All my work so far has come from personal contacts, but it's not enough to live on. Sites such as proz.com and translatorscafe offer the prospect of getting work from around the world, but it's not so easy: there are 15,478 translators offering my language pair on proz.com for example. I am buried in a heap of translators, many of whom much more qualified than I, and with decades of experience. No fewer than 7313 claim competence in medical translation. As on all search engines, the question of ranking is key.
There are two obvious ways to increase this ranking: one is to cough up the cash (114 euros/year) to join the site; this would reduce my competitors to a mere 978 others. The other way is to answer so-called KudoZ questions: tricky questions of terminology asked online by other translators. I tune in to this every day using an RSS feed, but they are indeed tricky. When I do know the answer, I have mostly found that the question has already been answered by someone else. As this means that their answer is more likely to have been agreed by peers coming later to the question, it is they who get the points. Still, this morning I received an email informing me of my first four points. Hooray! But some of my colleagues have thousands... ulp!