5 Ways to Get Paid as a Freelancer: Prices & Features Reviewed 2023
Carving out a career as a freelancer can give you lots of flexibility to work with different employers and pick up interesting projects from around the world. However, while the option to work with teams globally is exciting it can come with its own share of hassles - such as working out how to get paid in foreign currencies.
Getting paid by a client in a foreign currency, and having the money deposited into your normal UK bank account, can mean you lose out on receiving fees and poor exchange rates. Specialist providers like Wise and OFX can help you keep more of your earnings, with flexible accounts you can use to hold and receive foreign currency payments. More on that in a moment.
Wise account - good for getting paid like a local in 10+ foreign currencies
OFX - good for receiving payments through online platforms and marketplaces
Revolut - good for choosing an account plan that suits your specific needs
PayPal - good for instant deposits to send and spend online
Your bank - good for payments in your home currency
What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is someone who works for one or more clients, on a flexible basis. Freelancers work across all sorts of industries, connecting with clients through word of mouth recommendations, networking and freelance marketplace sites. Unlike a regular employee, freelancers aren’t usually on a long term contract with any specific client, allowing for flexibility and variety.
Pros and cons
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the benefits and drawbacks of freelance work:
You can set your own schedule, and - often - work from anywhere
You can connect with a range of clients and take up interesting projects
You can cultivate several different streams of income
You’ll be able to decide your own fees and rates
You’ll need to continually develop client relationships to keep work coming in
You’re responsible for filing and paying your own taxes
You need to work out how to get paid, including foreign currency payments
You don’t get the same benefits and protections as an employee
How to become a freelancer
Freelance work is available across pretty much all sectors, whether you’re a creative, a finance professional, a developer or work across a range of fields. Starting out as a freelancer can be pretty tough, so it’s quite common to start picking up smaller projects while continuing to work as an employee for some of the time. This allows you time to develop your niche and client base.
To get an idea of the type of project work out there, the fees you can charge, and how you may be able to start to build up your own freelance business, check out freelance marketplace sites like Upwork or Fiverr. You’ll be able to browse what other freelancers are offering, and what employers are looking for, to see what might suit your skills.
5 options to receive payments as a freelancer
One important part of setting up as a freelancer is working out how to get paid. Here are a few smart options to make sure you have flexible ways to bill your clients, with low fees so you keep more of your money in the end.
If you work with clients overseas, a Wise multi-currency business account can be a great way to get paid in a selection of currencies. You’ll get your own local account details for up to 10 currencies, and can simply pass these details to clients to make it easy for them to pay you in their home currency.
Hold 50+ currencies in your account, and convert between them with the Google exchange rate whenever you need to. Wise business accounts also have handy time saving features like accounting software integrations, and linked business debit cards for easy spending.
Hold and exchange 50+ currencies with the mid market rate
Send payments to 80+ countries and spend with your Wise card globally
Low fees, with no ongoing charge to maintain your account
Wise business accounts have a one time fee of 45 GBP to get full feature access
Some service charges apply, such as fees when you withdraw more than 200 GBP/month
OFX is a currency specialist, offering international payments and risk management products, as well as Global Currency Accounts for business owners, online sellers and freelancers. There’s no fee to open or maintain an account, and you can get local account details for 7 currencies, to get paid easily and with no OFX fee. Hold your funds, send them to contractors, suppliers, or to cover your taxes - or convert to the currency you need with OFX’s bank beating exchange rates.
Local receiving account for 7 currencies
No fee to open or maintain the account
Handy features like Xero integration
Exchange rates include a markup on the mid-market exchange rate
Fees apply for same currency transfers
Revolut offers accounts for business owners and freelancers, with a selection of different account products depending on your personal needs. As a freelancer you can pick a free account plan, and just pay for the services you need - or you can choose to pay a monthly charge to get more features and higher levels of free transactions. Revolut accounts can hold and exchange 30+ currencies, and you’ll get local account details for billing clients in GBP and EUR.
Local receiving accounts for GBP and EUR
Different account plans so you can choose the one that suits you
Depending on the plan you pick you may get some fee free currency exchange
You’ll need to pay a monthly fee to unlock all the features of the account
Some extra fees may apply when converting currencies out of hours
PayPal business accounts can be used whenever you’re selling goods or services, with a huge range of ways to get paid online or even in person. PayPal accounts can support around 25 currencies, and are available pretty much globally, making this a popular way to get paid. However, it’s useful to know there are fees for receiving payments into a PayPal business account, which can be particularly steep if you’re transacting internationally.
Very popular provider - huge user base
Convenient way to get paid, especially if you’ll spend the money online yourself
Wide selection of business services and different ways to get paid
Fees apply to receive payments, both locally and internationally
Currency conversion charges of 3% apply
Finally, you may choose to open a bank account and have your freelance earnings deposited into your normal bank. This can be convenient, particularly if you’re getting paid in pounds. However, there are a couple of downsides - firstly, having your personal and business finances mixed up can make it harder to manage your money, and secondly, if you’re being sent money in a foreign currency you’ll probably lose out on fees when it’s deposited in GBP to your account.
Convenient, familiar and safe
Easy for onward spending in GBP
Usually available for GBP deposits only
Exchange rates and incoming foreign payment fees can be high
Your clients may need to pay a high fee to send money to you
How to register as a freelancer in the UK
How you register as a freelancer in the UK can vary based on a number of factors, including the sort of work you do and how much you’re earning through freelance projects. You’ll be responsible for your own taxes as a freelancer, so it’s especially important to understand your status and file for self assessment taxes annually. You might also need to register as a sole trader, and pay some National Insurance contributions.
Get professional advice to help you navigate the process of registering as a freelancer in the UK, and to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.
How to invoice as a freelancer?
The easiest way to prepare a freelance invoice is to use a free online invoice template. These are widely available, and can often be downloaded and edited so you can add your own business information, contact details and branding.
How to make sure you get paid as a freelancer?
Here are a few tips to make getting paid as painless as possible:
Get and sign a contract with your client before you start working
Make sure your invoices are clear and contain all the detail needed to let the client pay
Have a billing schedule which you stick to, so you don’t lose track
Follow up with clients if payment has not been made by the agreed date
Offer your clients different ways to pay, including foreign currency payments
Ultimately, making it as easy as possible for your clients to pay you will mean you get your money faster and with less hassle. Using specialist multi-currency accounts, like those available from Wise and OFX, can give you an edge as you can allow clients to pay you in their preferred currency, without losing out on high exchange fees.
FAQ - 5 ways to get paid as a freelancer
As a freelancer you may bill your clients directly, or you can be paid via a platform like Fiverr and Upwork. Choosing the right freelancer account to get paid into is important, as some accounts can have restrictive fees and may not be suited to working with international clients.
Generally you are not obliged to have a business account as a freelancer. However, having a business account is a good way to keep your personal and business finances separate, and can also offer some admin and time saving features not available from personal accounts.