How to have a career in Poetry?

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April 14, 2021

Traditionally poets like any other artist, was completely dependent on a wealthy patron to support them and their career. However, Modern times have proven this model unsustainable. Today, take an academic path, work a day job like other artists, or get business savvy in order to make a living with their passion. So the question is still the same: how does one make a career in poetry? Which is the primary question, but first what is a poet?

Poetry Career Checklist

What is a Poet?

According to The Art Career Project, a poet is a literary artist that expresses emotions, ideas, and thoughts through verse. Poets often use creative techniques with particular rhythms and styles, especially in modern times with their work in songs, commercial jingles and literary works and other forms of media like websites and greeting cards. Now we have a definition of a poet: We need steps to having a career in poetry. In doing the research for this article, I discover 3 common steps to becoming a Professional Poet.


3 Steps to become a Professional Poet

  1. Learn the Basics of Poetry (study others in the field)
  2. Develop your craft (with a degree or through working)
  3. Build a strong portfolio and establish your expertise.


Research (Learn the basic of the poetry industry)

Poetry is one of the most diverse forms of literary expression in the world. Learning the basics will help you decide what kind of poetry you want to write and how you will make money from your art. I personally love research, which may be the reason I have made it the first step in your Poetry career. I believe doing the research first will help guide you and make achieving your goals easier.


So, my suggestions for research include learning the different types of poetry, learning who the top experts and award winners are in poetry, Learning the different industries where poetry can be applied.


 Today many people choose to do the first step (to learn the basics) by getting an academic degree. In our modern world, it is common for a renowned poet to have an extensive academic portfolio however it’s not a requirement. This is why doing the research is important so that you can learn all the different pathways to develop your portfolio as a professional poet.


Develop your craft 

The second step to your career in poetry is developing your craft. Many people choose to do all three steps together. Learn about the industry and hone their craft while building their portfolio. Wait, I know what you’re thinking… but I don’t want an English degree! Well, contrary to popular belief, an English degree is not the only way to go. Some people get degrees in communication, marketing, music, public relations and other industries that use rhyme and verse the possibilities are extensive.


If you’re not going the academic route, getting jobs in the industry could help you perfect your craft. Working as a freelancer doesn’t require a degree. Many artists start out by working as a freelancer or by entering competitions, submitting to literary magazines and poetry publishers. Some poets even write greeting cards and songs for the music and marketing. Some freelancers chose the more entrepreneurial route, becoming influencers and Reviewers selling their own original works along with merchandise.


Build a strong portfolio and establish your expertise

The third step of having a successful career as a poet is building a great portfolio of your work. As with any industry, people want to see what you accomplished. A portfolio is a great way to share your work. A professional poet will have in their portfolio what they published, where those works can be found, and whatever awards or competitions those poems have won.


Having that information readily available can only help you as an expert in the poetry world. Doing other things such as networking, mentoring, and staying up to date with the industry will also help.


Make your own Path

The steps to becoming a professional poet are the same as almost any professional career. Research, Develop, and Build your passion into a career you can be proud of and share your expertise with the whole industry. If you would like to see someone who is doing these things in their career check-out: Deb Ewing, a freelance editor and Poet who will be a guest on Behind the Page. An online Interview show featuring publishing industry professionals. Remember, there are lots of organizations out there, just like The Author Encounter to help you find your path.

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