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Freelancer Freedom - How To Get Paid As A Freelancer

Level up your freelance game! Master How To Get Paid As A Freelancer: choose the right payment methods, avoid scams, & build a system that automatically brings in the cash.

Kenzo Norman
Jan 12, 20242007 Shares41813 Views
Embracing the freelance lifestyle offers a thrilling adventure where you have the liberty to operate on your own terms. However, the payment aspect can be exasperating, presenting challenges such as encountering steep fees and dealing with unreliable clients. A significant majority of freelancers, amounting to 74%, express dissatisfaction with untimely payments. This underscores the crucial necessity for freelancers to not only learn How To Get Paid As A Freelancerbut also establish transparent payment terms and conditions.
Unlike a traditional employment setup where your salary is neatly deposited by a company, managing your finances as a freelancer involves more effort. The process of ensuring your earnings reach the correct destination at the right time can be laborious, posing a significant challenge for both novice and seasoned freelancers alike.

Definition Of A Freelancer

An illustration of a person using laptop.
An illustration of a person using laptop.
A freelancer refers to a self-employed individual who provides services to clients on a project-by-project basis, typically leveraging a specific skill set or expertise. For instance, a freelance writer may specialize in content creation, editing, and proofreading, while a freelance graphic designer may focus on services such as logo design, illustration, and website design.
Freelancers enjoy the flexibility to choose the nature of their work, the clients they engage with, and the rates they charge for their services. They have the capacity to collaborate with multiple clients simultaneously and are categorized as independent contractors rather than employees of the companies they serve.
Freelancers bear the responsibility for managing their own business-related expenses, including marketing, taxes, and health insurance. Often working remotely, freelancers utilize digital platforms to connect with potential clients, collaborate on projects, and receive payment. The growing prevalence of the gig economy and remote work has resulted in a notable surge in freelancing. Statista anticipates that by 2027, the United States will have approximately 86.5 million freelancers, constituting over 50% of the nation's total workforce.

Freelancer Payment Methods

An illustration of different payment methods.
An illustration of different payment methods.
Freelancers have various payment structures, determined by the agreements established with their clients:
  • Hourly Rate - The freelancer bills the client for each hour worked. This is commonly used for projects with undefined scopes or long-term commitments.
  • Project-Based Fee - The freelancer sets a fixed amount for a specific project, agreed upon before commencing work. This fee is estimated based on the anticipated time and effort required to complete the project.
  • Retainer Fee - A monthly fee is agreed upon between the freelancer and client for a predetermined amount of work. This model ensures a steady income for the freelancer and provides the client with ongoing, on-demand services.
  • Per-Word or Per-Page Rate - Certain freelancers, such as writers and editors, charge clients based on the number of words or pages.
  • Commission - In a commission-based model, the client compensates the freelancer with a percentage of the revenue generated by their work. This is prevalent in freelancing related to sales.
  • Value-Based Pricing - Pricing is determined by the value the freelancer's work brings to the client, rather than the time invested. For instance, a freelance software developer specializing in intricate projects may charge more than similarly experienced developers working on simpler tasks. This approach requires a thorough understanding of the client's business and the potential impact of the freelancer's contributions.

How To Get Paid As A Freelancer

An illustration of different payment methods.
An illustration of different payment methods.
Certainly, you may have a preferred payment method, but the reality is that as freelancers, we are here to cater to our clients. Achieving more success often involves a willingness to be flexible and accommodate their preferred payment methods.
In instances where your client allows flexibility, here are established options for receiving payment:

Physical Check

Indeed, this remains a valid method of receiving payment, and numerous large corporations still issue checks to freelancers on a monthly or biweekly basis. If your client follows this payment approach, it might be challenging to persuade them to make exceptions and adopt a different payment method.
However, utilizing checks can introduce challenges, such as the common issue of the "your check is in the mail" scenario, where the client claims to have sent the check, but it fails to arrive. The slowdown in U.S. mail services since 2020 has exacerbated this concern, and there is a legitimate risk of checks getting lost in transit.
Moreover, freelancers need to be vigilant about online check scams, where a check may bounce after the completion of the work. For those who opt for checks, it's crucial to confirm with the bank that the check has indeed cleared.
On a positive note, the advent of online banking has facilitated the digital depositing of checks via smartphones, providing a convenient way to manage payments from the comfort of one's home and promptly verify their clearance.
It's essential to note that accepting foreign checks can incur substantial fees. As an illustration, depositing a Canadian check once resulted in a $34 charge. Considering the potential challenges associated with cross-border transactions, exploring alternative payment options may be more favorable.

Free And Fee-based Online Payments

Free Payment Services

Services like Venmo, Zelle, Google Wallet, and ApplePay, along with options provided by big banks, offer no-fee online payment alternatives. While not typically used for business transactions, they can be convenient in certain situations.

Fee-charging Services

Regarding fee-based alternatives, PayPal stands out as the predominant global online payment provider. It maintains a broad presence, although it is widely criticized for its fees, typically amounting to 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
Additionally, it is essential to note that some individuals in certain countries may be restricted from using PayPal services (verify service availability in your country here). In such cases, an alternative online payment method becomes necessary.
While online payments offer the advantage of immediate transactions, the downside lies in the associated fees. For instance, PayPal imposes a 2.9 percent charge. To illustrate, if you operate a flourishing freelance enterprise with an annual income of, let's say, $60,000, exclusively receiving payments through PayPal would entail surrendering $1,740 in fees—a substantial deduction.
Despite the fee concerns, many clients have a preference for PayPal, making it worthwhile to establish an account. However, it's crucial to be aware that relying solely on PayPal may limit the range of freelance opportunities available to you.

Global Payment Service Providers

Conduct online research to identify service providers that currently facilitate payments from your country and compare rates to secure the most favorable deal. Transferwise, now known as Wise, along with Payoneer, 2CheckOut, and Dwolla, are popular platforms renowned for their facilitation of international payments. These options often feature lower fees compared to PayPal.
It's important to note that fees and terms are subject to variation and frequent updates, so ensure you check with your chosen provider for the latest details.


In terms of workarounds, alternative methods exist to navigate fees. For instance, clients could utilize Mass Pay on PayPal if that feature is available or opt for the "Send Money to a Friend" option to avoid fees. While the latter is not officially recommended for business transactions and may pose risks for clients with PayPal, some individuals do resort to this practice.
However, many businesses are resistant to covering processing fees, and insisting on fee exemptions might jeopardize deals. It's advisable not to press the issue if a client declines to cover fees. Instead, consider incorporating the fees into your project bid to maintain transparency and avoid potential complications.
Consider workarounds, such as usingPayPalfeatures like Mass Pay or "Send Money to a Friend" for free transactions.

Bank Transfer (ACH Or EFT)

Bank transfers, facilitated through an automated clearing house (ACH) or electronic funds transfer (EFT), directly transfer funds from your client's bank account to yours. While ideal for ongoing retainer gigs, international transactions may incur fees.

Accepting Credit Cards

For clients preferring credit card payments, a payment service provider (PSP) like Square or Stripe, or options like PayPal, can be utilized. Fees apply, with Square charging 2.75%, for example. Ensure you incorporate these fees into your project bids.


In situations where cash payments are challenging, consider tradeouts where you receive goods or services instead. This can be mutually beneficial, allowing the client to pay at wholesale prices while invoicing you at retail value. It's a pragmatic solution, especially when faced with financial constraints or difficulties in payment processing.

Digital Wallets

Currently, digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are increasingly popular for receiving payments. This allows your clients to conveniently transfer money to you using their smartphones.
Remember to assess each method's feasibility based on your specific circumstances and client preferences.

Payment Method Suits You The Most

Determining the optimal payment method for you hinges on various factors, including the nature of your work, your geographical location, personal preferences, and the preferences of your clients.
Fortunately, there's no requirement to confine yourself to a single method. By opting for as your payment service provider, you gain the flexibility to accept multiple online payment methods, such as Visa, Mastercard, Google Pay, Apple Pay, ACH transfers, and more. You have the convenience of selecting the methods that align with your preferences.
Getting started is hassle-free, and no technical expertise is necessary. Simply complete our brief application form to begin.

7 Strategies To Ensure Timely Payment For Your Freelance Services

A person using a laptop.
A person using a laptop.
In addition to establishing a reliable payment system, freelancers often encounter challenges in receiving timely payments. To help you overcome this issue, here are my top recommendations to ensure you are compensated for your work promptly:

Implement Contracts

Securing client agreements through contracts can be challenging for new freelancers, but it is advisable to use them as early as possible. Clearly outline the cost of your services and specify the payment schedule in the contract. A well-drafted contract eliminates ambiguity, preventing clients from delaying payments without violating the agreement.

Request A Deposit

In certain industries, it is common for clients to provide a 30 to 50% deposit for contracted work. This practice helps freelancers identify reliable clients and steer clear of those likely to default on payments. Even if not customary in your industry, introducing a deposit requirement can be a beneficial standard for your freelance business.

Utilize Invoices

Invoices serve both as essential documentation for tax purposes and as a courteous means of reminding clients about pending payments. Streamline this process with apps like Hectic or Freshbooks, which can automate invoice generation and send reminders to clients. If not using accounting apps, craft your own payment reminders for clients.

Transparently Disclose Costs

For freelance work with straightforward pricing structures, such as writing based on a per-word rate, determining fees is uncomplicated. However, for more complex projects, be upfront about all potential costs when providing estimates. Avoid the temptation to quote the lowest possible price, as unforeseen additional work may lead to financial losses or the need for higher charges.

Communicate Changes Promptly

Maintain open communication, particularly when working with small businesses or individuals with tight budgets. Clearly communicate any changes in costs, ensuring there are no surprises when invoicing. This proactive approach fosters transparency and prevents strained relationships caused by unexpected billing discrepancies.

Consider Pausing Work For Non-Payment

If working on a long-term project with multiple deliverables and payments, don't hesitate to pause work if the client fails to meet payment deadlines, especially when a contract specifies a pay date. While it may impact your relationship, setting a precedent for timely payments is crucial. Most clients who experience this issue once are unlikely to repeat it.

Discontinue Work With Non-Paying Clients

Persistent payment issues with a client warrant proactive measures. Start seeking alternative opportunities if you face ongoing difficulties with payments. Few jobs are worth the stress of chasing payments, and taking a stand against non-payment contributes to industry standards. While parting ways with a client may seem daunting, enforcing clear and organized payment requirements enhances your professional image.

Frequently Asked Questions - How To Get Paid As A Freelancer

What Is The Typical Timeframe For Receiving Payments As A Freelancer?

Payment timelines vary, but many freelancers opt for a standard net-30 or net-15, indicating payment due within 30 or 15 days, respectively, from project completion.

Can Freelancers Charge Upfront Fees Or Deposits?

Yes, freelancers often request upfront fees or deposits, especially for larger projects. This helps establish trust, secure commitment and provides initial funding for the freelancer.

Can Freelancers Accept Payments In Multiple Currencies?

Yes, freelancers can accept payments in multiple currencies. Online payment platforms often offer currency conversion services, or freelancers can use specialized services for handling diverse currencies.


Freelancing shouldn't be a rollercoaster of feast or famine. You've honed your skills and delivered stellar work, and now it's time to reap the rewards. This guide has equipped you with the knowledge and tools to master "how to get paid as a freelancer." Implement these strategies, build your payment system, and watch your financial freedom take flight. Remember, getting paid isn't just about the money, it's about valuing your worth and ensuring your hard work is recognized. Now, go forth, freelancer, and collect the fruits of your labor!
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