Thanks so much for all your responses.
I had previously only offered my services pro bono, to potential employers. I will look into seeking out local businesses that either don't have a website or have one that could do with an update—perhaps?
I've kind of overlooked building websites for ficticious companies, believing I don't have the imagination to do so. Not having a brief to follow and no pressure are not conditions I am used to working under. Maybe I should give this I try though—not sure where to start though.
I have some personal webspace through my ISP which I could use to put up my work on. Though I have been considering buying a domain where I can use a name of my choice. Although I'm not sure whether to just use my full name or make up some website name—which do you think is best for a portfolio site that you're trying to get work through?
I cannot afford to do any courses but have plenty of books, videos and use lots of online resources. I did do an evening class a while ago, but I knew more than the lecturer—who was still teaching how to layout pages with tables!
The few sites that I have built have been mostly for friends or family. Although one was for a small web design company. Saying that, since handing over the project to them, they have destroyed my design by changing the colors and other things. I do not even wish to associate myself with this site anymore and would certainly not include it in any portfolio.
At the moment I'm toying with some ideas in my head about building my own portfolio. I guess I should just get something up online rather than worrying too much at this stage about what look I'm going for... grunge etc.
Due to my self-percieved lack of imagination regarding dreaming up ficticious projects, I was considering writing to companies asking for example briefs—what do you reckon on this idea?
Thanks again for all your help and I look forward to further comments:)