The hardest thing about being a freelance is not the work itself, but getting customers. You need commercial skills and you also need to dedicate enough time to establish contacts, answer emails that you do not know whether they will lead to anything or to visit clients in order to change an initial reluctance on the final signing of a commission.
There are a few aspects that we can not forget:
-Be visible online: keep your website and your portfolio updated. Open a blog and write about your industry, to become a specialist in the sector. Be active in social networks: Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. And of course, use Smartise to find new clients and projects;)
-Be visible offline: go to round tables and conferences, talk to people, give your card around (yes, they are still used -a lot). Pick up the phone, to answer and to make some calls, and also take to time arrange face to face visits. Emails are extremely useful and Gtalk saves time, but everyone likes to know who they are dealing with and to shake hands at least once or twice during the implementation of a project.
-Do not forget your past customers. If someone hires you for a specific project, that does not mean that you're not going to work for him anymore. On the contrary. Include your customers in your networks, especially LinkedIn, so they can locate you easily. Have nice detailes: greet the holidays, remember birthdays. For them there are a friendly greetings, but for you this is a way to be present in their thoughts.
-Address to the right people. When setting a new contact or speaking with former clients, make sure you talk to people who 1) know what your work is all about and 2) make decisions. They will not always be the same person and it is possible that the language you need to use is different.
-Be sure to emphasize your strengths. When you present your proposal make clear what you do and how you would do it. But also recognize when you can not offer a particular service. No one would call a plumber to change the wiring. If you are clear about the services you perform, you may lose a project, but in return you could win a client for the future. If you do a bad job you were never trained to do, you may lose both, as well as time.