How to Become a Professional Poet

Poetry has been a popular art form since its inception. It is among the earliest forms of literature, and it continues to be one of the most influential literary arts today. Many people have taken up this profession as either a hobby or an occupation; some even write professionally for magazines in their respective fields.,

The “how to become a poet on instagram” is a question that has been asked by many. The answer to this question is not easy, but there are some ways that you can follow to get started.

Jordan Chaney singing on stage with microphone.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

There are a plethora of ambitious writers out there, including journalists, authors, and bloggers. But before I met Jordan Chaney, I had never met somebody who wanted to compose poetry. Perhaps you, too, never considered being a poet as a career, believing that full-time poets had gone out a century ago or were reserved for poet laureates. However, as Mr. Chaney says in this interview, being a poet can still be a viable job in today’s world; all it takes is a lot of hard work and dedication.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.)

My name is Jordan Chaney, and I reside in Kennewick, Washington, in the middle of wine country–despite the fact that I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in Washington, D.C., all the way across the map. When people ask me what I do for a job for the first time, I tell them firmly, “I am a poet.” I generally get a bashful “oh, alright” or “hmmm, intriguing” or a raised eyebrow. And I don’t blame them; in my 32 years on this planet, I’ve never seen a classified ad that read: Wanted: A vivacious soul with a fondness for metaphor and poetry. They must have their own pen, paper, and automobile, as well as be ready to go to different sites each week. There is no 401(k). There is no healthcare available. A less-traveled path, to be sure. I began my career as a poet in 2003 and have been doing it full-time for approximately a year. I worked at almost 54 different jobs between the ages of 16 and 24. I’ve worked as anything from a concrete form layer to a pharmaceutical sales representative, and every job I’ve ever had has one thing in common: a supervisor! I’m not the kind to have a problem with authority or anything like that; it’s just that I feel I have just as much personality, creativity, and drive as anybody else, so I chose to take a chance and pursue my greatest childhood ambition of being who I am today: a poet with a salary.

2. What inspired you to pursue a career as a poet? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

My mother gave me a poem called “Mr. H.” when I was seven years old. Mr. H. was the subject of the poem, which was about a young lady who was in a poisonous and destructive relationship with him. Mr. H was verbally abusive to her. He was controlling and jealous, and he spent all of this young girl’s money, but she couldn’t leave him no matter how bad he was to her. Even though the relationship was rapidly deteriorating, she would not abandon Mr. H; this lady would go to any length to stay with him. Mr. H is revealed to be the narcotic heroin towards the conclusion of the poem, and this lady is losing her struggle with her addiction. I realize it is a lot of reading for a 7-year-old, but it had two profound effects on my awareness. 1) It depicted a very genuine and frightening subject that many individuals in our society endure. 2) It provided me with a thorough comprehension of metaphor as a tool for verbal expression. I didn’t realize I wanted to be a poet at the time, but 14 years later, when living in one of Phoenix’s most dangerous and drug-infested areas, I was up late writing and watching HBO when a film called Slam came on, and a poet named Saul Williams delivered a poem called “Amethyst Rocks.” I was reminded of “Mr. H” by the poem, and it seemed like the message had come full circle. It gave me the shivers, and at 21 years old, I realized I wanted to use poetry to rescue the world.


3. Now, let’s get straight to the point: how can someone sustain themselves and earn a life as a poet?

After enduring 54 torturous jobs, two of the most essential things I learnt about myself were that I knew how to sell myself and that I am excellent with people. I am, above all, a shameless self-promoter. I go out and shake a lot of hands and will recite a poem on the spot to create a connection, which will eventually turn into a gig of some kind. I’ve developed a book called Double-Barreled Bible, which comes with a CD as well. The money from it goes toward paying bills and purchasing business cards, among other things. I’m working on a second book called Fly, and I also write poems to a magazine called Winepress Northwest’s poetry section. Another way I’ve generated money is by organizing a workshop where I teach poetry and communication skills; it’s been a huge success. My course has been invited to a number of locations around the nation, including universities and jails. It’s a struggle since many people don’t take what you do seriously or know how to respect your work. But there is reason to be optimistic. As a poet, you may generate money in a variety of ways–you just have to be ready to try new things and have a strong desire to succeed. Yes, I do.

4. How do you attract others to notice and follow your work? Some would-be full-time poets are using social media to advertise themselves and their work, such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, while others believe such approaches cheapen the trade. What are your thoughts on the matter?

As an independent artist, I acquire a lot of my “gigs” by going out and meeting new people. I’m selling myself and what I can accomplish. Many of my acquaintances have become true friends, and they have aided me in many ways. My capacity to network is my most valuable attribute. My Facebook profile allows me to keep in touch with folks I met at campuses and other gatherings. Writing for Winepress Northwest has helped me connect with wineries that are willing to pay for my services. I am prepared to go to any length to maintain my life and achieve my objectives. I don’t believe that utilizing these tactics to get your work out there cheapens my trade. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to get my books into as many people’s hands as possible.

5. How do your family, friends, and potential love partners respond when you tell them you want to be a full-time poet? Has there been any positive feedback?

When I initially told some of my old pals about my intentions to be a professional poet, they gave me a fat-lip, pulled me out into the alley, and kicked the snot out of me. I was mocked, discouraged, and cautioned that the quest would be futile in the end. After all, these “friends” were supposed to be looking out for my best interests, right? Not! We broke up a few months later, and I resolved that no one would ever be able to crush my dream again. 99% of the people in my life right now are the most caring and supporting individuals I could ever want for. When someone sets out to attain a goal, they will be greeted with resistance almost immediately. But there is where the genuine beginning begins, since a person’s network is the hidden component in making things happen in their life. The amount and quality of genuine help they get from their support network will impact the chances of their goal becoming a reality. I would not be where I am now if I had never realized that one extremely strong thing. That is not a hyperbole. You must surround yourself with individuals who will support you.


6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

The finest aspect of my career is that it allows me to share the best part of me with others: my art! People tell me that they are motivated to resume pursuing their aspirations and objectives after hearing my poems and anecdotes. I love that everything I’ve endured and put into words has inspired so many others and provided me with “job” that allows me to support my family. Because work may seem like play at times, I prefer to surround it with quotes, and one that comes to me is “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” I’m not sure who said that, but when it comes to careers, no one has ever put it better. Buddy Wakefield, one of my favorite poets, put it like way: “Live for a livelihood.” That is the most wonderful and rewarding aspect of my job–being able to freely express myself. If a manager or coworker is having a terrible day and wants to toss some of it my way, I don’t have to negotiate my self-respect or identity at work. Through all of the jobs I’ve had, I’ve seen this a lot. People with the capacity to bite their tongues may hold on to their employment for a long time. My current position is the polar opposite. I also discovered that if you bite your tongue too many times, you will lose your voice and your energy will be dampened. My favorite aspect of my profession is that it forces me to be totally present and passionate about what I do.

7. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

My least favorite aspect of my work is that I feel like I have to wear a lot of hats. I am a self-employed artist, which requires a wide range of abilities to make it all work. It’s like owning a department store by myself since I compose original content, perform it, advertise myself, book and negotiate engagements, create invoices, and purchase for supplies. There’s always something that needs to be done, but I’d rather do it myself than work for someone else.

8. How do you strike a work-family-life balance?

Even when I’m in a rut and don’t want to be bothered by anybody, I always, always make time for my wife and kid. They are the driving force behind my decision to pursue this road. I want to see kids happy, and I know that the more content I am with my life, the more content they will be with theirs. Many parents tell their children that they can be whatever they desire while still working in a job they despise. My son has a small recording studio as well as a business license. He is certain that his desire of becoming an R&B recording artist is attainable, and I urge him to pursue his goals. He’s just been accompanying me to some of my events in order to supplement his income and get experience working around stages and microphones. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that balancing two worlds wasn’t exhausting at times. You may want to go home and introvert after a long day of extroverting, but your family is looking forward to you coming home and eager to converse. At the end of the day, sometimes all you want is quiet and to be alone. So, once I realized I was feeling this way, I made it a point to make time for my family.


9. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

People’s greatest misperception about my profession is that it isn’t vital, actually required, or in high demand. That couldn’t be more untrue. Once upon a time, I worked as an employment expert. Once a month, I had to meet with an economist to discuss market trends for in-demand positions by zip code. That information would aid me in advising my clients on which career to pursue. Being aware of employment market trends offered me a better understanding of what is actually in demand in our culture today. Inspiration. People are constantly assaulted with magazine advertising and commercials selling antidepressants–”hope in a bottle”–and these drug corporations are so good at selling drugs because they understand that people are prepared to pay a lot of money on hope. I’m succeeding on the same basis, but with poetry and victory tales, as well as teaching others how to express themselves in the same manner and learn a new dialect. My services are in high demand.

10. Do you have any other advice, recommendations, observations, or anecdotes to share?

I’ve been successful at what I do because I understand what it takes to work hard to achieve your goals, and I’ll explain why in this brief tale…

Every day as the sun rises in Africa, a gazelle knows it must outrun the quickest lion to live. And every day in Africa, as the sun rises, a lion knows that in order to live, it must outpace the slowest gazelle. The lesson of the narrative is that no matter whether you’re a lion, a gazelle, or a poet, you should start running as soon as the sun rises.

Be a dreamer, not a dreamer. Do-ER!




The “how to become a published poet” is an article that tells you how to get your poems published. It also includes tips on how to write and what types of poetry are popular.

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