I do a little social media as part of my marketing services. I have found that I have had the most success in securing new clients where my previous experience (both employed and consulting) is relevant to their organisation. That isn't to say you cannot deliver social media for clients in new sectors but before trying new markets do ensure you have tried all the potential clients in your sector/within your existing network etc.
I have dabbled with finding local clients but I have found that a) some of them struggled to understand why they should care about social media - although that could be how I explained it to them! - and b) the money, they simply couldn't afford me/to pay anyone to do it.
I have done a little tailored marketing to local businesses and secured a client out of it, but I could see they had 6 staff so thought they could afford me etc.
There are freelance sites out there (should you not know) where people advertise their 'jobs' for freelancers to bid. I like www.peopleperhour.com. There are often 'jobs' on there for social media management, however the rates offered can be low (min wage per hour). But it could be a way to build a base/experience as a consultant. It is free to bid but you pay commission on the work you get paid for.
Anyone can start a tweet up. One of our local ones is absolutely huge and was only started three months ago. It regularly trends across the uk through its hour and has massive benefits for local businesses it introduces o each other and helps to support.
They now have a great community social media website community as well. Extremely brilliant work by them.
Maybe attend a few and take notes first of all to get an idea if how they are doing it.
I saw n interesting thing on twitter the other day. There's a partnership between the local job centre and a media agency. They ran a workshop with local businesses who are trying to expand and live broadcasted the workshop using them local area hash tags. They set up a new twitter account and then over the course of the workshop raised the account of the new user to 100 followers through tweeting to show how effective twitter could be.
It was a big success... And who do you reckon got all the new clients? Well the media agency! Canny stuff.
Do you have a local or county area tweet up or hour? That's a good place to start too. Lots of new users there.
Paper advertising for social media doesn't really convey your skills and so many are sceptical of the benefits of social media. Free webinars, workshops etc might demonstrate better.
I work in a specific industry so clients come via word of mouth locally. But if I were looking for new business, I'd check out the membership bodies or governing organisations for that sector and then weed through geographically.
I also have loose partnerships with web and graphic designers who refer me to people.
Agree with checking out semi dead social media accounts.