I know many people will say offering freebie jobs is a bad thing to do, but it has worked out very well for me. I have now done freebie work for a few local schools, and my time invested in doing it has paid off. As we all know, marketing your business can be very expensive, so investing your time (rather than cash), can sometimes work out.
In my case I did a VERY basic photo shoot for a school prom (my first ever), and a retouch/merge job for another schools 2008 calendar recently. These 2 jobs alone have netted me advertising that would have cost around £1000.00, and paid work came from it within days.
You not only gain publicity/advertising for your business, but you are also giving something back to your local community, so in a way everybody wins. The calendar job also put me a good standing with one of the UK's largest school/graduation photography companies, and that has lead to other work.
So basically my message is, invest a little of your time in to the right local community projects, and you will be paid back for what you have done.