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Working with Similar Clients

Hi everyone, 
I need some advice. I have been freelancing with a client for that last seven months, and they were pleased with my work and extended the contract indefinitely. Through my work with this client, one of their colleagues and a similar company has asked me to freelance for them providing similar services. Out of courtesy, I informed client A of the opportunity and received a response I wasn't expecting. They were actually upset that client B contacted me and informed me that they would be sending me a confidentiality agreement so that I don't share their company's information. My dilemma is that I am unpleased in how Client A responded, it felt more personal and not professional, and I'm hoping this doesn't affect my opportunity with Client B. I want to communicate my disappointment, but I also don't want to risk my contract. I also want to remain professional through this process. 
P.S. Once the contract was extended, I didn't sign any formal paperwork. I'm still a freelancer/Independent Contract. 
Any suggestions? 
Thank you,
Community Member

Lots of issues here...

1. Upwork's TOS includes a prohibition against sharing confidential information received from a client. So, you have always been subject to that restriction. 
2. It is utterly ridiculous for a company to assume confidentiality without an agreement in place. If Company A wasn't aware of the protections in Upwork's TOS, then they were foolish to have not considered this issue prior to you bringing it to their attention.
3. There's a good chance the agreement they send will include additional clauses that you won't want to agree with, proceed with extreme caution. 
4. Company A has no right to control whom you work with because you are an independent contractor. You weren't wrong to inform them as a courtesy, but you had zero obligation to do so. If you are going to work with more than one client at a time, you will encounter this situation again. You should evaluate how you wish to handle these situations moving forward. 
5. If Company A does want you to agree to not work with competing businesses, they need to PAY you for that concession. This payment is above and beyond what they are paying for your work product. 

Based on their reaction to your communication, I would probably be negotiating with company A for a much larger fee for my exclusive attention or begin to make my exit from the relationship.

I have agreed to various levels of non-disclosure, non-compete, etc. with clients throughout my career but you have to be careful about what it is you are agreeing to. The more limits you allow to be placed on your freedom to contract, the harder it will be to expand your client base. 

Community Member

Hi Tonya,

Thank you so much for your feedback. Your response really settled my nerves and helped me to put things into perspective. I will definitely be sure to take a good look at the agreement and may just have a third-party review it as well.

Thank you again,
Community Member

Why do you want to communicate your dissapointment? How does that benefit your business? That's the question you need to answer...and that's what you need to communicate. Keep it professional, keep it business-related, don't volunteer information that isn't relevant or isn't consequential to your business or theirs. Certainly not personal feelings. Never with clients!! 


You could say something really short and simple like  "I understand that you were upset that client B contacted me. I'm sorry that you feel that way. Rest assured, it's one of my business practices not to share confidential information. That said, I would be happy to read any agreement you send my way." 


If there is something in the agreement you don't agree to, just tell them that "I would not be able to agree to clause #X, Y and Z. I would be happy to sign the agreement with these removed." 


If they disagree, and you don't feel you should budge (which is your right as a freelancer) just tell them that "unforunately we are at an impasse on this point. Please let me know if you would like to continue working with me under our current arrangement" 

Hi David,

Thank you so much for your feedback and a reminder that business has no place for feelings. You’re right, there’s no point in communicating my disappointment. Just keep it professional and do my job.

I’m glad I posted my to this forum. As a new freelancer, I wasn’t sure how to navigate this.

Thank you so much!

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