“How did you get that job?” – How I Got Hired at @MatadorNetwork

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Life. Is. Good.

Lots of people have been asking about my new position at Matador Network, the largest, independent online travel magazine in the world.  I know a lot of people are big fans of the site (yay!) and that’s awesome, because we really do things differently than other travel websites.  Here is my story:

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

May 2012: I joined the Matador Network Community and began posting blog posts.  I did it mostly for fun; I wasn’t getting a lot of exposure on Tumblr and I enjoyed how interactive the Community was.  I was contacted by their Community Manager who liked a post I wrote about different things you can drink in the Czech Republic besides beer – did I want to write a trip-planning piece about Becherovka?  We worked together to help me get more comfortable with Matador’s style.  It was published on June 8, 2012.

June 2012-February 2013: I wrote an article (sometimes more than one) a month for Matador Network.  Did they pay a lot?  No.  I never made over $25 per piece.  But I didn’t argue with them, and I didn’t have my life depend on it.  I still had my full-time job which paid for all of my expenses – Matador was nice pocket money, which I saved to spend on fun stuff.  Plus, it was a serious confidence booster and the editors I worked with were awesome in helping me execute my work.

December 2012: I was approached by Senior Editor David Miller and Candice Walsh, to discuss some entries for the second Matador Network publication, 101 Places to Get Fucked Up Before You Die.  I wrote eight entries for the book which was some of the most fun writing I ever did.

January 2013: I attended the NYC Talk+Rock event held at Hosteling International.  That’s where I met my editors, face to face, for the first time.  We had a blast and soon after that, I was asked to be a staff writer.  This meant a regular publishing schedule, more money, and more freedom regarding what I wrote.

April 20113:  I was promoted to the position of Contributing Editor, in charge of web submissions.  Those are the entries that come in through the website, submitted by awesome folks such as yourselves!  I’m responsible for vetting those, and working with new authors.  This was such good news for me – not only did I receive a small, but steady salary, I was now in charge of editing other peoples’ work, plus writing my own.  I loved the responsibility and was happy to take on the position.  I wasn’t able to quit my sales job yet, but I did have enough extra money that I could afford to take an unpaid day or two if I needed.

May 30 – June 2, 2013: Attended TBEX 2013, where I met even more staff members of Matador Network.  We had a great time and I loved talking about different ideas and strategies for future work with everyone.  It was good to have everyone come together and the experience was well-worth it.

June 2013: I was promoted to be the company’s Social Media Manager.  The combination of new responsibility, a combined salary with my Editor job, and more time needed for this new position, was enough to allow me to quit and work from home for Matador full time.

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So how did I get that job?  I’ll tell you – I busted my ass.  I never said “no.”  I did what they needed me to do, I never complained, and I never tried to bargain for more than was necessary.  Freelance writing is not a money maker, for sure – and you’re going to have to start small.  You’re going to have to do half of what you love, and maybe half of something else you’re not crazy about, to supplement your costs.

I took the $25 they gave me because I wanted to work for a company I believed in, rather than exist solely on random freelance work.  That’s not realistic anymore.  ”I want to be paid what I’m worth” – you have to get that notion out of your mind because people who think like that A) aren’t in writing for the right reasons and B) probably aren’t good enough to be paid that much more anyway.

Everyone thinks they are a good writer.  Everyone “thinks” they should be paid $300 an article because why they hell not?  But what’s more important is to be a hard worker.  What’s more important is someone who listens to their editors, who makes necessary changes without arguing with them, who turn in their assignments on time (or well before they are due, like the day after).  People who ask “What can I do to make the company successful?” instead of “How much do you pay?” are the kinds of people who will be hired.

Matador Network recognized my worth as a staff member and provided me with opportunities to advance my career because I am dependable and proactive.  When it comes to freelance work, that should be your priority.  The well-paying gigs are out there, but they won’t come from a couple of blog posts you expect people to fall in love with.  It’s sacrifice, it’s working tirelessly, and it’s being responsible for your own talent.

Find a company or a few companies you adore, take my advice, and run with it.  That’s how I got my job.

Guest Post: Traveling with a Student Credit Card

Today I am happy to post a guest piece by KC Owens.  I’d never heard of this special student credit card for travel, but I wish I had while I was abroad!  Read through his article on this interesting topic and leave some love in the comments!

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When you’re on the go, you don’t have time to flip through cash, find coins and try to convert currencies in your head, right? Well, neither do I. When I’m traveling, and I bounce around from country to country pretty often, I always carry a student credit card with me. Having a credit card while you’re traveling can be a lifesaver; it’s one of the most useful tools you can have with you in your arsenal of gadgets. I wouldn’t recommend running out and applying for any random card but do some research; find something that works well for your situation and your needs and it will be rewarding.

Country Hopping:

Like I said before, when I go backpacking around the world, I always bring a credit card with me because it saves me when I get into a tight spot. One of the reasons why I bring a card with me is because it automatically calculates the currency exchange rate of whatever country I happen to be in.  So I always try to put different expenses on my card like overnight lodging, different meals at restaurants and plane and train passes.

There are, however, places around the world that won’t take your credit card. That’s okay; there are debit cards for this occasion. These are handy because ATM machines are all over the world and you can pull cash from your account and you’re back on track. Once you have your cash, you can use it anywhere, obviously. Be aware that currency exchange kiosks will charge you a percentage to trade currencies so don’t try to change a lot of money and try to not make it a habit. When I’m on a train to a new country, I always try to do some research on their currency to see how it will effect my bank account.

Financial Safety While Abroad:

One of the major reasons to use a credit card while traveling is safety. I always carry my valuables (passport, cash, cards and phone) in a money belt that I keep on my body at all times. Why? Because many foreign cities have problems with pickpockets and they target out of town travelers. If your belongings are tucked under your shirt, someone is going to have to work real hard to take it from you without you noticing!

For this reason, I carry cards and a small amount of cash. If someone were to see me pull a giant wad of cash out of my wallet, I’d instantly become a target. If I pull out a credit card, then they would be apprehensive about stealing from me because they would know I could go online and cancel my card immediately. This is a great feature of all credit cards, but especially prepaid credit cards. It can give you peace of mind while traveling as well as the confidence to use your card to help you eat, sleep and wander.

Credit cards can be helpful tools that allow us to travel, play and experience the world. They can also be dangerous if not used correctly. Do some research before you apply for a card and know what you’re getting yourself into before you travel on credit.

headshot by ETKC Owens is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

Republic Wireless: The Phone Service for Travelers

 

Moving out of my parents’ home meant moving off of their cell phone bill as well.  I couldn’t afford a $150 cell phone bill, but I also couldn’t live without my Google Maps (I can live without 24/7 access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. but Google Maps?!  It’s my lifeline!).  What was I going to do to complete this essential first step into adulthood?

I scoured the internet and came across Republic Wireless, a start-up company that offered unlimited calls, texts and date for $19 a month.  You read correctly – $19 a month.  Holy God that’s cheaper than even the lowest price for AT&T!  I researched the company, the plan, and the catch.

Oh hey, there IS no catch.

Republic Wireless works on the condition that carriers will use wifi to make their calls, texts, and data usage.  Wifi is available pretty much everywhere now, so there is no reason not to connect.  When you’re in the middle of nowhere sans wifi, or like, your grandmother’s house, the Sprint Network takes care of your communication.

Why Republic Wireless is the Phone for Travelers

  • 1)  It’s inexpensive as helllllll.  That means you save more money for souvenirs, drinking your self to sleep with the locals, skydiving over the Great Barrier Reef…
  • 2)  It’s waterproof!  Check out these photos I took while swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.
  • 3)  You can make calls to the US over wifi from anywhere in the world.
  • 4)  No nasty $500-on-your-cell-phone-bill-because-your-phone-was-on-international-roaming-for-five-minutes.  If you can’t connect to wifi, the phone simply doesn’t work abroad.
  • 5)  No contracts!  You can cancel anytime with no penalties.
  • 6)  There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can test it out, see if you like it, and return it scott-free if it’s not your style.
  • 7)  In most cases, your phone number and contacts will transfer easily.

 

(Sort of, but not really) Downsides:

  • 1)  Currently, only one phone is available (the Motorola Defy XT). So if you are a die-hard Iphone user, you might be disappointed, but A) it’s actually quite a decent phone and B) when you’re paying $19 a month vs upwards of almost $200, can you really be THAT disappointed?
  • 2)  The network has not figured out how to make in-country calls ie: when you’re in Germany and need to call a German number, but you can always use Skype, Vox or Google Voice over wifi.
  • 3)  No upgrades.  Well, not entirely true.  Republic does their best to offer discounts on new models of phones that are released, but you won’t be getting free upgrades anytime you want.  However, the Defy XT is a tough little cookie and really the only thing you’d have to worry about is it getting lost, or stolen, or run over by a tro-tro.
  • 4)  The Sprint Network doesn’t go EVERYWHERE.  There is a handy map showing network connection, but unfortunately, you won’t be able to make calls on top of, say, the Rocky Mountains.
  • 5)  The features, like the camera, and some apps, are not the latest on the market.  But seriously WHO CARES WHEN YOU ARE PAYING $19 A MONTH?!  No one gives a crap about the quality of your Instagrams anyway.

I am in love with my Republic Wireless phone and I will never go back to overpriced contract deals again.  I have used it while traveling around the world and I love the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about outrageous roaming fees, or that it will be destroyed if it falls in the toilet.  I can’t wait to see what other features they come up with, especially for the international crowd.

Thinking of making the switch?  Click here to get started!

*I bought and paid for my Republic Wireless phone, without solicitation from Republic Wireless.  I just really like this company and want to spread the news to other travelers!  I disclose in all posts if I receive items for promotional purposes.  REPUBLIC WIRELESS ROCKS!

 

Read This Now: Suzanne Roberts – You Are Terrible to Fly With

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A good travel writer will take a place or a situation that has been beaten into the ground (“Top Ten Restaurants in Paris” “How to Pack for Rio”) and create a piece that at the end leaves you saying “Wow, that was completely different than what I expected.” Such is what happened after reading Suzanne Roberts’ latest piece for Matador Network, “You Are Terrible To Fly With.”

I myself, am terrible to fly with. I entered into this literary discourse thinking “Oh good, another piece focusing on fear of flight, another person I can sympathize with so that my friends, who hate flying with me because I am so paranoid, can back the fuck off.” Instead, I was drawn in by Roberts’ tale of balancing her flight anxiety with an annoying teenager’s breaking of the sacred “legroom/seatback” rule (being mindful of the people behind you when pushing your seatback allllll the way). The piece was entertaining because I kept expecting something terrible to happen – plane losing altitude, major turbulence, a narrative of her struggle between flight anxiety and the anxiety of annoyance – but it ended pleasantly (albeit, calming for me) and provided a delightful twist to otherwise fear of flight pieces that leave me more nervous about flying than before.

I’m not sleeping sitting up,” she says. You translate this in your head: My comfort is more important than yours. You teach at the community college and deal with teenagers who refuse to revise their stories and poems because they were born of divine inspiration, coming straight from their souls. This is a direct quotation. Maybe you are getting back at them for ignoring your sound advice? Regardless, the good news for you is that you have been able to concentrate on something other than the plane’s bubbling passage over “unstable air,” which is what your captain has called it.

How do you deal with flight anxiety and annoying flight mates? Have you ever gone to such extremes as Suzanne? Have you ever WANTED to but didn’t have the guts for fear of being arrested?  Tell me about the craziest flight you’ve ever been on!

You Are Terrible to Fly With – Suzanne Roberts (for Matador Network)

My Latest Article for Matador Network: Why You Should Start Traveling Alone

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A few weeks ago, an poingent article was written by Bart Schaneman entitled “Why you should stop traveling alone.”  The essay is interesting and presents some very good points, its main thesis being that travel can be more fulfilling and memorable when experienced with friends.  I think Schanerman meant well, or perhaps was being purposely controversial, since most of the travelsphere is made up of solo travellers.  This is evidenced by the backlash his essay received from readers who seemed like their acceptance of independent travel was somehow attacked via his argument.

I read the article and immediately thought “Yeesh, this guy doesn’t know who he is writing for.”  Not in a bad way, but telling people to stop traveling alone is a pretty bold statement, considering that most travel writers, bloggers and hobby travellers take their trips alone.  So I wrote a response article supporting why people should start traveling alone.

Hot damn, did that garner some attention.

There’s no mistaking that traveling alone can be lonely. But you can feel just as insecure in your own backyard – if you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, do it somewhere cool.

I figured there might be equal backlash from people who agreed with Schanerman’s essay.  After all, travel is only as good as a person, or people, make it, and travel experiences are subjective.  There is obviously no right way to travel.  I however enjoy solo travel more than traveling with friends, due to my independent nature.  Apparently most travellers on Matador Network do too..

This is my most successful Matador article yet, and I am so happy with the response.  I’ve received positive feedback, criticism, and folks who swing both ways.  But I am so happy reading how my article has inspired people to travel on their own.  That was never my intention – I was merely presenting my side of the argument – but I received countless twitter messages, emails and Facebook comments thanking me for helping them overcome their fear of traveling alone, and how my article gave them courage to do it now.

Call me a narcissist, but that’s an amazing fucking feeling, folks.

How do you feel about traveling alone?  Are you a fan?  What makes it special or revolting to you?  I love discussing this topic with people and hearing their viewpoints on such a polar topic.

Read my article here:

Why you should start traveling alone