted: October 28th, 2003, 2:06 am 
Surely your clients don't expect you to work for them exclusively. There is no need for you to disclose your work for Client B to Client A, or any other work to any other client, unless there is some clear compelling reason to do so. Not only is finding other clients a smart thing to do, but it is something that you should be doing a lot more of.

If Client A has not asked you to sign a confidentiality agreement, that is their concern (although naturally you should keep their information confidential even if you have not signed an agreement). If Client B presents you with a confidentiality agreement, sign it, providing it does not have any onerous clauses (indemnification, noncompete, etc.)


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PostPosted: October 28th, 2003, 2:39 pm 
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Joined: October 26th, 2003, 5:05 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Montgomery, AL
betz wrote:
ClientA currently pays me 10K (about 25% of my salary) a year to write technical industry articles, press releases, etc. I have never signed a contract or agreement with ClientA. I have recently been approached by ClientB, a competitor of ClientA in the same industry, to also write technical case studies and press releases. ClientB could amount to at least another 15K a year or more. I have a good relationship with ClientA and would like to inform them about the offer from ClientB. However, I think that ClientA will not want me to write for any competitor. On the other hand, ClientB has informed me that they will permit me to write for competitors as long as I sign a non-disclosure agreement. Should I stay with ClientA at 10K a year, or do I accept the offer of ClientB, which could be a potential for more money but a risk of losing ClientA? Is agreeing to write exclusively for one client in an industry a smart thing to do? It could cost me a lot of potential work in that industry. I've only been freelancing for 3 years and I need some advice!

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I do not recommend locking yourself into a situation where you only write for one client per industry. Think about it - ad agencies may have a dozen clients in one industry with no problems. What they do have is confidentialty clauses in their contracts with each client.

I suggest you discuss the situation with Client A - let him know you have been approached by a competitor and it would mean a significant amount of business for you. You do not have to disclose the identity of Client B - in fact, I would discourage you from doing so. Tell Client A you would like to accept the assignment from Client B, but do not feel comfortable doing so until there is a confidentiality agreement in place between you and Client A. If Client A is a realistic business person, he/she will appreciate your honesty and your willingness to take steps to protect your existing relationship.

Best of luck to you.


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PostPosted: October 29th, 2003, 2:33 pm 
I've been a consultant in a fairly tightly knit industry for a number of years, and also provide writing and marketing services to vendors in that industry. I'd recommend these steps:
1. Inform ClientA that since you are a freelancer and offer services to lots of different kinds of companies, you'd recommend an NDA to give you each a certain level of comfort.
2. Sign an NDA for ClientB as well - and for any clients in the future. It makes everybody more aware of the fact that proprietary information needs to be protected.
3. Consider a developing a simple contract and create project work sheets as addendums for each additional project. And include an NDA in the contract in the future. That way you don't have to resign the contract, just initial/sign the work sheets to initiate each project.
4. Emphasize that as a freelancer your reputation (and discretion) is part of what you have to sell - your client needs to understand that keeping proprietary information confidential is part of what you do.
5. You may want to make sure that you don't work on projects for each one at the exact same time...
6. Make sure you never - ever - use something from one client in a project for another - even if it "sort of looks like" -- it gets fuzzy.
7. If the two are such direct competitors that what you write for ClientB will naturally resemble something you've done for ClientA - then I'd think carefully about taking them both on.
8. I'd also be careful authoring any "by-lined" articles in trade pubs that promote one of the clients where the other is likely to read it.

Otherwise, in my industry, it's common practice for indepentents, freelancers, and consultants to work for competitors.

quote="betz"]ClientA currently pays me 10K (about 25% of my salary) a year to write technical industry articles, press releases, etc. I have never signed a contract or agreement with ClientA. I have recently been approached by ClientB, a competitor of ClientA in the same industry, to also write technical case studies and press releases. ClientB could amount to at least another 15K a year or more. I have a good relationship with ClientA and would like to inform them about the offer from ClientB. However, I think that ClientA will not want me to write for any competitor. On the other hand, ClientB has informed me that they will permit me to write for competitors as long as I sign a non-disclosure agreement. Should I stay with ClientA at 10K a year, or do I accept the offer of ClientB, which could be a potential for more money but a risk of losing ClientA? Is agreeing to write exclusively for one client in an industry a smart thing to do? It could cost me a lot of potential work in that industry. I've only been freelancing for 3 years and I need some advice![/quote]


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PostPosted: November 6th, 2003, 10:04 pm 
It's interesting to find that this isn't an unusual problem -- writing for competing pubs. I've learned quite a lot from this Web site about that. Basically I've learned that as a freelancer, you're free to do whatever your contract says you can! So, read those contracts carefully! And if it's not in the contract, be honest and take care!


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