Freelancing offers plenty of freedom. You can set your own hours and rates and work from nearly anywhere.
However, being your own boss means you don’t have an employer to directly deposit your paycheck every month. It’s up to you to figure out how to collect payments from your clients for the great work you do for them.
Below, we’ll cover the best ways to get paid as a freelancer. Then, we’ll dive into what to look for in a payment method and a few tips to help you collect your payments faster.
Five smart ways to get paid as a freelancer
Freelancers have numerous ways to get paid, but not all of them are ideal.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to collect payments from clients for freelance work based on ease of use, fees, capabilities, and more.
Free and fee-based online payment software
Several online payment platforms don’t charge monthly fees. Instead, you only pay for transactions, such as collecting on an invoice. Each platform can vary in transaction fee size. Some may charge currency conversion fees for international transactions.
Online payment solutions tend to lack the features that full-blown accounting platforms provide, but they’re easier to learn and usually still do enough to get the job done.
Ultimately, these platforms can work well for freelancers with only a handful of monthly transactions. For example, if you have a few large retainer clients, you can use one of these low-cost payment solutions to get paid as a freelancer.
Top examples of these solutions include the following:
- PayPal: supports international payments but charges currency conversion fees
- Stripe: supports international payments but charges currency conversion fees
- Melio: supports international payments but charges a flat $20 fee that covers the payment and currency conversion
Accounting or invoicing software
Several accounting and bookkeeping solutions come with invoicing features. The invoice and payment data flows right to your books, making bookkeeping easier.
These solutions tend to have monthly fees but offer more features than free online payment solutions and cover areas beyond invoicing. They may also charge processing fees for credit card payments.
Examples of accounting and invoicing software include the following:
Freelance platforms help connect clients and freelancers. Clients can post jobs for freelancers, and freelancers can build their profiles and send proposals. This functionality makes these platforms excellent starting points if you’re new to freelancing and looking for work.
Freelance platforms protect you and your clients by requiring them to put money into a neutral escrow account for a project while you complete the work. Once your client approves the work, the platform releases the money to you.
If any issues arise, most platforms have an arbitration process clients and freelancers can work through.
Some of the most well-known freelancer platforms include the following:
Many of these platforms are either free or offer freemium and paid plans. They tend to take a percentage of your earnings as part of their business model.
Some job boards only offer paid subscriptions. In exchange, they have lower or no transaction fees.
Working with clients through Remote, you won’t have to worry about high fees or navigating a complex platform. Remote is easier to use and has lower fees. It also comes with purpose-built features that enable you to take on international clients, so you can get paid by clients located almost anywhere in the world in any currency.
Freelance platforms are also a good option if you’re a contractor working abroad. Because you can take on work and get paid from anywhere, you can travel or even move to another country without impacting your freelance income.
Bank automated clearing house transfer
Bank automated clearing house (ACH) transfers move money from your client’s bank account to yours. These minimize transaction fees with domestic clients since banks don’t make money through regular bank transfers. As a result, ACH could be a good option for retainers.
There are downsides, though. For one, international ACH transfers can cost a lot.
Furthermore, you have to give your clients your banking information. This means you have to vet each client carefully. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, ACH will be out of the question.
That is, unless the client uses Remote. Remote’s top-notch General Data Protection Regulation and SOC 2 security processes guard your sensitive data while letting you enjoy the speed and convenience of ACH transfers.
It’s cheaper to collect payments from international clients through Remote, too. Your client can set up automatic payments so that neither of you has to think about your monthly retainer fee.
Physical checks are the least convenient option since you have to wait for them to arrive in the mail. Plus, there’s a risk that they get lost.
However, a physical check can help you avoid problems that can impact technological solutions, such as:
- Payment method glitches
- Inability to access your computer or laptop
- Website downtime
- Account cancelation or removal (such as for violating the payment method or platform’s terms)
If all else fails, you can take your check to the bank and deposit it in person.
How to choose a payment method
We’ve laid out the most popular payment methods and discussed their pros and cons. Ultimately, however, you’ll have to do some research to pick the best one for you.
To help out, let’s consider some factors when choosing a payment method.
Payment method fees can dent your revenue if you aren’t careful. Make the software’s features and usability justify the fees.
For example, start with a transaction-fee-only platform. You’ll want to compare transaction and processing fees. Also, look for fees related to international transactions if you do business in multiple countries.
As you grow, you might upgrade to accounting software with monthly fees if it provides other features, such as bookkeeping and financial reporting.
Payment methods and currencies accepted
The more payment methods you accept, the more clients you can take on. Plus, those clients will have an easier time paying you, strengthening your relationship with them since they can switch payment methods if necessary.
For instance, in 2019, over half of small businesses had a business credit card for external funding. It’s reasonable to assume that number has only grown alongside developments in remote work tech and trends.
To expand to international clients, you’ll need to find clients that can pay internationally and in your currency.
Remote supports 100+ currencies in 170+ countries. So if you choose clients that use Remote, getting paid won’t be a worry.
Payments fraud and similar cyber threats are on the rise. Payment processing technology that lacks proper security creates avenues for cybercriminals to launch cyberattacks or get ahold of your or your clients’ financial resources.
Using a payment method with top-notch security adds to your credibility.
Clients will feel more reassured if you use reputable methods that employ the latest and most robust security protocols. You will also look more professional. Recommending that your clients consider Remote will help ensure that they can pay you and any other independent contractors that work for them in the most secure way possible.
Five tips for getting paid faster as a freelancer
Cash flow is king. The faster you get paid, the quicker you can pay your bills and reinvest in your freelance business.
With that in mind, here are some ways to get paid faster:
Always have a contract in place
In addition to giving you legal protection, contracts make you appear more professional. The client will also feel they’re making a more substantial commitment to you.
The contract itself can specify the payment method, terms, and more so that you don’t have to work things out on the fly.
If issues arise, you can refer your client to the contract.
Creating a good contract can be tricky since it’s a legal document. Remote lets you use preset contract templates to get up and running quickly. You can also bring your own contract.
Charge upfront if you can
Accepting payment after delivering work can help you get clients faster, but it can be risky. You may have to chase clients down for payment. Plus, your cash flow can suffer, which might be an issue when it comes to your living and business expenses. This can lead to burnout if you aren’t careful.
As you gain experience and confidence, you could begin demanding upfront payment. A good way to transition to this arrangement is to require a nonrefundable deposit upfront that covers a portion of the fee, such as 25–50%.
Some accounting and invoicing platforms let you automate several aspects of invoicing. For example, you can set up recurring invoices for retainer clients or duplicate old invoices for similar one-off projects to save time.
Furthermore, you can schedule automated reminders if the client doesn’t pay within a certain timeframe. This can save you time and reduce the likelihood of late payments. It can also help you avoid forgetting to collect on an invoice.
Offer early payment discounts
As your freelancing career progresses, you could offer early payment discounts to incentivize faster payment.
Early payment discounts let you trade some revenue for cash flow if your client pays within a set number of business days. Your revenue decreases, but you get money in hand much faster.
As a result, you can reinvest in your business quickly, potentially offsetting any revenue dips that early payment discounts might cause.
Getting paid as a freelancer is a breeze with Remote
Freelancing lets you set your schedule, rates, and location, but there’s a trade-off: administrative tasks, such as collecting payments, are on you.
There are many ways to get paid faster and more consistently as a contractor, but your payment method plays the most prominent role. A trusted, reliable platform can help you by:
- Letting you upload your own contracts or use our location-compliant contracts
- Streamlining your invoice management with approvals and status updates
- Paying you in your local currency