Case Study

How A Writer Went From $1 Per Article To Fulfilling Her Dream Of Becoming A Copywriter For The Largest Publishing Company in the U.S.

Freelancing is now considered as the best alternative to corporate jobs.

Yet, not a lot of people tried it because most people have the wrong perception of freelancing.

Most people think it’s one of the following:

“Doing sales calls at home, blogging or typing jobs…”

“It’s about transcription, data entry jobs and online tutorials.”

“I thought it was about teaching English sa mga Chinese, Japanese, Korean.”

“Remote pero data entry at VAs lang ang option. Tapos low rates pero long hours kasi pababaan ng rates to land a contract.”

Most of these people agreed on three things…

Unpredictable income. ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍Low pay. ‍‍‍‍‍‍Strict work hours. ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

These three are just some of the negative perceptions attached to freelancing.

Not to mention that supposedly ‘experts’ often tell you that you should have credentials and a solid portfolio  to charge what you want.

If you thought the same thing as mentioned above, then I highly suggest you continue reading the rest of this page.

Because in a few minutes, the story I’m about to tell will prove otherwise.

She’s April.

A 25-year-old Bicolana and a direct response copywriter for the natural health and supplements market. She writes FDA-compliant sales copy for a living.

If you have no idea what copywriting is…

Copywriting is writing and arranging words to make things sell better. It is a text form of salesmanship. In a nutshell, a copywriter writes words that will sell a product or service. If you’ve seen a poster which promotes an event, then the words in that poster is called copywriting.

Before she entered into freelancing, she has tried a couple of things. One of which is online selling. She tried to sell  shoes, sandals and slippers online.

The other thing was Captcha jobs. It’s an online scheme where you’ll pay 500 pesos to join, and you’ll gain access to the database where you’ll enter Captcha codes to earn money.

Cap·tcha /ˈkapSHə/ noun – a program or system intended to distinguish human from machine input, typically as a way of thwarting spam and automated extraction of data from websites.

The more captcha you get, the more earnings you’ll receive… at least that’s what they tell you.

“They usually push more codes at around 2-4 AM, so I’m always up quite early just to earn some money. Plus, I need to recruit more people because it’s like a networking setup where you’ll earn a commission for every person you can recruit to join. I was able to recruit 2 people.”

Then, after a few months, the company disappeared. It turned out the company is a scam.

Note: So, if you come across something like this, where they’ll ask for a small fee for you to earn money by typing captcha, then you need to be cautious and try to avoid that.

She discovered freelancing when she’s in second-year college. It was introduced to her by a friend when she sent a group message (GM) to them saying that…

“She’s given her family an all-expense paid Christmas celebration.”

It got her curious and asked her how she did it. She told April that she writes articles via Odesk. So, she gave it a try.

“Luckily, I got a new client after a few attempts to apply for a job. It was an SEO writing position for $1 per 100-word article. The exchange rate at that time was at $1=P48.

Nakakatuwa kasi wala pa kami noong internet. Naghack pa kami nun. Tapos, yang maliit na laptop. Yung laptop, isa sa binili ni Papa sa abroad kasi mura dun. Pinadala niya yun para makausap niya kami thru Skype.”

Then, because of the writing jobs, she got back then, she was able to afford her own internet connection.

She was happy because she was able to support herself financially on her own. She felt a good sense of independence.

“Initially, my goal was just to earn money for a living, so I won’t be a burden to my parents. Kumbaga, nagpapaka-independent ako. As a college student back then, freelancing helped me with my school expenses (fares, projects, etc.) so masaya na ako.”

When she graduated, she worked as a Research and Development Assistant for two years. Only to realize that she’s not built for the corporate world.

“I want to have the freedom of time. I spent 2 years working as an employee, and when I got the chance to work full-time at home, I grabbed the opportunity.”

So, she continued with freelancing and never looked back.

Despite that, she felt something is missing.

“I don’t know how to get premium clients. Ever since I did freelancing, dala ko pa din yung employee mindset. I am an order-taker.”

She didn’t know how to ask for the sale. She didn’t know how to give value.

“I stayed at $1 per 100 words for the longest time. I am earning 6 digits a month pero 12-16 hours naman ako nagwo-work including weekends.”

No time for the family, friends, and herself.

Walang social life.

Walang me-time.

“Dumating ako sa point na marami ngang pera kaso kahit tumayo from my desk, nililimitahan ko pa yung sarili ko. Kinailangan kong isiksik yung dami ng trabaho ko sa isang araw kasi ang dami kong work. Na tipong kahit pag inom ng tubig or coffee break, di ko magawa.”

And because of that, she got sick and lost a lot of weight.

“Sa sobrang payat ko, yung mga pants ko… sobrang loose na siya. Naglagas din ang buhok ko.”

Would freelancing be worth it if it’ll mean your health is on the line?

She realized she’s doing it all wrong. She neglected her health for the sake of earning more money. And because of that, she didn’t feel happy… not at all.

So, she searched for new ways to do freelancing.

“I want to scale my business. At the same time, I want to really experience and enjoy what others call “the freedom of time.” Although I am working at home and earning more than the salary of an executive assistant every month… I realized I don’t have the leisure of time — for myself and my family.”

When April heard about John and how he earns 7 digits writing emails on Mondays (1 day work-week), she got hooked.

Sino ba naman ang ayaw nun? Earn more and work less.

Before joining the Freelance Movement Tribe, she became part of Script, Proposal and Accountability Group (SPAG). This was John’s first paid program, where he taught a fraction of the lessons inside the Tribe for 30 days.

“Ever since I became part of SPAG, I knew that I’m on the right track. John Pagulayan knows his thing!"

And because of that, she was able to double her rate and transitioned from $5 to $10 per 100-word article.

“30 days lang yung SPAG and I landed my first premium client (client ko pa din ngayon yey!). Paano pa kaya yung 1-year membership, diba?”

That also fueled her to try copywriting since she knew about John and what he does for a living.

"I was persuaded by the fact about earning royalties and passive income, which were mentioned in John’s emails."

While freelancing, she also ventured into e-commerce. This time an automated online store setup, selling shoes and slippers again.

So when John launched the new comprehensive program (The Freelance Movement TRIBE) for freelancers, she was the last person to enroll. This is because her money was all used up doing FB advertising to promote her products.

Even though she really wanted to enroll on the first day of launch, di talaga kaya.

“But I decided not to miss the chance. Because I know it will be worth it. And I’m right!”

So, April joined a few hours before the enrollment closes.

According to her, she joined for 3 reasons:

“Unang una, John Pagulayan is John Pagulayan. In my 7 years in the freelance business. I never met someone as genuine as John. Yes, maraming “guru” out there, but no one ever preached the importance of giving “value” first. Si John lang.”

“Yung values ni John. Yung pagiging Go-Giver. Wala siyang hino-hold back. Binibigay niya lahat. Ang naririnig ko kasi dati na mga advice. Wag ka magcha-charge ng $3 per hour. Taasan mo pa. Puro about money.Pero nung siya, iba.

Yung values niya, ibang iba. May mga mentor na gumagawa nun ngayon, pero parang hindi ko sila feel. Si John pa rin talaga yung nangunguna sa values na yun. Ginagaya na nga nila si John. Pero iba pa din si John.”

“The people inside the community. The quality of people inside the Tribe is priceless. Pamilya kami sa loob. Wala kang mahahanap na ibang community na super babait. Sa Freelance Movement Tribe lang.

Bonus na din yung pagkakaroon ng iba-ibang professionals sa loob– merong accountant, financial advisors, real estate brokers, attorney, photographers, baker, and many more — na pwede mong lapitan any time.”

Initially, April wanted to be a copywriter to earn more money and royalties.

When she entered the Tribe, she was focused on the health and wellness niche like sports, fitness, health, natural supplement, doctors.

“Of all the branches of that niche, health is what I hate the most, to the point that whenever someone asked for sales page help in that market, I always… always refer them to someone else.”

Then she became sluggish. Her hair fall was quite excessive. And she gained a lot of weight.

So, she researched how to overcome all of those challenges.

"Bigla kong naisip: Paano kaya kung gawin ko na din tong target market?"

It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. April decided to focus on the health market. And since then, she started getting clients from this niche.

There were times when prospects in the supplements market asked for her service. Still, she ended up declining them since supplements are a very critical subject. It covers a lot of rules and regulations, compliance and governing laws they need to follow.

In short, it’s complicated.

"Until, dumating ako sa point na yung mga inaayawan ko talaga, dun ako pumupunta pa rin."

She practiced, learned and took action to harness her skill as a natural supplement copywriter.

"Gumawa ako ng sales page sample na supplement ang product na pino-promote."

After that, she started adding connections on Linkedin. She also listened to webinars, where she heard about Agora.

She discovered that Agora is the largest and most popular publishing company in the US, which markets and produces health, financial and lifestyle products. Well-known copywriters worked for this company. And it’s considered to be the best training ground for elite copywriters worldwide.

"I even read them (Agora) in books where direct response copywriters mentioned them."

So, she did what she considered her bravest step — she reached out to some people in Agora via Linkedin.

Sadly, no one accepted her. Then, all of a sudden, someone sent a connection request.

After she accepted, that woman sent a message:

Then, the client replied.

“And when I checked his LinkedIn profile… lo and beheld, she’s from Agora!”

She was then referred to the Marketing Head so they can set up a meeting.

Surprisingly, the Marketing Head was already on her Linkedin network a long time ago.

"He had sent me an existing sales page copy which was already selling. He then asked me if I can beat it. I confidently said ‘yes."

You might be wondering how April got her confidence?

It’s because of the Tribe’s support and their faith in her that she can do it. She felt loved, which brought back her confidence and the courage to continue.

“Yang mga tao na lang yung ayaw mo iwan. Parang hindi complete (yung buhay ko) pag di ko nakikita yung mga wins nila, may masasabihan ka ng mga struggles. Hindi na siya focus sa sarili. It’s all about sharing. Go-giving. Being happy with other’s success (and setbacks).”

Going back to the story…

After a week, she was informed about the details of their first meeting. She thought it will be their first discovery call where she will have the chance to ask a few questions and diagnose the business, the product and the goal for the campaign.

"To my surprise, the meeting turned out to be the onboarding-slash-welcome meeting."

She started writing sales page copy for them.

A dream which a lot of copywriters would trade place with anyone, just to experience it.

“Ang saya saya ko nun! Nung nag-reply si Agora, si Coach John agad yung binalitaan ko kasi, siyempre, sa lahat ng tao, siya yung main reason kung paano ko yun nagawa with his help.”

But life’s not unicorns and rainbows.

After two months, her contract came to an end because the Marketing Head handling the product was about to leave the company after working for 15 years.

And all products under him were permanently stopped.

She can vividly remember what the Marketing Head told her at that time…

“Unfortunately, though, we won’t be moving with this project. After 15 years here, I am actually leaving the company.”

She was caught off guard by the news.

"Na-sad ako. Ang lungkot. Wrong timing. Bakit siya pa? Bakit sa kanya pa ko napunta?"

She started to question herself, her skills, her ability.

“Ginagawa lang ba nila itong reason para sabihin na hindi maganda yung ginawa ko? Baka sinasabi lang nila to para hindi ako ma-hurt. Yun yung parang nag doubt ako sa sarili ko kasi parang heto na yung opportunity eh. Pero nawala pa.”

Naisip pa niya…

“Sobra naman yata akong mangarap. Nag-sisimula pa lang ako tapos gusto ko na agad Agora. Isang copywriting training lang ang natapos ko, tapos gusto ko na agad mapunta sa Agora. Parang nag doubt ako sa sarili ko na… kaya ko ba to? Magstay na lang ba ako sa mga maliliit na companies?”

She thought that her dream was too high, making it impossible to achieve. She started to question her action of going after Agora.

But despite that…

She still had a ray of hope inside her, fueled by the encouragement from people inside the Tribe.

"Pero andun pa din yung thinking na babalikan ko sila… na gagawa ako ng paraan na makakapagwork ulit ako sa kanila."

So, she continued reaching out to Agora people inside Linkedin, even if she always get rejected.

Then, after a year, a new division from Agora reached out, telling her that they’re looking for email copywriters.

And like what happened the first time, they hired April again.

“Nung nag message sila (Agora), sobrang happy ako. Kahit per project basis ang working relationship ko sa kanila, okay pa rin sa akin. Kasi ayun na siya, nandun na ko. Part na ako. Dala-dala ko na siya sa pangalan ko.”

She felt like she won back the Miss Universe title after it was taken from her. #piawurtzbach. The journey was never easy for her, yet she persevered and continue.

“Si Agora talaga yung biggest achievement ko as a copywriter. Dream come true na makapag sulat sa kanila kasi lahat ng mga copywriters na pinafollow ko, nagsulat sa kanila.

…And based sa mga stories, parang challenging talagang makapasok. Kahit mga taga-US, hirap talaga silang makapasok sa Agora.”

From a blogger, she’s now a well-paid, happy, satisfied copywriter. She got the clarity of what she wants to do as a freelance professional.

Aside from that, she gains a very supportive community. That even other people will tell her that she already knew the process like the back of her hand, she will NEVER leave the Tribe.

She also learned a lot of invaluable wisdom, which she never thought she could get from joining the Tribe.

“Yung limiting beliefs na nasa isip ko lang na parang akala natin (hindi lang ako), porke’t malaking company hindi tayo iha-hire dahil (feeling natin) newbie tayo. Nawala yung limiting belief na yun.

Kaya kahit newbie, basta you have the skill, you can work with those companies na nasa top 1%. If gusto mo talaga, there’s a way. If meant to be talaga, mapupunta yun sayo in time.

Magtatanim ka lang talaga. Connections. Magpakilala. Ipakita mo lang na you’re out. Nandyan ka lang. You’re trustworthy. Maachieve mo din yun in time. Hindi mo talaga maru-rush ang success.”

Aside from that, April learned the most important lesson inside the Tribe. The core lesson which sets the foundation of every teaching inside the Tribe.

“You can earn more by giving more! Hindi lang siya pera-pera lang. Come from a place of help. I’ve realized na yung mission talaga yung makakatulong sayo to grow in this business.

Nung naging clear ako dun sa pagtulong talaga, yung parang hindi ako nag focus sa money o kailangang dapat premium ito, mas naging madaling makapag close ng client.”

The money just becomes the byproduct of helping people achieve what they want through your help.

“I realized that I don’t look for a client just for the money. Money is not the most significant deciding factor now. I look for clients who are aligned with my mission and vision. “

As a result of implementing the learnings inside the Tribe, a lot of things happen.

First on the list is her monthly income…

“Now, I can charge one client with the same amount I can earn for working with 3-5 clients combined. Imagine that.”

Second, she has MORE TIME.

She works a minimum of 3-5 hours a day and the rest of the time, she studies and does her passion projects.

“2-3 days for Agora. 3 hours per day. Day 1, I’ll create the draft. Day 2, i-edit ko na. Day 3, Send ko na sa editor. Then once done, ise-send ko na kay client for feedback.”

Third, the MINDSET SHIFT.

April learned that it’s not all about the money. But the value you provide to your client. When you genuinely give value, money follows.

“Fourth, I’ve got a new family. Kung wala ang tribe, wala din ako. And as I always tell John and the tribe, I will stay a tribe member no matter what happens.”

Right now, April is working with 4 clients:

  1. She works for Agora, writing emails to promote their products. (Per project basis)
  2. She also works with a US client, where she writes sales copy to generate sales every month.
  3. Another client from Canada, where she does email copywriting monthly.
  4. She writes long-form sales page copy for a global company.
"Dati pa nga nagpupumilit pa akong magtayo ng agency, pero I know hindi ako happy.”

She realized that putting up an agency was not aligned with her mission and vision. And that idea doesn’t spark joy in her heart.

“Ngayon, gusto ko lang magkaron ng 2-3 clients na direct response talaga, like sa market ng Agora. “

What she wants is more time with herself, and of course, with her family.

She wants to design her business in a way which will allow her to write. And at the same time have more time left to do things she wants to do outside of her business.

“Sa age ako ngayon, gusto ko na magstart mag invest into something outside of freelancing. Yun talaga yung magiging passive income source ko. Madami na kong napuntahang business pero ang ending ko is still real estate.

Ayoko na pilitin yung sarili ko na magwork ng magwork kasi okay na sa akin yung income at least consistent. Once I have enough experience, mag-increase na lang ako ng rate. Pero hindi na magdadagdag ng clients.“

You see, freelancing doesn’t need to be so complicated. You can do it alone without setting up an agency and still earn the same amount you can make working with 3-5 clients combined.

You only need to tap the top 1% and equip yourself with these three things.

First, believe in yourself.

Most freelancers think that in order to get the best clients, they need to be confident. But in reality, it doesn’t work that way.

Confidence is not a pre-requisite for you to get the best clients. In fact, it’s the opposite.

The only way you can actually gain confidence is when you start doing it. Start working with clients, so you can have the confidence you need to get more.

Confidence comes from doing.

Second, focus on helping the client, rather than focusing on the money.

Most freelancers get clients with the goal of increasing their income. But the thing is…

You’ll be perceived as more valuable if you focus more on helping your client get good results.

Once they perceive you as someone valuable, the easier it’ll be to charge your true worth based on the results you can bring to the table.

Third, find a mentor and a community that’ll help you go where you want to go and help you who you want to become.

April Alen Abion
Direct Response Copywriter for Natural Health & Supplements Market

“If you are still on the fence on joining the tribe, I’d say go for it. I’m proof that John’s teachings and lessons are worthwhile. Not only it will help you charge your worth, but you’ll get the support you need to succeed in your freelance business.”

Would you like to work 3-5 hours per day with top-level companies and still have the “freedom of time” to spend with your family or do your passion project?

Then, click the button below to get you on our waitlist when we reopen the Tribe for new enrollees.

Neri Marcos

Neri Marcos

Neri is a copywriter who is passionate about courses and product launches. She helps course creators and experts get 6 to 7 figure sales on their launches by providing persuasive sales copy and conversion-focused case studies. You can check her website or connect with her on Linkedin.