The truth is probably somewhere in the middle — he probably got a bunch of his random friends and family members or classmates to help him out for free when he was in school and younger and now wants to do the same thing but is finding that people in the real world need to be paid. Those types of clients are not worth your time.
MANY people are willing to pay for good writers. Where you find clients also matters. Make sure to look through LinkedIn jobs, where it’s generally higher quality, in addition to places like Problogger and other job sites. I also find clients through Instagram and Facebook.
Stay away from notoriously bad or low paying sites like Upwork or Constant Content. Those content mills are just a hunt for the lowest bidder.
Stick with it! It may not always be easy, but it is pretty neat being a writer for a living!