How did I gain my skills and experience?
That started with a design education. I got a BFA in digital media, which was hugely important because it taught be universal design fundamentals that can often be more difficult to learn through online classes.
Even with that education, I was mostly self taught. Digital stuff moves so quickly that school curriculums have difficulty keeping up.
I’ve read very few books on design. I find online resources easier.
So I learned web design through trial and error, and many many small projects eventually growing into a full-time freelance business. This was way back when we still used tables for layout, so a lot has changed since then! The key is to always be learning.
More importantly than design skills though, is business skills. Learning how to act professionally, communicate well, set client expectations, manage your time, tasks, deadlines, and budgets. Write proposals, contract, and invoices. That can be taught too, but a lot of it comes from experience as you learn from your mistakes.
Is there anything else I can help you with?