A Graduate View of MatadorU

December 14, 2009 · 26 comments

Does it help? Read more and find out...

Does it help? Read more and find out...

The Matador network is one of the most popular series of travel websites about; the network actually consists of different websites all focusing on different parts of travel and is the largest independent online publication. Their latest addition was expanding with their own travel writing school MatadorU. I signed up.

There has been a lot of promotion about the course, and people linking themselves as an affiliate to generate income from people signing up, but I actually have completed all 12 weeks of the course so feel I am in the best position to now give an opinion.

The structure is fairly unique. The course doesn’t just concentrate on travel writing, but life as a travel writer in the modern world. Along with guidance on how to write, they detail how to get published, build a blog with a following, promote your work, and talk about the importance of photography in addition to writing.

On top of the course (of which the material is available online for life) you’ll have access to the students forum and market leads.

The market leads are updated on average 5 times a week with different positions to get a foot in the world of writing, it’s not just one-off articles, but jobs have been sought from here. I myself did not get anything from it though. My only critism of this is as a educational course, most writers won’t be experienced enough to pick up a few jobs, however Matador seem to keep this in mind with a few realistic market leads in there for beginners.

The forum is my favourite part of the course. You get to interact with other students and the editors. In effect, you get a network to start showing your writing off to straight away, which is in my opinion the biggest bonus to doing this course over reading a book about how to be a travel writer.

An addition to the forum is the writing labs. The weekly assignments set in the course can be publically published, and with the writing labs you can have the Matador editors critising your work; again, this is something you’re not going to get by reading a book.

So that’s 2 mentions of reading a book now, Why? Because in addition to the course I have been reading Lonely Planets guide to being a travel writer. The $14 book stands up to the $350 course in the first few weeks and has a chapter on ‘how they made it’ by some very well respected authors which is well worth a look at and the Matador course lacks.

MatadorU is advertised with the line ‘accelerate your travel writing career’, and I think this is an appropriate slogan. You can get everything in the course elseswhere online for free with a lot of research and time. There is plenty of material about on how to do this from the travel writing, to the blog building, publishing and photography. But you are not making a commitment for doing so. This will sap your time and it’ll be VERY hard to get in touch with an editor prepared to help you aim and pitch your writing correctly. These are the real reasons to join the course, to walk the path pre-laid out rather than chop through the internet like a lost hunter with a machete in the rainforest (and get help on how to avoid writing clichés as terrible as that).

One final note: they offer a money back guaruntee if you feel it’s not for you within the first 3 weeks, I almost left within this time as I was not initially impressed however the Matador editors listened to requests and adjusted the course, so it’s much better for new students now that guinea pigs pioneers such as myself have gone through it.

If you are serious you can struggle for a year or so collecting all information, and use the trial and error approach to this difficult path in life. Or you can accelerate your travel writing career and join up with MatadorU.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith@Traveling-Savage December 15, 2009 at 5:09 AM

Rob, thanks for the detailed description of MatadorU. I just recently saw an advertisement for this program and was intrigued. Sounds like you wound up getting a lot of it.

Happy travels mate,
.-= Keith@Traveling-Savage´s last blog – What Are You Saving Your Money For? =-.


Angel December 16, 2009 at 1:10 AM

Excellent article Rob, your arguments on the benefits that MatadorU offers are good. My wife and I are world nomads and we’ll take a look at MatadorU. We have been traveling for around two years in an open ended journey around the world. You and your readers can follow us through our website: http://angelmireya.webs.com
We wish you the best in your journey and we’ll follow you through your blog and website.



AdventureRob December 16, 2009 at 9:04 AM

Thanks guys, I think this is the first independent review of the course, will report on how I do as a travel writer when appropriate.


david miller December 16, 2009 at 7:06 PM


As one of your teachers, I loved seeing how your blog, your writing, and just your overall brand developed over the past three months. It’s great reading your assessment, and you’re absolutely right in recognizing that you guys were the course pioneers. I credit you and the others for communicating your needs early on and making MatadorU a stronger community and richer experience overall. Looking forward to reading more from you downstream,



AdventureRob December 17, 2009 at 3:31 AM

Thanks for comment and stopping by David :-) I hope the course keeps you busy in the future and more people decide to advance their travel writing careers with you.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Things Are Going Well =-.


Lauren Quinn December 17, 2009 at 3:41 AM

Thanks for this. I haven’t signed up; since it’s such a financial commitment, I wanted to hear some feedback from folks like you before I took the plunge. But I’m a big Matador fan, so I suspected the course was pretty right on.

I’ve got the Lonely Planet book, and attended a costly but awesome travel writers conference in August. Both are fantastic, but definitely more focused on the old-school, print-media model of journalism, where opportunities are shrinking. I really like the idea of a course that focuses on blogging, networking and online media.

Too late to ask for this as a Xmas present?…
.-= Lauren Quinn´s last blog – Sola: A Fetal Manifesto and Healing Tattoo =-.


AdventureRob December 17, 2009 at 4:01 AM

Thanks for Stopping by Lauren, I think the focus on more comtempory methods of being a travel writer is what puts the course ahead of more conventional old school media, which need to keep up really.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Things Are Going Well =-.


Julie December 17, 2009 at 10:28 AM


Thanks for this thorough and thoughtful review. The feedback about incorporating “How I Became a Successful Travel Writer” is fantastic- the editorial team is talking about adding this as a topic within the bonus modules, which you’ll have access to as an alum of the program. Any particular writers you admire who you’d like to read about?

I also just wanted to thank you for being so involved in the U. You really provided support to your peers and I think that one of the best take aways of the program is the professional support system you helped establish with this first group of pioneers!


Nick December 17, 2009 at 4:30 PM

I think you’ve nailed it here, Rob! It’s information that you can find if you look hard enough, all compiled in one place for you. The best bit – as you say – is the chance to interact with the rest of the community and the editors. That is priceless.

Congratulations on finishing the course! (I *still* haven’t done Assignment 4… very bad!)
.-= Nick´s last blog – My home town in 500 words =-.


Nicolas De Corte January 21, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Nice article! I’ve always been wondering how it is to be in such a mentoring program, but I have been too cheap to actually subscribe.

Reading your post it seems like it’s more or less like I’ve expected. Gaining the basic knowledge of writing, building a blog and more like that but that the actual great value is the community you get access too. I’ve noticed before that students and writers of MatadorU praise their fellow students so they easily get a big load of attention.

In my opinion however, there’s nothing wrong with slowly building a community. If your work is good, people will discover you sooner or later. On the other hand, if your trip starts in three months and you need your blog to pay for it, a mentoring program might just do the trick.


AdventureRob January 22, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Oh yes slowing building a community is a great achievement, but really a lot of people underestimate the work involved in that. At basic level you need to be part of many other communities/blogs to get those authors returning to your own.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Skipping the Coast =-.


phil@building materials February 10, 2010 at 5:12 PM

hi rob. just going through your site can you tell me a few more details. i have been looking to take a trip in peru or somewhere in south america your option looks interesting can you tell me some more details please
.-= phil@building materials´s last blog – Customer Comments =-.


Numbers Goerdt July 6, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Took me long to all the remarks, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be very usable to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It�s always good when you can not only be educated, but also involved! I�m sure you had fun saving this article.


Jo June 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Thanks Rob I am very much a newbie and am well aware that I can do with all the help I can get, including investing in some training. Thanks for your overview of the Matador product.


AdventureRob June 7, 2012 at 2:15 PM

You’re welcome Jo. Good luck with it all!


Dan July 16, 2012 at 1:49 AM

Great article Rob! Definitely gives me something to consider moving forward with my own travel blogging ambitions! I am really considering enrolling now.
Dan´s latest blogpost – Best Travel Advice for First Time Travelers


Ken August 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Thanks for the advice of MadatorU, I still struggle whether want to take this course or not and your post is very beneficial for me indeed.
Ken´s latest blogpost – London Attraction (Quick Glance)


AdventureRob August 23, 2012 at 5:57 PM

You’re welcome. I advice getting the book first. MatadorU is similar in content, but you get people to check over and critique it, that’s what you’re paying for really.


Willi September 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM

I feel like I haven’t done my due diligence over the years not hearing about this, but will definitely check it out and the Lonely Planet Guide!
Willi´s latest blogpost – 5 Simple Ways To Live Your Best Life


Runaway Maria November 1, 2012 at 5:07 AM

thank you so much i have been contemplating a lot, I just discover later this year that I always wanted to become a travel writer thanks to this guide I will check out the book first before I enroll to the matadorU. :)


AdventureRob November 3, 2012 at 3:06 AM

You’re welcome, and good choice :-)


Stacey August 15, 2013 at 7:50 AM

Definitely going to check out the lonely planet book :)
Stacey´s latest blogpost – Impressions Of New York City


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