You're not going to get clients or keep the ones you have if you don't market yourself and behave like a trustworthy professional. You need an impressive presence on the Web, professional business cards and a reasonable rate structure. You also need to be dependable and good at what you do.
1. Make a good impression on the web. Your webpage is your storefront. Use a design-your-own-site service that offers templates and buy your own domain name. If you write well, consider setting up a blog on your site, where you can discuss your industry. This will give you the appearance of an expert.
2. Let others do the bragging for you. When someone else praises you, people pay attention. If a client or former employer likes your work, ask for a testimonial and display it on your website.
3. Prepare an online portfolio. If you write, draw, sculpt, photograph, or design websites, show off your best creations. Add some accompanying text to each one as a case study.
4. Make a good impression off of the Web. If you're meeting a client face-to-face, dress appropriately. You'll need business cards, but unless you're a freelance designer, don't try to create your own. Companies such as VistaPrint offer many excellent designs and templates. Use a separate phone line for your home office or answer unidentified calls on your cell in a businesslike manner. Use your domain name email address rather than firstname.lastname@example.org or worse, email@example.com.
5. Charge reasonable and clearly understood rates. Charge too much, and potential clients will look for a bargain. Charge too little, and you'll look desperate and incompetent. Research what your competitors are charging and make your rate something comparable.
6. Do a good time and deliver it on time. You must deliver excellent and professional work or you won't stay in business. You absolutely have to meet the client's deadline. Nothing short of death or serious injury should keep you from turning in your work on time. Freelancing requires an honest understanding of your own limitations. If you're not reasonably sure you can do the job, or do it in the time allotted, don't take the assignment.
Freelance work provides freedom but not security. If you want to make it, you need a strong work ethic, an understanding of your talents and limitations, and a knack for self-promotion.