In order to demonstrate why web design (especially selling web designs) can be frustrating, let's take a look at a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance about his website.
Hey, did you get my email?
I used your website to send you an email. I filled out the form.
Oh, I usually get those, but sometimes I don't. What was the email about?
I was just letting you know about my web design business. Your site could use a bit of an update.
Oh, I don't really use it. I got it as part of a deal for spending several thousand dollars for a print ad.
So it's not an important part of your portfolio for others to see?
My business is word-of-mouth. I've gotten three or four customers from the website, ever.
Here's my card. Check out what I can do. At least it could be an updated portfolio you could direct clients to.
That was about the whole conversation. Being a web designer rather than a salesman, of course I messed up. The point is that all of us freelance web designers have a few obstacles to overcome, sometimes with our current customers. The fact is that a lot of people do not have success online because they're not reallyt trying online. They want to make personal connections and have word-of-mouth be the main advertiser. If you're not looking to expand or make a career out of your hobby, that's fine. My wife's cousin is like that. He's happy with the jobs he does get, and those jobs are enough to keep him busy. The website is just a place to show he has a website.
However, if your plan is to expand and get huge, you're going to do it using a website. You're going to need to keep the site updated. You will need to direct people to your site. For every one person you talk to on the phone or a past client talks to at work, you should have several more checking you out online.
The person I talked to had a broken-down site. He probably feels like he either paid too much for it or that it was a throw-in with something he paid for, so he's never really taken ownership. The site may or may not work properly some of the time. He's only gotten a few jobs as a result of the site, but he's 0 for 1 in getting emails from me from the site, so how many other messages has he missed? The main issue is that he lives well on the business he gets already. He might not be looking for a waiting list or the ability to hire help.
By the time the friends of friends dry up as leads, his website will be so far behind the competition that it will be difficult to save. For example, when I searched for the business, the business website was not on Google's first page. Honestly, that's why I've sold a few sites to folks thinking about starting a business. Give it a chance to be out there a while. Add content and keywords. Make it visible.
If you never need a website because you are happy as a business without one, I applaud you. It's simpler living. However, we all know that if you have big goals and aspirations, you will want to upgrade your website. If that's in your future (or present), let us know.