So you’ve finally found a great way of making some money online, but now you’re not sure how to accept payment for the services you’ve offered. Individuals and businesses alike use differing payment methods depending on what they do or offer. The trick is finding something that works for you and what you do. You also have to take your client into account too. Consider what works best for them and how you can make it easier for them to part with their cash. If you want to make money from the same client again, you need to make this part of the transition as seamless as possible. Individuals find this a little more difficult than businesses themselves. Here are some ways you can accept payment online. Remember, the list isn’t exhaustive, and there may be something else online if you’re operating in a niche side hustle or business.
Remember, whatever you do, you need to ensure that your clients are able to pay via phone too. In a recent study PWC calculated that phone purchases doubled between 2010 and 2017…you can just imagine how that’s ratcheted up once more due to coronavirus.
Remember, you don’t just want to offer one method of payment. Offer then a couple. If you don’t you’ll end up alienating them in some way, shape, or form. Have a conversation and see what’s best for your client. Grounding yourself into one method of payment is never a good idea.
Accept Money With PayPal
One of the early pioneers in online payment. PayPal has turned into quite the giant. For many of their faults, they do make payment online pretty seamless. According to the transaction agency, the usage statistics are quite high: 254 million active PayPal accounts worldwide.
You just need an email address to sign up and then you link your bank account. All you need to pay people is an email address, so if you give the person paying you yours they’ll be able to send it easily enough. The money comes through instantly in most cases, whether from another PayPal account or direct from a bank. You can credit the account with cash to pay out, or let it build up until you draw it out.
There are some cons with PayPal and depending on how you’re receiving your cash, they can be pretty big. If you’re new to the system and are accepting money for business transactions, they’ll often hold the money for twenty one days to ensure you’ve fulfilled the contract. After so many business transactions, the money will be available instantly without a hold. You can also speed it up by adding tracking information or marking the service as complete. It’s frustrating when you need it for cost of sale purposes. Also, if you’re accepting money in one currency and converting it to another the exchange rates are usually retail rates instead of spot rates, which costs you money (unless you’re pricing this into account). On the flip side, PayPal supports 26 currencies which means you can take payment from a wide region.
Remember, you can choose to pay someone as friends or family, or in the business sense. The first option has no fees but also zero buyer protection. The second
PayPal offers something in the form of seller and buyer protection, which is useful when dealing with clients for the first time. However, the fees and exchange rate can be quite prohibitive. Depending on your business type, perhaps you could use PayPal for the first transaction or two to build up a report with your client, before moving to a cheaper form of accepting online payment.
A simple bank transfer. All you need is the name and bank number, along with the address in some cases. In the UK, you just need the account number and sort code. This is a great bet for dealing with people in your own country as the process is usually seamless. If you’re dealing with those abroad however it can be harder due to exchange rate fees etc.
There is also little safety with a wire transfer, when something goes one way it’s hard to get it back. Whereas with a site like PayPal you’ve got a resolution system in place. So you really need to trust people before using a wire transfer to move money around, especially if you’re paying. If they’re paying you, and they trust you, then you’ll be fine. You might find asking for a wire transfer a hard sell unless you’ve built up a good online profile.
The fees will be limited because you won’t be using a third party service. You’re just using your bank. However, there may be some hidden charges if you accept money online from abroad.
Remember, if you insist on a wire transfer you may end up throwing up a few red flags. Especially for first time buyers.
Create Your Own Payment Gateway
If you use a site like Shopify, you’ll have your own payment gateway built into the website. You can do this using any platform, by developing it yourself. You can use themes and plugins to help you do this but if you wanted something bespoke you could code it yourself or hire a developer. A prime example would be woocommerce.
It can be pretty pricey to get one developed. While if you use a plug in there still may be a fee. However, having your own payment gateway cuts out a lot of the bureaucracy. You will no longer have to worry about holds and not having access to your cash.
Use Click to Pay Email Invoicing
This is a pretty nifty set up a lot of freelancers and even businesses use. A simple click to pay invoice set up. You ping off an email to the person you’re billing, they click the link and pay using whichever methodology you choose. You can usually request payment like this from mastercard, Visa, Paypal and even your own gateway. It’s a great way to request payment if you haven’t got your own website set up yet. Just make sure you give the email a professional sheen and that they’re expecting it so they don’t think it’s scam or spam.
Accept Cryptocurrency Payment
A lot of people are accepting crypto as payment at the moment. There are a lot of scams flying around so be careful. It’s doubtful you’ll use cryptocurrency as an only method of payment but it’s certainly one which is available if you wanted to pursue it. There are many platforms out there to help you, here are some as an example:
- CoinBase Commerce
Finding the right provider is important but they’ll all allow you to receive crypto, mainly Bitcoin, as payment online.
It’s very similar to PayPal and started in 2001 (called Moneybookers back then). Skrill is a digital wallet which allows payments in over 41 currencies while also accepting payment in Cryptocurrency. They also offer a debit card which can be linked up to your Skrill account. They used to be a payment processor for a lot of gambling firms which means they’ve got a chequered reputation. There’s a strong identity verification process too, which does well in protecting its users.
The one huge drawback with Skrill is that they charge for withdrawals, around $5.50. This might be okay if you’re dealing with high value items but if they’re low it can get annoying fast. The fees add up pretty quickly when you factor in a transaction fee, currency withdrawal fee and an exchange fee.
It’s certainly a consideration for accepting money online, but watch out for the fees.
Use A Third Party Pay Processor
For a lot of platforms you won’t even have a choice. For example, a lot of freelancers use Fiverr to land Gigs, or Upwork to bid on gigs. You get paid, and you can withdraw to your bank account, but they’ll take a cut. Usually a percentage or a fixed sum. Using these makes accepting payment easy, however over a long term you might be better forging bonds with your clients and coming to an agreement outside one of these platforms to ensure that you can keep the fees as low as possible.
If you’re just starting out, there’s no harm using one of these. The fees are a certain downside but the reach you’ll have by using the platform will be pretty stellar.
Which To Choose?
You need to work out which is best for you after a chat with your client. If something benefits you, then use it. You have to find a fine line between what works well for them, and you. Think long term. Take the fees into account too. If your client is in the same country as you, it’ll be a lot easier to manage, but that isn’t prohibitive. One you’ve gotten used to a system it can be hard to change…especially if you’ve got a few clients by that point so it’s certainly worth picking the right payment method at the outset.