May 11, 2010

Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire): Globetrotter Jodi Ettenberg, a.k.a. Legal Nomads, Embraces Paths Less Traveled

Ettenberg with a Tiger in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Legal Nomads sounds like a mismatch but Jodi Ettenberg makes it work and makes it exciting. We met via Twitter. She’s a former lawyer turned full-time world traveler. Since embarking on her “trip of a lifetime” in 2008, her commitment to wanderlust increases in mileage and is reflected in her up-to-date travel writing on her nation-to-nation blog. Like Albert Einstein’s quote “I love to travel, but I hate to arrive”, Ettenberg lives her tagline of “One Lawyer, One World”. Her travel-storied thoughts about web-based publishing may help your entrance into the blogosphere or further inform your current work in it:

Why did you create a Website of regular entries?
Though I had been planning this trip for a very long time, the reaction from some of my colleagues, family and friends was overwhelming confusion. The idea of having a regular set of entries—be it featuring words, photographs or video—to share my adventures with the world was one I liked a lot, and ultimately something I hoped would explain my decision to leave more thoroughly. I have been extremely lucky to visit some incredible, out-of-reach and beautiful places, and sharing them (and the cultural rarities that sometimes arise there!) seemed a natural course to take.

Ettenberg’s “office”, a wooden nest over turquoise waters, Bacuit Bay, Phillippines

What Web-based solution did you select and why?
I use Blogger, mainly because I was working long hours as a lawyer and it seemed to me the most simple solution for on-the-go blogging. I’ve worked toward a self-hosted Wordpress site, as the customization options are manifold. The new site is up and running, and

 I look forward to building upon what I have already got.

What is your definition of a good blog and what are
three good blogs that you frequently visit?
A blog can be ‘good’ even if it isn’t visually pleasing so long as the content carries itself, but several of my current favourites have both the looks and substance to back up their site: I enjoy reading Forks & Jets (travel and food), While out Riding (a photo blog from a friend who biked from Alaska to Mexico) and Room to Read’s blog for updates about their school-building and educational programmes.

Northern Luzon, Philippines

How do you create content for your blog?
Content creates itself. I am constantly in a battle between wanting to share an experience and wanting to experience more. The quirks of a new place, the overwhelming sight of a field full of ruined temples, the pristine beauty of a deserted island in a turquoise sea—I’m never at a loss for inspiration! I have also started to include more service-oriented posts, largely culled from the many emails I receive asking for general travel advice or queries about a specific destination. And then there are those things that are so off-the-charts insane that they just need to be shared. Case in point: the fact that birds have shat on my head 9 times since I began this adventure.

How do you stay organized and motivated

to contribute to your blog?
Given the feedback to some of the posts and the constant interaction with fellow travelers either on the road or on Twitter or Facebook, it is easy to remain motivated. I try and upload my pictures to Picasa (though I am currently far behind) and at a minimum keep the posts as timely as possible. Organizing my thoughts usually happens on long bus or train rides; organizing my words happens on the spot when I start to type.

For those aspiring to make a Website composed of
regular thoughts and/or images, what is your advice?
I would encourage them to make the site as visually engaging as possible and to make sure that they communicate their thanks to their readers (via responding to comments, leaving comments on readers’ blogs or via Twitter) frequently. It is important to deliver a quality product to those who visit your site, but equally to follow through with keeping those visitors engaged on a more personal level. 

Temples of the Angkor, Cambodia

What is your quest in blogging?
To inspire those who are too scared to take that first step by showing them that pursuing a dream of travel—and doing as a solo female traveler—is an incredibly rewarding, humbling and awe-filled ride.

• • •

Photographs courtesy of Jodi Ettenberg.

• • •

Read more of the Design Feast series Blogger’s Quest(ionnaire).

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made interview, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.