My freelance field is journalism. I work in quite a specialised field where, while there are a lot of different outlets, they're all covering the same sorts of stories.
Up until recently, the editors I was working with were all asking me for quite distinct things and I never had any occasions where there were different people effectively asking me to do the same job. Recently, however, and perhaps unwisely, I've been picking up tasks from three different publications which all cover similar areas.
That worked out okay for me at first, but I've just had to turn down no less than three requests from my longest-running client on the basis that one of their competitors had got their first. I felt I had to work it on a first-come, first-served basis have already promised relevant articles to different editors. In all cases the editors had contacted me about the stories rather than the other way round.
I felt terrible about this, especially since I've been working with them for so long. They were very nice about it, but I can't help feel that my standing with them has gone down a notch or two and that it's something that'll be remembered next time there's freelance work going. I've also lost out on some work.
I presume anyone doing any sort of freelance work in a crowded field must deal with these sorts of issues from time to time. Is there any way these sorts of clashes can be handled better?