The hardest thing for anyone starting out in the web design business is to actually get any business in the first place.
I don’t know if anyone has ever tried using online freelance services such as Elance or Guru.com (which used to be Creative Moonlighter), but not only is it hard to land a gig through these services, because of the abundance of international contractors it’s really hard to land a gig that actually pays a reasonable amount.
When I was starting up Smiley Cat, I bid on numerous projects and never got a bite worth anything.
One way of getting around this hurdle is to use services that overseas web designers haven’t heard about or that target local contractors. A good example of such a service is Craig’s List.
Craig’s List has two topic areas (that I know of) that are relevant to web designers (I’m using the Seattle one as an example):
Although I have sufficient business coming my way through Google that I haven’t followed up on any Craig’s List advertised project, I like to see what’s being posted in case any really ‘juicy’ projects turn up.
I regularly see quite decent gigs coming through on these pages (that actually sound like they would pay a reasonable fee).
Now that every topic on Craig’s List has its own RSS feed, it is very easy to stay abreast of the projects being posted.
Again, the advantage here is that the people posting the projects tend to want a local designer/developer to work with and are often looking to develop an ongoing relationship with that designer.
Of course, there’s no reason why you couldn’t subscribe to these feeds for every city featured in Craig’s List – you just might not stand such a good chance of getting work from ones when you’re competing against designers who are local to that city.
But it sure beats going up against the rest of the world where other vendors are basing their fees on an hourly rate of $10 or less.