I don't know anything about building website from scratch but here is how I plan to start my website design business for offline clients ...and you dont have to spend a dime doing this.
knowing that a client would need to see some samples of sites that I have created, and assuming that I have zero dollars in my wallet... I will simply do this...
Step1 I will register a free domain name (Dot TK - Renaming The Internet could do the trick or CO.CC - Free Domain name registration + Free DNS service.) and host it free and I will ,then ,host the same domain free.
Step2. I will look for some free HTML template online to edit and customize to my taste and upload it to my free host server e.g www.2createawebsite.com or any similar site would be a good option here.
NOTE: The above steps are just to use as a sample to the clients
Step 3 . Approach potential clients and offer them my service. I could even write a letter to them and when they ask for samples, I will just refer them to the sites that I set up for free.
Step 4. Strike a deal and collect the money for the site set up,say maybe $250-$300. Once the money gets to my hand, all I will quickly register a domain name and host it, then I will head over to a site like Premium WordPress Themes and Web Templates - ThemeForest to purchase a template, do some editing to satisfy my clients need.
Step 5. Rinse and Repeat.