Freelance Writing Week II: How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

Welcome to Day 4 of Freelance Writing Week II!

So far we’ve covered:

Next up is some information about how and when freelance writers can expect to be paid.

How do freelance writers get paid?

Freelance writers usually get paid in one of three ways:

  • Check: The client sends you a check and you have to cash or deposit it.
  • Direct Deposit: Funds are deposited by the client directly into your bank account; usually only an option if you work a lot with a client and under contract.
  • Paypal: Hands down the most popular method of payment for online writing gigs. Fee for accepting money but you can transfer it to your bank account without paying a fee.

Some clients give you the choice of how you’d like to be paid, but many only pay one particular way; be sure to know how they intend to pay you before accepting work in case you cannot accept their payment method.

Special Payment Considerations for Expat Freelance Writers

Writing Desk by ~Prescott on FlickrFor those of you who are expat freelance writers, PayPal is probably going to be the easiest way to get paid as you can then transfer the money to your bank account (unless you can get someone to deposit checks for you in the United States).

But if you open an account at, your bank account *must* originate from the United States. There are different PayPal sites for other countries, though, and by using them, you can link your foreign bank accounts (but not your U.S. bank account!) to your foreign PayPal account. See the list of countries for which this service is available at PayPal Worldwide.

For instance, I have a PayPal account with (Italian site) hooked up to my Italian bank account so I can transfer money between them. And for those of you in Italy who aren’t so sure of your Italian, you can also select English as your language of choice at

When can I expect to be paid?

One of the biggest stresses of freelance writing life is clients who don’t pay or those who take a long time to pay.

Some writing contracts will provide that you will be paid within a certain amount of time (often between 30 and 45 days from the date of invoice), but generally clients should absolutely pay you within 60 days; if they’re paying you through PayPal, you will likely get paid much faster than that.

If the timing of payment is not specified in a contract, be sure to discuss this with the client *before* you start working. This way there can be no dispute later as to when you or the client thought you were supposed to be paid.

And don’t be afraid to send reminder e-mails to clients who are delinquent in paying—you did the work and you deserve prompt payment. Period.

If you do have trouble collecting payment, one of the best writers’ resources out there is Angela Hoy of Writers Weekly. Hoy personally fights for writers who have been stiffed and nearly always (if not always!) gets great results.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for
“How to Know Whether Freelance Writing Jobs are Legitimate!”

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Do you have freelance writing payment tales to share?

5 Beans of Wisdom to “Freelance Writing Week II: How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?”
  1. We’ll have to chat how you transfer between the two PayPals…I am just getting started and I’d love to stop carrying cash in my bra on the plane 😉

    Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy’s last blog post..Rome from the Back of a Vintage Vespa Scooter

    That’s hilarious! I did write to PayPal to ask about transferring money between the two PayPal accounts and they told me that there’s no way to do it without their fee. I find that rather ridiculous and sad 🙁

  2. 04.25.2009

    Michelle, probably 99% of publishers I work for pay by direct deposit, and I work for publishers all over the world. I’ve only ever had a few instances of people wanting to pay me by cheque, and I’ve simply told them it’s not possible because I travel all the time and can rarely get to my bank to bank the thing. I find fees a lot higher on cheques and most people won’t send international bank cheques. Interestingly it’s only been American publishers who’ve wanted to send cheques – and in one case one even sent me an American cheque to Dubai. Right… But direct deposits seem to be fairly standard practice now, which is wonderful.

    I think if you work for more international companies (or at least those used to working with international writers) direct deposit is more likely (I work with two UK companies who prefer it, thank goodness); as you said, though, American companies seem to really lag behind on that. Hopefully they’ll catch up soon because checks are a *real* pain!

  3. Are you sharing your copy of this entry with “She Who Blogs”? I found the same exact blog entry and pictures on that site for 2 May, 2009.
    Blog address:

    Just wanted to let you know. Irene

    Irene of American in Padua’s last blog post..The Importance of Dialect in Cultural Identity

    Yes, my FWW posts are all over there, I think; all is well, Irene! Thanks so much for checking though 🙂

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Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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