Thinking of signing up for MatadorU? Here's our four cents on the matter. And no, Matador isn’t paying us to write this. We wish.
Last November, I was searching for reviews of MatadorU’s travel writing program and not finding a lot. Most of what I did find was receptive, but I was unconvinced. Was it some sort of scam? Were the advertisements too good to be true? Was it actually worth the money?
Here’s what should’ve existed on the Internet a year ago:
(TL;DR) In short, no, not really, and yes. 100% yes.
MatadorU isn’t a scam. It may be a brilliant marketing move, but it's not a scam. If but nothing else, you as a student will emerge from it a better writer than you once were and you’ll meet people who will help you out for likely years to come (unless you’re some sort of weird Internet recluse, of course). That’s with minimum effort. With a modicum of effort, you’ll get something published. You’ll officially be a published writer, and what they don’t make explicit from the get go is that they currently pay students $40 for each article (meaning you could eventually make up the cost of the course). With actual effort, time on your hands, and a bit of skill, you’ll have an entire portfolio and maybe even land a press trip.
Are the advertisements too good to be true? Well, a little. You probably won’t go to Vietnam in 3 months like the blurb guy on their main page did, but you may be sent somewhere eventually if you like words/photos/videos, have a sense of humor, and demonstrate that you’re not a total moronic flake to work with. As with anything, you’ll get out of it what you put in.
Is it worth the money? Hands down. Aside from the fact that you have a foot in the door to write for them for the rest of forever, again: networking and opportunity. The community really is a community — the Facebook group and the forum on the site are very active places. Press trips happen all the time, and you’ll have opportunities for meet-ups with real people and seminars, too.
In my own personal experience, I’ve gotten to write dozens of articles, go to Germany fo' free, write content for BrandUSA and Norwegian Cruise Lines, and attend an awesome networking conference to meet with a bunch of DMOs. Because of all this, I'm now teaming up with MatU superstar Shannon — and having a partner in crime is making this whole process infinitely easier. Oh, and I haven’t even finished the course yet. Whoops.
I came to MatadorU in the Spring of 2014. Sick of wanting to bang my head into a wall and explode into a pile of Doritos dust every time someone asked me how the hell I planned on carrying out my gallivanting lifestyle, I realized "Uh, fruit picking jobs?" wasn't sufficing anymore. What I needed instead was a career focused on the ability to travel with freedom and consistent pay around the globe.
Conveniently, I also loved to write. Google, doing its thing, led me to the idea of travel journalism. One Google search in and I was on the MatadorU homepage. I signed up for the travel writing program ten minutes later.
Since my completion of the course in February of 2015, I've been sent on an all-expenses-paid trip to Nashville to interview songwriters, set my lips ablaze on hot chicken, and play Jimi Hendrix's left-handed guitar. I've been invited to attend the largest destination marketing conference in the world to network my way even further into the travel journalism industry. I've developed close relationships with my MatadorU teachers who are now my Matador Network editors and colleagues in addition to participating in numerous MatadorU meetups. And through the Marketplace, I've found myself featured on publications such as BBC Travel and Business Insider.
As far as that question of how I afford to travel — nothin' but dust in the wind, y'all. Of course in terms of traveling, where there's a will, there's a way. MatadorU just happens to make that way a whole hell of a lot easier.
We hope that answers a few questions. And if you do decide to do it, be sure to say hello! You can find us with an easy search on the student page. If this didn't answer your questions, feel free to ask us a few more by using the contact page on our site. Talk to you soon!