Getting paid by international clients as a freelancer can be tricky. Check out our guide to learn the best ways to get paid from abroad without losing on fees.
With a 14% increase over the last decade, over 1 million Brits are now working as freelancers; with more and more likely to join the ranks of the growing ‘gig economy’.¹ There’s an ever-growing range of websites and apps that aim to set freelancers up with clients, making it easier than ever to find work. This article will introduce you to a few of these, to help you decide which site is for you.
We’ll also mention Wise: a particularly convenient way for freelancers to get paid for their work by clients all around the world.
Freelancing comes with a lot of benefits, but ultimately it's a job and you need to get paid. A lot of platforms advertise projects in USD, or have limitations on the currencies and withdrawal methods that you can choose from. This is where a multi-currency account can help, as it makes it easy to withdraw your earnings, regardless of the currency in which you’re paid.
When looking for clients around the world, it’s worth considering how you’re going to get paid in another foreign currency. It often helps if you’re able to charge them in their local currency as you’ll likely to save on currency exchange. But for that, you really need an account that can receive and hold multiple currencies.
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But anyway, back to what you came to read.
Upwork is one of the best known freelance sites, as well as one of the biggest: calling itself ‘the largest global freelancing website’.² With over 70 categories to choose from, you should be able to find something that fits your skill-set - be-it anything from writing to web development. UpWork is widely used around the world, so you will have the opportunity to work with client’s abroad, as well as those located in the UK. This means that you will have more opportunities, and more chances to earn.
Clients pay freelancers through Upworks’ escrow service, aiming to give you more security over payments. Escrow services are typical for platforms like this. Upwork provide a few ways in which you can receive your payments. These are:
- Direct Deposit (ACH)
- Wire Transfer
- Local Funds Transfer (LFT)
Prices on Upwork are always in US dollars (USD)⁴, so you’ll need to find a way to receive USD payments. This means you’ll need an account that can receive local USD payments⁵ - PayPal and Skrill offer such services but they can be expensive.
Wise is different. It allows you to get USD local account details in minutes. This means you can withdraw your payments to your new US bank details (ACH)⁶ with zero fees. Then, if you need to send them to your UK bank account, Wise will convert your money at the real exchange rate.
The fees that Upwork charge vary, depending on the amount that you earn. These fees include:
- $500 and below: 20%
- $500.01 to $10,000.00: 10%
- $10,000.01 and up - 5%⁷
There are also additional fees to consider, such as a $0.15 charge each time you submit a proposal for a job posting.³
‘The longest running freelance service in the UK is PeoplePerHour, founded in 2007.’ It’ focuses on creating connections between clients and freelancers. There’s also a PeoplePerHour app, so you can keep up with potential new jobs while you’re on the go.
The way that PeoplePerHour works is that the platform will try to match you with the most suitable projects based on your profile, and you will then submit proposals to the projects that you’re interested in - it will then be up-to the client if they choose to hire you. You’ll get 15 free proposal credits per month, but after this, you’ll need to pay to receive additional credits. The cost for this is:
- 5 extra credits: £5.95
- 10 extra credits: £8.95
- 25 extra credits: £14.95
- 50 extra credits: £19.95
You can get paid in USD, EUR or GBP with PeoplePerHour account (PPH). You can withdraw your earnings, using:
- Bank Account
Regardless of whether you hold your payments in your PPH account in GBP, EUR or USD, you send these payments to your Wise multi-currency account - so you can enjoy more of what you earn. This is because you can a local IBAN for EUR, and local account details for USD and GBP in minutes.⁹
Fees vary depending on how much you earn on the platform. These fees are:
- Over £5000, $7000,€6000: 3.5% (excluding VAT)
- Between £500, $700, €600 and £5000; $7000, €6000: 7.5% (excluding VAT)
- Below £500, $700, €600:20% (excluding VAT)
Plenty of optional extras, such as featured proposals and access to featured offers, should you want them. However, these features will come with some extra fees that you’ll need to consider.¹⁰
Fiverr takes its name from a typical opening price for a ‘gig’: 5 US dollars. But you’ll be pleased to learn that you can get paid more than that too: they advertise a price range of between $5 and $10,000. This US-founded, global site lets people offer gigs in fields from video editing to music performance (as in, an actual gig).¹¹
You can set your own rates, which is useful, so long as you’re able to stay competitive against everyone else offering similar services. However, you’ll be getting paid in USD, so you’ll need to find a way to withdraw USD from Fiverr from outside the US - and an affordable way to send it onto your GBP account. You can choose to get paid via:
- Direct Deposit (ACH)
- Fiverr Revenue Card
- Local Bank Transfer
- PayPal Account
If you are looking for an easy way to withdraw your payments from Fiverr - Wise could help. They’ll give you USD account details so that you can send your earnings to your Wise account with zero fees, except for a $1 transfer fee from Fiverr. Then if you want to convert your money to GBP, you’ll get the real exchange rate that you see on Google, as well as being able to spend easily with the Wise debit Card.
Their site informs you that ‘You keep 80% of each transaction’, which means that you don’t keep 20% of it – that goes to Fiverr as a fee.¹² For a more detailed fee breakdown, you’ll need to contact Fiverr directly.
Australia-based but global platform, Freelancer is another huge site on which potential employers advertise their projects, and freelancers can get involved by offering a bid of their services. It’s wide-ranging: a quick browse brings up jobs in everything from telesales, to translation, to web development.¹³ Once you’re set up, you can also use the Freelancer app for even greater convenience.
Once you’ve been paid you can withdraw funds from the finance section of your profile. You can do this via:
- Express Withdrawal (Bank)
- International Wire¹⁴
Unfortunately, withdrawing funds to your UK bank account, direct from your Freelancer account is not possible right now.¹⁵ However, Wise may be able to help. You can get local account details for the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and the Eurozone in minutes - and then receive money to these details for free.
It’s important to make sure that you are verified as a freelancer on your account, as without this you may not be able to withdraw funds from your Freelancer account. Your first withdrawal may be delayed for up-to 15 days as Freelancer can run additional checks.¹⁶
The fee is generally 10%, with a minimum of £3.50. There are optional additional schemes you can get involved with, too.¹⁷ All withdrawal methods are free, except for Wire Transfers which include a $25. (30 GBP) processing fee.¹⁴
You’ll be able to withdraw funds in another currency other than what you hold on your account, but it will need to be converted at the rate set by Freelancer, and a conversion fee will be applied.¹⁸
Bidding on projects is free, but if you want to upgrade your bid you can choose features such as having your bid featured, then their will have to pay a fee of 0.75% of the amount you bid (minimum $5.00 USD, maximum $20.00 USD). This may help your chances of securing a job, but you will need to decide if it is worth the cost. There are also inactivity fees of up-to $10 dollars, if you do not use your account in 6 months.¹⁹
Worksome is a UK-based network ‘for elite freelance jobs’. ‘Elite’ means that they vet freelancers carefully to keep everything high-quality and professional, and they also have an algorithm designed to match their freelancers up with the best fitting projects.²⁰
You can agree with your freelancer whether to be paid per hour, per month or once the whole project has been completed. Whichever option you agree on with your client, once paid you can choose to withdraw your payment to your bank account.²¹
Worksome will only charge you a commission fee of 4% as a service fee.It’s also free to create and maintain a profile on the profile.²²
*Websites included in the article are not a full list of websites - they are just a selection of those available. Those included are not of more importance or notoriety than those that are not included. The order of websites in article does not denote importance. Article does not state which website users should choose.
You’ve probably got the basics covered regarding how to go freelance, but here are a few points, as a recap, that are important to keep in mind:
- What skills can you offer? Freelancing is ultimately about selling your skills - so you need to have a clear idea of what these are, and how best to market these skills to potential clients. This will also have a bearing on which of the below platforms you consider - as they usually have a freelance area that they focus on.
- Tax and National Insurance when you're self-employed. As a self-employed worker, you’ll first need to notify HMRC of your self-employed status, and pay your taxes and any other necessary contributions yourself. If you’re plannig to go self-employed in the UK, use this simple yet handy self-employed income tax calculator to estimate your profit after tax, and what you need to pay in Income Tax and National Insurance. Get the calculator here.
- Do you have to work for UK companies? The great thing about freelance work is that you will be working remotely. This means that your opportunities are incredibly multiplied, as your client base can be based anywhere in the world.
- What’s your medium-term plan? What is it that you want to achieve? Planning ahead can help you determine how much your rates will be, or what skills you are going to market. Having a plan will focus your work, and help you take the jobs that work for you.
So, which is the best? Sorry to say it, but of course it depends. ‘Freelancer’ encompasses a huge range of careers, each one of which is its own special shape. The platforms above will all appeal to people with different interests, specialisms, and business plans. It might be best to try out a few of them.
However you end up finding work, providers like Wise can help you when getting paid.
- FreeTrain: Freelance Statistics
- UpWork: About Us
- UpWork: How it works
- Upwork: Local Currency
- UpWork: Withdrawing USD to UK account
- Upwork: Manage how you get paid
- Upwork: Fees
- PeoplePerHour: About Us
- PeoplePerHour: Withdrawing Payments
- PeoplePerHour: Fees
- Fiverr: About Us
- Freelancer: Job postings
- Freelancer: Withdrawal Fees
- Freelancer: Express Withdrawals available countries
- Freelancer: How to withdraw funds
- Freelancer: Currency Conversion
- Freelancer: Other account fees
- Worksome: Vision
- Worksome: FAQ for Freelancers
- Worksome: Pricing
Sources checked on 09-September 2019.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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