How COVID19 Accidentally Created 6-Figure Earners

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When COVID19 was declared a pandemic last March 19, the world started shutting down…

Over 80 countries have closed their borders to arriving countries, suspended air travel, and controlled public transit.

More than a third of the world was commanded to practice self-quarantine and 1.5 billion children suddenly stopped going to school.[*]

Nearly 7.5 million small businesses are either on the verge of closing or have already stopped operating, leaving millions of people around the world laid off and filing for unemployment claims.[*]

During these unprecedented times, things aren’t as stable as they seem…

The jobs that have once promised security—they’re gone for most nonessential business workers.

And the physical isolation from the world doesn’t help. If anything, it spikes the pressure of figuring out what to do next.

That could’ve been what pushed the laid-off workers to turn their heads to a “new” direction to find another source of income so they can survive: the internet.

Here’s proof from Google Trends.

Between March 8th and March 14th, people have been searching for “How To Make Money Online” in Google.

But what’s even more surprising is this.

The term “Upwork” has been searched  2 times more than “how to make money online”.

If you’re not familiar, Upwork is an online marketplace where anyone can freelance and earn money online.

And it can only mean two things:

Either more employers are looking for remote workers…


More and more employees are now discovering the power of working online.

Because while established brick-and-mortar stores, traditional family businesses, and colossal hotel chains are forced to close — the online industry continues to thrive.

It looks like when the world stopped, the tables have turned.

The brave winners of the new world

Let’s face it.

When all these are over, the normal that we used to know is never coming back.

A lot of us might push our hardest to avoid the change, but change will inevitably catch up to us.

The shock, frustration, and sudden change of lifestyle have thrust us into a downward spiral of emotions.

And because of this, most of us found solace in mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, binge watching Netflix, and some have even given in to TikTok.

But there are a few who instead of using the internet just to kill time, they found a way to leverage it and add a couple more zeroes to their income.

Take Heart for example who just closed three $1,000 and above clients right smack in the middle of quarantine period — all paid in full.

Or like Maris who just sealed a $1,495 project on a call.

That’s an extra Php74,750.00 each month.

Now, I don’t know about you but in times like these where most of us are closing shops and losing jobs, that amount can buy you peace of mind.

And then there’s Glaiza, who got $5,000 project with a client referred by a fellow TRIBE member.

And if you think these are isolated cases, think again. In fact, for the last 30 days, freelancers inside the Tribe have been winning left and right…

Think about it for a second.

Before COVID19, most people were already skeptical of freelancing.

They say it’s not real work. It’s unstable. It’s just a gig.

But given the snapshots above…

That’s when you know that there are only a few stable things during this pandemic, and freelancing is one of them.  

Now, before you go to Google and search for “How to start freelancing”, let me give you a bit of warning.

Not all those who do freelance work are immune to the effects of this pandemic.

Contracts were paused…

Clients were struggling to pay the fees…

Freelancers are losing clients…

Which begs the question…

What does Heart, Maris, Glaiza, and other Tribe members do differently that makes their kind of freelancing pandemic proof?

There are probably a million other things they are doing right but here are the top three.

1. They don’t rely on platforms to get clients.

2. They know the value they offer.

3. They do value-based pricing.

Now you may be thinking…

How does knowing all these 3 helps in securing a client at these times?

Let’s find out!

#1 – They don’t rely on platforms to get clients

“How did you find your clients?”

Most newbie freelancers have this question.

Now, it would be easy to say to go fish for clients on freelancing platforms like Upwork. Because you don’t have to look — the clients are already there.

However, if you want to avoid the expensive fees and have more control over your business, here’s where to look.

Be visible on Facebook

Facebook is a social network where you stay connected with friends and families, but for some, it’s a good place to build professional relationships.

Like Shirley, an email marketing strategist who found her first big break in this social media channel.

Rather, it was her client who reached out to her first.

Thanks to her optimized profile, Ralph Layco, a Filipino entrepreneur and influencer who founded New Bold University noticed her.

It took a lot of courage for her to accept the challenge. At that time, she was thinking, “We are just beginners, can we do this? We need to complete this in 2-weeks time, kakayanin ba? But we are grateful that we are part of the Tribe. 

Because our mindset has changed.”

Good thing that she stepped up and worked on the project with her sister.

Now, she’s proud to take on new clients because she was able to help Ralph get over 70 students in the first launch and she has this testimonial to back her up.

Find out what you’re good at

Another common thing that stops most people from giving freelancing a try is that they feel they’re not good at English.

They stutter when they speak, especially when it’s with strangers.

They’re introverts, they’d say.

And they’d altogether stop and think that freelancing is not for me.

But one hardcore introvert here closes $1,500 deals without sending proposals and hopping on calls. 

His name’s Arvin and here’s how this email copywriter does this.

Start with your business-savvy friends

Still hesitant to approach strangers and offer up your services?

Start with your friends who sell life insurance, run a restaurant, or have an online store. There must be something that they need help with.

When Adjoie helped her financial advisor friend optimize her Facebook ads, her friend started getting inquiries in less than 24 hours.

Not only that, but she was also able to validate her services and prove to herself that she can get results. 

You have more prospects than you think.

As Michael Kearns, VP Enterprise for Toptal puts it,

“Clients are very focused on learning how to do remote right, and work is still getting done so there is still a need for freelance expertise.

This plus the sudden openness to remote will drive more freelance work as well as more enablement work for suddenly remote teams to learn how to do it right. So, freelancers will help the work transition.”

The takeaway: It’s easier to find clients than you think, especially now that businesses—even the local ones—are realizing how important it is to go online. Businesses need our help now more than ever. Think about it this way. You offering your services to them might be the only thing that keeps their businesses from sinking. So go out there and serve the world this way.

#2 – They know the value they offer

“But I don’t have any skill that I can offer online.”

The simple truth is, even ordinary freelancers can find high-paying clients online.

You don’t have to know web design, become a writer overnight, or study coding to start freelancing.

With everything going online, you’d be surprised at how seemingly traditional skills can be done online.

Like accounting, virtual assistance, or managing rental houses.

And Rafael Espinal, the President of the Freelancing Union hints at this opportunity:

“I’m seeing freelancers being very creative. Fitness instructors are using YouTube videos or Instagram, makeup stylists are giving tutorials on the internet…

Think about your current client base, the needs you’ve filled for them in the past, and how you can be of help in other ways.”[*]

But if you still have no clue about what service you can offer, here’s our classic advice.

Just pick one skill. 

You’ll see why through these examples.

Paid consult with no prior experience?

Marco ended up being paid $275 an hour of consultation even though he has no prior experience and more!

Here’s how it started.

Like every freelancer (seasoned and new), Marco changed the skill that he’s offering.

Until he got a prospect who needs help writing emails for his product.

But 3 days after he sent the proposal, the prospects had some objections on his strategy.

He replied to that email, not rebutting the objections but asking questions and digging deeper into why they think that way.

Then, this happened.

Marco adds, “The call went super smoothly. I was afraid that she may ask for some samples (and I decided to just be honest and say I don’t have any), but she didn’t ask that.”

Not only that, but the prospect also availed of his $1,000 package and agreed to be his case study.

You don’t have to be an expert

If not having enough experience is what keeps you from offering your services, here’s a reminder that we can all learn from Michelle.

As for the client, he was already someone who’s in her network since last year, but it’s only now when this client needed help from a website designer.

So she reached out to him again.

Long story short, Michelle was able to seal a 1-month trial deal with the client at a premium price.

When asked why she went for it, “The 1-month trial is more than enough for me to learn, prove my worth and get this client for the long run… Also, it’s a premium rate and the client is pasok sa ideal client ko…”

And in case you’re wondering why she ended up offering web designing, this is why, “Fancy ko talaga maging Web Designer.😁 I like the idea of building and designing. Namimiss ko na talaga ang magdesign. That’s it!”

Sometimes, it’s not really about the skill

A lot of newbie freelancers get hung up on which skill to choose.

But you know what?

Clients hire freelancers not just because of the skill, it’s because they believe you can help them solve a problem.

Now when that’s our perspective, then the skill doesn’t matter that much anymore, does it?

Let’s take Nikki’s case.

This email copywriter right here was able to turn a one-time client who availed her services at a discounted rate ($1,500) to a permanent client who’s going to give her a monthly payout.

The client was so delighted with her services that she asked Nikki to join her team.

All that she did to get this win?

She just helped her client and relentlessly gave value.

The takeaway: Getting clients has little to do with what skills you have.

Remember, clients really don’t hire for expertise, they hire people because they have problems that need to be fixed. That said, it all boils down to how you position your chosen skill to be THE solution that your target market needs right now.

#3 – They do value-based pricing

“How much should I charge?”

Here’s a simple answer to this: charge whatever you’re comfortable with.

If $3 per hour covers everything that your family needs, then go ahead.

If you’re okay with doing the work now and getting paid only if the project only yields results, then offer commission-based pricing.

If you feel that the website that you have designed is worth $5,000, then justify your pricing so you can charge confidently.

So what it’s all about?

Well, it differs for each freelancer.

Let’s start with Janine’s.

Not high-paying, but…

For Janine here, she felt like she hit a jackpot with her client even though her fees are not premium. And even if the payout comes late once in a while.

Here’s why.

For Janine, what’s important is having a client who:

  • involves you in business decisions,
  • appreciates the value of the work she provides, and
  • not just sympathizes but helps her solves her problems.

Not every freelancer is gifted with a client who cares enough to buy you a MacBook in the middle of the pandemic!

Charging by the value you provide

While employees dream of getting a promotion, freelancers dream of being able to hit their monthly income goal.

And Thea was a little bit stuck in the $220 price range.

But finding clients who will value her work was challenging, but that didn’t stop her from connecting.

She had faith in the Connect > Call > Proposal > Paid (CCPP) process because she had seen it work before.

And she reached out to her coaches about it,

“Thanks mother Glaiza and coach Niel for the guidance and sa pagexplain further ng CCPP.

Di ko siguro nakuha yung client if I didn’t ask for guidance kung pano ko ita-transition yung conversation into value-based instead of price-based.

Hard work really pays off because after a while, she was able to get these breakthroughs:

She ended with this,

“I thought my rate was expensive.

But I just found out how valuable it is to position your offer to the right market. I think I just found my niche.”

Collaborate to win

The African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” also holds true when it comes to freelancing.

A year after JD, a Shopify Designer, started contemplating on how to increase his rate and justify the charge, he finally did it—with a fellow TRIBE member.

Collaboration paved the way to his success.

Here are the realizations that he had going from $797 to $7,300:

  1. Craft the right offer and show it to the right market. My main offer is Shopify store optimization/redesign and my target market is established businesses that are generating 6-7 figures, running paid ads, and markets their own product. This allows you to have clarity on getting your ideal projects.
  2. Study successful people in your industry.What’s their offer? What kind of content are they sharing? Where do they hang out? How much do they charge? What kind of businesses are they targeting?
  3. Hire people who are smarter than you when it comes to a specific task I learned how to outsource tasks that are time-consuming on my end like coding, copywriting, graphic design, so I can focus on solving the bigger picture of the project and closing more premium clients.
  4. Focus on figuring out expensive problems and how to fix them My service as a Shopify Designer is not just to “set up stores” or make the store “look pretty”, but also to figure out ways on how to fix a broken funnel, develop creative ways on showcasing the brand and its products, and making sure the store is not leaving money on the table.

The takeaway: It’s okay to start charging at a rate that you’re comfortable because for some freelancers, the things that they value goes beyond the price.

Whenever you’re ready to receive higher payouts, craft the right offer for the right market. That’s it. And just so you know, you can start doing this even if you’re a newbie freelancer—crisis, or not.

Thriving online during a crisis

The colossal change that has come is an unstoppable event that was bound to happen. In fact, an Infectious Disease Professor has predicted that COVID-19 would happen in our lifetime.[*]

The only thing that he didn’t get exactly right is the timeframe—it happened sooner than expected.

This pandemic is happening NOW.

And the reality is, it will happen again in the future.

But the silver lining is this: humans are hardwired to survive. 

We will cope and once this ends — and it will — we will be back to living our lives.

But in my honest opinion, there’s a good chance that the normal we once knew will not be back.

There’ll certainly be more online shopping. People will take their health and family time more seriously. Businesses who have not have a trace of digital footprint will now be compelled to move partially online.

What happened has been terrible, but how we react to it could dictate what our post-crisis life would be.

As Rahm Emanuel, American politician has put it simply,

Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

So, for everyone who wants to create another stream of income through freelancing, here are 3 reasons to start today.

  1. It’s easier to find clients to serve now more than ever. Now that everybody’s aware of how essential it is for businesses to go online, anybody could be your prospect.Remember, what you know might be the only thing that will help your prospects’ businesses survive.
  2. Clients hire people because they have problems that need to be fixed, not purely because of the skills. 

    Spot opportunities with everything that’s happening right now and see how you can help.As for your skill, reflect on what you do when you were a kid, when you were still in school and even in your day job. There must be something that you can offer. You don’t even have to be an expert on it.

  3. It’s okay to start at a price that you’re comfortable charging. But know this. By simply positioning your chosen skill to be THE solution that your target market needs right now, you’ll be surprised at how much money they’re willing to shell out—crisis or not.*

*Note: All the freelancing wins that we’ve shared here happened between March to May 2020. You can scroll up again to check the timestamps.

A crisis is an opportunity to change your path, to explore new opportunities like freelancing, and to become the person that you were meant to be.

The way we react to it is where we have control.

Get the support that you need to start freelancing, join the TRIBE

Picture of Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza writes onboarding emails that help SaaS teams get their users from sign up to success. She used to be a generalist copywriter before she joined SPAG, the first ever TRIBE that John put together. She’s also a mom of a bouncy little boy who adds a bit of crazy, but tons of love, meaning and inspiration to her freelancing days. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.