Payment Methods for International Freelance Writing
One of the usual questions I get when I tell others that I write for international publications is how I get paid.
Well, here are the main ways you get to be remunerated once your article is accepted:
By Check / Cheque
This is the most common way to get paid for your writing services. Once you get the check in the mail, you then deposit it in your bank account. Clearing time in the Philippines is usually 45 banking days, so it's a bit of a long wait. In real time, this translates to 2 months. If you don't plan on spending your earnings at once, you might want to open a dollar account where you can deposit your dollar earnings. I gather that Banco de Oro is the friendliest bank in this regard.
Via Bank Transfer
If the publishing company of the publication you're writing for is a bit generous (like the owner of the magazine I write for, Pool & Billiard Magazine) bank transfer is the way to go. If I remember correctly, it only takes three banking days from the time it is deposited in a bank in the United States for example, for the deposit to clear and for it to appear in your Philippine bank account. You just provide your publisher/employer with the details of your account, and your bank's SWIFT Code -- a kind of zip code for banks -- to facilitate the deposit.
The online payment system Xoom is another alternative for you to get paid for your freelance writing gig. Some companies, like one U.K.-based translation agency I worked for, employ Xoom to pay freelancers abroad. You just sign up for a Xoom account, and you provide your foreign employer with your name and address. Your employer then sends the payment via their credit card or checking account. You then receive your payment via Xoom's Philippine bank partner, Equitable PCI Bank. Your payment can be deposited in your Equitable PCI Bank account if you have one, or you can pick it up in the Equitable PCI Bank branch nearest you. If memory serves me right, it takes around three days (or less) for you to get your money.
PayPal (soon..we hope)
PayPal is the premier online payment method in the world, and it is the number one dream of most Filipino online entrepreneurs and freelancers for PayPal to be fully functional in the country. Right now, Filipinos can only send (a minimum of 100 dollars) not receive or request payment. Once we have an honest-to-goodness PayPal operation in the country, it will definitely contribute to an improved economy since foreign employers will be encouraged to hire from our vast freelance pool. In other words, a fully operational PayPal in the Philippines will result in more jobs -- and high-paying at that -- for us freelancers.
But in the absence of Paypal, the best option for you to get paid right now is via bank transfer and Xoom because with these two payment methods, the sender bears the cost of the transaction. With check on the other hand, fees are deducted from your payment for the bank transactions here and abroad.
Paypal is already fully available in the Philippines since last October 2007. Aside from sending funds, you can also now receive, and then withdraw your funds either through your bank account or Unionbank's EON debit card. Just register at the PayPal site.
Things to Remember
It is important, once you have submitted your article, that you inquire from your employer how you will get paid. If by check, politely ask your editor/ publisher/employer if they are open to paying you via bank transfer or Xoom. The answer usually is no because the publisher's usual goal is to incur the least cost possible for their company. But since asking costs nothing, make it a rule to always inquire.
Also, make sure that you're sending your employer your correct payment details, e.g. your real name, bank account number, etc. In this case, time is literally, money, and you don't want to waste time waiting for a replacement check because your local bank would not recognize your pen name. (But if it's your employer's fault, then it may turn out to be a blessing because then you may have a better chance of 'persuading' them to send your payment this time via bank transfer of Xoom .
For a freelance writer, getting paid is the best part of the job, no doubt. It's that stage of that freelance writing process when the fulfillment in what you do is concretized in the best form possible -- moolah. Most of the time though, as a writer for international publications, you have to wait before you can literally hold that 'sense of fulfillment' in your hands, and sometimes -- I know I do -- we can get trapped in the act of waiting, itself. When you catch yourself doing this, just remind yourself that the money will eventually arrive, and thus the best way for you to make the most of your time is to start the freelance writing process again. There's definitely a lag in terms of pecuniary gratification, but you're comforted by the knowledge that it will come in huge measure (read: dollars). So don't stop working because you want to keep 'gratification' coming once it starts coming.
Dino Manrique is the owner/publisher of FilipinoWriter.com. You may reach him at filipinowriter (at) gmail (dot) com.