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Sounds tough but it's the cold reality :)
the "web designer" is just one component of a website marketing strategy...
usability, graphics, copy and seo are the other 4.
webmasters make $x.xx / hour
a website marketing consultant makes $#*$!.xx / hour
develop strong partnerships with other companies that specialize in their subject...
there is NO 1 person that is all of the following:
a)the BEST web designer
b)a usability consultant
c)a graphics expert
d)a linguistic copy writing master
e)an seo specialist
people/companies that profess to be all of the above are full of ****
my clients pay $3k to $7k on average for a "website"...
my role is the consultant and project manager...
success in this business is about building a strong portfolio with a foundation based on trust which comes with proven results...
i LOVE being a consultant... i LIKE designing websites...
bottom line is don't do anything that your not an EXPERT at... it will show.
being primarly a programmer, I would have to say that my most successfull freelance gigs have been through design firms that didn't have the resources to handle backend development, (luckly I have keep good relations with thoes firms) Having good contacts in the industry gives me the time to program. Which is the part I like.