Not sure what to do about this contract - advice needed!

(7 Posts)
translatorwriter Tue 02-Sep-14 14:15:20

I am trying to get into the business of writing profiles for dating websites (for real people, not fake ones although my research tells me that market also exists). I am in the process of negotiating some freelance work from a one-woman company in the states. I had a nice skype chat with this woman but she mentioned that she would want me to sign a contract saying I wouldn't set up a similar business within 3 years of ceasing to work for her.

Essentially, I'm not keen to do this, given I would have no guarantee of work from her as a freelancer. I'm also guessing that profile writing is similar to translating (where most of my income is currently coming from) in that no one person is really that much of a threat to any other person’s business. The market is so large that even a highly skilled writer/translator whose work is in great demand can only ever take on a tiny fraction of all the work out there.

But I would still really like to work with her and I'm not sure how to broach this. I'm worried that if I just say I'm not willing to sign the contract she may decide not to give me any work. I feel I should offer another suggestion to ease her fears that she will put time into training me up in her style only for me to go off and use it in a competing business. Anyone have any ideas?

OP’s posts: |
MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 02-Sep-14 16:36:14

Three years in a long time when you work for yourself. All sorts could change about your business in that time, so I would be equally concerned about signing it.

I wonder if it is the norm in the US?

I'd be honest. If you want to work with this woman, then it needs to work for you both. Say a version of what you have said here:

- You are very excited about working with her
- You understand she wants to protect her business
- But being a sole trader it will be difficult for you to sign up to something like her suggested agreement as you just don't know the future holds and you take any agreement signing seriously
- You are an established freelancer with lots of happy clients
- You hope that you can still work together anyway

If she is a very untrusting type, she might not be the client for you? I assume she needs to trust you to get on with work across the pond etc.

You could offer to organise for her to speak to clients for references? I am guessing she just wants to know you aren't going to learn all her 'secrets' and then set up a competitive 'shop' immediately.

translatorwriter Tue 02-Sep-14 21:30:47

Thanks margo - I'm really only just starting out so I'm a bit limited in the references I can offer. I'll just have to bite the bullet and say it doesn't work for me though and see what she comes back with. If it doesn't work out I guess it doesn't work out.

OP’s posts: |
Lonecatwithkitten Thu 04-Sep-14 07:38:26

Whilst this maybe the norm in the US binding out clauses ( as they are often called here) can not prevent you from earning a living.
Three years would be considered excessive long from the start they are usually tiered gradually getting longer.
Examples I have known that are enforceable hairdresser no able to work within half a mile for two weeks after 11 years in business.
Veterinary not able to work within 3 miles of practice for 1 year after 4 years in business.
They tend to be related to how many business are in local area and how often clients are likely to revisit the business.
Surely in writing profiles for dating website if you are doing a really good you there won't be repeat business from individual clients?

Elliptic5 Thu 04-Sep-14 22:38:01

Having studied some of this area in contract law I would agree with lonecat that this is likely to be unenforceable here. However I would think this is a contract you are better off without, it could well feel like a weight hanging over you once you get your business up and running.

DH set up on his own recently and the first contract he was offered had several restrictive clauses in it that we decided it wasn't worth taking a chance with. He has since had a worrying 2 months with no work when we wondered if he had done the right thing; work is now starting to trickle in and we know if he had signed the original contract (which didn't actually have any guaranteed hours) he would not have been able to take on any of the work he is now being offered.
Hang on in there, things will work out in the end smile

ABlandAndDeadlyCourtesy Thu 04-Sep-14 22:42:28

Is the contract under US law or UK law?

If it's restricted to you setting up your own dating site, that's less restrictive than stopping you doing similar freelance work for others. Have you got a counter proposal that you would be comfortable with (for example, working with no other agency in her state/region of the US for a 6 month period)?

ABlandAndDeadlyCourtesy Thu 04-Sep-14 22:43:16

Agency = dating agency above

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