Thou Art unpaid…

Being an artist of any kind can be challenging financially. As a poet the general routine is to start at open mics, write more, perform more, slam, slam more, hope some host starts to like you then BAM you get booked for a feature. Features in the area usually pay anywhere from $25 – $100. There are also several opportunities where THOU ART UNPAID! Often times people will pay the DJ before they consider paying a poet. People will pay a motivational speaker of some sort Β before they consider a poet a motivational speaker and pay them. Poets are asked to perform in several spaces including birthday parties, schools, arts events, comedy events, etc. However, there are a select few that get paid close to what they are worth.

Upon stepping on the scene in 2010 I hit the ground running. I did my first feature unpaid. I was told by an awesome poet friend of mine “don’t do shit for free.” I didn’t listen. I wanted the exposure. I was working on getting my name out there. Other poets told me “you should slam.” So I did and I sucked at it at first! I asked for advice from several veteran poets. My goal upon entering any new realm is to learn the players and learn the game. I studied my area, found out who was who, asked questions, worked hard at my performance and writing skills. I used to tell poets “it’s not that I am particularly more talented than you are, it’s just that I have an extensive knowledge of computers.” This much is the utmost truth about me. I knew what it would take to get my name out there. By using social media and online resources the name Shelly Bell aka “She Seven” has spread further than I could have ever imagined.

At the end of 2010 I decided I no longer just want to write a poem and perform. I am irritated with being asked to do things for free or for a minimum amount of money while the DJ and host of the event get to cake up off of non-profits who claim to not have any funds. September 2010, I started Seven City Art Society, LLC. I began building a foundation of opportunities for poets to make money outside of featuring and hosting.

Soul Sessions

  • Every 2nd Saturday of the month
  • anyone interested poet/writer/lover of art/photographer/anyone can host one.
  • Seven City Art Society promos the event, provides food & wine
  • the host provides a space, helps w/promo, and a writing exercise
  • $5 cover for participants
  • We split the total at the end of the night

Result: folks get together, network, and do something we rarely ever do…WRITE TOGETHER!

Write Before This

  • “Write Before This” can be adopted for any event and used as a way to extend a money-making workshop opportunity for your feature.
  • The current event is “Write Before SpitDat
  • The facilitator shows up on time with writing exercise
  • $3 suggested donation for participants
  • $20 for the facilitator for an hour-long workshop.
  • The facilitator gets paid $20 no matter who shows up or how many donations are collected.
  • I am looking to extend “Write Before This” into more workshops in different areas.

Result: we do something that also rarely happens in the DC, MD, VA area…we attend a valuable workshop!

It’s time we find more creative ways to make money doing what we love to do. If you are interested in hosting, facilitating, Β or attending any of these events please do not hesitate to email us at

Pura Vida,


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