I started making web pages way back early in my NMU college career, in the late 1990's. The university had gotten a web server, and they gave students each a small space on the server. One of the computer lab techs showed me how to make a page with some HTML code... he made it say my name and then include a link to playboy. That was my first page. However, I quickly found that you could be creative with HTML... both with how it was meant to be used, and in finding ways to make it do things it hadn't been meant to do. You can peek at the home page of one of my very first "Nathan" websites, built after I'd learned how to make animated GIFs.
In the early days, there was Netscape and Internet Explorer—your two options for web browsing. Each one kept introducing new HTML tags that would do different things, and the other would do something similar but it would be named differently, so you had to alwasy figure out how to include options for both. It was a nightmare. But, I now get to say I'm a veteran of the Browser Wars.
The very first website I built was for NMU's Development Fund office... a job I got because someone who worked there also worked at the public radio station I was at, and thought "Nathan the computer guy" should be able to do it. I hadn't really built a whole site at that point but I said sure. After that, I started making sites for other departments on campus, as well as the campus bookstore at one point. I started thinking about web site creation as a job, and rocked the boat a bit by contracting with the NMU departments for $10 per hour—a fact some bureaucrats didn't like and they tried to stop it. (They felt a student shouldn't be making that much an hour for some reason.) By time I graduated, I'd had a bad experience at the OfficeMax I worked at and decided to start my own business. Despite knowing nothing about running a business. (After a few decades, I'm starting to finally figure it out.)
I originally started out as The U.P. Web Maestro, and went through several name variations over the years, as well as structural changes, ending up as My Web Maestro. At one point I had an office in Marquette with a full time employee as well as a part time one, and took on a couple of partners. After my second divorce, I'd decided I wanted to get out of the business though, and sold it to a competitor in Marquette for essentially a full time position and healthcare. That lasted about a year (and is now considered my third divorce)... I hadn't done my due dilegence and it turned out the owner had a very different idea from me about what constituted ethical treatment of clients. When I was no longer there, I started getting contacted by previous clients asking when I'd be ready to take them back on. I realized that it made sense for me to go with what I know and started up the version of the business that I'm currently operating now.
One thing that has helped me over the years has been that my skillset is typically in the jack-of-all-trades realm rather than a specialized knowledge, and website design requires multiple specific skills... you have to have visual creativity and design skills, you need to understand programming and code, and marketing and sales play large roles as well. I earned myself a great reputation in my corner of the U.P. as the go-to guy for website issues and questions. I currently have clients in almost 20 states, and over 100 cities.