Progressive Payment Solutions

What Should a Freelancer Know About Accepting Payments?

What Should a Freelancer Know About Accepting Payments

Find out the best ways to accept payments as a freelancer, along with some helpful tips to make sure your freelancing career runs as smooth as possible.

With over 57 million in the US alone, freelancers are reinventing the workforce.

And since the pandemic began, their numbers are only growing.

But what does this new army of freelancers need to know about accepting payments?

Let’s take a look.

How much you make affects how you accept payments

Maybe you’ve been freelancing for years, and it’s time to take your systems and processes more seriously.

The fact is, if you’re making over $4,000 a month, then you stand to benefit financially by teaming up with a payment processor. This will save you money, time, and hassle by getting the support of professionals that can make the financial side of things run like clockwork.

To find out what you should know before you sign up with a payment processor, take a look at our article about what to avoid in credit card processing contract. If you’re ready to team up with a payment processor, then contact PPS today.

However, maybe you’re just starting out. You have your side-hustle that you’ve been working on, and now you’re ready to make a go of it. If you’re making under $4,000, then it doesn’t make as much financial sense to go with traditional payment processing. 

Fortunately, though, there are great alternatives. Let’s take a look at the best alternative ways to accept payments as a freelancer.

The best ways to get paid if you make under $4k/month

Checks

If you’re doing business as a freelancer, it’s extremely likely that your clients have a checkbook. What’s great about this form of payment is that there’s no fees involved with receiving and depositing a check, unlike almost every other way.

They also can make keeping track of payments a breeze, since you have the physical proof (or lack thereof) of the client’s payment in your hands.

However, they do have their downsides. For example, they’re not fast. At all. From the time it takes for them to write you a check (which can take weeks, depending on their accounting and payroll team), then sending it to you, then finally depositing it in your bank account, to finally having it clear—you can end up waiting months to get paid.

If this is a problem, there are other more attractive payment options available for your freelancing business.

Credit cards

If speed and convenience is an issue for either you or your client, then credit cards might be the best way to go. Credit cards transactions are fast, secure, and easy to keep track of. Many clients also have a company credit card that will make things even easier for them.

But accepting credit card payments means you need the necessary hardware. Fortunately, technology has made it incredibly easy to do so. You can often get a credit card reader with a payment system for nominal costs. For example, for under $10 dollars, Square can provide a credit card reader that plugs into the charging port or headphone jack of your phone or tablet. They will charge a fee of around 2.6% plus 10¢ per transaction.

ACH payments

What’s great about ACH payments is that they manage to strike that desirable balance of relatively fast and almost free (sometimes they are, depending on the banks involved.) You can expect to receive an ACH payment within one business day or so, which is more than fast enough for most freelancers.

ACH payments aren’t for everyone, though. Their downsides include complications setting them up and revealing your relatively sensitive information such as bank accounts and routing numbers. Since some freelancers only work with one-off clients that won’t want to go through the hassle of setting all of this info up for one payment, choose ACH payments for clients who are ongoing.

Stripe

Stripe is an e-commerce company that goes above and beyond in what they provide for their clients. They allow you to accept payment from anyone with a credit card, debit card, or even bank account. Invoice creation, subscription payments, reminders, and free refunds are some of the many benefits, along with instant payment options. 

They also provide you with a secure payment gateway that you can embed in your website, allowing payments to be made to you directly without having to go to another page.

However, the service isn’t free. Expect to pay around 3% of the total in service fees to use their services. 

PayPal

One of the largest financial technology companies in the world, and consequently one of the most widely accepted. That means there’s a good chance a client will be comfortable paying you via PayPal. And if they don’t have an account, they’re free to open one. Another benefit is that money instantly appears in your account, so no more having to worry when a client is going to pay. 

Once again, though, this isn’t a free service. The total paid to you will exclude the average fee of 3.5%. But once the money is in your account, you can transfer it to your bank for free if you’re willing to wait 2-3 business days.

Venmo / Cash App

If you’re in need of a great mobile interface for your payments, look to VenMo or Cash App. Both have simple, easy to use mobile apps that make accepting payments easy, simple, and organized.

Both are free to use if connected to a debit card, and personal payments are free. Venmo business transactions include a fee to cover any possible payment disputes or refunds to the tune of 1.9% + 10¢ per transaction.

Truly, there’s a payment system for everyone. But what else do you need to make sure everything runs smoothly with accepting payments as a freelancer? We’ll address that next.

Best practices for getting paid as a freelancer

Have an agreement in place

Before you even start, make sure both you and the client are on the same page: everything you’re going to do for them, when it will be done by, and the specific amount they will pay you and how. 

Make sure this is in writing, and that both pirates agree to it. That way, you can avoid frustration, disappointment, or anger with one another because you both are expecting the same work for the same amount.

Don’t wait to invoice

Many freelancers first receive a deposit before they start work with a client. This ensures the client is willing and able to pay, and helps the worker feel confident that their hard work will be compensated.

Another best practice for getting paid is to invoice as soon as the work is delivered. TIP: don’t feel bad or greedy about sending the invoice with the work; afterall, you’re running a business, not a social club. 

Follow up

Sometimes clients are doing everything they can to keep their head above water on a project. Infact, this might be the very reason that led them to hire a freelancer in the first place: needing extra hands or someone to delegate a task to.

That means payments might not come right away. So politely reach out to clients who are slow to pay. You can remind them that, per the agreement they signed, payment is expected by a certain date. Chances are, they simply forgot. This is one advantage to services like Stripe, who send automatic reminders if an invoice hasn’t been paid.

Use zero-fee processing

What was one common word you saw in almost every form of accepting payments? Answer: fees. It costs money to accept any form of payment aside from cash, checks, or bank transfers.

That’s why zero-fee processing systems are on the rise. They incentivise customers to use these forms of payments that saves them and you money. Curious to see how it can save your business processing fees? Take a look here and find out how much you can save.

Summary

Freelancing is only expected to grow in popularity. Thankfully, there are a plethora of options for accepting payments, depending on what your needs are. Some are free but slow, others are fast and convenient—but for a fee.

Want to know what else can help you make the best choices for your own unique business? Take a look at how you can save money on processing fees, what you should know about tax deductions, and much more with our blog that’s written to educate successful business owners just like you.