The beginning of a career as freelancer is always hard because you have no experience and nobody really knows and trusts you. Especially some decent, well paying clients won’t come to you by themselves, you have to promote yourself. If people ask you for personal website then there’s actually not much room for negotiations and these are definitely not the ones you eventually earn your rent from. If you feel like you deserve something better than cheap jobs for friends then draw your personal line there and be as professional to them as you would be to other clients. You have your rate and that’s what you’re worth. If they aren’t willing to pay you for 30 hours of work then they aren’t worth wasting your time for (Of course, you can always make an exception. If it’s not getting too much I’m also sometimes doing some favors.).
The first and most important thing you need as web developer is a portfolio (I know, it’s hard to build without clients but some cheap jobs in the beginning or even some imaginary clients for demonstrating the skills can make a start, especially if you’ve done quality work and show this to potential future clients). Then look for job boards and promote your skills there. I’m subscriber of the freelancer feeds at Authentic Jobs
and das Auge
(probably irrelevant for you), and in the beginning I offered my skills on these forums as well (in the job request forum). Eventually you will get clients that come back to you (if you’ve done a good job before) and that’s how you build your client base.
However, to make it clear: Even some “minor” clients that won’t pay much can spread the word and with each new client you can go a little higher in price. You just have to be honest to yourself, determine according to the situation, and be confident about your skills and what they are worth. It’s easy to slip into the “cheap” role and ending up doing a lot of work without much outcome.
Oh and one thing I experienced as freelance musician as well as freelance web developer: If you’re expensive people tend to treat you better. They feel like if that guy is expensive he must be good so we better not p**s him off. Of course you should also deliver good quality, otherwise people will lose trust in you. If you’re cheap some people (not all of them!) are much more likely to treat you like s*** because they wouldn’t lose much if they lost you as partner. There is a saying here which basically says: “What doesn’t cost much isn’t worth much.”
But as I said: Life isn’t black or white. Not everything I said does apply in each case. Get out there and bid on job offers. Don’t sell yourself under value. Sometimes you are too expensive for people but many times if they don’t hire you because of that then they aren’t worth the effort. Don’t feel pressed to undercut the cheapest competitors, it won't help you in any way.