Connecting with clients as a contractor can release you from the constraints of a 9-to-5 office job. At the same time, this flexibility brings the responsibility of cash flow management. Receiving payments online in a timely manner can prove to be challenging, especially if you’re just starting out.
In this guide, I’ll give you all the details you need to accept payments from your clients for freelance projects and make sure you receive compensation for your work.
6 Ways to Accept Payments as an Independent Contractor
You may want to offer one or more of these payment methods when you send independent contractor invoices, based on your needs as well as your customer's preferences.
"Cash is king" might be a common saying, but it's not always the best way to get paid for your freelance work. Accepting cash can be convenient if you have local clients or frequently have on-site projects.
Since cash can get lost or stolen in the mail, you'll need to physically pick up payments or have them delivered in person. It's difficult to deal with customers in other states and countries if you only take cash, especially when it comes to currency issues.
Paper checks are still the standard at some companies, so some clients may insist on paying this way. Otherwise, you may want to avoid accepting this payment method if possible. Checks take at least a few days to arrive in the mail, in contrast with the almost-instant turnaround of an electronic transfer.
When you deposit the check, you may have to wait another day or two for the funds to appear in your bank account. Paper checks can get damaged or lost in transit, delaying payment even further. You could also lose the money if the client's check bounces and you can't get in touch with them.
Credit Cards and Digital Wallets
You can accept credit and debit cards from your clients through online systems like Pay.com without the upfront cost of your own processing software and equipment.
You can also accept alternative payment methods through Pay.com, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, and more. Your clients are sure to appreciate having the choice. Click here to get started now.
PayPal is popular among freelancers because it's so easy to use. In fact, it's recognized all over the world, a benefit if you regularly worth with international companies as an independent contractor.
You can send invoices through PayPal and receive instant electronic payments. Then, you can transfer the funds to your checking account or use your PayPal balance to pay for your own online purchases. However, the company charges a 2.9% transaction fee for each payment you receive as well as a fee for instant bank account transfers, so it can be costly.
ACH, a type of electronic funds transfer (EFT), stands for automated clearing house. When you accept ACH payments from your clients, they make direct deposits to your designated bank account.
Clients usually cover the ACH transaction fee, but these payments aren't as instantaneous as online EFT services. It can take a day or two to see an ACH payment show up in your bank account, and the convenience usually comes with charges.
Pay.com lets you cater to your customer's preferences with multiple ways to pay. In fact, you can use our Virtual Terminal to accept any of the options on this list and many others. It's easy to integrate our checkout platform with your existing website or app, even as a freelerancer without time to take on extra work.
In fact, you can even use Pay.com if your business isn't fully online yet. Simply send a secure Pay Link so your client can complete the transaction using their go-to payment method.
5 Tips to Make Sure You Get Paid for Your Work as an Independent Contractor
Sometimes freelance invoices fall to the bottom of the list of unpaid bills. If you find customers forget to pay for your independent contracting work, these tips may help improve your cash flow.
Check Your Clients’ Credentials
Before you begin working as an independent contractor, see what you can find about the company online. If you don't see many reviews, you may want to ask for references from other freelancers. Larger businesses might even have a reputation for delayed pay.
Agree in Advance
When you sign an independent contractor agreement with a new client, review the information about payment terms and negotiate as needed so you'll be on the same page before you start working.
For example, you may want to ask for a late fee for payments after 30 days to make up for the cost of a delay. You can also indicate how often you'll invoice for project deliverables and note the accepted methods of payment. Avoid starting work on a new account until you have a signed contract in place.
Simplify the Process
Offering your clients easy options promotes prompt payment. When you send your invoice, it should include a payment link that goes right to your secure payment platform.
Pay.com lets you send out direct Pay Links that direct customers to a personalized checkout page. They can select their preferred payment method from the list of options you choose when you set up your account.
You can also simplify the payment process for your client with a professional invoice that contains all the necessary information. It should clearly identify your company and spell out the work you completed, the cost, and the deadline for payment. If your client becomes confused about anything on the invoice, they're more likely to let payment slide for a few days or longer.
Don't Delay Your Invoices
Sending a bill right after you finish a project can encourage clients to pay the invoice quickly to wrap up the work. While busy freelancers sometimes forget to find time for these small details, delayed billing can have a big impact on your business's bottom line.
If you don't have a streamlined system in place, you might even forget to invoice until it seems too late to ask for the money. On the other hand, when you bill for projects right away, customers will know you expect prompt payment and (hopefully) get in the habit of settling invoices immediately. You can set a weekly, biweekly or monthly calendar reminder to block out billing time on a regular basis.
Send Regular Reminders
When you sit down to send out your bills, you'll also want to send second invoices to clients who haven't paid after the first notice. Some systems even let you automate the process of sending polite but firm payment reminders. Whether the customer forgot about the invoice or hasn't settled the bill for another reason, you'll want to make sure they know it's still on your radar.
The Bottom Line: What's the Best Way to Get Paid as a Contractor?
To encourage prompt payment, make the process as easy as possible for your clients. Set up a smooth system and communicate your invoicing expectations early when negotiating a new freelance contract. Pay.com simplifies the process by providing everything you need to accept an array of different payment methods.
You can conveniently collect from your clients with Pay Links even if you own a new business with a limited online presence. If you're a seasoned freelance provider with an established website, you can set up an online checkout system in just a few minutes - no coding required.
Connect with our team today to learn more about how we can take the stress out of the payment process for freelancers and clients alike.