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What’s the Best Way for Freelance Writers to Get Paid?

ways to get paidWhat’s the best way for freelance writers to get paid?

Well and often of course.

Seriously, do you make it easy for your clients to pay you? Here are some of the ways people can pay you that should be okay with you:


I have one client who always pays me in cash, and has done so for years. Often that will include several hundred dollar bills which I find quite exciting. This works because I report all my income, even the cash.


Checks used to be the standard way writers would get paid, at least here in the United States. It still may be the primary way – I certainly get checks.

Wire Transfer

The term comes from the days when banks literally transferred money over telegraph wires. Today it’s all done electronically.

You’ll need to provide your account number, and your bank’s (or credit union’s) ABA or routing number.

Experts say that the real risk is to the sender of the money, and there’s usually not much since such transfers require identity information as well as banking information.

I’ve had no trouble with them and when the money lands in my account I have access to it immediately. However, it usually takes about 24 hours for domestic wire transfers to land, and up to three days or even four, for international wire transfers. Yes, someone gets to use that money during those periods and it certainly isn’t us.,

Direct deposit

Although most direct deposits are made for people with regular jobs, it’s not unusual for freelancers who receive regular payments of some sort to have the money arrive that way too. Retainers are often paid by direct deposit, as are other long term contracts paying regular amounts. Again, you’ll provide the client with your banking information, and you’ll have access to the funds immediately.

Western Union

Western Union works in almost any country. You can receive  your money in your bank account, in cash at an amazing number of locations, called agents, including grocery sores or through a small number, but growing, mobile wallet locations. I received a nice bunch of cash from a client who for some reason was unwilling to use PayPal, even though she ended up paying Western Union’s fee.


TransferWise is attempting to make money transfers more transparent by having no hidden fees as some banks do. They are focused on the U.S. and Europe, but serve countries in Asia as well and their network is growing. I’ve not used them yet, but am adding them to my payment solutions for clients.

Your client’s bank

Your client’s bank may well have it’s own payment system. Again, I have one client here in the U.S. who insists on using his bank’s method even though it’s cumbersome, costly and takes at least three days to reach me. But he’s familiar with it and who am I to say no?

Internet based payment systems

Payment via the internet is a growing field.

The most familiar here in the U.S. is PayPal. Many writers don’t like PayPal because of the fees charged. I disagree. If I were to set up my own merchant account so clients could pay me by credit card I’d pay a monthly fee in addition to about a 3-4 percent charge. By using PayPal, I avoid the monthly fee and the fees are a deductible business expense (check with your own tax person regarding the details about this). Your clients don’t need an account and can use their credit cards to pay you.

Dowalla is another system that has a good reputation. I’ve signed up with them but haven’t had an occasion to use them.

Squareup is yet another. I signed up and have received one payment through them. The client paid me using his cell phone. He also recommends Venmo which I’ve never used, but might.

Of course, you don’t have to become an expert on every system. My suggestion is get a PayPal account if you don’t have one. Offer it to out-of-country clients and be prepared to explore the options they prefer to use.

What ways do you get paid?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Hi, It feels so good when I saw this article. I was searching for a payment method to start freelancing and found some information here in your article. It’s a really informative and guide to start for online payment methods. Thanks for this.

  • Thanks for the wonderful tip.
    Upwork has always been my best sofar.

    • Hope Upwork keeps working for you – and you may want to expand your horizons a bit.

  • Claudia Previn

    I’ve used many of these but a couple of avenues were new, TransferWise in particular. I do not yet have international clients but it would be marvelous to know about something appropriate in advance!

    • Trendwise was new to me too… found it when I googled up Western Union – liked what I saw and the reviews.

  • Never heard of TransferWise. I’ve been using PayPal since the earliest days. Payoneer is another online processor, mainly with sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

    Have you ever had to work with escrow accounts via a third party?

    • Bill, I’m an early adopter of PayPal too – and it’s invoicing is a snap. No, I’ve never had to use an escrow account – although it is a way to make sure the client can pay and the writer will write… elance – which is now upwork use that system I believe… I suspect it can also be done one at a time and it will cost.

  • Thanks for the tips for not many of us understand how they are paid for the good work they do.

  • Fiverr has helped me a lot. Getting ideas from there is very important. Thanks for the other ideas as well. I think Fiverr is the best while upwork comes second for me

  • Thanks Anne for this.

    I loved your advice on Freelance Writers to Get Paid. I’m totally going to implement it this month.
    Your story of Freelance Writers to Get Paid is totally inspiring. I’ve just shared it with a couple of my friends.
    Your take on the ideas totally rocks! I never thought of it this way!

  • Thanks for the awesome tips. It is really helpful and keep on doing this.

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