Freelancing has a common misconception: it’s just rackets or small side gigs that can give you a few bucks. I mean that may be true to a certain extent. But keeping your view of freelancing this way may make you miss bigger opportunities in the remote working field.
Because right now, it’s far from the measly pennies you imagine. You can actually live quite a comfortable lifestyle (and some really prosperous 6-figure careers) with remote working! And our guest today can attest to it.
Known as John “The Legend” Pagulayan (JTL) and the CEO of Raving Ventures, John is giving back to the community by sharing his expertise in email marketing and targetting premium clients for your practice.
How He Started
John’s journey to becoming a freelancing superstar is a series of serendipitous “accidents”.
Before freelancing, John was a call center agent earning roughly 30k a month. It’s a pretty comfortable income level. But as time goes by, life made him realize that this income is not actually enough.
So like everyone who wants to earn extra, he googled: “How to Make Money Online?” He found out about affiliate marketing and was seduced by quick riches from different websites. John tried Affiliate marketing but after doing it for 6 months, it was not working for him.
He then jumped on Blogging. But what’s frustrating is that no one was reading his blog. I mean he didn’t really know how to attract readers by this time. He just has this one fan who believed in what he stands for.
He wrote for this fan. Asked him what he wanted to read. Basically, he made his blog to cater to this newfound persona.
Email Marketing Stint
They actually became friends! The fan helped John revamp his website. And gave him the opportunity that started everything.
He offered John an email marketing job for $5 per email. In Philippine standards, that’s big! Even without knowing anything about it, John said YES with confidence. I mean he needed the money. And it was just writing emails, how hard can it be?
The answer: REALLY HARD! As he learned about his real job, email marketing and copywriting isn’t effortless. You have to compel your readers to not only open your email but also to buy the product you are selling.
He had two weeks to learn the craft. He bought courses (even a $5000 one!) and absorbed as much as he can.
The client loved his output! And the rest is history. With over 3000+ marketing emails written, he is now one of the most sought after email marketer in the world. Do you want to learn more from him?
We got the chance to have an exclusive interview and this is how it went.
The Lifestyle of a Success Freelancer
Leandro: Hi John! Knowing from your background you really worked hard in your foundation stage to reach your what you have today. We are curious how does your lifestyle look like now?
John: I only do client work on Mondays from 8 am to 4 or 5 pm.
The rest of the week I could pretty much do what I please since its just meetings every now and then and supporting Tribe (which is actually taking most of my time now that I think about it).
As for my lifestyle, It’s just simple. We go out whenever we like to since I don’t have any schedules to follow except at night when I close clients which are around 1 -3 hour each week.
And I’m always invited on events so that takes up my weekends, meetups with fellow freelancers, with my Tribe, tapos inuman hanggang umaga [and get drunk until the next day]. Haha!
I think ang bisyo lang talaga naming pamilya [the vice of our family] is to travel.
For this year alone, we’ve taken week-long vacations to Japan, Guam, Bicol, Hongkong. Texas this coming June to train business owners and Siargao in July.
Greatest Challenge Yet
Leandro: Wow! That’s an enviable lifestyle. You only work once a week. And other days are just for the extra. With your accomplishments now, what’s your biggest accomplishment and are there still things that challenge you?
John: My biggest accomplishment is being able to build a TRIBE of freelancers that have a different set of values and beliefs than most.
I never knew it would reach this many freelancers since people barely knew who I am two years back.
And to be able to change literally hundreds of lives and be able to help them achieve their dreams with my entire family supporting the cause almost seems unreal.
But challenges will never be gone. The biggest challenge was how to make my freelance business run without me being 100% there. For one thing, I won’t be able to do the whole TRIBE project if I’m tied to my laptop 24/7 just to earn.
So to remedy that, I built systems for client acquisition, onboarding, delivery, hired several writers under my wing. I also devised compensation plans where I’m getting commissions for one-time work for a more passive income.
Once I’ve gotten to at least 90% automation, that’s the time I decided to give in to their request and launched the TRIBE program.
The Opportunities in Copywriting
Leandro: Not only can you command a 6-Figure price tag in your freelancing career, but you also made it passive. And helped other people get the same results! That’s very admirable.
Speaking of these results, we want to get a grasp on copywriting in the Philippines. What is its potential for us freelancers? And is it really your passion that’s why you chose it?
John: I didn’t. Heck, I barely have an idea what it was at that time. Add the fact that I hate writing ever since I was in elementary. But yeah, to keep it short, let’s just say that it found me and not the other way around. I just happened to stick with it.
And It’s VERY lucrative. Because for one, you don’t need a degree. You don’t even need to have perfect grammar. I was always insecure about how I write since I didn’t have any formal training on it. But as it turns out, you don’t need one. Lol!
In fact, I used to write 450-word articles for $750 per article and that was only two years into freelancing. So based on potential alone, a 6-figure (or 7-figure) monthly income is very much achievable.
In fact, the only problem I see is that us Filipinos are very much attached to the academic way of writing which is very different from how most copywriters write when we want to ‘sell’ something.
Know Your Market
John: Copy is only 10%. If you want to be a highly paid copywriter that generates results for clients, you need to be good at 2 things — none of which is copy.
Researching the market which is arguably 50% of the battle and crafting an offer the market can’t refuse which for me personally is 40%.
Only 10% is the copy — the one where most copywriters are focused on.
For example, if the market is “dog owners”, and your product is cat food… you can be the greatest copywriter alive but it’ll be extremely hard to get dog owners to buy cat food since the OFFER is not a fit for the MARKET.
So to generate results for your client… focus on finding out what the market wants and packaging your client’s product based on what your market wants.
Do that and people will buy what you’re selling regardless if your copy sucks or not.
Advice for Aspiring Freelancers
Leandro: It’s exciting to be hearing this. With more and more businesses needing copywriters, the opportunity seems sky high. For those who are just about to start freelancing, what advice can you give them to start right?
John: Surround themselves with the right kind of people.
The saying, “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with” also rings true for freelancing.
We’ve seen this time and time again and the evidence doesn’t lie.
Freelancing is simple — but not easy. As such, you’d need any encouragement and ‘push’ you can get from your family and peers. But more often than not, since freelancing is a fairly new industry to most Filipinos, and while they have good intentions, most of them will try to discourage you from your journey. Which is why most aspiring freelancers give up before they could even get started.
So choose your network wisely — preferably those who’ll cheer for you when don’t feel like trying, celebrate with your wins (this is a must), be there for you when you hit a slump, and give you honest feedback based on their experience when you need it.
Trust me, who you associate with will make or break your freelance business.
Advice for those Freelancing Already
Leandro: People you associate with all the time really do matter. It will dictate your way of thinking and in the long run, your career and net worth as well. How about for those currently freelancing already, what is your advice to them?
John: Stop focusing on skills, experience, credentials, and portfolio because it has nothing or very little to do with having a successful freelance business.
Back when I was starting out, I really thought I needed to have years of experience, some kick-ass credentials, and a portfolio bursting with past client work to be able to charge those kinds of fees.
In my head, it seems there should be more.
Well, there is more… but NOT the things most of us freelancers think we need.
Instead, let’s focus on knowing how to market and position our services and knowing the value or the results we give our clients.
Because that’s the problem… Whenever I ask freelancers what VALUE they provide they come back with these responses…
“I make their website”
“I help them post on social media”
“I create processes for their team”
While those are awesome, that’s not really the VALUE their clients are looking for. Take SEO experts for example.
Why would clients want to hire them? Is it to rank #1 on Google?
But why would they want to rank? Is it to get more people to visit it?
But why would they want more people to visit their website?
We could go and on about this but the bottom line is they want more customers.
Yet most SEO experts don’t even mention a single thing about getting customers.
Which begs the question…
How will their clients know the results they can give them when they themselves don’t even know exactly the value their services provides?
So stop focusing on what you did and what you do and start focusing on how you can help them achieve the results they want.
I’ve gotten more clients that way than bragging about my experience and credentials.
There you have it! The Legend, John Pagulayan! Did you learn a lot? Well, I sure did! If you want more from John, better book your tickets now for the upcoming Working Remote Conference 2019!
It’s jampacked with high caliber speaker from here and abroad aimed to help you get the lifestyle you want through remote working. The tickets are running out. Reserve your slot today!