One of the most frequent questions I get from people after I have told them I'm a freelancer is how did you find work at the beginning?.
In the research for my book, I asked that very question to 50 other freelance developers and the results were interesting. Two particular methods stood as as the most popular options for getting initial clients.
Let's consider these two most popular options a little.
Initially, this might seem a strange option -- why would you freelance for a company that you used to work for? Many reasons...
Companies are increasingly looking to take on freelancers, rather than permanent employees, for one-off projects. It's worth getting in touch with your existing employer(s) and seeing if there are any projects they would like to farm out. By approaching people you've worked with before, you know the level of trust is already there -- there is no need to prove yourself again. This also means it's less risk for the company you are approaching.
Having a good reputation at what you do is essential. If you are good at your job, then people are likely to refer business onto you. For this to work you need to make sure that people know that you are freelancing, and actively seeking work. A simple Tweet to let people know your availability could be all that it takes for somebody to think "ah-ha, I know somebody that is looking for a web developer at the moment".
Want to get more information on how to get freelance clients? My book goes into this in more detail, so sign up to be notified when it is available.