Are you currently a freelancer or considering being one but aren’t sure how the payment works? It can be confusing to figure it out in the beginning, but luckily, you only need to learn a few things, and then it’ll be easy to get started.
Before landing your first clients, check out this article on how to get paid as a freelancer so you can learn about all of your payment options.
- How Much Do Freelancers Earn?
- Which Payment Method is Best for Freelancers?
- What is the Best Payment Processor for Freelancers?
- How Do Freelancers Usually Get Paid?
- Do Freelancers Pay Taxes?
- How to Get Paid as a Freelancer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
How Much Do Freelancers Earn?
Freelancing is a massive industry that is growing as remote work becomes more common. The amount a freelancer makes varies based on experience, job, position, project, and workload.
It’s impossible to give a clear answer to this huge question, but a Payoneer report claims the average hourly rate for freelancers is around $28 per hour globally. The rate grew significantly during the pandemic, as remote freelancer workers were often the only way for businesses to continue their activity.
Though the pandemic is over, the rates seem to have remained consistent.
How Much Do Beginner Freelancers Earn?
If you have a degree or experience in the field, you can charge more for jobs. Clients pay for quality and assurance that they’ll get good work. It does take time to build this network and reputation, but once you do, you’ll start earning more.
Those with a bachelor’s degree earn closer to $24 per hour, on average.
Who is the Highest Paid Freelancer?
The highest-paid freelancers are UX designers. They make an average salary of around $78,500 to $114,500 per year. These will be freelancers with degrees and experience that land these jobs, but you can start without either of these as well.
Other high-paying freelance jobs are:
- Application Developer
- Web developer
- Contract technical writer
- Public relations manager
- Human resources manager
- Software consultant
Which Payment Method is Best for Freelancers?
Receiving payment as a freelancer can be confusing. You’ll need to choose the method that works best for you and explain to your clients the payment process you require.
Payment options like Zelle and bank transfer are well-known, but there are other emerging methods to be paid as a freelancer that work better for many people.
The payment methods to consider are:
- Bank Transfer
- Google Pay
Zelle is a free way to transfer money between bank accounts. While it started as a private sender, it moved into the business space in 2018. Your bank does need to approve your business account before getting started.
The upside of Zelle is that there are no transaction fees, and the money goes straight into your bank account. It’s easy to receive without needing to move money through third-party apps.
It’s important to note that Zelle only works with certain banks and doesn’t offer any advanced invoicing or tax features. You’ll need to keep track of your tax information carefully if you choose to use Zelle.
2. Bank Transfer
The old-fashioned way that everyone knows is the simple bank transfer. A client will send money from their bank account to yours via an electronic funds transfer. These bank transfers usually have transaction fees, but how much they charge generally depends on the bank you use.
The benefit is the money will be deposited directly in your account and can come from any bank, anywhere in the world.
This will not track your tax information, though. You’ll need to be careful to do that on your own so that you don’t miss anything by the end of the year.
PayPal has been a trustworthy application for freelancers since it first came out. It allows clients from anywhere in the world to send you money from their account, and there is no monthly fee.
You do need a PayPal account to receive payments. The client will use your email or phone number attached to the account to make the transfers. PayPal is popular, so you can assume that almost everyone can send money through it. It does charge a transaction fee to the clients, though.
Although it doesn’t directly track your tax information, it can be an easy program to navigate when you need to find information at the end of the tax year.
4. Google Pay
Google Pay is a great way to transfer money easily and quickly. There are no fees, and you can move the money to your bank account within one day.
The downside of Google Pay is that many clients may not use it. It hasn’t been as widely adopted, so you’ll possibly need to onboard people on how to use it properly. This may be an annoyance over time, and some clients may flat-out reject this method if they’re not used to it.
You’ll set it up with your Google account so people use your email to send the money. Many bigger banks are working directly with Google Pay to make it easier to use.
Stripe is great for those who want to accept payments through their website. If you’re a single freelancer taking occasional payments, it may not be the best option for you. It’s best for those that need to take credit card payments.
There is a monthly fee to use Stripe starting at $10, but it helps you track everything smoothly if you’re overloaded with accepting payments. Expect there to be a 2.9% + 30¢ processing fee for each transaction.
Stripe is best for those who want something to integrate into their website easily. It does come with invoicing tools to make your process as a freelancer easier, but these involve an additional fee.
If you’re working with many international clients, Skrill is your best option. It’s designed to make international payments easier and cheaper. It allows different currencies to be used and moved between users with minimal charges.
There is a small fee for international charges when using Skrill, but it will be less than if you used a bank transfer.
What is the Best Payment Processor for Freelancers?
If you need to accept online payments or credit card payments, you’ll need to use a payment processor application. These systems are great for freelancers, and many are integrated right into your website. Some can be done by a person as well.
The top payment processors are:
Square is one of the most trusted ways to accept payments in person. They will send you devices that can plug into your phone or tablet to accept credit cards in person.
It’s best for small to midsize businesses and offers many free plans to use their system. However, you’ll pay credit card processing fees for each payment. Many third-party integrations may be beneficial for you to track tax information.
Square isn’t the best for international currencies.
FreshBooks is a great system for freelancers who have consistent clients paying them. It integrates accounting tools like invoicing and tax help. It only lets a limited amount of clients pay you, though. If you work with many different clients, it may not be for you.
You’ll pay monthly fees between $17 to $55 per month, but the extra tools may save you valuable time that easily makes the cost worth it. Additionally, the transaction fees are reasonable within the rest of the market.
It does support international currencies.
Wave allows you to invoice and receive payments smoothly. They have one of the best invoicing features of any of the programs and are a popular pick for freelancers.
There is no monthly fee for using Wave, and the fees are quite low for clients and you. It lacks complex project management features, but many freelancers don’t need those. It does allow you to receive payments from an unlimited amount of businesses.
Wise is known internationally as the best way to transfer money between currencies. They offer low transaction fees, making it the best option for those working with international clients.
It’s easy to set up an account, and you can open sub-accounts within Wise for each currency you’re working with. Clients can pay you from an international currency to your U.S. account, or you can receive money in another currency in Wise.
There is no minimum payment required, and most people who pay internationally will use Wise. It can be considered slow compared to competitors, as it will take 3-4 days sometimes to transfer money. There are no invoicing or tax features in Wise.
Payoneer is another great payment processing system for international payments. It’s similar to Wise but more common in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. If you’re working in these regions, it may be smart to set up an account with Payoneer.
Payoneer is common on both Upwork and Fiverr as well.
How Do Freelancers Usually Get Paid?
Freelancers typically get paid online. Some freelancers integrate a payment system into their process that handles the invoices and tax documents for them, while others receive money directly into their accounts.
Freelancers can be paid by cash or check if preferred, but they’re only relevant for freelancers who deal with clients face-to-face. Online payments are more popular since most freelancers don’t limit their client base to their geographical location.
How Do Freelancers Get Paid on Upwork?
Freelancers are paid online through Upwork. Upwork does take a commission of 10%.
When you’re paid depends on the contract you have. Hourly contracts are paid weekly on Sundays, but the funds can’t be withdrawn until the following Wednesday. It takes ten days to access the funds.
Fixed-price contracts are reliant on the milestones the clients set. This will vary from project to project, but covering with your client before accepting the project is essential.
Project catalog contracts will be paid five days after the client approves you.
You’ll choose the method to transfer funds from Upwork to your account. The options are PayPal, direct to your bank, or wire transfer.
How to Do Freelancers Get Paid on Fiverr?
Similar to Upwork, Fiverr will transfer the money into your account but take a 20% commission first. You’re paid online through the system. It typically takes 14 days for your funds to be withdrawn.
If you’re a top seller or freelancer on Fiverr, they reduce your ability to access your funds to seven days.
You’ll pick how you want to move your funds from the Fiverr platform to your account, with options of PayPal, Fiverr Revenue Card, Payoneer, and bank transfer (U.S. only).
Do Freelancers Pay Taxes?
Freelancers need to pay taxes, but it’s handled differently than if you had a full-time employer. You’re responsible for declaring how much money you made in a year with the government and paying your portion of taxes.
There are many resources out there to help you file taxes as a freelancer. You’ll need to fill out a 1099-NEC form that your clients send you.
You’ll need to keep in mind that you’re not paying taxes throughout the year. Many freelancers put money aside each time they get paid so that they have the money when tax season arrives.
Freelancers do have access to some unique tax deductions, which can include:
- Money spent on advertising costs to promote your services
- Office and work supplies (even if you’re working from home)
- Certain business and even healthcare costs
- Business memberships or educational costs
- Other home office expenses, such as utilities
Research some of these or hire an accountant to help you make sure you save as much money as you can.
How to Get Paid as a Freelancer
Getting paid as a freelancer is straightforward but requires clear communication and transparency between you and the client. Be confident in these few things before reaching out to anyone for work.
1. Be Upfront About Your Rates
Be clear about how much you charge when talking with a client, and reasonable with your rates when you’re starting. Understand that averages are a compilation of the top in the industry and total beginners, so you may need to start with a below-average rate.
To get an idea of how much to charge, you can look at other freelancers in your industry on freelancing websites like Fiverr or Upwork. Search for other talent’s rates and place yourself where you think you belong. If you’re not getting gigs, you may need to decrease your rates.
2. Include Your Rates and Payment Method in the Contract
Transparency is key in freelancing. To avoid problems later, you’ll want to discuss rates and your payment method in the initial contact with the client. This will also ensure you get paid for the work you produce and reduce the risks of clashing with your client later on.
Different freelancers have different methods for receiving payment. You may ask for some upfront before you begin or invoice them in full at the end of the contract. They must know how much you’re planning to charge for the project initially.
3. Create an Invoice
Invoicing may seem scary at first, but it’s easy. If you’re not using a program that integrates invoicing, you can find plenty of templates online you can fill out and eventually create your own with all the necessary information.
For longer or bigger projects, ensure you include as much information as you can on invoices. Clients will want to know exactly what you’re charging them for.
4. Choose a Payment Method
Choose your payment method before getting any clients. You may need to try a few different ones to see what you like, or your needs may change over time. It can be confusing to use different methods when it comes to tax season.
If you do switch between a few, make sure you track it clearly in a reliable location. This will save you time and stress later on.
Some freelancers may also use several methods at the same time. This is usually the case if you’re dealing with a diverse clientele, such as both international and local collaborators. You may want to choose a different payment method based on these types of clients to avoid spending too much on fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Freelancers Get Paid Upfront?
Some freelancers want the money before they begin the job, or at least partial payment. This is typically reserved for those who have a reputation and reliable network. If you’re only getting started, you may find it hard to be paid before completing any work.
Do Freelancers Get Paid Monthly?
The great thing about being a freelancer is that you set your hours and invoicing. Certain businesses do pay monthly, so you’ll need to wait for their cycle to be paid. Other clients may accommodate your preferred payment schedule and pay quickly.
When Do Freelancers Get Paid?
Freelancers get paid when they want to be paid. Certain large businesses will find it harder to pay quicker if their billing systems are set on a certain cycle.
You can discuss the payment schedule with your client and even include it in your contract.
Is PayPal Good for Freelancers?
PayPal is great for freelancers since it’s one of the most common platforms to transfer money with minimal fees. You won’t need to pay any monthly fees, but keep in mind that they don’t have invoicing features or tax tracking.
Freelancing is an incredible way to make money full-time or a secondary gig to support your main job. This less traditional method of working is becoming more common, making it easy for businesses to pay freelancers.
There are plenty of payment tools out there for freelancers, ranging from basic to more advanced. Hopefully, this article helped clarify which one you should be using and how to use it.
Good luck with your freelancing journey. Comment your thoughts or share with fellow freelancers who may be lost in the payment process of freelancing!