In the dynamic world of work, the concept of freelancing has become a popular choice for many, offering flexibility and the potential for additional income. This is particularly relevant in the context of South Africa, where the freelance market is expanding amidst the backdrop of high unemployment rates and a rapidly changing job landscape.

The freelance sector in South Africa is gaining traction as a formidable career path, especially considering the country’s current economic challenges. Laura Rawden, the chairperson of the Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), emphasizes the significance of freelancing as a contemporary employment solution. She points out the alarming unemployment figures from Statistics SA, highlighting the critical need for new job avenues such as freelancing. This sector not only offers employment opportunities but also has the potential to drive economic transformation. It opens doors for skilled young individuals, particularly in creative and media professions, who are looking to establish themselves in the competitive job market. However, the growth of this sector depends on increased support from governmental bodies in establishing fair standards and practices.

Freelancing in South Africa presents a spectrum of opportunities across various sectors like finance, IT, and education. Unlike traditional job roles, it offers unique advantages such as flexible working hours, the freedom to select projects aligned with personal interests, and the ability to work in privacy. Laura Rawden suggests that effective networking and building a robust portfolio are key steps for aspiring freelancers. Joining communities such as SAFREA can provide essential resources, networking opportunities, and a platform to showcase your skills. Earnings in freelancing vary, but with consistent professionalism and timely delivery, some individuals earn significantly, as indicated by SAFREA’s 2016 Freelance Media Industry and Rates Report.

Essential Strategies for Aspiring Freelancers

  1. Portfolio Development: Showcase your skills with an updated portfolio.
  2. Efficient Business Processes: Implement effective quoting, invoicing, and contracting procedures.
  3. Optimal Workspace: Ensure access to reliable Wi-Fi and a workspace that complements your work style.
  4. Professionalism: Maintain a high level of professionalism, even under challenging circumstances.
  5. Punctuality: Adhere strictly to deadlines to build a reputation for reliability.

Getting Paid In $$$$

A common challenge of receiving payments in foreign currencies and transferring them back to South Africa is solved with a few solutions.

Very few run of the mill companies willing to take on freelancers care about using PayPal or cryptocurrencies to pay freelancers.

This reluctance primarily stems from concerns about security, regulatory compliance, and financial stability. PayPal, while widely used for consumer transactions, often presents challenges for businesses in terms of higher transaction fees, chargeback risks, and stringent account policies that can lead to frozen funds. On the other hand, the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, coupled with their relative anonymity, raises concerns about market stability and the potential for illicit activities. These factors contribute to a cautious approach by established companies, as they prioritize transactional security, regulatory adherence, and financial predictability. Consequently, while these payment methods are popular among individuals and smaller enterprises, larger and more traditional businesses tend to opt for more conventional banking methods that offer greater control and regulatory compliance.

This is where Payoneer absolutely rocks

Setting up a Payoneer account is a practical solution for South African freelancers to manage their international earnings efficiently. By following these steps, you can easily receive and transfer funds in foreign currencies, overcoming one of the major hurdles in international freelancing.

Setting Up a Payoneer Account for South African Freelancers


For freelancers in South Africa, managing international payments can be a challenge. Payoneer, a global payment platform, offers a solution for receiving payments in USD, GBP, and other major currencies and transferring them to your local South African bank account. This guide provides a detailed walkthrough of setting up a Payoneer account.

Step 1: Sign Up for a Payoneer Account

  1. Visit the Payoneer Website: Go to Payoneer’s official website.
  2. Start the Registration Process: Click on the ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’ button.
  3. Choose Your Account Type: Select the account type that best fits your needs (e.g., Individual or Business).

Step 2: Fill Out Your Personal Details

  1. Provide Personal Information: Enter your name, email address, and date of birth as they appear on your ID.
  2. Create a Username and Password: This will be your login credentials.

Step 3: Provide Contact Details

  1. Enter Your Address: Input your physical address in South Africa.
  2. Contact Information: Provide a valid phone number for account verification.

Step 4: Security Details

  1. Choose Security Questions: Select questions and provide answers for account security.
  2. National ID Verification: Enter your South African ID number or upload a copy of your ID.

Step 5: Bank Account Information

  1. Bank Account Details: Enter your South African bank account details, including bank name, branch, and account number.
  2. Account Type Selection: Choose between a savings or checking account.

Step 6: Review and Submit

  1. Review Your Information: Ensure all details are correct and accurate.
  2. Submit Your Application: Agree to the terms and conditions and submit your application.

Step 7: Account Verification

  1. Email Verification: Check your email for a verification link from Payoneer.
  2. Account Approval: Wait for Payoneer to review and approve your account, which may take a few days.

Step 8: Receiving and Transferring Funds

  1. Receiving Payments: Once approved, use your Payoneer account details to receive payments in USD, GBP, etc.
  2. Transferring to Your SA Bank Account: Transfer your earnings from Payoneer to your linked South African bank account.

Tips and Considerations

  • Exchange Rates: Be aware of the exchange rates and conversion fees.
  • Transfer Limits: Check for any transfer limits or restrictions.
  • Customer Support: Utilize Payoneer’s customer support for any queries or issues.

Freelancing and Tax Considerations With Offshore Earnings

Payoneer provides an international MasterCard that allows users to make purchases directly using the funds in their Payoneer account in South Africa. This feature can be extremely convenient, especially for those who earn in foreign currencies and want to avoid the fees and exchange rate losses associated with converting funds to ZAR (South African Rand) and transferring them to a local bank.
However, the assumption that funds held in an international account like Payoneer and spent directly from there are not subject to taxation may not be accurate.

It’s a common misconception that money kept offshore or spent directly from an international account is exempt from local taxes. Tax laws vary by country, but many countries, including South Africa, tax residents on their worldwide income. This means that all income, regardless of where it is earned or how it is spent, may be subject to declaration and taxation according to the laws of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

South African tax residents are generally required to declare all their income to SARS, regardless of whether it’s brought into the country or kept in foreign accounts. Not declaring foreign income can be considered tax evasion, which is a serious offense. The idea that money “stays” offshore and is therefore not taxable is a risky assumption and can lead to legal and financial complications.

It’s crucial for individuals and businesses to consult with a qualified tax professional or advisor to understand their tax obligations fully. Tax laws and regulations are complex and can change, so professional advice is essential to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.

Paypal and FNB Transactions

Transferring funds from PayPal to an FNB account in South Africa is a straightforward process that enhances the ease of accessing your international earnings. This service is particularly useful for those who engage in online business and require a reliable method to transfer funds to their local bank account.

While PayPal offers several benefits and a straightforward setup process in South Africa, it’s important to be aware of the associated fees. There are no setup or monthly fees, but users will incur a transaction fee of 2.4% to 3.9% plus $0.3 USD per transaction. Additionally, a currency conversion fee of 2.5% above the exchange rate set by FNB is charged, which also includes a margin above the market rate. FNB imposes a withdrawal fee ranging from 0.81% to 1.51%, depending on the transaction amount and account history. Cumulatively, these fees amount to between 5.71% and 7.91% plus $0.3 per transaction, making PayPal a relatively expensive option in South Africa. The decision to use PayPal should balance these costs against the benefits of a globally recognized payment system and the potential to expand your customer base internationally.

This being said the costs per transaction with FNB and Paypal are often quite substantial so if you are happy to get raked by bank fees.  FNB offers a unique service that allows its customers to link their PayPal accounts for easy withdrawal of funds. This service is particularly beneficial for freelancers, online sellers, and businesses that receive payments through PayPal. Why the other banks in South Africa do not offer this service with PayPal while you can pretty  much connect any South African bank to pay out with PayPal you can only used FNB  to get paid to your bank account.

Here’s a quick guide to getting paid with FNB and PayPal

Step 1: Open an FNB Online Banking Account

  • If You’re an Existing FNB Customer: Log in to your FNB Online Banking account.
  • If You’re a New Customer: Open an FNB account and register for online banking services.

Step 2: Link Your PayPal Account

  1. Navigate to PayPal Services: Once logged in to FNB Online Banking, select ‘PayPal Services’ under the ‘Forex’ or ‘My Bank Accounts’ tab.
  2. Link PayPal Account: Follow the prompts to link your PayPal account to your FNB Online Banking profile.

Step 3: Top Up/Withdraw Funds

  1. Top Up PayPal: To add funds to your PayPal account, choose the ‘Top Up’ option, and follow the instructions.
  2. Withdraw from PayPal: To withdraw funds, select the ‘Withdraw from PayPal’ option.

Step 4: Withdrawal Process

  1. Enter Amount: Input the amount you wish to transfer from PayPal to your FNB account.
  2. Currency Conversion: The amount will be converted from the currency in your PayPal account (e.g., USD) to South African Rand (ZAR).
  3. Confirm Transaction: Review the details and confirm the transaction.

Step 5: Receive Funds

  • Processing Time: The funds typically take between 5 to 8 business days to reflect in your FNB account.
  • Transaction Fees: Be aware of any transaction fees or currency conversion charges.

Why So Many Internatinal Companies Use Freelancers in South Africa?

The increasing trend of international companies outsourcing freelance work to South Africa can be attributed to several compelling reasons: South African freelancers are known for their strong work ethic and motivation. The freelancing community in the country is dynamic and adaptable, often willing to take on a variety of ad-hoc jobs. Outsourcing to South Africa can be more cost-effective compared to hiring talent in local markets, especially in countries with higher labor costs. South African freelancers often offer competitive rates, providing a balance of quality and affordability. South Africa is favorably positioned in terms of time zones for working with companies in different parts of the world, especially in the U.S. The time difference allows South African freelancers to work while American clients are off-duty, ensuring continuous progress on projects and quicker turnaround times. The country boasts a vast pool of talent with a wide range of high-tech skills. South African freelancers are often well-educated and proficient in various areas, including IT, digital marketing, design, writing, and more. South Africa has a high level of English proficiency, which is a key advantage in global business communications. This linguistic capability ensures smooth collaboration and fewer misunderstandings in project execution.

South Africa’s diverse culture and exposure to global trends make its workforce more adaptable to international work environments. This cultural alignment can be beneficial in understanding and meeting the expectations of global clients.

These factors combined make South Africa an attractive destination for international companies looking to outsource freelance work. Not only do they benefit from cost savings, but they also gain access to a talented, motivated, and technically skilled workforce capable of operating in sync with global business demands.

How Freelancers Leverage Fiverr and Upwork for Global Job Opportunities

Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have emerged as global marketplaces, enabling freelancers to showcase their talents and secure clients from across the globe. AI technology has revolutionized various aspects of freelancing, from optimizing work processes to enhancing creative outputs. Freelancers are increasingly adopting AI tools for tasks such as data analysis, content creation, and even design work. These tools not only improve efficiency but also open new avenues for innovation, allowing freelancers to offer more sophisticated services to their clients.

Fiverr and Upwork stand at the forefront of this global shift, acting as bridges between freelancers and a vast array of international clients. These platforms are more than just job boards; they are communities where freelancers can display their portfolios, bid on projects, and build professional networks.

  1. Showcasing Talent: Freelancers can create detailed profiles showcasing their skills, previous work, and client reviews. This transparency builds trust and allows clients to make informed hiring decisions.
  2. Diverse Opportunities: From graphic design to software development, these platforms host a wide range of job categories. Freelancers can find projects that align with their expertise, regardless of their location.
  3. Client-Freelancer Matching: Advanced algorithms help match freelancers with relevant projects, making it easier for them to find suitable work and for clients to find the right talent.

Navigating the Challenges

While these platforms offer immense opportunities, they also come with challenges. Competition can be fierce, and freelancers must find ways to stand out. Setting competitive rates, delivering high-quality work, and maintaining good communication are essential for success. Additionally, freelancers must navigate payment and tax considerations, especially when dealing with international transactions.

In South Africa, the freelance market is rapidly expanding, offering a viable career path amidst high unemployment and economic shifts. Organizations like SAFREA highlight freelancing’s role in creating new job opportunities and driving economic growth, especially in fields like media and technology. For handling international payments, South African freelancers often turn to platforms like Payoneer for efficient currency management, while noting the significant fees associated with PayPal and FNB transactions. Despite these costs, South Africa’s freelance workforce is attractive to international companies due to its cost-effectiveness, diverse high-tech skill set, strong work ethic, English proficiency, and adaptability to global business practices, making it a favored destination for outsourcing freelance work.