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Stacie asks, "I do some freelance editing at the time, but for a friend's newspaper. I am looking to expand my clientele, but am not sure which direction I should take when it comes to getting paid for freelance work. Should I set up PayPal? Should I trust the client will send me the check after the work is completed? I haven't been able to track any information down regarding this. I would like to get it straightened out prior to advertising my services.

I'd appreciate any insight you can provide."

Hi Stacie,

This is a good question. The best answer is to give your clients as many options as you can handle. Clients like options. So, PayPal would be one. And I've used it quite a bit and find it fairly convenient. The disadvantage is that some clients will associate it with ebay auctions and stuff like that and may find it a bit unprofessional.

Some clients will want to pay you by credit card so check on something like clickbank.com, or, go to your local bank and try to get a merchant account. Banks are reluctant to set up one-person shops with merchant accounts and there are some hefty up-front fees. Clickbank does the processing of the credit card and skims a bit off the top for itself. Definitely look into that.

Some companies want to pay you a check off an invoice you send them because their systems are fairly automated.

When you agree with a client to do a particular job the best thing is to get everything down in writing. Set up a system where you invoice the client as soon as the job is agreed on. Put some terms of payment on there stipulating that a service charge will be added if the bill isn't paid in two months. You can make an invoice out of WordPad or go buy some from a stationary store.

Obviously when you first start out you don't feel you have a lot of leverage when it comes to demanding payment. Do everything you can to get payment up front. Expect to be burned a few times. Get as much of the terms of the project, including the terms of payment, in writing. After awhile you'll know who to trust.

Good luck in your pursuits!

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