This article will focus on practice tips for tarot professionals who offer online reading services. That can mean you advertise or market your tarot reading services on a business website, offer tarot reading services delivered by e-mail or other electronic means, or will in any way be engaged in commercial transactions online with clients or prospective clients. If that sounds like what you’re doing, then you may or may not find something practical in this long, verbose blog post. (Yes, this is another one of those doozy posts by me…)
(1) using your website to sell any goods or offer paid tarot reading services (in other words, commercial uses), and
(2) receiving personal information from clients or prospective clients through e-mail, online forms on your website, or through comments posted on your site,
Clear, Unambiguous, and Fixed Fee Schedules
If money will be exchanged for your tarot reading services, then may I strongly recommend that you set a fixed fee schedule.
What does a fixed fee schedule mean for a tarot professional? You can fix it by the number of cards you draw–for example, $10.00 for a one card reading; $25.00 for a three card reading; $50.00 for a ten card reading, plus $5.00 for any additional card drawn after ten. That you can certainly do, though for me, setting fees based on the number of cards drawn is putting yourself in a tight spot, unless you know for sure how long every one card reading or every three card reading, etc. is going to take you. If a three card reading takes you 5 minutes some of the times and then takes you 50 minutes other times, then please do not set fixed fee schedules by the number of cards! Only if you know for sure that three cards always takes you 15 minutes should you set fees based on card number.
I believe a better way to set fees is by time. It’s how most professionals in other fields do it. For example, $30.00 for 30 minutes and $50.00 for an hour could be a good starting point. Seasoned professionals who have been doing this for decades charge along the lines of $150.00 an hour.
How much to charge for your services.
What should you charge? The answer is very simple. Whatever the market will pay you.
If no one is paying you $150.00 an hour, then setting that as your fee is not going to result in very good business. If people are willing to pay you $300.00 an hour, then please tell me why you’re charging $150.00? So. Whatever the market will pay you is what you charge.
For the newbie, it’s going to take some tinkering and experimenting with your fees before you get it just right. I wrote an article here, “Fees, Math, the Startup Tarot Professional, and Why You Need Goodwill” showing my informal survey findings (i.e., the typical joe is willing to pay $10 for a 15 minute reading from an unknown, no-name, unverifiable tarot reader).
Posting your fee schedule.
Do you have to post your fee schedule publicly on your website? Heck no.
Although for someone new to the profession, it’s a good idea, as you will generate more business by earning the trust of prospective clients through the full disclosure. Seasoned pros do not have to post their fees publicly because they’ve already earned their reputation. So please note that in this blog post, I’m really addressing the newbie tarot professional, not the seasoned pro. Seasoned pros can do whatever the heck they want to do because they’ve earned that privilege.
But newbie or pro, you better give that fee schedule to the client or prospective client in writing before any agreement for a reading takes place. That part can be done privately by e-mail, on a case by case basis, one to one.
Why post your fees? Because you don’t want to waste your time going back and forth with someone you think is a prospective client and then have that person skip out on you because six e-mail exchanges later, she decides you’re too expensive. Or she tries to haggle you to lower your price for her. Why? Why would you put yourself in that situation? Post your fee schedule clearly on your website and those who agree with the prices will contact you and those who don’t, won’t.
Here is a sample fee schedule listing (pages 1-4):
(Following the sample fee schedule is a sample Terms of Service, which we’ll get to later in this post.)
I suggest subdividing your fee schedule into three parts: (1) private readings, (2) event readings, and (3) tarot classes (if you are offering private tarot lessons). Private readings are for individuals who come to you for a one-on-one session. Event readings are when someone hires you to read for several hours at an event, like a graduation party, birthday party, bridal shower, or corporate banquet. Also, there are always folks interested in paying you for private tarot lessons to learn tarot, so it’s not a bad idea to offer that as well. If you hold tarot workshops, classes, or webinars, then that can be listed as well.
Don’t get hung up on what other tarot professionals are charging.
While you do need to take into consideration what other tarot professionals are charging for their services so you have a better sense of what the fair market value is for such services (also referred to as competitor analysis), that should be the extent of looking at what others are doing. Once you’ve gauged what you want to charge, stop. Don’t compare yourself to other tarot professionals. Don’t let your ego affect how you feel about your own services based on what Jane Arcana of Terrific Tarot is charging for her services. Just because Jane charges less than you doesn’t mean she’s less of a reader, and likewise, just because she charges more doesn’t make her a better reader. You’ve got to keep your focus on your own business and never let what others are charging shake you up. The only person other than yourself who determines the quality of your readings is your client.
It’s your job as the tarot professional to keep track of time, not the client’s.
Also, you’re the professional. So it’s your job to keep track of the time. If I’m your client and I come in for a 30 minute reading and pay you for a 30 minute reading, then don’t keep going to the 45 minute mark and then try to hussle me to pay for the extra 15 minutes. No. Your problem. If I pay for 30 minutes, you stop at the 30 minute mark, and any excess time over 30 is on you, my friend. So what am I telling you as your practice tip? Keep track of time. Go in with the understanding that you will read tarot for the amount of time paid for and if you go over, that’s your issue, not the client’s.
On the other hand, if I, your client, am trying to hussle you for an extra 15 minutes, you gotta nip that in the bud and not let me hussle you. I am totally not the right person to teach you how, since I am such a pushover myself, but suffice it to say, it’s still your fault. You’ve got to know how to manage your time professionally. Again. You’re the professional. So don’t let a client hussle you.
I believe it was Christiana Gaudet who offered the advice to wrap up a live reading (assuming, say, you’re doing a video or Skype reading) 5 minutes before time is up and right before that last 5 minute mark, note gently to the client that the session is coming to an end and whether that client has any remaining questions or concerns. [I really hope I’m giving proper credit where the credit is due! Per my memory, I’m pretty sure I heard that from a Christiana Gaudet video, but if I’m wrong, please correct me.]
I love that advice and I think it’s fantastic. Whatever the client says after your 5 minute alert, give your answer and wrap up in 5 minutes. If the client asks some crazy open-ended question that falls outside the scope of the cards on the table, say very politely, “Well that sounds like we’d need a separate reading just to address that big question by itself! And we can certainly do that another time. For now, I’ll say this…” and then restate the thesis of the cards on the table and close the session.
If the client is quiet and says nope, she doesn’t have anything else to say or ask, then use the last 5 minutes to cover the main highlights of the reading again and give the client some solid takeaway points to remember.
Now–and this is what usually happens I have to say–if the client uses those remaining 5 minutes to rant about the situation, I say let the client talk, nodding empathetically and listening–because sometimes what a client needs more than the reading is you listening–and at the 60 second mark, praying the client takes a millisecond to breathe, jump in ever so gingerly and first empathize with the client, agreeing with the client, and then state that time is up.
So, for example, “John, I’m so sorry to interject here, and I can’t believe you have to go through such a horrible situation–I can’t even imagine how I would handle these circumstances, so I’m really in awe of your strength. I’m afraid we’re at the 30-minute [or 60-minute] mark and we have to close this session for now. I would like to have you come back for another session in a month, if you’re willing.”
Ethical advertising for freebies.
Some in the profession have gotten into the scheme of advertising a “FREE READING,” which is the first, say, 5 minutes of a reading and then just as you’re getting comfortable in your seat, 5 minutes is up but you don’t know that because the paid part after the 5 minute mark has kicked in and before you know it, “FREE” has turned into $50.
First, if that’s how you roll, not only will clients be put off, but your fellow tarot peers will be put off as well, and rightfully so. As a best practice tip, please don’t do that unless you are going to stop at the 5 minute mark and clearly state, “Okay, your 5 minutes are up. Do you want to continue at my regular rate of $1.00 per minute?” and the client says “Yes” and pays you. Otherwise, don’t. Just don’t. You’re making it harder on the rest of the tarot profession.
It’s okay to incentivize by offering free readings that will turn into paid readings if it goes on for longer, only if you state so clearly and unambiguously. It must be stated so clearly and so unambiguously that the biggest moron on earth could come to you and still know exactly what the arrangement is. That’s how clear and unambiguous it has to be. You must also be the one to stop after the free part is over and give the client a chance to say yes or no to continuing into the paid part.
Get your payments before the reading begins.
As for payments, before or after? If you’re smart–and here I’m referring specifically to readings transacted online–you’ll make it clear to clients that they have to pay you before. Don’t inadvertently get yourself into the business of debt collection. Get your payments beforehand.
Your disclaimer might look something like this:
Disclosure Statement: A tarot professional cannot predict the future with certainty and you should not rely on a tarot reading to make any decision that would affect your legal, financial, or medical condition. If your inquiry involves the law, finance, or medicine, then you should seek the advice of a licensed or qualified legal, financial, or medical professional. Also, tarot reading cannot replace qualified mental health care. A tarot reading can only facilitate how you cope spiritually with a given situation. In certain jurisdictions, a tarot professional is required to disclose to you that tarot readings should be for entertainment purposes only, and if such a law applies to your reading, then you are hereby on notice thereof. Your tarot professional is bound by a self-imposed code of ethics, which can be provided to you upon request.
(You’re totally free to copy in whole or in part or modify that verbiage for your own uses. Also, more on the code of ethics later in this post.)
You can replace “tarot professional” with “psychic” or “medium” here. However, if you are holding yourself out as a psychic or medium, which you most certainly can if you genuinely believe in good faith that you are a psychic or medium, then you might also want to explain in a few short phrases what that term means in the context of a paid reading service from you.
Who is a psychic?
A psychic is someone who is or in good faith believes he or she is higher attuned to certain metaphysical energies and who can in turn interpret his or her sensitivities to those energies in a way that could be meaningful to a client’s life or possibly even forecast future events. However, absolute accuracy can never be guaranteed. Your interpretations, like any form of interpretation or translation out there, is prone to error, and so long as you fully disclose that, then you are not defrauding anyone or misrepresenting yourself. Note that in some jurisdictions, especially in the U.S., if you advertise or market yourself as a psychic, then you must also note the disclaimer that such psychic services are for “entertainment purposes only.” Make sure you know what laws apply to where you are.
Who is a medium?
A medium is someone who is or in good faith believes he or she is able to channel or communicate with spirits, the deceased, or other unseen energies, forces, or beings that are believed to coexist with our physical material world. However, like the term psychic, a medium can never guarantee that such channeling or attempt at communication will be successful or accurate. Again, you are prone to error, and so long as you fully disclose that, then you are not defrauding anyone or misrepresenting yourself. Note that in some jurisdictions, especially in the U.S., if you advertise or market yourself as a medium, then you must also note the disclaimer that such mediumship or channeling services are for “entertainment purposes only.” Make sure you know what laws apply to where you are.
What does a Terms of Service look like? An example of one starts here in this sample document on page 5:
(Preceding it is a sample fee schedule.)
10/26/2016 Update: REVISED TERMS OF SERVICE. DOCX
Written Readings Sent by E-Mail
Prepare a written reading template for your tarot services. What is a written reading template? It’s the frame, structure, and outline of the written tarot readings you’ll e-mail to your clients that will give a more professional look to your reading services. Some tarot professionals send out the written readings in the inline body of the email message. Others send the readings as DOC or PDF attachments. I like to send mine out as PDF attachments, and also include high-res image files of the card spreads so the seeker can study those cards in future times. You’ll have to decide for yourself which approach you like better.
Here’s an example (and also a hypothetical, showing how the sample reading template can be used):
Have a prepared reading template for all of the types of reading services you offer. Thus, a specific reading template just for 1-card readings, and another specific reading template just for 3-card readings, one when you are using a signifier, one when you are not using a signifier, one when you are using one of your go-to professional spreads, like the Celtic Cross, etc.
E-mail footers or signature blocks
Having a footer or signature block at the end of your e-mail that discloses customary disclaimers is helpful. You may have noticed that lawyers, financial analysts, and tax professionals typically have these bulky paragraphs of disclaimers in small, blue font at the end of their e-mails. Like such professionals, the tarot professional should also display a disclaimer.
The Disclosure Statement noted above is a good one to have in the footer. I’d also recommend assuring your diligent effort to protect confidentiality but reminding the client that the Internet by its very nature, especially e-mails, is not always secure.
In the business and professional world, few things are quite as important as setting expectations. Almost everything hinges on how well or not well you’ve set expectations. Delivery time is no different. If you don’t give an estimate delivery time for your reading, then your client will use her own expectations, which are often unrealistic, and then when you don’t deliver on those unrealistic expectations, will get mad at you. It’s absurd of that client, but it’s actually your own fault. You didn’t set the expectations properly.
Now, if you tell the client it’ll take at least 5 days before you can send the email reading to her and on Day 3 she is stomping up a tantrum, then not only is it her fault, but you have physical documentation to prove she’s crazy. So if nothing else, providing a written delivery time expectation up front protects you and helps you to leave a paper trail.
Set realistic and reasonable expectations. Part of your business model can be to offer “emergency” services with a faster delivery time for an added charge. Thus, for example, your typical delivery time can be 7 business days from date of acceptance of the reading. However, if a client needs to expedite the reading turnover time, she can do so by paying an additional $20 (just an example). For an additional $20 to the regular reading fee, you’ll agree to deliver the reading within 24 hours. That’s not a bad service to offer, and could be quite appealing to some clients.
[Also consider whether you want to specify business days or calendar days. Business days don’t include Saturday and Sunday, which means if you and the client have agreed to go forward with the reading on Monday, April 27, then I would consider 7 business days to be delivery on or before Wednesday, May 6. On the other hand, 7 calendar days from Monday, April 27 is Monday, May 4.]
Never, ever promise or even imply a quick delivery time that you can’t deliver on. How pissed do you get when you order takeout and the restaurant tells you “5 minutes” and 30 minutes later your food is still not ready? Right. So don’t do that to your clients. In our restaurant scenario, maybe the restaurant can normally deliver food in 5 minutes, but that day you called, it got swamped with orders and 5 became 30. You don’t know that and frankly, as a customer, you probably don’t care. Likewise, expect the unexpected and state your delivery time accordingly.
Even though you know you can normally deliver a written e-mail reading in 3 days, no problem, don’t say 3 days. Say 6. And work toward that 3 day deadline yourself. If by day 2 or even 3 you realize something crazy has happened that week, you can then prepare accordingly with your client and either still deliver by that final day 6 or well before the deadline, contact the client to make alternative arrangements.
Under sell and over deliver
Once upon a time I was sitting in the audience of a conference where a billionaire business guy was giving a speech. He was talking about his secret to success, and he said one of his secrets is to always tell people it’s going to take longer than it will, or guarantee less than you will be achieving–in other words, under sell and over deliver.
Tell the client it will take 10 business days and then get the reading back to her in 5. Tell the client the average word count of written e-mail reading reports is 1,200 words and then deliver 2,000. Let the client believe she is ordering and paying for a 5 card reading and then include as a free, unexpected bonus information about her Life Path number, her sun sign, or a free 1-card oracle draw. These are a few ways to under sell and over deliver in email reading services.
Video tarot reading services by Skype, Google Hangout, or some other video platform are incredibly popular these days. A third of my clients want video readings and that makes sense. It’s more personable. I’ve touched on some pointers that are directly relevant to those doing video readings already, but here are a few more specific to such a platform.
How do you start?
This sounds silly, but admit it, it can be awkward. Here are two complete strangers who don’t know each other who are about to connect by video and have a very, very personal conversation about one of those strangers’ private life. Also, guess what. It’s your job as the professional to make it not awkward. Stage a warm, friendly, and open setting for the client. You’ll have to think about what your approach will be to putting the client at ease once you two connect.
For first time clients, I’ll take a few minutes “off the clock” to go over confidentiality and a summary of the session’s structure. So, for example, if you allot time at the end for Q&A, let the client know in advance. Restate the client’s question to make sure both of you are on the same page. If you use a signifier (or significator), talk a bit about the signifier card.
Also, speaking of tech, make sure the tech is working well before the reading time. If the reading is scheduled for 8 o’clock, get online at 7:30 just to make sure everything is working the way it should. That way if something is off, you have 30 minutes to fix it. Don’t wait until 7:59 and then realize, oh shit, your camera doesn’t work, or WiFi got disconnected. And if that does happen, which it may from time to time, apologize profusely to the client and offer a freebie for his or her inconvenience.
Even though the reading isn’t in person, you are still in charge of creating ambiance. Be aware of what is in the background behind you. Your client may not have to care about what’s behind him or her in the background, but you do. This is your “office space” (though it goes without saying that obviously it doesn’t need to and maybe even shouldn’t look like a 9-to-5 Dilbert office). There shouldn’t be anything distracting. Try really, really hard to make sure no one interrupts the session. If there are other occupants in your home, make sure they all know not to bother you for the next, say, hour or whatever, while you do the video reading. That’s just common courtesy to your client.
In its own way, the background scene behind you on camera should convey you, your style, and your professional reading approach. I know that sounds odd. Here’s what I mean. If you’re more bookish, scholarly, or books generally tend to define your identity, then having bookcases behind you looks really great. If you’ve got this whole free spirit, hippy, spiritual, crystal child indigo child vibe thing going on, bold-colored veils, beautiful patterns, candles, and crystals are going to set an incredible tone for your reading to come. The effect of your background is subconscious, but it’s still a tangible effect, so be thoughtful about what’s going on around you in your “office space” environment, even in a video reading. I would say especially in a video reading because that’s the only visual your client is getting, and that visual will affect the client experience.
I try to keep the background around me in a video reading clean and homey, like the two of us are sharing a spot of tea together in my home, and now we’re going to take out the cards. That means I do the reading on my laptop in my dining room or front sitting room. Unfortunately, reality hits every once in a while and the WiFi connection in those areas are shoddy, so then I’ll resort to my desktop computer upstairs that’s a little more out there, with crystals, stones, books, and stacks of tarot decks all around.
[Hypothetical] practice makes perfect
Most newbie aspiring tarot readers also happen to be introverts. Yeah, I’m stereotyping, but hey, it’s something I’ve noticed. I’m an introvert, too, and anything I’ve ever done to make you believe otherwise is all “faking it until I make it.” For me personally, having to appear in court pretty much forced me to get over myself and deal with that introversion. If you don’t have any situations in your life that is forcing you to get over yourself, then you have to create those situations.
Find a tarot mentor or buddy who is willing to Skype with you and watch your mock video readings, putting you in the hot seat. As I tell my mentees, you’d rather stumble and mess up in front of me, someone who isn’t going to judge you and who is rooting for your success, than stumble and mess up in front of a paying client.
Or–oh, and this is really petrifying–record videos of yourself doing full video readings and then watch those videos to scrutinize yourself. Take notes. What is that god awful thing you’re doing with your hands? Why do you keep saying “um”? Omg how many more times are you going to say “like”? Is that really all you had to say about the Five of Swords? How the heck did you forget to mention blah blah blah?
By watching video recordings of yourself doing mock tarot readings, you’ll improve your posture, your reading fluency, and your ability to recall card meanings and improve how you apply them by leaps and bounds. I promise you that. Every video recording practice you do for yourself will be a vast improvement over the last and before you know it, you’ll watch a recording of a reading you’re proud of. In that way, you’ll gain the confidence needed for real time Skype and video readings with paying clients.
Code of Ethics
While no law, regulation, or even professional guideline requires that a tarot professional post a code of ethics, by trade practice, it has become customary for any self-respecting tarot professional to have a code of ethics and to make that code freely available for review to clients and prospective clients.
A prominently displayed code of ethics also lets prospective clients know what kind of reader you are, so they can decide whether there will be rapport between you two. For example, some clients may be looking for a third party reading (i.e., they want you to do a reading about their ex-boyfriend’s lover), and your code of ethics is going to be a good starting point for such clients to determine whether you would be a good fit for answering such a question.
Here’s a sample Code of Ethics you can use, or pick and choose from those to compile your own Code:
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If you’ve been thinking of offering online tarot reading services, then I hope this [crazy long] post has given you some solid pointers to start. Good luck and happy reading!