Fancy Yourself a Poet? Submit Your Work to These Sites and Get Paid

Michaela Estes writes in her notebook in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Oct. 18, 2018. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

T.S. Eliot opens “The Wasteland” lamenting April as the cruelest month. But he couldn’t have known it would one day be deemed National Poetry Month, celebrating his cherished form.

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, a creative writing instructor at the University of Tampa and 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

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 if you don’t already have one. On Submittable, 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.

Blue Mountain Arts

Susan and Stephen Shutz founded Blue Mountain Arts, a greeting card company, in 1971. Initially, the cards featured Stephen’s illustrations and Susan’s poems. As the company expanded, they brought in new writers and illustrators, but the focus remains on the same themes: “genuine emotions on topics such as love, friendship, family, missing you, and other real-life subjects.”

They advise against sending in humorous, religious and rhyming poetry. In your submission email, include as many poems as you like in the body or as an attachment, but don’t link to poems on your website.

Make sure to review the other submission guidelines before hitting send.

How to submit:  Email [email protected]

Category: Greeting card

Pay: $300 per poem

Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor magazine 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. Also include your contact information (phone number, email and mailing address) with each submission.

How to submit: Email [email protected]

Category: News magazine

Pay: $25 to $75 per poem

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 beloved 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, for better or worse.

How to submit: Through Submittable

Category: Poetry magazine

Pay: $10 per line ($300 minimum)

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 card, 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 70 characters across. 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

Category: Competition

Pay: $25 to $2,000 plus a wall plaque

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 $50 prize plus a chance to win an annual prize of $1,000. Sometimes, when the competition is tight, an honorable mention is awarded $20.

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

Category: Competition

Pay: $20 to $1,000

Rattle: Poets Respond

Rattle, a quarterly nonprofit journal, wants to make poetry a part of our everyday lives and not just a dusty half-shelf at Barnes & Noble. To do so, it 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 $50. 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

Category: Competition

Pay: $50

Snafu Designs

Snafu Designs is an independent greeting card company founded by illustrator Scott Austin in 1985. The outsides of his cards still feature his quirky comic-book style drawings, but he’s turned to writers over the years for what goes inside. Puns, one-liners and off-beat humor are welcome here.

View recent greeting card designs to get a feel for the style and tone, then send up to 12 ideas at a time in the text of an email. No attachments.

To help spur ideas, the submission guidelines recommend putting yourself in the shoes of the buyer. Think of who they are and why they’re buying the card.

Pro Tip

Since you’re working with a blank slate, it may help to imagine an accompanying illustration to give the words more context.

How to submit: Email [email protected]

Category: Greeting card

Pay: $100 per idea

Schwarz, the creative writing instructor, says your patience will pay off.

“Don’t feel like you have to shoot for [the] upper echelons to get paid,” he said. “These little places — they might not pay as much — but they certainly pay.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.