Figuring out the right way to get paid as a freelancer is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. If you limit yourself to the methods that are more convenient to you, you risk alienating clients.
Your best move is to offer multiple freelancer-friendly payment options, therefore removing logistical barriers when hiring you. Understandably, it can be a pain to spread out your money across multiple services, but it’s all about providing confidence to your clients.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through four of my favorite ways to get paid as a freelancer. I’ll tell you how they work, what their pros and cons are, and my experiences with them. Let’s get to it!
PayPal hardly needs introduction. It’s the most popular online payment method these days, with over 200 million active accounts. If you’ve been freelancing for longer than five minutes, chances are you’ve already set up a PayPal account of your own.
Here are a few reasons why PayPal is still the most popular option, even with all its competitors:
- It has a low barrier to entry. Setting up a PayPal account takes minutes and verifying it is just as easy.
- You can open an account from almost anywhere. With a few exceptions such as North Korea, almost anyone in the world can open a PayPal account.
- Sending and receiving money is easy. All you have to do is give out your associated email address to receive money – it doesn’t get any easier than that.
At first glance, PayPal seems like a no brainer. However, the platform isn’t without its flaws. For example, it sometimes limits and closes accounts without any warning, which is terrible news for freelancers. If you use it to store your money for the long term, there’s a small risk you could lose access to it temporarily. Plus, their fees for receiving money are on the high end of the spectrum.
Personally, I’ve been using PayPal to get paid for years without any major issues. I’ve had to file chargebacks against scammers a few times, but the platform has never tried to do me wrong. Moreover, I’ve yet to find a freelance gig where they refuse to pay through PayPal.
TransferWise is a relatively new service aiming to simplify international bank transfers. If you’ve ever had to do one of those, you know they can take days to reach their recipient. Plus, the fees are often ridiculous! That’s where TransferWise comes in.
The service acts as an intermediary to help your transfers reach their destiny faster and cheaper. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure how they get it done, but it works, and it’s fantastic. Let’s go over a few reasons why you should consider using it for freelancing:
- Cheaper fees. International bank transfers are expensive, so it makes sense to save money where you can.
- Setting up an account is simple. Overall, I’d compare the experience to signing up for PayPal.
- It works with most major banks over the world. TransferWise enables people to send money directly to your bank account or to the platform, where you can store it.
As always, no platform is without downsides. In this case, they’re similar to those of PayPal. For example, your account may get frozen at any time if TransferWise thinks something is suspicious going on. If that happens, you probably won’t have access to your money for a while until things get sorted out.
I haven’t been using TransferWise for long, and it’s not my primary payment platform. However, I’ve noticed that more and more clients have started to offer it lately. Between TransferWise and PayPal, your bases are pretty well covered!
We’ve already recommended TransferWise, so it may seem redundant to also talk about bank wires. However, bear with us – there are a couple of advantages to using traditional wires over intermediary services, such as:
- They’re reliable. In most cases, your bank won’t freeze your account for receiving payments. At most, they may ask you to explain where the funds came from.
- You have immediate access to your funds. As soon as the money lands in your bank, you can go on a shopping spree.
Naturally, bank wires often take days to reach your account, but as a freelancer, that’s something you can adjust to with ease. When you think about it, a lot of us get paid in Net-30 and 60 terms, so adding a couple of days to that number isn’t that big a deal.
I’d go as far as to say the biggest problem with using bank wires are their fees. Unless you’re working on a massive project, those costs can eat a nice chunk of your payment, so you may be better off only using this method sparingly.
Bitcoin is a bit of a divisive topic and a lot of people that talk about it come on a bit strong. Instead of talking about how cool Bitcoin is, I’m going to focus on why it can help you as a freelancer. For example:
- It offers near instant payments. PayPal also does this, but it’s still a bonus.
- Low fees. When it comes to fees, Bitcoin is unbeatable. You can send thousands of dollars and pay only a couple of those in fees (although costs can vary).
- You don’t need to provide any personal information. Anyone can create a Bitcoin wallet without signing up for any service, and no one can ever close your account or freeze your funds.
The thing about Bitcoin is it sounds amazing, and it works great for freelancers, but very few people use it at this point. In my experience, I almost always mention Bitcoin as one of the payment methods I accept, but only a handful of people have ever taken me up on it (over the course of years).
Others have come back to me with questions about how to use it and why I accept it. In those cases, explaining how to purchase Bitcoin and send it tends to be such a hassle that it’s not worth it for anyone involved. Your mileage may vary, of course, and if you find clients willing to pay you in Bitcoin, go for it!
Two of the most important aspects to succeed in freelancing are finding great clients and figuring out the best ways to get paid. As far as the former goes, the Paid to Blog jobs board is a great place to start.
Here are four of the most popular payment methods for freelancers in 2017 and what makes them useful:
- PayPal: Despite its high fees, PayPal is still the most popular b payment method around.
- Transferwise: If you prefer to be paid via bank transfers, Transferwise can save you a lot of money in fees.
- Bank wires: This method takes a bit longer than the others, and it’s expensive, but also reliable.
- Bitcoin: The newest kid on the block is fast and cheap, but not every client might want to use it.
What do you think is the best way to get paid as a freelancer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
Colin Newcomer says
PayPal flat-rate $0.50 Business payments make it the cheapest way to receive money, if you have USA-based clients.
I’m not a fan of the company – but the savings are massive.
Alexander Cordova says
Hey Colin, I must admit I’m not very familiar with business-side payment methods, as I’m still working solo. However, if the savings are that good with PayPal business accounts, I definitely need to look into that.
By the way, I’m a fan of your WordPress articles. I’ve seen you around several of the sites I frequent. Keep up the great work!
As a freelancer operating in Europe but with clients in Europe, Africa & The US, I am losing a lot in bank fees.
I don’t know the best route to go down. I have just come across theses guys: https://felixapp.co/ – any experience with it?
Alexander Cordova says
I haven’t tried Felix, but if your main concern are banks fees it sounds like Transferwise should be right up your alley. You’ll save a lot of money in fees using them and I haven’t had any problems with the service so far.
Erin Ramsey says
well i take payments through google wallet no fee at all
And other important fields to cover for every freelancer are the sources of a good research. Maybe a list of open access like that? Eg. Paperity http://paperity.org/
I haven’t attempted Felix, but in case your important challenge are banks expenses it feels like Transferwise have to be right up your alley. You’ll keep quite a few money in prices using them and that i haven’t had any problems with the provider thus far.
md jahid hasan says
hi there Colin, I should admit I’m not very acquainted with enterprise-aspect payment techniques, as I’m still working solo. however, if the financial savings are that accurate with PayPal enterprise accounts, I definitely need to look at that.
by using the way, I’m partial to your WordPress articles. I’ve seen you around several of the sites I common. hold up the incredible paintings!