Some ways to succeed as a freelance bookkeeper include taking any rate available for the first job, to look for prospective clients in a respectable way, and to get CPA referrals. Further, a successful freelance bookkeeper should consistently check her work and know when to bill by the job versus by the hour.
When looking for a first job as a freelance bookkeeper, having a set rate is a good idea, but being willing to compromise can help get a foot in the door. Once accepted for the job, quality and timely work often translate into a longer gig, as quality bookkeepers are in short supply. When looking for prospective clients, it's important to dress well and to avoid being overly pushy. Any questions that arise should be answered precisely, and it isn't a bad idea to set up second appointments to further go over information.
Getting to know CPAs by setting up appointments with them is one way to try and get a referral; meeting them in person is ideal. In terms of fees, they should be based on local CPA rates, but they can vary by job depending on difficulty and/or the client's organization of records. Typically, a flat fee should be avoided until a job has gone on for a few months as many bookkeepers often end up working too long for too little.