Finding the ways to fill the time
I feel nervous, fluttery, at times recklessly itchy to sign up for the other two courses, pay out the $700 – $950 (depending on the discounts) fee NOW, get it out of the way.
Then a tiny bloom of caution holds me back. I’m unemployed, is $1000 an investment I really should be making?
University courses are 5 times that.
And so the back and forth, Gollum-esque voices bicker.
I’ve just paid $10 to investigate what MatadorU’s photography is all about. In 7 days, the full course fee of $350 will be levelled against my account.
MatadorU is a school within the travel website Matadornetwork.com. The site itself is still only 6 years old, and have achieved amazing, enviable success, as a platform for travel articles and blogs read by 1.6 million people.
They offer 3 courses, travel writing, travel photography and, most recently, travel film making. Each course lasts 12 weeks, and students get lifetime access to the course material, workshops, labs where your work and its failings are discussed and, very desirable market leads. Their partnership with National Geographic has already seen MatadorU alumni picked up by this household-name, prestigious magazine.
But it’s $350 per course and I have been humming and hawing about joining for over a year. There is a $125 discount for two courses (uncertain about the discount for three), and frequent promo-codes pop-up reducing the cost by another $40. What I have also discovered since paying my $10 look-around fee is that students get a further $100 per course. So the price isn’t so unreasonable to be banished from my mind completely.
The push finally came this morning. I received an email informing me that the travel film-making course has gone live.
And that the course price will be increased to almost $600 in a few weeks.
$600!!!! Per course. I know I will never pay that much. The only reason I pay that much for university is because it’s invisible, interest free money that (thank you Australian government) I can pay off once my income reaches a certain level.
For $10, students get access to the first week’s course-work, which is mainly a primer on the history of, in my case, travel photography, as well as explaining usual terms of the field. This is typical of how full-fee paying students receive the course-work as well, slowly so to not overwhelm.
The forums and marketplace are open to onlookers, and labs corresponding to your course. The market leads seem to be updated regularly, with a new listing every 2 to 3 days on average. The forums are reasonably lively, with most posts receiving at least one reply, though few more than 10.
I’m feeling better now, calmer. I still don’t know if I will sign up for one, all three or zero courses, but I have a week to consider.
Update: I did the $10 trial, but in the end, cancelled before it slipped over the week and charged me the remaining $340 for the course. They have a beautifully set out site, and a lot of content, but I just couldn’t justify the price. Though the weekly lessons look very informative and having a professional judge your “assignments” is a draw, there are already innumerable books and very good blogs on improving writing and photography and googling “travel writing/photography constructive criticism” gave me two sites and a group on Facebook to bare my soul to. . I checked out the MatadorU “Labs” for photography, but each person only received one comment, so there didn’t seem to be much interaction between fellow students.
The Market Blog was full of leads, but the majority were travel sites open for submission, with a only sprinkle of exclusive Matador leads, often location dependent.
I’m considering doing the $10 trial for the other two courses, just to check what additional content they receive. The writing course would have the most available, I assume, in terms of pro-modules and fellow students in the labs, since it is the longest running of the courses and, since all the reviews focus solely on it. Film-making, having just launched, may have only a handful of people (only one submitting an assignment just before I cancelled) and some crickets for a while yet.