by Carlo Alcos
Elen Turner joined the MatadorU community in April, 2015 and since then has written several articles for Matador Network and been selected to go on assignment on a press trip. She’s currently living in Kathmandu (for the second time around) working as a freelance editor and writer. She has a lot of travel plans around the region (Nepal and India) this year, and at the moment is trying to explore every corner of Nepal. Elen plans to spend the summer in Ladakh, in north-west India. She does academic editing, travel website editing, writing for a Nepali travel company’s blog, plus freelance travel writing.
What course(s) did you take at MatadorU?
I’ve completed the Fundamentals of Travel Writing course, and have signed up for the Advanced course and am just trying to find the time to start it!
What travel media projects and/or jobs do you have on the go at the moment?
In the last couple of months I’ve started editorial work with the women’s travel website, Pink Pangea. I’ve also been collaborating with a bunch of fellow MatU students on Sonderers Travel Magazine, of which I am one of the editors. And I’ve recently been hired by a Nepali tour company to write travel articles for their magazine and blog, as well as re-write their itineraries, which will mean a lot more travel around the South Asian region. I’ve just come back from my first trip with them, to Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. Apart from the job with Pink Pangea, all of these other opportunities and collaborations have come directly out of my involvement with MatadorU.
What accomplishment (inside or outside of the U) since joining MatadorU are you proud of most?
A highlight was being selected for a press trip to Nepal in late 2015. The opportunity didn’t just stop with this one trip, as my participation in that and the articles that arose had a snowball effect. Other publications, websites and companies saw that I am a serious writer with a passion for Asia. I was proud to be able to report on the post-earthquake situation in Nepal, and that’ something that is ongoing.
How did MatadorU prepare you for those?
Quite simply, I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I hadn’t been part of the MatU community. If you act like a professional with the MatU staff, they will treat you like one, while still providing guidance on how to go about doing things like pitching and going on press trips, as well as improving one’s writing.
What was the most important takeaway from your experience at MatadorU?
To jump at every opportunity and not to put things off for a mythical future time when you think you’ll be better prepared than you are now. The assignments, publication opportunities and feedback related to MatU will have an accumulative effect if you are positive and enthusiastic about being involved.
What did you enjoy most about your MatadorU experience?
Aside from the awesome press trip, job opportunities and detailed feedback on my writing, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a community of like-minded people through the Facebook group. Many of us are now working together on projects.
What was the biggest benefit of joining the MatadorU community?
Having a foot in the door. I had been writing for years, and knew I wanted to get into travel writing, but didn’t really know how until I joined MatU. The answers won’t be handed to you on a plate, you do have to work for them, but they are there if you are willing to put in the work and make the professional and personal connections. Present yourself as a serious professional and you will be treated like one.
What would you say to anyone considering getting into travel media as a career, for supplemental income, or even as a hobby?
First of all, you have to be passionate about travel and writing (or whatever media you’re into) in equal measure. Without this equal balance, I think it would be difficult to succeed, however you define success. But if you genuinely want to combine these two passions, there is a way. Take it step by step and have faith that small achievements can lead to bigger, career-level successes.