at the best of times, and by setting up as a freelance web designer you'll be joining an army of others, all competing in the same market.
To be a successful freelance designer you must be good - clients can pick and choose, and unless you have some design flair all the technical expertise in the world isn't going to put enough bread on the table. That's where a degree of self-appraisal comes in, you must look at lots of successful sites and ask yourself 'could I come up with something that looks that good?'
Then it's down to marketing - you'll need to get yourself noticed, and one way of doing it is to design and publish your own site, on which you can showcase your skills. Otherwise you'll want to get busy networking - make as many contacts as you can, and become a self-publicist; hand out cards to anyone you think might be useful, and mention your service at every opportunity. It's very hard work - I know, I started that way myself, many years ago - but if you keep at it, and you're good enough, work will come your way.
fourm member's advice about getting some work experience with a big company is sound. The problem is, the industry isn't exactly booming at the moment,and there are more job hunters than jobs.