Niching down is an important aspect of every freelance writer’s business.
But specializing in just one specific area also has its own set of challenges. The most common concern rises when you’re writing for a specific niche ad you come to the point that you need to write for competing clients.
If you get stuck in the same situation, what should you do? Is it okay to write for clients who are completing within the same niche?
In this article, we’re going to discuss the things that you need to do in order to effectively navigate through this situation while maintaining your professionalism.
Look Into the Terms In Your Contract
Any freelancing work should have a contract that is signed by both parties. This contract should outline the details of the working relationship such as expectations, payment schedule, due dates, and everything else pertaining to the job. Contracts are also made to dictate how you work outside your client.
Just like any other contacts , you’ll need to read what the contents are before you even sign. Be sure to understand the fine print and every contract term stipulated in that piece of paper of file. The fine print itself could contain some hidden surprises. Here are some terms that you need to be watchful for when you’re torn between one client and another competitor.
There are unequivocal companies who consider competitors. You’ll know this if the contact has a wording like “The contractor agrees that he/she should not provide his/her services to the following companies/competitors; Company A, Company B, and Company C.”
If you see this statement then it’s a good idea to just avoid working for the companies mentioned but is it really the right thing to do? There surely are plenty of fish in the vast ocean of opportunities out there but as a freelancer don’t limit yourself especially now that you’ve been regularly fishing in those areas.
Niched-down writers like you would often pitch for other companies who are on the same line of business and are considered competitors but don’t close your doors to these companies because it will significantly cut your potential to earn.
There are points that seem a bit more restrictive because of their vague and non-compete nature. Instead of directly mentioning the names of the competing brands/companies, your client may include a term statement such as “Contractor agrees not to work or provide his/her services to any company who is competing with the client or those that can potentially become a competitor in the long run.”
This unclear clause can be a big problem to freelancers. Who are these companies that the client considers as competitors? What does a potential competitor look like? With these vague terms, you can think of all potential clients as competitors. If possible, I advise that you stay away from contracts like this.
Moreover, contracts that are non-compete can enact some clauses in a perpetual manner. This means that you will never be able to write for other companies. If you sign such contact, you are actually closing the door on any future income forever.
When it comes to contracts, a freelancer should also be watchful about non-compete clauses.
These are clauses, conditions, and/or limitations that a client can stipulate i the contract that can bring drastic changes to your business as a freelance writer. They would often include conditions telling you who or when you are allowed or not allowed to work for as you progress in your career with them.
The wording they will used greatly varies and it is important to really understand such terms before signing the contract so you can stay away from the things that can limit your earning potential.
If the client gives you a contact that has some non-compete statements in it, you are actually presented with two options. You can either ask the client to remove it or you can simply just walk away.
If a client is asking for that kind of exclusivity that a lot of non-compete contracts have then they will need to pay for that. Preventing you from working for other companies or clients actually limits your earning potential.
Depending on what the clause is proposing is like agreeing to a one-client work arrangement in terms of the load. It removes the benefit of a full-time client and the freedom which a freelance writer/contractor usually enjoys.
While there are non-competes to watch out for, a contractor should also be wary of non-disclosures as they’re also very common. Non-disclosures usually would say that the contractor agrees not to divulge information to public or the competitors.
The clause should not even be a surprise and it’s something that you can easily agree with easily. It’s a general rule in business anyway that you should not discuss information that you know about in the period of your employment with a company or client. A good rule to live by is “when you’re in doubt, you better keep your mouth shut.”
Be Careful of Your Content’s Content
In case you find success in working for a client that can be considered a competitor, you need to be careful of the articles and other written content that you provide to them.
First of all, and probably most important point to remember is that you are not actually recycling your work for your existing client. It’s like plagiarizing yourself and it’s something that you should avoid at all cost. Don’t post the same article for both clients and take extra precautions not to make the mistake of even leaving the slightest similarity in the content that you provide for them.
The phrasing of your ideas should not be the same when writing on the same topic especially when it’s the competitor companies/clients that you’re working for. Don’t ever make the mistake of just rewording the content that you’ve already published in the other client’s website/blog.
Remember the reason you were hired. Keep in mind your job description at all times. You are paid to provide unique and original content. Something that will help boost the company’s business and your professional reputation as well.
Stick To Your Brand of Writing
Another thing that you need to be wary about is that your name should always be on the “author” section. It is okay to look into and study other topics and attack it in different perspectives but you need to avoid contradicting yourself.
Your brand message is influenced by your portfolio. It is what helps niche clients find you and want to hire you in the first place.
For instance, if you have a firm opinion on a certain issue, opposing that stand in an article that you write for another client will ultimately put your credibility into question.
Remember that clients are attracted to your message, your style, the tone that you use, and your voice as a writer. Study topics from a variety of point of views so you can be ready to write some original content for different clients. Always stay “on brand” even if you work across different clients.
Other Part-Time Concerns
Those who do freelance writing on a part-time basis can come face-to-face with some issues that would affect the competitor work arrangement to a halt.
There are contracts that does not allow certain kind of work outside your employment terms with the company or client.
For instance, a client or company may stipulate that committing to work for other clients while you are hired by them (or being a freelancer) may cost you your job and void the contract agreement.
This isn’t typical but before you decide to accept a job offer from another client, be sure to read your existing contract once again just to stay on the safe side.
Finding yourself torn between different clients who are competing on the same niche isn’t an easy thing to deal with but do your best to approach it with your business in mind.
Avoid locking yourself into a business agreement that would limit your potential for earning. It’s also important to keep in mind that a good relationship with your clients would pay off big time in the long run.