How have you been getting them?
I have just launched my new site offering web development services. I would like to know how you web developers out there get the majority of your web contracts; through the web or through other means.
Reason I ask, I would like to know what to expect from my new site.
Mostly through networking -- knowing people who know people who need work done.
I think a site is useful for portfolio work, so that people can see that you actually can do what you claim.
Take that with a grain of salt, though: I'm by no means a swamped in freelance work. I maybe only do about 10-20 hours a month of that. I spend most of my time gainfully employed, getting a salary to do internal web application development for a big evil manufacturing corporation.
Word of mouth, I usually work 1-2 sites in a month and work the daily grind working IS for a mining corp 8 hours a day.
We had a simple setup when we started. One of my partners would cold call local businesses to get an appointment for my other partner to sell. I would do all the design and technical stuff.
Trying to feed 3 mouths on the back of one web designer was hard work, but I was designing night and day to keep up with the orders.
Now we do no cold calling at all - it all comes through networking, chambers of commerce, breakfast clubs etc
Very busy at the moment, but you never know when it will change and we will be back on the phones again.
Most web designers do not make very good salesmen (IMHO) and vice versa. Having a partner who could sell sure helped.
After you're somewhat established, networking and referrals will keep you busy. That's assuming you offer a good product.
When you're new, I think you can use your site to get leads. The site in your profile looks nice enough to get leads once people find your site. I'd focus on geographic keywords like "Montreal web design" for now. You should be able to get pretty good search engine rankings by following advice found in this forum.
For now, make sure everyone you know/meet knows that you do design. Word of mouth can really make a difference when you're getting started.
BTW, maybe it's just me but I wandered all over your site before I saw the "Contact Us" link. I would have found it easier if it was with your main navigation.
Networking. While I hope someday to get so called 'self referrals', I don't anticipate this. After leaving the 9-5 world, I've spent the past year building an infrastructure, system, and method based on my freelance clients... I was freelancing sporadically working full time, but now that I have to eat what I kill, I need to be just as organized as any regular consulting firm, agency, etc..
95% of my last employer's biz was 'word of mouth'. When that 'word' comes, I can't be flailing for a presentation or initial proposal.
A little tip... corporate communications directors are like one-person shops trying to coordinate internal communications, ad agencies, pr agencies, and web designers (amongst other things). Any load you can take off their back is usually rewarded generously.
Try IABC.com (international association of business communicators) or prsa.org (public relations society of america)... joining these orgs or attending their conferences may help you network with the people who ultimately sign the checks.