Yes, You Can Earn Money Writing Poetry

by Anne Wayman

earn money writing poetry

e. e. cummings bench

By Allison VanNest of Grammarly.com

Poets, you’ve probably been told your whole lives that there’s no money in poetry. (Robert Graves, the English author of I, Claudius, famously quipped that there’s no poetry in money, either.) But if your brain is hardwired for verse, there’s hope.

You can, in fact, earn money writing poetry.Here are seven ways to turn your talent into cold, hard cash.

Write Greeting Cards

Let’s start with the obvious one. Greeting cards may not be Pulitzer-level poetry, but companies do pay money for the heartwarming sentiments. For tips on how to get started, check out this Q & A on Writers Relief. If you’re artistically minded—or know someone who is—you might consider creating your own line of greeting cards to sell on a craft marketplace like Etsy, which often favors quirky and offbeat goods.

Sell to Paying Markets

There are still paying markets for poetry, but you may be disappointed by the money involved. Grab a copy of Writers Market for a list of publications and contests (see below), choose the ones that seem most in line with your work, and start submitting. Make sure you follow each publication’s guidelines to the letter, however.

Enter Contests

Winning or even placing in a contest can be a great way to raise your profile and earn a little money for your work. Many reputable publications, university presses, and foundations offer poetry prizes, but be skeptical of those that charge steep reading fees. Absolute Write has a good rundown of warning signs to watch out for.

Self-Publish Digital Chapbooks

Long gone are the days when publishing a chapbook meant ordering a costly print run or finding a small press willing to take you on. Thanks to eBook and print-on-demand technology, you can publish your own work and keep the lion’s share of royalties. Head over to Amazon KDP to find out how easy it is to self-publish. The more titles you have, the more likely it is for readers to find you, so this approach favors the more prolific among us.

Compose Special Occasion Poems

If you love verse for its own sake and don’t mind giving up credit for your work, consider offering your service as a ghostwriter. Put out your shingle as a writer of custom poetry for wedding toasts,, memorials, holiday greetings, or even tongue-tied lovers.

Pitch on Freelance Sites

Though many freelance gigs are geared toward non-fiction and advertising copy, you can still find work writing and editing poetry on freelance clearinghouse sites like Elance or oDesk. However, competition is often fierce, so be prepared to sink some time into building up a good reputation as a freelance provider. Also, make sure that you don’t sell yourself short in an effort to underbid on jobs!

Start a Business

Improbably, a company called The Haiku Guys makes upwards of $200 per hour writing poetry. The trio of writers from—where else?—Brooklyn  rent themselves out for parties, galas, fundraisers, and other high-profile events. Armed with a typewriter, they compose haiku on demand for party-goers. You never know what people will pay money for, so put yourself out there and give it a shot.

Poetry is harder to proofread than prose, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever okay to send out anything less than your very best. Make sure that your work is free of typos and spelling errors before you pitch it to a client or publish it yourself.

You may not ever be able to quit your day job—in fact, many famous poets such as TS Eliot and William Carlos Williams maintained separate careers throughout their lives. But we hope that the tips above will help you create a second stream of income from your poetry passion. Please stop by the comments with further tips and success stories!

About the Author: A self-proclaimed word nerd, Allison VanNest works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Allie, the Grammarly team, and more than ONE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Johnson October 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

While incarcerated, I spent some time writing some kind of dark prose, but some of it is inspiring. Can you recommend a place where I could maybe get them published? It would be nice to make money from it, but that’s not a priority.

Reply

Anne Wayman October 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

Paul, I’d do some searching using terms like prison prose, incarcerated prose… that sort of thing… or dark prose… poke around… google recognizes more and more natural speech searches all the time.

Reply

Alfred Philip Ademola August 29, 2016 at 7:09 am

Hello.
How much would you give me as a poet of poetry website since 2006.
http://www.poets.org/
Poet:My name is Alfred Philip Ademola

Reply

Anne Wayman August 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I’m not a market for any writers… is that what you meant?

Reply

Nameless August 23, 2016 at 3:59 am

Where can I submit my poems?
I just want my pure thoughts out there…
nameless

Reply

Anne Wayman August 24, 2016 at 7:22 am

It might make sense for you to start your own poetry blog…

Reply

Alfred Philip Ademola July 2, 2016 at 6:01 am

How much would you give me as a poet of poetry website since 2006.
http://www.poetry.com
Poet:My name is Alfred Philip Ademola

Reply

Anne Wayman July 6, 2016 at 11:53 am

lol, good for you for asking!

Reply

soniya May 30, 2016 at 4:04 am

I become poem in hindi language.. So I what to do

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Anne Wayman June 3, 2016 at 8:35 am

Soniya, I don’t know the Hindu market… I’d suggest you start with any magazines that publish poems in Hindi

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Anne Wayman March 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Earning a living with poetry is probably the most difficult kind of writing to get well paid for… a few do make it.

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Dominick Neuendorf December 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

for years I’ve been trying to find a job that would allow me to write poetry. I’m 38 right now and I still haven’t found my calling yet. still thinking positive and hoping one day I could achieve that dream. sincerely Dominick Neuendorf a.K.a Shadow.

Reply

Anne Wayman December 14, 2015 at 10:46 am

Dominick, you might find this article helpful: http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2015/06/30/writing-5-minutes-a-day-how-much-can-you-really-get-done/
it’s about writing only 5 minutes a day and making progress.

Reply

shamit khemka June 2, 2015 at 4:45 am

This was an inspiration new article i really love to read it thanks

Reply

Lori April 15, 2015 at 8:04 am

Amen! I get so tired of being told we can’t make money with this or that. Poetry is indeed lucrative!
Lori recently posted..How to Win at Marketing Every TimeMy Profile

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