How do you accept payments for your freelance work? You'd think this would be pretty straight forward, but it's a piece that many freelancers forget to address. Then comes time to charge your clients and you don't know where to start!
I've personally been there and have discovered some trustworthy solutions to help make the process pain free. Here are 5 ways on how to get paid as a freelancer.
What Is Needed to Get Paid Freelancing
Here is a quick note before we discuss the solutions for accepting payments for your freelance work (if you wish to skip to the payment and invoicing options, feel free to scroll past this section). There are two pieces to the accepting payments that are needed to get started. A payment gateway, and an invoicing software. Some products offer the both together, others simply sync up with one another.
A payment gateway is the technology behind the scenes of the “checkout” page when making a purchase online. Much like making a purchase at a local store, you need to use the credit card machine to charge your account, but when making a payment online it's done through the payment gateway rather than swiping your card. It's the company that processes the payment transaction behind the scenes and keeps your personal information safe and secure.
This is where all your billing info, credit card or bank account info and taxes are shown in detail. If you want to get paid for your freelance work online, you need to have a payment gateway set up. The nice thing is, if you don't have a payment gateway, most payment solutions will direct you to their preferred vendor to quickly set up an account with the payment gateway, then return you to their site after doing so to finish setting up your invoicing software.
Examples of payment gateways include:
The invoicing software is the software that allows you to create an order with a description, details, pricing, and number of units for that order which will then be sent to your client. Embedded within your invoice will be a link to make the payment (which is where the payment gateway comes into play).
Invoicing software is also the software that allows you to create your products, set the pricing, estimate the taxes and shipping, etc. This then communicates with the payment gateway to process the payment transaction.
Many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools like Zoho or Salesforce have an invoicing piece built into their CRM automatically that lets you sync different product purchases to each client. So, your invoicing software may be the same as your CRM platform. Either way, this piece will be linked to your payment gateway.
5 Solutions to Accept Payments for Freelance Work
In short, you need a payment gateway (which processes the actual payment transaction) and a CRM or Invoicing software to create the product order. If you don't have a payment gateway, these solutions below will set one up for you while setting up your account.
We all know and are familiar with PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account yet, you can set up either a personal or business account for free. When choosing PayPal as your option to charge your clients, you don't have to worry about a separate payment gateway since their “Payflow Payment Gateway” feature is part of their platform and used to accept all major credit and debit cards.
If your client doesn't want to make a payment with their credit or debit card, they can conveniently transfer money to you via the PayPal peer to peer payment platform. All they need is a free PayPal account.
FreshBooks is one of the more popular options out there for freelancers and growing small businesses. Within FreshBooks you can do all your basic accounting, manage projects, manage clients (like a CRM, but extremely basic), and even track time spent on different projects to bill your clients that are charged hourly.
They have their own payment gateway, which is just FreshBooks Payments, but should you choose to use an alternate option they also integrate with Stripe.
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QuickBooks is a basic accounting tool for businesses to keep track of their accounting and taxes. It also has built in the option to invoice clients. When setting up the invoicing tool with QuickBooks, you will automatically set up their own payment gateway if you want to have clients make payments online. There are options to integrate with other payment gateways like Stripe as well.
This option is very basic and mainly for accounting and invoicing is all. There aren't any client management tools or project tools, but they integrate with tons of apps so you can add your favorite service as an integration.
AndCo is one of my favorite options because it's like an all in one software tool for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses. It's a company owned by the freelance platform, Fiverr, so they know what most freelancers and solopreneurs are looking for.
Like FreshBooks, with AndCo you can manage your clients, track projects, invoice clients, track time, etc. When setting up a payment gateway to accept online payments with AndCo, you can integrate most major payment gateways or use their preferred vendor which is WePay, an online payments company owned by Chase Bank.
Square is an all-around business software that also allows you to accept online payments as a freelancer. Their solution was built to make it easy for small and medium sized businesses to accept payments in the most convenient way possible.
They also give you options to allow online appointments, client management, website builder tools (with Weebly website builder) and everything in between.
Other Notable Options
Some other notable options for invoicing your clients may be through your preferred client relationship management system such as Salesforce or Zoho CRM. Both have options to begin invoicing clients and make it easy to integrate with your company CRM.
If you're a website that uses Shopify or Wix, both of these companies have internal payment options as well that allow you to begin accepting online payments. They also integrate with some of the major payment gateways like Stripe, Authorize.net, WePay, etc.
How to Choose the Best Freelance Payments Tool
There are a lot of options out there, but I've narrowed it down to these because I've worked with most of them and am familiar with all of them. When it comes down to it, it all depends on what you need. Are you looking for just a way to send an invoice, and nothing more? Then might as well just use PayPal, or QuickBooks if you want to add some basic accounting to your tool belt.
Are you looking for a way to invoice, track time, manage projects, charge by hourly and flat fee rates, and client management? Then hands down your best option is FreshBooks or AndCo. Do you anticipate your business to grow to be a large company with a lot of employees and a lot of clients? Then your best bet is probably to use a scalable option like Square.
Are you mainly a digital storefront that has some freelance clients on the side? Then look at your website builder and see if they have an internal payments software to invoice clients and get paid for your freelance work. In this case, Shopify, Wix, or almost any other website builder will have payment options, if not integrate with a trusted payment gateway to process online payments.
When all is said and done, you can't go wrong with any of the solutions mentioned here.
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