Back in 1995, the internet was a fun little place to hang out and watch hamsters dancing around. According to Clifford Stoll, astronomer, author and a pioneer in digital forensics investigations, in Newsweek, 1995:

“I’m perplexed. It’s not that I haven’t had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I’ve met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I’m uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic?”

Thankfully, the internet has lived up to most of the hype. Yes, we actually are dragging our tablets to the beach to read a good book and yes, e-commerce has grown to an estimated $172.9 billion dollars in online payments in the U.S.

Freelancers and contract entrepreneurs are perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of the digital age, and at a most opportune time. According to a Bureau of Labor Report, there are currently 10.1 million independent contract workers in the US. Telecommunication allows a freelancer to pick up jobs in New York and LA, all from their home in Kansas. But you don’t have to be remote to benefit. Even local freelancers – from lawn and garden to web design – can benefit by utilizing the internet to get paid.

Here are a few pros of accepting online payments for contract work:

  • Accept Payment Anywhere: As long as you have the internet or a smart-phone, you can enter a customer’s online payment information from anywhere your business takes you.
  • Provide Payment Options: It’s possible (and likely) that your customer has their credit card readily available, but not cash or check. Offering credit cards or ACH payments rather than waiting on your invoice to be paid by your client can get you paid sooner.
  • Avoid Bounced Check Fees: Credit cards provide real-time information and will approve or decline a transaction right away, avoiding the paper check’s dreaded return fee.
  • Increase your business’s credibility: Offering online payments associates your business with well- known and well-trusted entities, such as the major credit card brands, and verifies that your company is trusted by these companies.
  • Encourage Spending: Credit cards let the consumer spend money that they might not have right now for big ticket items, which is good for both you and the customer.

Call it freelance or call it being my own boss; Your solo venture is big business and the ability to accept online payments for contract work can definitely boost your cash flow. And who knows, maybe you’ll eventually have enough extra revenue to take on a staffer of your own!