For any even beginning writers this might be common sense, but the point of this freelance writing blog is to help out anyone who is just getting started, or has started but struggled, or even those writers who want to know how to become a freelance writer but have not even started yet. So let's make sure to cover everything, because being a writer who is not naturally tech oriented at all, I can fully sympathize with other writers who are the same way.
So what's the very first thing you need if you're going to get started from home as a freelance writer? Whether you're a college student wondering if college students can make money or if you're a retiree who is good with words but isn't covered enough by Social Security, or someone on disability struggling to make ends meet: every even moderately decent writer can make money writing online. And I mean any even moderate, average, writer can make money writing ("how much" varies based on skill, work ethic, commitment, marketing savvy, adaptability, & a little luck).
The answer is that if you are a beginning freelance writer, and you're especially looking for writing as a part time or work at home type of gig, then you will want to open a PayPal account.
If you don't have a PayPal account and want to be a freelance writer, then there is absolutely no question that one of the first things you should do is get one! Many of the online websites that pay for writing and offer the best opportunities for beginning writers offer payment via PayPal.
PayPal was designed to make online payment easy and safe, and offers strong security while eliminating the need to have a credit card number typed online. PayPal does not offer service to every nation, so if you're outside the United States I can't honestly tell you which countries work and which do not, so you may need to check up on that.
All you need to set up a PayPal account is a checking account to attach it to, and then you can make payments or receive transactions easily after that. Removing money from your PayPal account directly to your checking account is easy, and I strongly recommend being in the Money Market option which can pay anywhere from 2-4% compound interest, figured monthly. It's like having an online checking account that earns interest.
Aside from taking payments from websites like Squidoo, Associated Content, Constant Content, and eHow, PayPal can also serve other functions. I've worked for many clients who I originally met through an auction site (like Guru.com or Elance), and after working several projects they decided to hire me for consistent work and pay via PayPal instead of through the auction site – helping me immensely by eliminating the 5-9% that many auction sites charge, so I brought more of my paychecks home in my pocket.
I'm going to talk about a lot of writing opportunities on this site, many of which are geared specifically towards these types of beginning freelance writers:
1) Part time writers
2) Student/College Student Writers
5) Stay at home Mom/Dad who wants some extra income
6) People on hard times who need just a little more
These are the people I have in mind, but that doesn't mean that the information I give can't be used for full time income. There are many individuals who make a full time living off Elance.com, Guru.com, or Constant-Content.com alone. There are even more who make a full time living off a combination of all this, and that's not even going into writing e-books or making a living with Google Adsense, which is also very doable (though only with a lot of hard work).
If you're just starting out in college, the good news is that thousands of college students make money and many of them are not business, marketing, or technical geniuses (though admittedly that would probably make it easier). I've often said if many of these websites even existed when I went to college, I would have been set. So I want to make sure that any writers, or even students who just like writing, who find this website can take advantage of what's there.
But PayPal is an absolute must for beginning freelance writers. Sometimes PayPal is the only way to get paid, as I've taken jobs in the past for people living overseas (usually involved with the tourist industry) who wanted me to write articles, and the easiest form of payment was via PayPal. In some ways it was the only practical ways for me to get paid.
Even as I made a difficult decisions to hang up full time freelancing (for now) for a dream full time writing job, I still earn over $100 a week via PayPal freelancing a handful of hours (something like 5-6 hours a week).
Having a PayPal account also makes it easy to find good freelancing books on eBay, to receive quick payment from employers, and takes away the worry of wondering when the check will get there, will it clear, what if it bounces, etc. Because you're not waiting weeks or months for a check, you can see the money when it arrives and get e-mail confirmation every time there's any type of movement in your PayPal account.
Once that money's in your account, it's all yours and it is not going to disappear anywhere. PayPal accounts are completely free to set up. To any beginning freelance author, you definitely will want a PayPal account to increase business, and even make some extra off the interest on the side!
So if you haven't set one up yet, set up a PayPal account and keep an eye out for my freelance writing website reviews, which will be coming out every week following. And if you're new and feel really lost, I strongly recommend this review I wrote on The Keyword Academy.