Intermediate Publicity Tips for the Tarot Professional: Your Platform

Yeah, I don't know. I needed a picture to go with this post. I didn't have one. So here is what I came up with. Don't judge me.
Yeah, I don’t know. I needed a picture to go with this post. I didn’t have one. So here is what I came up with. Don’t judge me.

I posted an article a while back, “9 Easy Ways to Increase Publicity for Your Professional Tarot Services” here on this blog. That was for budding or startup tarot professionals. Let’s talk about taking that up a notch and going over some intermediate publicity tips. These tips are going to be most helpful if you’ve been actively pursuing a tarot reading business service for at least 3 years and have been a tarot practitioner for much, much longer than that. If that description applies to you, then read on.

Let’s talk about your professional platform.

Why You Need a Platform

For starters, if you have any aspirations for publishing a book on tarot someday, you’re going to want an established professional platform before querying agents or editors. Even if you have no book aspirations, if you’re in the tarot business to succeed (and I have to presume you are), then having an established platform will enable you to set higher fees. And people will actually pay those fees because they trust your expert experience.

If you’ve ever wondered why another fellow tarot reader seems to be a ton more successful than you and begin to wonder if maybe that reader is better than you as a reader, then stop right there. No, fool! That reader isn’t better than you in any way except maybe better at marketing and self promotion. Marketing and self promotion, at its most effective, is related to your platform.

So. Okay. Now you’re interested in hearing me out on this point. How do you establish your professional platform?

Do Public Speaking (or Reading) Engagements

In Laura Cross’s The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, there’s a chapter on how to establish an author platform. I’m deriving the following information from that chapter. Cross says an optimal author platform includes speaking engagements in front of a cumulative 50,000 people per year. (p.46 for the curious) For example, you’ve spoken at XYZ in front of 10,000 people, and then did 20 real-time video conference with 1,000 attendees, another event for 5,000 people, and one for 15,000 all in the same year for a total of 50,000.

So let’s scale that back to professional tarot levels and start with realistic goals. If you’re already doing public speaking or tarot reading engagements for 50,000 people or more a year, then you’re way out of my league and there is nothing you can learn from me.

Think about doing public speaking engagements in your community on the small scale to get your name out. Craft a 30-minute talk about tarot and remember– keep it super general for the mainstream. Don’t assume prior tarot knowledge because, at least based on my personal experiences, most of the attendees are people who’ve sort of kind of heard of tarot cards before and are interested but don’t even know how many cards are in the deck or what the tarot consists of (other than a Death card or Devil card…).

Start by approaching all the public libraries in your county and even neighboring counties to see if they’ll give you space and a time slot. You can even do a recurring speaking engagement, where you do the same 30-minute talk routine one Thursday every month. Then once that engagement is set, you’ll post up flyers everywhere and get the word out on social media to promote the event. This is awesome for many reasons. It’s no longer just about the event. It’s also about all the publicity you’re sending out and all the opportunities for random folks to hear your name. Folks hear of your name enough, when it comes up again at a time they’re looking for a tarot reader, they’ll go to you before they go to anyone else, because we all seek out the familiar.

So here’s the thing. Doing speaking engagements isn’t even about the speaking engagement. Even if no one shows up to your talk, the weeks of publicity and promotion you did before that event is what counts more. During that time, lots of people will hear your name and it will nestle somewhere in their subconscious.

For tarot readers, it doesn’t have to be a talk. It can be a public tarot reading event. Well-publicized public tarot reading events totally help to establish your professional platform.

When I was in college, a single, individual psychic was doing free 5-minute psychic readings at the student union and there was a long line. A handful of sorority sisters and I got in line for our free readings and guess what. A pack of five of them decided to look up that psychic afterward and go to her place for full, paid readings. I recall each one of those girls had to pay at least $100 for their full readings. So at the very, very least, one day of free readings at a university campus resulted in $500 for that psychic. Tarot professionals can take a play from that book and do the same.

You can try for offering paid readings, but I’m guessing that might not fly. The university is a lot more likely to say yes to you if you’re offering free readings. However, I say take it. Like I said– I know for a fact that, at the very least, that psychic who gave free 5-minute readings at the student union of my college earned a minimum of $500 in the following weeks. Do the readings at the university for free and have a giant stack of your business cards handy. Make sure everyone you read for leaves with that business card. You may even want pamphlets handy to give to student club leaders, sorority or fraternity members, etc. who might just decide to hire you for one of their events. These groups tend to have sizeable budgets for hiring you to read at their events. In these instances, giving out free readings is worth it. Don’t skip over dollars to try to pick up pennies. These free public readings en masse are part of the cost of doing business, and the investment has great potential of paying off big time.

I talked about the Plight of the Free Reading Requests here in a previous post, and now here is the future post I referenced in that article. Sometimes, free readings make smart business.

Free individual, private one-by-one readings that no one else knows about = not smart business.

Free quickie readings at big public events where there are big signs with your name on it posted up and everybody leaves with your business card = very smart business.

It also helps you to establish your professional platform.

I’ve been keeping lots of data over the last six months. There’s no question or doubt that when I do events, even when the actual events yielded low turnout, my book sales spike. I get lots of tarot reading requests in the weeks to follow. It doesn’t always correlate logically either. There might be a turnout of 20 heads for an event, 10 of them with my book in hand already, but for reasons not entirely known to me, my Nielsen sales figures that week will spike up two-fold even three-fold. Mathematically, you’d think at best only 10 new sales, right (i.e., 20 – 10), but no. Do an event and that week, sales go up 30%. I don’t know if there’s a direct causal connection, but there’s definitely some correlation.

But you need to be proactive and get your butt down to the local colleges in your area and figure out exactly who to talk to about doing such events on campus. Pecking out an email or even two from your home computer in your jammies isn’t going to cut it. In all likelihood, the personnel at the college deleted your email without even reading it. You have to physically haul ass down to campus and see about what you need to do to put on such an event. Or even better, do you know any college students? If yes, get a hold of said college student and see what he or she knows about putting on events at the school, or tabling at the student union, or which office to talk to about getting permission to just put up a sign and sit in a lobby to give out readings. Do you know members of sororities and fraternities? I bet some of them would love to use part of their party planning budget to hire you for an event.

Even if you’re not promoting a book, let’s talk about reading services. If I do a reading event (as in tarot reading), in the following weeks, tarot reading requests trickle in at double the usual rate. Either someone I read for wants a more in-depth reading or it’s a friend or family member of someone I read for who got a referral and now wants a reading. Whatever the case may be, reading requests shoot up.

Even if you don’t have a book to promote, you may find your local bookstores to be very eager to host a tarot professional. Something about avid book lovers and tarot go together, I don’t know. Is there a yoga studio in your area? You might find a friend and ally in the yoga studio proprietor who will probably be happy to share studio space when yoga classes aren’t in session. Unless the yoga studio proprietor is your BFF (and heck, even if he or she is your BFF), don’t expect it to be free. You know how you get when people expect free tarot readings from you, right? Figure out what you can offer in return. It doesn’t always have to be money, but it does have to be something. Just remember that. Note: There may be premise liability concerns, but I’ll get to that in a future post.

What You Will Do After Exiting this Post:

  1. Craft a 30 minute talk on tarot assuming an audience with no prior knowledge on tarot.
  2. Look up student activities personnel at 5 local universities or community colleges and pitch an event in person. See if you’re permitted to chill out in the student union on a weekday with a sign to promote your tarot readings. Look into doing talks on tarot or free public reading events at the center of some social hub that college students with disposable incomes will congregate at.
  3. Post flyers about your event across the campus and everywhere you can in town and online.
  4. The event will consist of the talk and free 5-minute or 10-minute readings afterward. Make sure every one leaves with your business card. Or set up a couple of big signs leading into and around where you’ll be doing free public readings and camp out for a day doing those free readings. Make sure everyone leaves with your business card and if anyone sits down wearing Greek letters or a shirt showing a club or organization affiliation, give them an event flyer so they know you do events.
  5. Keep records of your event so you can use it to promote your professional platform in the future.
  6. Follow all of the above, but for local public libraries, city-sponsored events (check to see if your city has an arts and culture commission; the commission is likely to be happy to incorporate you into local arts and culture events), or local spirituality/New Age/metaphysical/holistic health businesses.

Daily or Weekly Column in a Syndicated Periodical

I won’t dwell on this section for too long, since it’s an extension of the previous section. Basically, you want to get yourself published and get your writing seen. A daily or weekly column is one of the best ways to gain professional visibility. If the publication is big enough, it might even result in a little bit of extra cash! Win-win. A column probably makes more sense for an astrologer, and writing sun sign horoscopes, but tarot readers can work with this business model, too! Be creative, brainstorm ideas, and then pitch your best idea for a daily or weekly column to the publication and see what happens.

Teach Tarot

Teaching tarot for sure adds to your professional platform. People trust teachers. We associate teachers with knowledge. If you teach tarot, then you must be highly knowledgeable of tarot. That’s how people think. Those of us in the tarot world know that this isn’t always true. (Sadly.) Regardless, if you’re trying to establish your professional platform, then you should consider teaching tarot. Plus, it results in more credentials to add to your media kit. I’ll talk about that media kit in a bit.

Write Articles on Tarot

Publishing articles on tarot or the metaphysical art you’d like to hold yourself out as an expert for will help you establish your professional platform. Let’s say you’re both a tarot reader and astrologer. Then push out articles on both tarot and/or astrology to try to get published. Seek out major online publications.

Think you’re too small potatoes to get published in the top tier places? Think again. You’ll never know unless you try. Also brainstorm middle tier publications. Look for mainstream publications that has a story section on faith, religion, spirituality, or holistic practices. Type in “tarot” (or “astrology” or “New Age” or “pagan”) into the Search box on the website to see if you can pull up previously published articles on your subject. If yes, then the chances of getting your woo-woo article published in that mainstream place just went up.

Be creative. Scour the Internets. Do copious amounts of research. I said you can definitely succeed as a professional reader and establish a sold platform; I didn’t say it would be easy.

What You Will Do After Exiting this Post:

  1. Brainstorm 5 tarot article ideas that would appeal to the general non-tarot public. Again, someone who has no prior knowledge of tarot has to be able to read your piece with ease.
  2. Pick the 1 article idea that interests you the most and write a 1,200-ish word article. Proofread and line edit the bejeezus out of it. The types of editors at the receiving end of these submissions tend to be sticklers for grammar and spelling. One glaring typo and you are going to piss the editor off and ruin your chances of publication. For reals.
  3. Take to the Internets and create a submissions matrix of 30 different magazines or periodicals that have previously published on either tarot or metaphysical/spiritual/New Age topics before. Jot down all submission instructions and contacts into your matrix, which you’ll create in a MS Word or other word processor document.
  4. Now send that article out to all 30 publications, along with a 1-3 paragraph cover letter. Keep each paragraph short and sweet. First paragraph: why are you contacting this particular person and submitting to this particular publication. Be personal. Don’t send out generic spam. No one appreciates generic spam. Plus, if it’s obvious you’re familiar with that editor’s work or past articles that the periodical has published, then bonus points for you. Second paragraph: what is your article about. Deets like title, word count, and one sentence pitch help. Third paragraph: who are you and what qualifies you to write this article.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 and set a personal goal of writing and publishing 5 tarot (or metaphysical arts related) articles per year.

Expert Segments in Local Media

Craft an amazing press release and media kit to send to local TV stations, radio stations, and local newspapers or magazines. Offer to do free expert segments. I think I talked about this before and am now repeating myself, but it’s info worth repeating.

Pimp yourself out. Put together a sharp press release and media kit, and then pimp it out to every media outlet you can think of to try to land expert segments in local media. If you ever wondered how those “experts” get on TV to talk about a particular topic, it’s because behind the scenes, they have a publicist sending out reams of press releases and media kits. That or you know someone who knows someone. If you don’t know someone who knows someone, then pimp out via press releases, my friend.

Remember the question to answer through your press release and media kit: What qualifies you to talk about tarot? Or that other craft or metaphysical art that you’d be happy to talk about in a segment as an expert?

So with expert segments, it can be putting the cart before the horse if you haven’t listened to the other publicity pointers I’ve written about before, i.e., worked on publishing more material.

What You Will Do After Exiting this Post:

  • Draft a press release tailored to the purpose of availing yourself to expert segments in local media to talk about tarot or any other metaphysical art that you would be qualified to talk about. Prepare your media kit packet. More on that below.
  • Brainstorm, research, and prepare a matrix of at least 30 media outlets to query that might be cool with you coming on at the end of a program to do some tarot readings and talk about tarot, or for an expert segment to give your observations on tarot trends or the metaphysical community. Be sure to look up and write down the best contact name for each outlet.
  • Send your press release and media kit out to those outlets! When you send these out, you must send them with a personalized cover letter for each outlet. Stroke the journalist’s or reporter’s ego a bit. Where did you first hear about this person? What previous work have you seen and liked? Why are you contacting this outlet specifically? Why would this outlet’s audience be interested in you?
  • Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but you may fail and get crickets the first time you try this. So what? That’s life. Roll your sleeves up and do it again. And again. And again until you start getting callbacks. If you quit after the first time you fail, then you don’t deserve to succeed. Try again.

Mailing or Subscriber List

I’ve heard this from numerous publicists and PR experts before, and it’s also in that Cross book I mentioned. Acquire a beefy mailing list or subscriber list. If you’re looking to get a book on tarot published in the future, being able to tell the agent or acquisitions editor that you have 10,000 potential readers on a subscriber mailing list is definitely going to pique high, serious levels of interest.

That’s a lot, you say? You don’t know 10,000 people, you say? Quit with the negative thinking and get your ass to work. I’ve seen tarot practitioners on the webs do giveaways, raffles, offer a free e-book, or do other cool promotions to induce people to subscribe or submit an email to get on a mailing list and accumulate hundreds of new subscribers within a week. That’s just one week. Launch 100 of such active promotional campaigns over the course of a few years and you’ll get 10,000. It’s not easy. It’s work. It’s lots of work. Like, lots. But it’s also not impossible, so don’t say it’s impossible.

For the longest time I gave the side eye at this idea of collecting a mailing or subscriber list. Sounds like the business of spam. But after my book came out, I frequently got asked in various settings where people were trying to help promote me, “How many contacts are on your mailing list?” or “How many subscribers do you have?” I’d be all like, um, 10? And 8 of them are friends? The remaining 2 are Mom and Hubby?

But no seriously. Apparently important people who could really launch your professional career care about things like this. So it’s definitely worth your while to look into collecting a beefy mailing or subscriber list.

Seeing things from the other side, I’d also say don’t spam people. There is no quicker way to get me to unsubscribe than sending me daily shitmail. Remember that subscribers, to be quite honest, don’t really care about what you’re doing. They want to know how you can help them. What you send out has to be useful information. Your subscriber list isn’t your friends list. Your BFF Betty might care about what you’ve been up to all month, but the majority of your subscribers won’t.

Exceptions: Some bloggers or professionals have larger than life personalities and have established such a personal platform that I feel like I know them, that they are my BFF, in which case I do care what they’ve been up to all month. So there are no absolute rules here. But generally, subscribers want useful information, so if and when you do send stuff out to your mailing list, make it count.

What You Will Do After Exiting this Post:

  1. First of all, we’ll assume as a given that you already have a quasi-established blog, YouTube channel, or other mode of online presence. Let’s say you have a blog or YouTube channel, a Twitter account, Facebook professional page, and Instagram. Outside your blog or vlog, which one of your social media accounts do you use most often? Which one seems to be the most popular for you right now? Let’s assume for hypothetical purposes that it’s your Twitter account. Okay. Set a goal of acquiring 1,000 subscribers within the next year, one year from the date you are setting this goal. Write it down. Commit it to paper. This makes it feel more like a contract you’ve signed with yourself. Sometimes psychologically, that’s what it takes to get yourself to achieve the goal.
  2. If you’re a writer, write a 10-20 page e-book (or I guess e-pamphlet) full of useful information. If that’s not really your thing and you have a vlog going on, record a video full of you talking about useful information or interviewing cool people who will talk about useful information. This ebook or video recording will become something exclusive but free for subscribers. Then promote it. For example, I have to subscribe to your Twitter account, retweet one of your tweets, and contribute my own tweet with a hashtag that relates back to you or your professional name in some way. So for me, I might try to promote the tag #HolisticTarot or #BenebellWen or #tarotanalysis. Or whatever. You get the picture. When someone does that, then you’ll e-mail them your free e-book or the link to download that cool video.
  3. Offer another form of giveaway or promotion, like a free gemstone you’ve consecrated and blessed, or a free 3-card reading (that must be redeemed within a time frame you specify; oh god do not leave it open-ended or you’ll get people coming back to you 3 years later trying to cash in oh for the love of gods please specify a time frame). Everything else same as Step 2.
  4. After you’ve done one of the above promotions in Month 1 and the other in Month 2, review your data results and determine whether 2 or 3 was more productive for you. That’s the one to replicate a couple months later down the line. Remember: for all promotions you do, you have to promote the hell out of the promotion. Otherwise no one will know about it.
  5. Make it a point to do a bi-monthly promotion or giveaway of some sort, whether it’s exclusive e-books (or e-pamphlets), video recordings, or cool stuff, to acquire new subscribers.
  6. Instead of a subscriber list, you can apply all of the above for acquiring a mailing list. Get people to subscribe to your mailing list rather than a social media account. In many ways, a mailing list may be even more valuable for your professional platform.

Host Your Own Video Channel, Podcast, or Radio Show

This section will also get a brief treatment from me, but it’s still important. It’s very cool to get to write in your bio line, “…host of Terrific Tarot Tidbits, a popular monthly podcast syndicated at iHeartRadio and iTunes…” If you’re pretty much obsessed with tarot and talking tarot all the time anyway, why not organize those talks into a regular show and add a cool credit to your professional platform? Plus, if you have a high number of hits or subscribers you can brag about, that also adds to your platform and makes you just that much more attractive to those who could potentially throw money at you.

Have a Media Kit

Okay, so I’ve been talking about a media kit throughout this post. I talked about media kits briefly here, “9 Easy Ways to Increase Publicity for Your Professional Tarot Services.” I’m using the term “media kit” here, but it goes by other names, too. “Press kit” is another oft used term. You can create a “Media Kit” link on your professional website and then have hyperlinks to separate pages for all of the below bullet point items or you can create a PDF for download that contains all of the below.

  • Biography, with info on your prior experience.
  • Full color headshot. You want a couple of really nice professionally done photographs of yourself. You can also consider including candid shots of you reading at events. Yes, it helps. Yes, it makes a difference. A big one.
  • Testimonials. I think this is important and for those outside the tarot community, adds to the perception of your credibility.
  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) or the transcript of an interview of you where you explain what you do as a tarot reader.
  • Media clips. (Optional.) I say optional, but if you’re able to provide a few clippings, that always helps.
  • Contact info. A separate, easy-to-access sheet, page, or independent section with your contact information is going to make it easy peasy for whoever wants to contact you to contact you. Don’t hide your contact info. If it’s a hard copy media kit, then also make sure your business card is inserted in the folder.

Do you need every one of the above? Must you stick with that list? Of course not.

You want to tailor your media kit to best represent you and the services you provide. Personally–and this is super subjective here–I’m not all that fond of a too-polished media kit. It doesn’t gel with my style and to be honest, folks with a too-polished media kit creep me out a bit. BUT, that being said, if you want to impress members of the media, like those television stations, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines I mentioned, then I think you do need a very polished media kit.

Business-wise, I’d say go for broke and make your media kit as polished and professional looking as you can. It has to impress.

Me-wise, I like tarot readers who are a little awkward, rough around the edges, but through and through sincere. When anything is too polished, it makes me wonder what it was about the rough version that you disliked so much you had to hide it under all that varnish.

What You Will Do After Exiting this Post:

  1. Biography. Write your professional biography. Keep it concise and easy to read. No one is going to read your biography if it’s longer than one page, so don’t go over one page. In fact, keep it to a few paragraphs. While you draft your biography, keep in mind that the objective is to convey your qualifications as a professional tarot reader. Add a sprinkle of personal information, too, so that people can relate to you.
  2. Full Color Headshots. Do not undervalue the importance of photographs of yourself. People want to be able to connect to you on a personal level and seeing a full color photo of you helps with that. I would discourage using selfies or pics your significant other helped you take with your phone. Find a friend with some photography experience and a nice DSLR, and get some legit photos taken. Seriously. This may take up the whole day. At the end of that day, you’ll want to be able to have (1) profile head shot, just up to your shoulders, (2) a vertically positioned photograph where the background context of the photo conveys your professional line of work, i.e., there’s tarot cards somewhere in the pic, (3) a horizontally positioned photograph, and if you can, (4) and (5) two candid photographs, but taken with a DSLR, of you performing readings for others. Having these five photos in your portfolio can prove invaluable for media appearances, article publications, and so much more. Sometimes a horizontal pic is needed. Sometimes a vertical. Sometimes they just want a close-up head shot. You better be able to provide whatever they ask for, pronto.
  3. Testimonials. You should have a log of 8-10 testimonials from past clients that you can include with your media kit. You’ll need to obtain written permission from those clients first, to make sure they’re cool with you using their testimonials. Whenever testimonials have been provided, I find myself making my way toward them and reading them. I bet others are the same way. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a tarot reading without first reading the testimonials.

Invoking the Magic Words

There are some terms some of you know I don’t use. Like psychic. I also don’t like to talk about channeling or communing with entities beyond our material/physical plane. I don’t like to talk about spells or use the word magic. On the negative side of that, I’m guilty of haphazardly using and maybe overusing/abusing the word “energy.” Because I’m lazy and I’m referring to something for which I don’t really want to get into gnostic or metaphysical specifics, I end up blurting out, “oh, you know, energy.”

However, as a professional who wants business, there are certain words that you’ll really want to consider crafting into your marketing and promotions. Psychic is definitely one of them. Or at the very least, intuitive. Your interactions with spirit guides, angelic beings, bodhisattvas, or ascended masters also light up people’s curiosities and give you that intrigue factor that brings in steady business.

I have found that people have to be told things. People generally don’t like to do any critical thinking. I can look like a duck, quack like a duck, shake my butt like a duck, and test positive for duck DNA. But average people are still going to be unsure of my duck identity until someone, even if it’s me, says “that’s a duck” for them to believe. I know I come across elitist now, but that’s been my experience.

When it comes to who are and who are not psychics, mediums, or intuitives, you can look like a duck, quack like a duck, and shake your ass like a duck, but if you don’t say, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a duck! I’m the duckiest of all ducks! Quack!” then very few people will arrive at that deduction on their own. So if this is your business, then maybe it serves to spell it out in your promotional material. “I’m a duck. I’m a very ducky duck. Quack. Quack.”

Most jurisdictions do have anti-fortune-telling laws that will require you to be very careful with how you market yourself as a psychic, intuitive, medium, or channel, however. If you scroll down this article here, “Practice Tips for Tarot Professionals Who Offer Online Services,” I talk about how I might define “psychic” and “medium.”

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There are so many reasons why a professional platform is important. In this day and age, you’re not likely to get your book submission accepted for publication if you don’t have an already established platform. An established platform makes it much easier for you to land those expert segments, which in turn creates a higher demand for your tarot reading services. Look at any highly successful metaphysical business and you will see a very well-established, carefully-curated professional platform. It doesn’t “just happen” to people. It takes work. The only difference between that highly successful tarot professional you envy and you is the work. Put in the work and you close that gap. Before you know it, you are that highly successful tarot professional that others envy.

 

2 thoughts on “Intermediate Publicity Tips for the Tarot Professional: Your Platform

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