The best way for me has been giving presentations. If you can get in front of a group of business owners (maybe present in your local Apple Store) and pitch something like replacing paper with FileMaker Go, 20 attendees should result in 2 projects.
When I was hunting for my current job in 2013, I moonlighted on elance to build my skills and portfolio. I had all of the work I could handle at $75/hr, and was turning down work because I didn't have free time. I think the key on elance is to make sure you regularly bid on projects, and to make sure your profile is thoroughly completed with examples of your work.
With your other free time, try expanding your skillset and learn other languages that work well with filemaker (HTML/CSS, Java, PHP, applescript, shell scripts, even python or ASP), you might be able to take on low-level projects in other arenas as well.
Of course if the consultancy gig just isn't working out, there are numerous mid to high tier FBA members that are regularly hiring FM devs. Being part of a larger team of developers has distinct advantages over trying to do it all yourself. Not sure where you're located but filemakerjobboard.com usually has postings to consider. A lot of companies offer telecommuting for qualified developers as well.
I would absolutely encourage you to contact your local Apple Store. The business teams at the Apple Stores are talking about FileMaker a lot and they really like being able to provide connections with local developers. They've been a real benefit to my business. They often host educational sessions for businesses with the Filemaker Sales Staff and they usually have an independent developer there to help and offer the development perspective. I've gotten ton of work form these events. Call your Apple Store and ask to talk to a member of the Business team.
My greatest success in obtaining work in FileMaker has come from referrals by Mac & PC Network Specialists.
Some of the smaller ones may not have a programmer/developer on staff.
The network specialist can often suggest to the client where they can benefit from "Custom Software" and refer you to the client.
Back in 2008 when I hard to restart my FileMaker business from nothing, I really struggled. Today I have too much work. So part of it is hanging in there. The business builds up. One client leads to another and then old clients come back with new things and it all just sort of snowballs eventually. What advice would I give:
-Get certified (if you aren't). I think this has helped me get the calls over other developers.
-Get a good website. Mine is very honest and I present myself as myself and don't pretend to be a large company (you can see mine at www.zeropointdata.com)
-Chase everything. What I mean by this is that sometimes FileMaker jobs (in house jobs) are posted on things like the job board. I used to always write to these people. I wasn't what they wanted (as I was a consultant) but on the other side, I found that often they could not get what they wanted so I was the next best choice.
-Become friends with other developers. You can then get referrals from them when they are too busy.
One observation, for me at least, is that I haven't won that many customers from nothing. Most of my customers already had or were already decided on FileMaker before I came across them. I worked with a networking group called BNI for a long time trying to scape up new business (which didn't have FileMaker) and for whatever reason, it wasn't very productive.
Hope that helps.
Thank you to everyone. A few good suggestions I have not tried yet, a lot I have been trying for a long time now.
Fingers crossed - the more I put it out there, the more chances of getting something!
Make yourself known in a vertical market with a dedicated solution to this market. Become a specialist for this vertical market. Advertise on Google for a limited budget per month. It works!
What country you are working from. I might be able to forward some enquiries when they come in.
I'm located in Sydney, thanks!
I will also suggest:
-Get certified. This sets you as being qualified.
-Use the Apple Store business teams to set up meetings. The stores actually use FileMaker internally. They have customers that have purchased anywhere from 2 to 20 iPads or iMacs for employees and are a very easy sell for something like FileMaker. The purchase of a server and some connections with a reasonably priced custom solution is a small expense for them at that point. Although they never mention it much Apple wants more people using FileMaker.
-Do not over price your services. I would couple this with do not assume your customers are idiots. This is what got me into developing in house and now doing small jobs for others. When we first moved to FileMaker I contacted a few known developers for a custom solution for inventory and order control. Nothing to fancy or complicated. The prices I got back were triple what I would have expected and the delivery timelines were anywhere from 3-6months. A slightly modified version of the "Invoices" sample file should not cost $15-$20,000 and take 3-6 months for the solution only. At that price range I could likely hire a dedicated young developer in house and pay them a whole years salary to work on it and do something else once it was finished. I knew how to get it done but I had it in my mind that paying someone to get it done right the first time and quickly was better for me. I know how these things work. Any good developer has a number of pre-built tools that they use to get things done. Many developers seem to be charging as if they need to develop all of those things for you specially. That is just silly and your customers will know it.
-Smaller niche markets and specialty uses. Things like POS, or other creative use of FM interfacing with special hardware is always a good place to start. Many specialty businesses may not have any decent database software available yet. No competition or other choice for them.
I used to live in Sydney, there are a fair few companies around there that use Filemaker, and Apple products are pretty big in Australia, so you fin things will pick up. You're biggest problem will probably be that the cost of living in Australia dictates that you have to charge far in excess of what developers in other countries (even Europe) charge for the same level of work. All this means is that you have to really capitilise on the face-to-face element of building your clients and business, and don't rely on elance etc.
Hope that helps!
You can develop on demand or you can develop on supply... Meaning just create a kick-ass solution for one the many "problems" out there and show it to people.
I am an in-house developer, but in my free time, I sell small solutions on the iPad & FMGo like invoicing/time-keep or other record keeping apps.
Have fun and say no to projects you don't have time for. :-)