You don’t have to be Eliot or Frost or Dickinson to make a little money writing poems. There are paying markets out there if you know where to look. Some offer a lucrative sum, and others — well, it’s more about putting your poetry out there for the world to see.
For most poets, persistence is the name of the game. Small journals are typically slow to respond, if they ever do. It’s common to rack up scores of rejections before your first acceptance. So don’t hold your breath if The New Yorker doesn’t get back to you. Just keep submitting.
“Submit everywhere,” says Jerrod Schwarz, the poetry editor of Driftwood Press Literary Magazine. “You lose nothing by submitting to 100 journals.”
That is, if there’s no submission fee. To keep the volume of submissions manageable, some journals and competitions charge submission fees, but the ones we vetted do not. At the very least, we believe your sonnets and couplets shouldn’t have you hemorrhaging cash.
Get Paid to Write Poetry for These 6 Places
To point you in the right direction, we’ve compiled some publications, competitions and greeting card companies that meet a few criteria:
- They must pay you something, even if it’s $5.
- They must not charge you to submit your poetry.
- They must accept poetry submissions year-round.
In most cases, creative writing is submitted via email or a submission-management website called Submittable. Before you get started, you should make a free account so you can track your current submissions and find other publications that are open to submissions. Submit everywhere. You lose nothing by submitting to 100 journals.
1. Blue Mountain Arts
Susan and Stephen Shutz founded Blue Mountain Arts, a greeting card company, in 1971. For its biannual poetry contest, it awards cash prizes — $350 for first place; $200 for second place and $100 for third place — and also displays winning submissions on its site. Entries should preferably be non-rhyming and be “about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.”
Blue Mountain Arts also accepts regular submissions for its greeting cards, but payment information is not available. The company advises against sending in humorous, religious and rhyming poetry. In your submission email to firstname.lastname@example.org, include as many poems as you like in the body, but don’t link to poems on your website and do not send attachments.
Make sure to review the other submission guidelines before hitting send.
How to submit: Enter your submission on this page.
Pay: $350 per winning poem
2. Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor newspaper accepts poetry for its culture section dubbed “The Home Forum.” Thematically, your poetry should celebrate life and should be uplifting. Avoid topics such as death, darkness and despair and sounding overtly religious.
Submit only one poem per email as a Microsoft Word document or directly in the text, and only submit a maximum of five poems at a time. Also include your contact information (phone number, email and mailing address) with each submission.
How to submit: Email email@example.com
Category: News magazine
Pay: Varies per poem
3. Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation is the nonprofit publisher of Poetry magazine, which has been in print since 1912. The monthly magazine has helped establish some of the most cherished poets of the last century, including T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
To join the ranks of our nation’s most elite poets, submit your best four poems in one word document that does not exceed 10 pages. On the first page, be sure to include your contact information. After that, you’ll receive an automated confirmation email. Hold tight, and don’t submit again until they contact you (you may have to wait up to eight months for a response).
How to submit: Through Submittable
Category: Poetry magazine
Pay: $10 per line ($300 minimum)
4. Poetry Nation
An online community for amateur poets, the Poetry Nation website holds biannual poetry contests, which publish 121 poems each: 100 third place, 20 runners-up and one winner.
All three categories are awarded a wall plaque. Third place gets a $25 gift certificate, while the runners-up and winner get cash: $100 and $2,000 respectively. To enter a contest, fill out the required form and include one poem, which should be 26 lines or less and a maximum of 55 characters per line. Using vulgar language and “texting lingo,” or submitting more than one poem per competition is grounds for disqualification.
Double check that you’re adhering to the contest rules before entering.
How to submit: Through the Poetry Nation website
Pay: $25 to $2,000 plus a wall plaque
5. Poetry Nook
An online hub of poetry news and discussion, Poetry Nook is an excellent resource for budding and veteran poets alike. Each Monday at midnight, it hosts a weekly poetry contest, which ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Contests are for members only, but making an account is free.
There are no theme, style or length restrictions for poetry submissions. The poem can even be previously published. Each winner is awarded a $20 prize. Honorable mentions receive $10.
Note: The link to each contest changes weekly. To ensure you’re submitting to the current contest, visit the Poetry Nook home page and look for “Weekly Contest” under the headers.
How to submit: Through the Poetry Nook website
6. Rattle: Poets Respond
Rattle, a quarterly nonprofit journal, publishes poetry only and runs a weekly contest called Poets Respond.
This competition challenges writers to craft a poem based on a news event within the last week and submit it by midnight Friday, Pacific time, for a chance to win $100. Submitting early could help your chances.
Other than the timely news event, there are no limitations. All reactions and opinions are valid.
To get a sense of what the judges are looking for, browse through the list of previous winners.
How to submit: Through Submittable