I was in a similar situation like 20 years ago. I left the company where I was working as graphic and web developer and started to work on my own in my small home office. Between bad and good periods I was never totally without works to do, most of the time I was/am with too much work and I ask for help to freelance collegues in my area.
When I had not much work I dedicated myself to personal projects that gave satisfactions in terms of gain and success, later I sold these sites to other companies when I wanted to move on.
What I can say is to be polite and very clear with the clients on your rates, on how you work and what they can expect from you, respect what you say, respect deadlines and milestones, if you are not sure of something that is asked to you, be clear, say no or get some time to be informed. If you have a problem during a project be clear and talk about that with your client. Sincerity and reliability is very appreciated for long term relationships with good clients.
Be ready to learn new things and move in unknown areas when is worth it, be ready to abandon things that you know very well for completely new things that you barely know (I was a skilled Flash/Actionscript developer, I don't even open the software since 2-3 years or more).
After the first 2-3 years of freelancing, 99% of the next clients came to me (and still come) by word of mouth of other clients who suggested me as a reliable professional, rather than advertisements or websites.
If you want to move in your local area you must build a very good reputation as a professional and reliable person if you want to be a freelancer for long time. During these years I saw many freelancers and web agencies open and close after a few or more years, because they concentrated more on the "sell and abandon" strategy (or they were unreliable or only sleek image and poor results) than to enstablish a good healty work relationship with their clients.
Best of luck for your career.