Advice on Travel, International Cuisine and How to Become a Successful Travel Blogger from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

How to run a successful top travel blog

When I reached out to Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads, she didn’t know it but she was somewhat of my personal hero. You see, Jodi, like myself is a lawyer, err, actually technically she’s a former lawyer, hence the hero remark. Jodi turned her passion into a full-time career. After saving up money by lawyering her tail off for five years in New York, Jodi quit her job and set off to see the world (hero). Jodi started her blog as a way to stay in touch with friends and family while she was away. The plan was to return to law after about a year but she never did. Instead, Jodi made a career out of writing about her travel experiences and she never looked back. Now, Jodi can be found traveling (and eating) her way around the world! We checked in with the Legal Nomad herself to gain some insight into the talented lady behind the blog!

Me: What are a few Fun/Weird/Quirky Things about You?
My favourite animal is a tarsier, and going to see one in person was the reason I went to the Philippines (though I ended up staying for 4 months).
I am not a morning person, no matter how hard I try to be a morning person.
I always travel with a space pen.
I’ve been shat on by 12 birds and 1 bat during my travels.

You’re probably a huge inspiration to the world, how did you decide to quit your job and travel?
I’ve got a post all about it, because it is a question I receive often. I honestly didn’t decide to quit – it was something I wanted to do for many years, and so I saved up money as I worked as a lawyer, so that eventually I could travel the world for (what I thought would be) a year.
When did you realize you were never going to stop?
It’s the opposite – I started getting opportunities that were great for freelance writing and travel blogging and photography and the like, so I’ve just taken them as they arose, and I’m seeing where it goes. To the extent it doesn’t work out, well, there’s always lawyering again! But at the moment, writing about food and then the food book coming out last fall has propelled me into a new and exciting direction so – like many people – I am figuring it out as I go.
What’s your best advice as to how someone can make a career out of their blogging/travels?
I think that it’s a lot more difficult than I realized, and that the market is quite saturated, more so daily. The best advice would be to really hone in on what they want to do with a blogging or travel writing career – provide advice to those seeking to travel? Be a go-to resource for a specific niche.
I did not quit my job to be a travel blogger. Instead, it happened organically and bit by bit. I just started a blog to keep my parents apprised of where I was heading. So it was almost a serendipitous accident that I find myself here today. If I would go back to the beginning knowing this is where I would end up I would have:
– Started a self-hosted WordPress blog right away (I was on blogger for a few years)
– Figured out more of what I wanted to share niche-wise (food and culture)
– Done the same thing re social media strategy (following the news I’m interested in and participating in the travel community through forums and skype brainstorming sessions)
How Often are you traveling?
I’ve not had a home base since 2008 when I quit my job but I do rent apartments for 4-5 months in each city so that I can work from there. It’s more location independent travel work than it is “traveling” as I am not sightseeing but essentially becoming a temporary expat.
How do you sustain your lifestyle?
Through a variety of avenues. Long term partnerships with travel companies I respect and enjoy, social media consulting work, the food book’s revenues, freelance writing and freelance photography. Many different hats!
Tell us more about “eating your way around the world.”
Any place can be a wonderful find for eats, if you look closely. I tend to spend my time around morning or lunch markets, street stalls and public spaces. Universities and and hospitals in Southeast Asia also often have small stalls for food that set up at lunch time, knowing that people will need to eat nearby. Breakfast is a meal many travelers forgo and instead search for a Western-style meal but I’ve found it to be a wonderful time to try the local eats as often they are not offered at other times during the day. This is a must in Southeast Asia and South America, definitely.
Worst food experiences?
Getting food poisoning from a llama empanada in San Pedro de Atacama.
What’s your favorite hotel you’ve found during your travels?
A small family-owned guesthouse in Inle Lake, Myanmar called Mingalar Inn. It was run by a smiling woman who would greet you with freshly-squeezed lime juice whenever you came home at the end of the day.

What are your favorite travel Blogs you follow?

I’m constantly discovering new ones but:
– Roads and Kingdoms (great longform writing and photography)
– While Out Riding (my friend Cass, who I met in 2008 in Thailand, bicycled from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, South America and has been blogging about his subsequent travels too.)
– Almost Fearless (many years of travel and family and food for Christine)

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