March 23, 2021
When it comes to getting paid as a freelancer, there are so many tools and platforms available to assist you. However, many of them have hidden fees so it’s best to do your research before deciding on which tools to use. When I first started designing for clients online, I used PayPal for just about everything — but quickly realized that I was losing a huge cut of my earnings to their ridiculously high transaction + foreign conversion fees, especially because I only had a Canadian bank account but was earning USD.
Wise – Online Money Transfers, Multi-Currency Bank Account
The first thing that I did to cut down on fees was open a USD bank account.
I noticed that most freelance platforms operated in USD, so every time I withdrew my money PayPal would take a HUGE cut in foreign exchange fees. Not only this, but they also take a percentage of the money you receive and a fee per transaction. Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) allows you to open a multi-currency account (free for personal accounts, ~$33 USD for business accounts). If you’re not based in the US but want to charge USD, I absolutely recommend opening a Wise account because it will save you so much money in fees.
The main thing to note here is that if you receive USD into a USD PayPal account, PayPal doesn’t charge fees. So after setting up a free USD bank account with Wise, I linked it to my Canadian PayPal account (I had to call PayPal to do this — last time I checked this does not work for UK citizens, unsure about other countries). I also changed my primary account currency to USD so that my PayPal was now recognized as a USD account. After doing this, I could withdraw USD from freelance platforms to PayPal without zero fees. From PayPal, I would withdraw money to my US Wise account, also for free. From there, you can convert it back to your home currency if you want or you can spend your money directly from Wise, with their debit card.
Pros of Wise:
- Much lower transaction fees + conversion fees than PayPal + most banks
- They have a debit card (not available for all countries) so you can spend directly from your USD account
- You can hold multiple currencies in your account (AUD, BGN, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HRK, HUF, JPY, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, SEK, SGD, TRY and USD)
- They provide a transparent breakdown of their fees with every transaction
- Can monitor exchange rates to find the best time to exchange
Wise is also great for sending and receiving money internationally, even if you don’t want to set up a multi-currency bank account.
Stripe – Payment Processing
I use Stripe to process all the payments that come into my biz. You can send invoices to your clients directly from Stripe, or integrate it with Dubsado / ThriveCart / other platforms — and Stripe gives your customers the option to pay via credit / debit / mobile wallet amongst other methods. There is no set up cost / monthly fees, but they charge 30 cents + 2.9% of each transaction processed. This is the same as PayPal’s base fee, but I like that Stripe offers flexible payment methods for the client, and I also prefer their checkout experience to PayPal’s. I have it linked to Dubsado for my branding + web clients, and linked to my ThriveCart account for my digital sales. Plus, if you don’t have too many transactions per month, this kind of pay-as-you-go approach is definitely better than paying a monthly fee / hefty set up cost.
Dubsado – CRM + Invoicing
I use Dubsado as a Client Management Platform, and in terms of finances, I use it to invoice my clients. Dubsado integrates with Stripe for easy payment processing. Of course, you can also directly invoice your clients directly through Stripe, but I like to keep everything in one place since I already use Dubsado for all my forms, questionnaires, etc.
To explain the difference between the two — you can login to Dubsado and view everything about your projects + clients at a glance (payments, client emails, forms), but Stripe is strictly for payment processing. If you want to try Dubsado, use my affiliate code “coldtea“ for 20% off!
Expensify – Tracking Expenses
I use Expensify to keep track of my business expenses (you know, all those coffee shop receipts). As a freelancer, you need to be on TOP of your expenses because it’s gonna make a huge difference when tax season comes around. Expensify has a free mobile app so you can take pictures of your receipts right away and upload them to the app. They have a SmartScan feature that automatically logs the amount / date / vendor so you don’t have to.
ThriveCart – Shopping Cart Platform
ThriveCart is a shopping cart platform with a one-time cost, unlike it’s competitors that offer monthly / annual plans. When I started selling digital templates, I didn’t want to deal with yet another monthly cost, so I decided to invest in ThriveCart and have access to their features for life. ThriveCart offers a very seamless checkout process and is super easy to use. If you get the pro account, you can also implement an affiliate program to further promote your products. The biggest downside is that my clients can’t add various products to their cart before checking out, so if they want to purchase multiple templates, they need to perform multiple checkouts. I can get around this by bundling my templates, so it’s not a huge deal! Overall, ThriveCart offers a beautiful checkout experience which I truly believe leads to higher conversion rates and more sales.
That’s it for now! I’m going to continue to update this post with new tools that I find. If you want to be the first to know when there’s new resources to share, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter! And if you have any further questions about this, feel free to DM on instagram. I’m always happy to share my thoughts + experiences with you. <3