4 min read

How To Receive Payment as a Freelancer

Freelancer secure payment system

Freelancing is a fantastic way to build your resume and establish professional connections. But working for free or a token hourly fee is not the only way freelancers get paid for their services. In fact, most freelancers eventually transition from projects to more consistent work by billing clients directly and setting up a payment plan. This article will introduce you to the different ways freelancers receive payment for their services and guide you through these processes as an independent contractor.

What is PCI compliance and does it apply to freelancers?

Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance refers to security standards set by the major credit card companies to protect sensitive cardholder information. Businesses that accept payment by credit card are required to comply with these standards. It doesn’t matter if you are the only employee or if you have thousands, the standard applies to all businesses. It’s important to know that freelancers are required to comply with PCI standards and are held liable for any fraudulent charges on a client’s account. This means that freelancers have to protect any card data that they may have come into contact with. You can use a credit card processor like Stripe, Square, or PayPal, or you can choose to get paid by check or transfer from a client’s bank account. However, keep in mind that your clients are more likely to pay you if you accept payment by credit card. However if you are processing card payments over the phone you must use a Secure Virtual Terminal to protect cardholder data and to comply with data protection regulations such as PCI-DSS compliance and GDPR.

What is Invoicing?

An invoice is a document that records the goods or services you’ve provided for a client, the associated costs, and the amount you want them to pay. Invoicing is a great way to ensure that your clients pay you on time, know the cost of your services, and don’t accidentally pay more than they owe. An invoice is not the same as a receipt. A receipt is a document used to record the purchase of goods or services. You can issue a receipt when you receive payment, but this doesn’t mean you can also issue an invoice. Receipts are a good way to track transactions while they are in progress, but they don’t help you create a paper trail of completed work.

Receiving Payments from Clients

Freelancers often jump straight to invoicing their clients once they receive payment, but it’s important to follow up with clients as you work on their projects. That means setting expectations for when clients can expect to receive work, and how you will communicate with them as milestones are achieved and deadlines approach. If you and your client agree on terms by accepting a job, you can use that as a starting point when setting expectations. However, even if you’ve accepted a job, you don’t have to accept all payment options. You can, and should, negotiate payment terms. It’s up to you to decide which payment options are best for your business.

What is a Freelance Payment Plan?

A freelance payment plan is an agreement between you and your client to be repaid over a set period of time. Payment plans are useful for projects that require upfront investment, such as a new website or marketing campaign. Freelancers can set payment plans with individual clients on a project-by-project basis. You can also set payment terms as a standard feature of your contract. For example, if you typically charge $3,000 for a website redesign, you might offer a payment plan with a client who needs the work done immediately. You could offer to redesign the website for $2,000 up front, plus $50 a month for the next six months. This would allow the client to complete the project immediately and repay you over time without taking on a significant amount of debt in one shot.

How Freelancers Set Up a Payment Plan

The first thing you should do when setting up a payment plan with a client is get everything in writing. This means creating a formal written contract or service agreement, and including a payment schedule on that document. You should also include a section that clearly outlines the consequences of failing to make payments by the agreed upon due date. If you use a standard contract, you can include payment plans as one of the options listed in the payment section. Alternatively, you can add a new section to your contract titled “payment plan” and list your payment options there. If using a Secure Virtual Terminal, you will be able to set up a recurring payment plan when processing payments over the phone.

Tips for Receiving Payments as a Freelancer

Take a payment as soon as you have finished your consultation by taking secure payments over the phone. Using a Secure Virtual Terminal enables freelancers to take payments over the phone and be passed into a payment gateway account.

Make your payment terms and policies clear to clients before they sign any contracts. If you don’t specify payment terms, the law in your state will determine whether clients make full or partial payments. 

Make it easier for clients to adhere to your payment terms by accepting payment with automatic deductions from their bank account. This way, your clients can make payments automatically and won’t have to remember to write you a check or make an online payment on a set date. 

You can also ask clients to pay a portion of the project up front and the remainder on completion. This is a great way to get paid upfront without sacrificing the rest of your fee.

When Clients Don't Pay

There are many reasons why a client might not pay you. It could be a simple oversight, or they might genuinely have no intention of making a payment. - First, try to resolve the issue with your client. Communication is key in any business relationship, and it’s even more important when dealing with a client who owes you money. - If you can’t resolve the issue with your client, you can take them to court. In the United States, you can sue for breach of contract, which means the court would rule in your favor even if the client doesn’t show up at all. - You also have the option of filing a complaint with your state’s attorney general. If a client has a pattern of not paying their vendors, the attorney general may be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf and recover any money you’re owed.


Freelance work is a great way to earn supplemental income, but the success of any freelance business depends on getting paid. Receiving payments as a freelancer is a multi-step process that starts with effective communication, followed by setting payment terms and a payment plan. If you ever have difficulty receiving payment from a client, remember that you have options. You can take them to court, file a complaint with your state’s attorney general, or take advantage of the resources available to help freelancers receive payment.

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