Take Payments with PayPal
Paypal has become the de facto form of payment on the web, not just for eBay sales but for invoice payments, retail sales, and even donations. If you don’t already have a PayPal account, you need to open one if you plan to do any sort of business on the web, including client work.
PayPal offers three different kinds of accounts: Personal, Premier, and Business. A personal account lets you send money and receive small amounts from other members — it’s essentially a “starter” account and useless for any real business. Most writers are going to want a Premier account, which allows you to accept credit cards, accept unlimited payments, and get a debit card you can use to shift funds out of your PayPal account (though you can also link your account to a bank account and wire transfer funds from PayPal for free). If you run a business and need several people to access the same account, get a Business account, which is otherwise the same as a Premier account.
Of course, PayPal takes a cut — but it’s the same as or less than other merchant accounts. If you receive less than $3000 US a month, you’ll pay 2.9% plus a 30-cent transaction fee; the percentage drops the more you make. Keep track of your PayPal fees, since they’re deductible business expenses.
PayPal offers a bunch of business services to make selling products from your website (e.g. books, e-books, artwork, etc.) easy. Once you’re logged in, click the “merchant services” tab and check it out. One handy thing is the “Buy now” button, which you can customize completely and insert on any page where you’re selling something. When visitors click the button, they’re taken to a PayPal sales page where they can either pay with their own PayPal account or enter a credit card number. PayPal will figure the sales tax and shipping, based on the information you provide. If you have several products and want to get really fancy, you can integrate PayPal into many shopping carts, though that’s a little too complex for the beginner — you’d be better off hiring a developer or getting your teenage nephew to do it. (Maybe I’ll come back to that in a future post.)
PayPal also offers invoicing, though I prefer to use BlinkSale for invoicing, which allows a greater degree of control over the appearance of my invoices — and which allows me to embed a “Pay with PayPal” link to automate payment. If you’re going to use PayPal to receive payments from clients, regardless of whether you use their invoices or BlinkSales or your own, make sure you add your professional email address to your PayPal account. Don’t tell your clients to send their payment to email@example.com or anything else that offers too close a look into your personal life — make sure your firstname.lastname@example.org email address is linked to your PayPal account.
If you haven’t already, open a Paypal account right now!