One of the keys to a location independent career is the ability to make money anywhere in the world. Your payor could be in Beijing and you could be in Timbuktu, or your payor in New York and you in Venice…and you still need to get paid right on time.
But how do you get paid remotely, juggle different currencies, and then access that money?
In a few cases, regular payors I work with transfer money directly to my bank account when I invoice them.
But most of the time, I rely on the cheapest and most widely used way to get paid (and pay for things online): Paypal.
A personal account has all the nuts and bolts to get you started, with various ways of getting paid – and paying for things.
If somebody wants to pay me, I simply give them the email address that’s associated with my Paypal account. They can log into their own Paypal account and send me money – lickedy split. (They can transfer money from their own Paypal balance, or use their credit card, or direct banking info on file).
I can also send an invoice through Paypal via email, create buttons for my website to accept donations, and set up recurring payments.
Getting At The Money
Then, it’s a matter of accessing all this income. You can maintain balances in multiple currencies. If you want to transfer the money to a bank account that’s not in the corresponding currency, Paypal converts it (for a hidden fee of course).
Whenever you want, you can transfer your Paypal balance to your bank account, or pay for something online with your Paypal balance, and in some cases (ie: if you have a U.S. Paypal account) you can even use a Paypal debit or credit card to access your Paypal balance at an ATM or in stores.
Paypal takes a cut when you receive certain kinds of payments; depending on the nature of the transfer. Personal transfers and those direct from bank accounts are free, but credit/debit card payments and fees for services or products have about 3-5% clipped off the top.
Although the fees used to really ire me, I now acquiesce that it’s the cost of doing business. Setting up a custom merchant account costs more and is labour-intensive; so unless you have something big to sell for a lot of money to a wide market on a customized site, Paypal will probably suit your needs.
Security, and Changing Locations
Sometimes when you log into your Paypal account from somewhere new, Paypal will send up a red flag and freeze your account as a protection mechanism. You’ll need to verify your identity (it’s relatively painless if you have scans of your official documents), and despite the slight hassle there’s something to be said for Paypal’s attention to account security.
If you’re concerned about managing finances securely, you can add an extra layer of protection with a credit-card-sized security key. I had one for a few years, but actually found that my account was frozen more often with the key than without! Eventually the number generator stopped working and I haven’t replaced it as yet.
A few years ago I searched for other ways of getting paid, and I couldn’t come up with anything that was a viable (or cheaper) alternative to Paypal.
Do any other location independent professionals out there have a different way of getting paid online? Please share!