Help starting out a software business on the side

Hello! I am caught in a bit of a struggle and in need of help. My goal is to run my own software business on the side to start. And getting my first set of clients seems to be the hardest task. I do full-stack web software, but I have solved other problems with desktop software and feel comfortable solving most problems. I have no fear of an problem a client may have. I feel fully equipped with that part. I can do WordPress websites, but I'd like to do web applications. Basically, helping companies manage their data. I feel like I am honest, reasonable, and confident enough with clients. I speak with clients already at my current job and am learning as much as I can from my boss. I would like to only do projects under ~$5k currently, because it is just me but I do know some folks I can pay to help. So, I guess I'm not actually sure about the project range. I work a day job and don't want any huge projects at first to get in the way of my main source of income, unless of course it is a project that would take at least over a year and pay well or something. I was thinking about charging in the 75/hr – 100/hr range for my first set of clients and work from there. I feel like I am not really sure on things at the moment because I don't have a sense of direction. I feel like if I had clients then I'd be able to find a direction based on their needs.

I do have my own business website and business cards. I am just struggling to get my name out there. My brainstorming has come up with emailing clients of clients at my current job if they need any software solutions, finding tech conventions and somehow get known there by visiting, and redoing my local police department's website for free and throw it on my website as a past project. I am just throwing darts blindly here and not sure which one could actually be effective.

I guess my question for this sub is how did you find your first set of clients? I would greatly appreciate any help from anyone who struggled starting, especially starting their own software business.

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