The Chamber in your area may or may not be a good idea.
Depends on what types of companies belong and who attends the meetings from those companies. If the business owner and the CEO and VP of marketing attend, great. If the lower level people attend, not so great.
In any case, you won't get immediate business from it. They don't know you, they don't trust you, and they want to see if you are even going to be in business a year from now before they give you any work.
To bring in $$ today, you will have to do other things that I am not seeing mentioned so far.
1. Find a referral source that can bring you the business.
For example, another designer with too much work, an ad agency that doesn't do web sites, a local ISP that needs a design resource who has corporate experience and can converse with business people/decision makers.
Even if you earn less, you will have lower selling costs, so you should come out ahead, and of course, some cash is better than none. You need some cash flow to stay in business while you conduct other marketing efforts.
This is a great freelance moonlighting strategy that provides a lauching pad from employment to being in business.
2. Determine what you can do better than anyone else.
What is your key selling proposition? What makes you a better web designer than anyone else? Determine what you don't do well, and what you simply can't do. The days of the jack of all trades, one man wonder web designer are over. One person can't do it all well, on time and on budget unless it's a very simple project.
If you're a designer, you're probably not the best programmer in the world. If you're a programmer, you're probably not the best copywriter, etc. Find resources for the missing links that complement your strenths and enable you to deliver a world class web site and feed them into Step 1.
3. Be clear on who is a prospect -- and who is not.
In my book, recently out of print, I advised web designers to target companies that have revenues of 300 to 500 times the cost of the web site project you are going to sell them. At that level, they can easily afford you. That means, they can afford to pay you.
Don't get trapped working for the little ma and pa companies that can barely afford a yellow pages ad or a business card or a sign out in front of their store. They are not sharp enough to benefit from a web site. Call on only those are true prospects.
4. Identify all prospects in your area.
Your area is defined as a radius around you such that you can travel there in a reasonable period of time (e.g. 1-2 hours, less if you are in a large city, more if you are in a sparsely populated area). By identify, I mean make a list. There are a number of ways to do this which I will not go into in this post.
You need to end up with the company name, the name of the owner or president, the address, phone number and some idea of the size of the business, either their sales revenue or the number of employees, the industry they are in, and some idea of whether that industry is doing well or poorly in the current economic climate. You need at least 100 prospects to start with.
5. Forget advertising.
Even though you are helping other companies, in effect, advertise, by designing their website, don't spend another penny on it until your revenues exceed $100,000 per year.
You would have been better off paying a college kid with a sales personality $6 an hour to get on the phone and make cold calls for you and then pay them $10 for every valid appointment (that is, one you are able to actually meet with) and then an additional commission (couple of %) if you get the business. Which leads me to the next step.
6. Make cold calls on the prospects.
There are two ways to do this. Actually three. You can go visit them in person unannounced, but this is almost certain to be a waste of time. You can send a letter and then follow up with a phone call, or you can just call.
Your purpose in calling is to get an appointment, not sell over the phone.
7. Be prepared for the President or owner to refer you to someone on his staff.
The size company you are calling on will have a Marketing manager or director or VP that is handling their marketing and web site. Or maybe an internal communications person for an intranet.
Be cautious if you get shoved over to the IT dept. That's not where you want to be unless you are just looking for some contract design or programming work.
8. Be prepared to do some solution selling.
There is not room in this post to cover this, but there are some great resources on this subject. Be prepared to prove to the customer by showing work you have done for others that you can make a great web site that meets the customer's requirements.
9. Be prepared to close the sale.
Again, there isn't room in this post to go into details, but you need to be aware of this vital sales step - ask for the business.
"Mr. Business Owner, I understand what you're looking for in a web site and I have the ability to develop it for you, as I think you can see from the sites I have done for other successful companies. Assuming we can agree on price and other terms, I'd like to be the one to handle it for you."
Well, that's it in a nutshell!