Video Production: Get Paid Today With Paypal.Me, Cash, Credit, Or Neither? (UpDATED FOR 2019)


Item # 1:

My fellow microbudget filmmaker, if you do any kind of video production in between projects, and if you find yourself scrambling to get paid, here's a tool I like and highly recommend. You can even get paid right away, as in today. It's quick for your client, and it's easy for you. 

So easy in fact, I had to write a quick take on it to disarm any mental barriers to trying yet another new gizmo on the web.


Don't already have a Paypal account? Get one.


Well, I'll tell you little Timmy!

  1. They offer the same industry merchant processing fees as of 2017 (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction).

  2. They do allow you to refund your client/buyer with ease.

  3. They do allow for disputes.

  4. The do have financing options! (SEE RED BLURB a few lines down).

  5. Your Paypal money is accepted at more and more retailers!

Client doesn't have an account? They can easily create one, en route to paying you. Create your link to get paid and share that turkey. 


At the end of the post, I'll walk you through how to get paid with Paypal, even if your client is BROKE, has no budget for your services, and/or doesn't have a Paypal account (and/or refuses to get one).

Step 1: Get a link.

Once you've headed over to the site, look for the big blue button.

Then figure out what you want to call yourself. I used "churchfilms" when I set it up because that was my business name, but you could just as easily use your name. 

Looks like the Autobots' leader is hosed in this instance.

If you already have a Paypal account, then follow the prompts. If you don't, signing up will take a little bit longer.

Once your account is verified, then you can send people to your link. It's as simple as sharing:

Step 2: Send your clients to your link.

NOTE: always look for https when dealing with sensitive information. 

If money is to be involved and there's no https in your URL, FLEE.

If your client is a business owner or someone with a pretty hefty title (like CMO), they're already used to this, but if you're working with a startup or anyone else working in the organization you're shooting for, it's okay to reassure them that they should be looking for your mugshot and a secure link, like:

Step 3: Ask them to type in the amount.

Let's look at sending a few bucks. $10 is a paltry sum to pay someone through Paypal, but maybe you have an e-book you're selling?

Hey, byproducts can happen with anyone in any industry.

NOTE: If you know an exact amount you're charging for your work, just send them that amount in the URL you share with them. If it's 20 bucks, just add a slash and 20 to the end of your URL. When they click the link, they'll see in their search bar:

And below the URL, they'll see your mugshot with the amount already filled in for them. 

Whether they fill it in, or you pre-fill it, have them hit the blue "Next" button.

Step 4. Log in

The next screen they'll see is to log in to Paypal (and then they're in good hands) - or create a new account if they don't already have one. 

If they HAVE NEVER USED Paypal before, feel free to send them here if they're unsure of the process. 

The next screen they'll see when they create a new account is the email/pw screen. There might even be one of those rascally captcha thingy-ma-bobs.


Home stretch. 

Then your client will be asked to enter in the standard address info.

Pretty straightforward stuff here. Borrowing from John Oliver (fair warning: he uses salty language), for all I know, you could be agreeing to the contents of Mein Kampf when you hit that check box. 

I doubt it though. 

If they agree to the terms, then they'll be prompted to enter their cc info: 

and Bob's your Uncle.

Item # 2:

A square reader is a viable solution to accept payments and can connect right to your phone via a phone’s 3.5mm headphone jack. Now, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve used Square in my video production business. Nonetheless, for those who want a more traditional point-of-sale system, this is a sleek way to checkout in this Jetsons-esque decade.

Pros: they can send receipts to a person’s email, and once an account is created with Square and linked to a credit card, they’ll have those receipts in their inbox. Presto! And Square’ll take just about every credit card under the sun and on the Mars colony that Elon Musk started with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Bob Ross’ estate.  

Cons: way too many pricing points (i.e. transaction fees). We’re talking more levels than an Essential Oils MLM. The standard 2.9% + $0.30 is just ONE such tier. Best to go to their site to learn what fees you’ll be faced with should you roll with them.

Item # 3:

Your website can probably accept cc payments securely and might even include a paypal payment option. In any event, as a Squarespace user myself now for 4+ years, I love their built-in e-commerce options, which can be modified to account for services like our wonderful, wild world of video production. And… the standard 2.9% + $0.30 applies, with a possible additional fee depending on your content management system. E.g. with Squarespace, depending on your plan, there is a small fee in addition to the cc processing fee or none at all.

Item # 4:


Steer clear of this one, Iago. For the $ we’re doing video production for, the last thing you want is to be handed a pile of snake oil money. You don’t want to defraud your bank with faux cash, and you don’t (let’s face it) have the technical savvy to know a legit bill from a fraud.

Don’t accept cash.

I had an out of town client once hire me to work as a below-the-line crew member for a day’s shoot. Our written agreement stated I’d be paid by a check at the end of the day. Well, I was so exhausted by the end of the day, it didn’t sink in I was being given cash, and not just any cash, but ole timey hundo bills from the 90’s (or thereabout). Good gravy. Those bills are normally taken out of circulation! I went to my credit union and I told them (with my son in tow) I’m just a regular joe, I’ve been banking with you guys for years, and the last thing I want to do is defraud you guys. Can you please just take a look at these bills and tell me if I was given a pile of bantha fodder?

Two employees gave ‘em a looksy, and they said they agree with me: most times, these bills just seem… fake, in today’s world anyways, but this time, I was in the clear. Whew. They normally take them out of circulation and replace ‘em with more current tender.

Be honest if it happens to you, and better yet, don’t accept cash. Period.

Item # 5:

An old-fashioned check could bounce on you, but I’d rather take a check than cash any day of the week simply because I’d rather eat the bounced check fee than be accused of defrauding my bank if I was given a pile of bogus cash. Savvy?

One way to mitigate your risk would be to ask for a certified check which isn’t that crazy considering our projects can easily run thousands of dollars. Personally? I like the ole Paypal option best and a plain ole cc second to that… which can be used to pay someone on Paypal! Have I beat this dead horse enough? Go with Paypal if you’re a bootstrapper with no overhead and no time to fool around with other point-of-sale systems.


BONUS: Okay, if your client says they're broke, it's too expensive, it's out of their budget, you need to first AGREE. 

"Yep, it is expensive."

"I understand, let me take care of that."

Because you've got Paypal credit, and if they're already set up on Paypal, they're good to go! If not, lead them to the water for 6 months of NO MONEY DOWN and NO INTEREST. Here's how:

Original: June 24, 2016; edited Sept 3, 2017, Jan 11, 2019

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.