After 8 months of work, Matador launches its first educational component, a training course for travel writers at all levels of their careers.

IT’S HARD TO KNOW where to begin with MatadorU. Inside the forums and with new students, it almost feels like that same energy that was around at the very beginning of Matador–strangers quickly getting to know one another, stoking off each other’s perspectives, places, and writing.

Thinking back to those early days, it’s almost crazy to realize how far we’ve come in less than 3 years. Ross Borden and Ben Polansky, Matador’s co-founders, started Matador in April of 2006. It was just a small site with little funding. It had no traffic, no revenue.

Today we’ve grown into the most-read independent travel publication online. Last week we were featured at WordPress as one of the top 10 highest rated sites for our design. And we have a dozen other plans right now for new projects and sites we’re still envisioning.

Sill, having an educational component of Matador has always been one of our most important dreams. Half the staff, including myself, have backgrounds in education. Both Ben Polansky and Tim Patterson are currently teaching in addition to their work at Matador. And I think this “educator’s mindset” – always needing to share, include, and build community–has been a key factor from the very beginning of Matador’s development.

Basically what we’ve done at MatadorU is take the blueprint of how we’ve grown Matador (and how individuals have become successful professional travel writers), and break it down into easy to follow lessons.

Basically what we’ve done at MatadorU is take the blueprint of how we’ve grown Matador (and how individuals have become successful professional travel writers), and break it down into easy to follow lessons.

We’ve designed each chapter to build on the next so that a person with literally no experience can immediately get their blog set up, begin to develop their writing skills, and learn how to network and begin preparing work for publication.

At the same time, experienced writers will find even the early chapters relevant, with assignments that help further their online presence and reinforce the development of their storytelling. Later chapters will focus on skills they may find themselves lacking, such as implementing social media, negotiating contracts, and dealing with ad networks.

Finally, enrollment in the school also includes access to a new, daily-updated list of exclusive market leads. As several editors on staff are multilingual and work with foreign publications, plans are in the works to begin expanding the market leads to other languages as well, beginning with Spanish.

I feel like online courses raise a natural suspicion in people’s minds. I know I think twice about anything that asks me to pay when it comes to writing, even something as small as an entry fee for a writing contest. But we’ve set this course up so that its super-affordable. Over twelve weeks it comes out to $2.60 per day, the cost of a visit to the cafe. And we totally guarantee you’ll love this curriculum, or you can suspend your enrollment after 3 weeks and still get a full refund.

Here is a welcome page for those interested in learning more about MatadorU. We also have a blog recently set up for what people are saying about the school. If you’d like to go directly to the U, please click here.

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