If you live in a country that ranks high on the economic freedom index, then you probably won’t even understand why I took the time to even write this piece. Most of this will seem odd to you because, in your country, things like getting paid on time and every time, financial freedom from the burden of forces outside your control, or even the ability to work wherever you’d like are taken for granted. Those of us living in countries where these blessings are not the norm need to get creative to assure we get these things.
The reality of the world is more complicated, especially for the rest of the professionals who, like me, live in a country with an unbearable number of financial restrictions. For most of us, getting paid online and paying online is not as trivial as opening an account, getting a credit or debit card, and signing up for Paypal.
Throughout my ten years of experience as a freelancer and independent contractor, I had to struggle just to get paid and struggle even harder to get to spend my earnings online (including for stuff related to my work like subscriptions, books, hosting, etc).
In this article, I’ll show you how I do it, and supply some useful tools to help improve your “getting paid and paying out” experience, so you can keep your wallet happier. I share a financial setup and workflow that actually works and respects all of the following constraints and considerations:
- Should be legal
- Should be administratively accessible
- Should be reasonably priced
- Should allow a variety of payment options for your clients
- Should support direct earnings other than clients payments (Ads revenues, affiliate revenues.. etc)
- Should make the earnings available for spending online and offline
My intent is to help you save time trying and testing different options that might and might not work. This flow uses only legal options, and uses the services of only globally regulated platforms and institutions.
- The recommended flow is the actual flow I personally use. No other recommendations are being made.
- Feel free to drop any question or suggestion you might have in the comments. I will be happy to follow up with my fellow IndieHackers.
International clients, both big and small, have different preferences as far as payments are concerned. Some favor Paypal or similar systems, while others might prefer to pay using wire transfers and bank operations.
The key is to have a system that enables you to offer as many options to your clients as possible. Having restrictions simply means losing clients and business.
My solution is to not get paid directly by the client but rather use an invoicing system that handles payments for me. This way, my clients get to enjoy the variety of options offered to them and I don’t have to worry about whether these options are available to me or not.
However, the invoicing system also needs to have withdrawal methods that are available to me. This is how you offer the largest range of payments methods while having access to your earnings.
My recommended option is the external invoicing tool of Freelancer.com. The reasons behind my recommendations are the following:
- The external invoicing tool provides to your clients several payment options including credit/debit cards, paypal and bank transfers. Either way they handle it, you don’t have to do anything.
- Your earnings are then made available in your freelancer balance that you can withdraw using several options including bank transfer, skrill, paypal, payoneer.. Whatever works for you in your particular case.
- Using Freelancer means you can also get jobs within the same platform where you can get paid directly. Freelancer.com works as a job board, a payment system and an invoicing system and it already works for more than 20M users from all over the world, including myself.
Using your earnings
Being able to get paid is not the only challenge freelancers and contractors face when they are subjects of harsh financial restrictions. Paying online and spending their earnings can turn out to be even more complicated.
Payoneer is a widely supported global debit card system that you can use to withdraw earnings from any ATM or pay online and offline wherever MasterCard is accepted. Over the years, they have become the absolute first choice for freelancers from all over the world.
Payoneer also comes with a set of virtual bank account handles you can use to withdraw earnings from other platforms. All they need is a bank deposit option, even if they don’t directly support Payoneer. Such platforms include Unity, Google Adsense, Commission Junction, etc.
Need more flexibility?
Using Freelancer and Payoneer will cover most of your needs as a freelancer and a contractor including:
- Getting paid by clients.
- Getting paid by online ads, affiliate and blogging platforms you might be using.
- Withdrawing cash globally.
- Paying online and anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
As an international contractor and a freelancer, this might not cover all your financial needs. Indeed, you may need to pay other professionals directly and they can’t indulge in having a freelancer account (where you can hire and pay them), or you may need to pay for something with a price that exceeds a reasonable amount for which your Payoneer card could do.
In any case, you might need to extend your options and the flow I describe so far. This is where Skrill comes in handy.
Skrill is an online financial system similar to Paypal with one key difference: it has a robust global support system and more flexibility. These two critical elements are sorely needed by international contractors in their everyday operations.
You can use Skrill to send money to other people (for professional or personal reasons), to shop online in a wide variety of merchant sites, or most importantly, send bank transfers from your Skrill wallet instead of your bank account.
The last option is the main reason why Skrill is recommended here. It can be used to pay for expensive stuff or when bank transfer is required by the supplier. It’s simple, direct, and more convenient than a bank transfer.
The way Skrill fits into our already-established flow is as follows:
- You can deposit money into your Skrill wallet using your Payoneer card.
- You can withdraw from Freelancer into your Skrill wallet directly.
- You can send back funds from Skrill to your Payoneer account using bank withdrawals and setting up one of your Payoneer bank accounts (I use my british/Pound account for this).
Still need MORE flexibility?
So far, we’ve crafted ourselves a financial workflow that is legal, accessible, affordable, compact, and that actually works for us to get paid and to pay online and offline. It should be enough for most of your needs as an international freelancer. But, this is not absolute freedom yet. You will still be the unfortunate victim of some absurd bureaucracy here and there, the world is full of regulation-nuts.
If you find yourself in such a situation, stay calm and know that this is exactly why we have crypto-currencies. Thank you, Satoshi Nakamoto.
But, here again, if you live in a born-again bolchevique state then buying crypto is not possible for you. You will need to use one of those peer-to-peer networks where crypto will cost you largely more than the market price and where the whole process is an unnecessary frustrating step.
Coinmama is a platform where you can directly buy cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash) using your Payoneer debit card based on the market price.
You will also need a crypto wallet. I personally use the BitPay wallet that offers both a mobile and web dashboard, and a very comprehensive and flexible flow that should work for you.
And to make things even better, your bitcoins can be deposited back in US Dollars in your Skrill wallet, closing back your whole financial system and giving you absolute freedom to earn and spend online in just about any fashion.
At this point, you can get paid by almost anyone and you can spend almost anywhere.. Safely and legally!
Armed with these options, your freelancing endeavors are free to work however, wherever, and with whomever you want. You also get to spend your many how you’d like to spend it, and fully open your business up to all the possibilities of the spectrum. Get paid, get spending, and create, free from the financial burdens that would occupy you.
If you haven't already analyzed your cashflow from start to finish (including the ease of entering), I strongly urge you to sit down and take a look. Losing customers and supporters because they can’t find a place to put their payment is unacceptable to indie hackers like us; if your cashflow is inefficient, you might as well just put that money in the trash. Better to save that cash from leaving by offering the widest array of options (and affordably too).
Have questions, concerns, or other tips to share? Really want to plug your own wallet system or cashflow process? Leave a comment below for me and your fellow indie hackers.
DISCLAIMER: This article is the personal opinion of the author. Indie Hackers is not a financial advisor or an attorney, and we recommend that you take any major financial decisions under your own consideration and with respect to your local laws and policies.