Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
how do freelance writers get paid?
October 14, 2019
If you’re new to freelance writing, one important question to have answered ahead of time is how do you get paid.
As a freelance writer, there are two sides to getting paid. One is actually when you get paid. Sometimes for very large projects, a deposit of maybe half (for good faith) may be paid to a writer ahead of time and the balance upon completion.
Another way, which is the most common, is 100 percent of the agreed upon pay is released to the writer after the project has been accepted, not only after the project has been completed. There’s a big difference.
The second side is literally how do freelance writers get paid, as in bank transfers, email payments, checks, PayPal, Western Union, etc. The answer to this question is particularly important if, like me, you live in a country different from that of your pay.
Let’s answer these questions.
If you have agreed to a (very) large project for a private individual or company, it is customary to have them place a deposit on the project. For example, if you’re going to produce a piece that is say 10,000 words or more, asking for a good faith deposit is not out of the ordinary.
That means you and your “employer” can agree to terms such as the length of the article, how references are included, whether or not photos are part of the deal and of course, the deadline. In there somewhere, you will also agree to deposit and delivery terms.
paid after acceptance
For pieces that are not considered exhaustive masterpieces, being paid after the project has been accepted is the norm. Whether you’re writing for a content mill, a private individual or company, it is customary to receive full payment only after the article has been accepted by the “employer”. This is not the same as you writing and submitting the piece then demanding payment.
The submitted piece must be reviewed, edited if necessary, and accepted by the person or company who made the request. Only then are you paid in full. You can also make arrangements to be paid once a week or every two weeks or per piece or project.
I’ve had long-term clients who paid both ways, one paid every two weeks for all work done during that time frame (much like a normal job) and I’ve had clients pay per project with (at the time) each project consisted of 10 articles.
how do freelance writers literally get paid?
That depends a lot upon you and the company making the payment. With modern technology, it can be pretty much anything that works for both. If you reside in the same country, direct transfers and email payments are the most common, especially with security issues and the fact cheques are not as widely used (or taken) any more.
If you’re in the same boat as I am and earn your pay from a different country, direct deposit transfers are also still available, but normally only for large companies since there is a substantial fee (around $45 USD) attached to those payments. Large companies will usually absorb that fee and leave you to pick up your bank’s (international transfer) fee, if any.
For small companies or individuals, quick transfers using Western Union or PayPal are preferred.
Most large companies who hire freelance writers pay once a month. If you are a website owner and get paid for your writing through third-party advertisers, the payment method is normally net 30, which means you get paid one month after the 30-day earning period has ended.
Some companies are even paying on a net-60 and net-90 day structure. Those, I have stayed away from.
country maximum deposit limits
One really important thing to keep in mind is that most countries have a maximum direct deposit limit. Yes, a deposit limit. This means if you live in a country where you are limited to X-amount of your currency in any given deposit and an American company (for example) is paying you more than that allotted amount, your deposit will be rejected and you will not be able to get paid.
The paying company will then place your payment on hold and your account with them will be set to “pending”. You will need to figure out a way to get paid the next time they send out payments, which could be another month’s delay.
Luckily these maximum deposits do not apply to Mexico, however, it does apply to some Mexican banks (this is not the same rule as a maximum deposit as set by a country’s government).
The deposit maximum does apply to a long list of countries outside North America and many parts of Europe. If you’re going to freelance write for another country, consider having several forms of deposits set up.
For example, have a verified PayPal account that will allow you to accept the full payment (even if it’s over the deposit limit) so you can transfer a portion of the deposit yourself to your bank account and leave a balance with PayPal for next time.