June 2016. I had been working as a remote contractor — and the primary designer — for a small web dev shop for about 8 years. It was a long, fruitful, and comfortable situation for everyone involved. I was never an employee, but was embedded so deep into their processes and successes that I felt like a permanent, part-time, remote member of their team. My design work impressed their clients and helped them grow their business and reputation substantially over our partnership. I had little worries about where my next clients were coming from because this safety net of new projects reliably filled half my schedule, or even more if I needed it to.
Freelance life was good.
Monday morning. I check my emails:
We just hired a full time designer to join our team. He starts this morning. We won’t be requiring your services for any new projects, although we may call on you to service existing clients who will expect to be working with you.
My heart sank. This 8-year period of comfortably cruising down the freelance highway came to an abrupt halt. Half my pipeline dried up in an instant.
They gave me no warning. How long had they been looking to hire an in-house designer? It would have been a few weeks at the very least. Hell, if they’d asked I would have helped interview and train the hiree! But no, they played the dick move, kept me in the dark, and sprung it on me with no warning.
The lack of respect (towards someone who’d been working with them longer than any of their current employees) perhaps hurt worse than the knowledge that my cushy freelance situation was suddenly a slippery, rocky slope.
But deep down, it wasn’t a complete surprise either. As an independent contractor, I was surely costing them more than they’d have to pay an employee. They had tried to hire me repeatedly and I’d always turned it down in favour of my freelance…