You need to pursue the business from REO agents & banks/asset management companies. There is a lot of people looking for the work, so competition is tough.
Not sure what your current arrangement is but it looks like you are being paid below minimum wage, so definitely time for a transition.
Some answers below are overstated...average trashout is closer to $1,000 but depends on how much is in the home. $2,500 is well above the average as many vendor guidelines allow Realtors to approve trashouts bids below $1k without getting multiple bids...typically trashout will be <$1k
Foreclosure realtors give out the work. They are willing to pay up to $2,500 per clean-out.
With your experience they should hire you easily.
Use a $1 per sq ft when a home is filled with furniture. Less when there is less and no dumpster is required.
You can find these realtors who give out the work on the link below.
It is a free list of foreclosures and their realtors--the people who give out the work.
Call them and ask to bid.
The first thing to do is get licensed as a handyman, janitorial services, or contractor. Then talk to the real estate offices who list these houses, and offer to submit free bids on the work they need done. Always leaving a card and flyer. That is how I would approach it.
I hope this helps you
Also here is a link to another discussion here at Trulia on finding foreclosures..
This is a link to a Trulia blog that might also help..http://www.trulia.com/blog/frances_flynn_thorsen_srs_e-proa/
I hope this helps..Dunes