CL is not all crap. You just gotta know how to work it.
1. Step one - Get a great business website!
I recommend using a premium Wordpress theme if you are on a budget such as Avada, X Theme or Salient. These are all pretty awesome.
Put your services in such as web design, SEO, graphic design, social media or whatever else you do. Make it look awesome.
(I can make one for you for cheap if you need some help on this ;-))
2. Step two - Post every 2 days
This is important. Lots of people post once and go HEY IT DOESN'T WORK! DANGIT.
Be patient, post every 2 days in your local area with your website, logo and anything else to get business.
3. Leave your PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER.
I am not kidding about this one.
When doing consulting, you have to treat clients like family. Give them plenty of access to you so they don't think you're shady. Let them text you, call you and just get in touch with you whenever.
If they are garbage clients, you will know RIGHT OFF THE BAT not to do business with them.
Remember, you are not Tim Ferriss. Pushing clients off to go one a mini vacation or telling them not to talk to you or call your personal number is a luxury not all of us can afford. Unless you are well established, which most of us aren't, this is the best way to go.
4. Respond in under 24 hours.
Who wants to work with someone you can't reach? Respond promptly and professionally. Don't be hard to reach. You will lose the business.
5. Get details via text, not e-mail.
People who hire web designers do so because THEY ARE NOT GOOD WITH WEBSITES!!!
Why would you expect them to fill out a form on yours or respond back and forth via e-mail? If they were good at that kind of thing, they wouldn't need to hire a web designer or SEO guy.
You are better off texting back and forth to them the details of your project. Let them text what they need and you text back a price and details. Keep this conversation going until you close the deal or figure out they are too cheap or a pain in the butt.
6. Sell them web design first. Remember, EVERYONE needs a website but not everyone needs SEO, PPC or any of this stuff.
My most recent client gets most his work by word of mouth. He doesn't necessarily need to rank in the search engines, so why try to sell that first?
Sell a website first, then use that as an entry point into getting other services.
7. Send professional looking invoices and meet your clients in person.
Meeting in person is a great way of closing a deal and getting more money than in the online world, especially with all the shady dealers on Craigslist. If a client is on the fence or needs help, have them meet with you in person either at the library, their home or their place of business.
Be a REAL PERSON! People buy from people. NOT WEBSITES!
Anyways, hope this helps. CL is not dead, just full of douches who seem to be ruining it for the rest of us legit money makers.