Welcome to the New Legal Nomads

If I were to write a book about the last six years, it would be called “The Reluctant Entrepreneur”. The book is a hypothetical, but it has become a fun joke with friends about how I never planned for Legal Nomads to become a full-time business. Those of you who have been here for quite a few years know that I didn’t quit my job to “be” a travel and food writer, I just wanted to travel and eat and write for a bit. I am extremely excited and grateful that the site has progressed into both a community of great people and well as a springboard for other projects. I’ve loved learning as much as possible — about WordPress, about photography, about self-publishing, about food — along the way.

When I say reluctant, I don’t mean it in the resistant or negative sense, but rather along the lines of its other definition: hesitant. Many people I meet were devouring books about entrepreneurship in high school, dreaming of having their own businesses, and running out of the shower half dry to jot down their newest idea. I wasn’t one of them.

My dad is an entrepreneur, one who started up his own company around the time I was born. But while he encouraged my brother and I to be our own boss, I ended up accepted to law school at 18 and working for a firm instead of for myself. I didn’t see anything wrong with that; I learned a lot, I was thrown into the firepit of corporate transactions, and I enjoyed what I could of New York in the limited time outside the firm.

But then I quit, and I started this site. For the first long while, I did not travel with a computer, and I expected to return to the law and to New York. As I’ve written elsewhere (here and here), the site slowly grew into what it is today. As time went on, I found it satisfying to work for myself. I worked to circumvent the challenges of not wanting to post advertising or sponsorship on a travel site, but still requiring income to live. I spent many late night hours at my computer, tweaking things on my site or scribbling down new posts. And nowadays my life includes running out of the shower with new writing ideas, and digesting all sorts of books about business and entrepreneurship. Sure, there have been times when I’ve used the word “pivot” without irony and subsequently wanted to punch myself in the face. But overall, it’s been a marriage of champions: I get to do what I love (writing and eating, much of it in Asia). And I still get to gobble up information and apply it to the site.

Basically, along the way I became one of those people who baffled me prior.

My dad was slow to cheerlead a more permanent hiatus from the law, worrying that I would – in his words – “end up living in a cardboard box somewhere”. Nowadays, he sees what I am building and gets to say, “I told you so” — which is better than “here’ s a great law job I found”.

(c) Euvie Ivanova 2014
Wandering Saigon with Euvie for a fun photoshoot.

Challenges

For a long time I worried about converting this blog into “blog plus something more”. I did not want to alienate long-term readers, many of whom signed up for updates well before I even realized non-friends were reading my site.

The challenge in growing the site was to be judicious about related projects and about associations; this is why I’ve been what has been called “annoyingly selective” in partnering with brands. (I take this as a compliment!) Over the last years, I’ve slowly reinvested money earned into learning about ways to build Legal Nomads further. I’ve cut down on freelance writing and outside work in favour of working on and showcasing my own projects, which has been really rewarding. First up was my book about food and travel, and then the Saigon food walks, and now I’ve kicked off the series of hand-drawn food t-shirts, each one-of-a-kind illustrations.

Ultimately, I suspect I will alienate some of the readers who want a pure hobby blog with no added business component attached. But as I said on the 6 years of travel post, keeping the site ad-free is really important to me. The t-shirts cover many things I love: creativity, food, typographic design, travel. I’m excited to share them, and it’s even more compelling to fund this living tree of a site in a creative way, while still maintaining integrity.

About a year ago, I started to think about a way to showcase my new projects on Legal Nomads. The site started as a blog, and was re-designed in 2011 with that in mind. As I added new projects, the sidebar started to get awfully crowded. I needed to find a better way to house and showcase the full ambit of the site.

Shiny New Redesign

The blog remains the backbone and spirit of what I do, and my primary concern. I love sharing the stories from my travels, and am excited to keep doing so. What I wanted was a portal style homepage, one that would be a map of different rabbit holes, each leading to a different component of what Legal Nomads had become.

I struggled to find a theme that I could use to build a page of this kind, and initially thought that I would just get a homepage built and redirect my current homepage to a “blog” page instead. But then James from Nomadic Notes sent me a new WordPress theme that he found. I sent a note to the WordPress developer who built it explaining what I was looking for: a portal-style homepage with a responsive theme and very specific elements on the sidebar, navbar and footer.

The theme the site is built on is called WP-Prosperity (affiliate link; a non-affiliate link here). The WordPress developer, a gentleman by the name of Michael Pollock, ended up being a great partner in crime, sending long emails of questions, pushing me to make changes I wasn’t sure about, and thoughtfully reviewing prior posts and my Facebook page to ensure our visions were aligned. He has build a wonderful child theme based on his original theme, and I am really happy with how it looks.

The biggest change is the look of the homepage portal, but there are dozens of other, smaller ones as well. The site is now fully responsive, it has sleeker navigation, the navigation bars scroll with you, and it will soon have a store to house the hand-drawn typographic maps I’ve been starting to build.

Other than the store, the content of the site has not changed. We’ve just taken the items from the old site’s sidebar and given them their own place to shine on the homepage.

(c) Legal Nomads 2014
This is part of the grid from the new Legal Nomads homepage.

I’m happy that the projects I’ve built have a nice new home to call their own, and that the site has been modernized and updated to reflect the vision for the coming year.

I hope you enjoy the new design as much as I do.

-Jodi

38 thoughts on “Welcome to the New Legal Nomads”

  1. Oh yes, this looks good! Two small bugs that might need some fixing: The Outbrain post images are outside their little border and the comment box looks weird on a small (phone) screen. But still: beautiful and clean design!

  2. Awesome look. I love what it does with the scrolling at the top. Excellent. I’m sure it’ll work very well for you.

    Keep up the good work. I love reading your stuff.

    Lee

  3. Your story reminds me of my aunt who went to school with a lot of people majoring in international businesse wanting to work abroad while she majored in English. She started out as a tech writer for a computer company and throughout her career has moved up to top level management. Now she travels all over the world for her job and many of those IB majors never worked abroad a day in their lives. I think people end up where they’re meant to be.

  4. Hi Jodi. It looks great, congrats! I love the easy navigation.
    A small bug on my ipad the titles under the 3 bottom images (thrillable hours, in the press and resources) are cut

  5. It looks fantastic! The portal is awesome and I especially love the simple blog post styling! I can’t believe your last redesign was in 2011—I remember it like it was yesterday!

    1. Thanks Pete! It’s actually a screenshot of the home page design, but you weren’t the only one confused so I’ve swapped it out for just the packing photo. Appreciate your comment, thanks!

  6. Nicely done, Jodi. The site looks cleaner, sleeker, more modern. I can’t wait to explore! And maybe buy my first Legal Nomads t-shirt. ;)

  7. Congratulations Jodi!
    It looks great!
    Clean and profesisonal.
    First thing I noticed?
    That I have the same Havaianas as the ones in your header image:)

    1. Ha! I love them. I tend to wear through the soles once a year then get a new one. Well preferred to not having that back of the heel strap — I find it much more supportive. Safe travels to you!

  8. This is great. You had me a long while ago, and as I plan my escape from law practice, I’m staying tuned in. Nicely done!

    Jeff

  9. Inspirational stuff, Jodi! Really enjoy your writing – and the new layout looks great too! Just about to set out on this travel blogging malarkey and yours sets the standard for me.

  10. Hi Jodi, Love your new layout and site revamp!
    I’ve been an ardent reader of your blog for 4 years now and find you a huge inspiration! :)
    Can’t wait to see all the things that you have in store to grow LN further! :)

    Cindy

  11. My Eyes! My Eyes! So I navigate over here expecting the old graphics and some soothing post about feta cheese and this slick production greets me. I had to check to make sure I hadn’t missed my meds. j/k. Looks Great. Always enjoy reading. Here’s to your continued sucess.

  12. The new design is lovely! I usually hate designs with big image rollovers because they always seem to block the content – but yours don’t! Everything fits together and is both beautiful and easy to navigate. Hurrah! I love hearing how you are building a buisness without all the advertising and sponsorships that so many travelers seem to rely on and your site reflects that. Congrats!

  13. I love how it looks! It was great before, but it definitely improved. Congrats! I know it is a lot of work.

  14. Slick new design Jodi! It really suits the true professional that you are. Best wishes in the future regrading your present and upcoming projects!

  15. Benoît Verret

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    I have a better idea now of how I’ll change my website and my life.

  16. Hey Jodi,

    Love the new design – simple, crisp, and elegant. Very professional looking too :) I do hope that the story telling remains the same because that is what is your strength.

    Cheers to more legal nomad guides

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