Name: Geraldine DeRuiter
Location: Seattle, WA (“But I’m constantly on the road!”)
Education: B.A., University of Washington
Job title: Founder, Everywhereist.com
What she does: Wanderlust: some of us are born with it, while others would rather stay in the comfort and safety of their own homes. For Everywhereist.com blog founder Geraldine DeRuiter, the compulsion to explore far-off lands wasn’t a natural born instinct. But after a period of unemployment forced her to take some time off, she found herself transformed into a full-fledged adventurer. Geraldine describes Everywhereist as a “travel blog for the accidentally adventurous.” “I’m not, by nature, a born traveler. I have a terrible sense of direction, I get nervous in crowds, and I like the familiar,” says Geraldine. “But I had this incredible opportunity to see the world and I couldn’t turn it down.” Once wary of traveling to the unknown, Geraldine now spends the majority of her time exploring the world with her husband and chronicling her experiences in her blog – which, by the way, was named one of Time magazine’s Top 25 Blogs of 2011.
How she got her gig: Geraldine stumbled upon blogging after losing her job almost four years ago. “I was laid off in 2008 from a job that I absolutely loved as a content writer at a toy and game company. After that, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I spent a bit of time freelancing, bumming around, and traveling with my husband,” she says. “He was the one who suggested I try starting a travel blog.” Her effort to simply give blogging a shot has led her to major recognition and an amazingly fun career as a travel writer.
A blog for everyone, everywhere: Geraldine’s blog is the furthest thing from elitist, which is probably why she has amassed a loyal following. “I find that I still have a terrible sense of direction, and still get nervous in crowds – but so do a lot of my readers,” says Geraldine. “I think my tales of misadventure are why a lot of people keep coming back to my blog – they hear about my delayed flights, rip-off taxi drivers, and my bouts of food poisoning and they can relate. Or at least they can thankful it didn’t happen to them!”
Slow and steady wins the race: With over 150 million blogs in existence (a number that grows rapidly every day), it’s extremely difficult to achieve any kind of real recognition as a blogger these days. That’s why Geraldine advises people to “write because you love to write. Blogging does not offer immediate returns. Do it because you love the creative process – not because you plan on getting a book deal or making a ton of ad revenue. If you focus on the latter instead of the former, you will get disappointed and exhausted after just a few months.”
Try just a little bit harder: For Geraldine, blogging is not only a career, but also an exercise in self-discipline. As a result, she’s learned that sometimes, in order to get anything done, you’ve got to be a little hard on yourself. “I’m not particularly self-motivated, so that’s been difficult,” says Geraldine. “Setting and sticking to deadlines, and knowing that in the end, I only have myself to blame for my shortcomings - these are not easy things for me. But I’m learning a lot from the experience.”
Be yourself: Putting yourself out there on the internet for all to see can be a scary thing, but Geraldine has learned that it’s your vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies that help people identify with you. “Revealing your inner dork is not the crime I once thought it was. I’m truly myself on the blog - and I think people respond well to that. We’re all squishy, imperfect mortals - it’s high time we all started admitting it and sharing the funny stories that emerge as a result,” she says.
This job’s for you if: you have “determination, self-motivation, and a thick skin. There are a lot of haters out there, tons of people who will pick on you – both personally and professionally. You need to be tough enough to shake it off, and determined enough to stick with it, even during the hard times,” says Geraldine.
Change is the only constant: In blogging, you can always be sure of one thing: with the rapid speed of the internet, nothing is the same from day to day. “I suppose I’m lucky. The blogging world is transitive and always changing. Even your biggest faux pas and mistakes will get forgotten in a matter of days. Unfortunately, the same is true of your successes,” she says. Regardless of her successes, failures, and all the in-betweens, Geraldine is sure of one thing: she has the best job in the world. “I get to travel the world with my husband, and write about my adventures,” she says. “I literally cannot think of anything better.”