Let's face it, when applying for a web design job, you always want to give to show your best foot forward. It is that simple. Show the best of your skills by showing the best of you works. I have once experienced being turned down by not having an online portfolio. I have a portfolio on my flash drive that I brought in the interview but lacking of an online portfolio won't cut it.
Freelance Web Design
If you want to be a freelance web designer, it should be you're number one goal to set up a rock solid web design portfolio. No one's gonna gamble their money to know how good (or bad) you are at web design. They WANT PROOF. So before you win a client, they already did their research and most of the time, the quality of your work reflected from your portfolio is the best way to win a client.
How To Build Up A Web Portfolio
Now that we know the importance of web design portfolio in this business, lets talk about how we can build your own portfolio.
By all means, join contests - This is by far the best way to build your portfolio. You earn while you learn and build up your sample works. Web design and Webmaster forums conduct such competitions, take the time to participate.
Do Free Web Design For Friends - If you have friends that needs a web site design, even if its free, do it. But only take a handful, you can always expect friends to abuse free stuff from you, decide only a number of web design works that you will accept and keep in mind your true goal - to build a portfolio.
Free Themes - Learn to design blogs and submit it to free wordpress blog themes sites. Wordpress.org lets you upload your own theme and be used by many people. The more people using your theme, the more you know that you have a great design. And a great design is always a great addition to your portfolio.
Setting Up A Site
Now that you have a portfolio, there are two things you can do with it. Either showcase it and host it in a free hosting. Or paid hosting, your own site and domain. My personal suggestion would be buying your own hosting and domain. Why? This is business, so treat it like one. Invest on a domain and hosting, it is the most professional way to go and brand your site.
The author's web site Snoob's Web Design Blog aims to teach people about web design and building an online web design portfolio .