Saturday, 2 July 2016

Roadblocks of being a pro tarot reader

I wrote earlier about the start of my journey as a "professional", i.e. paid tarot reader. The reason I put professional in brackets is that this is not my full time job and I do "normal" office work as my full-time career. However, I think that once people are willing to pay for my insights, it is at least semi-professional, no matter how big or small sums of money we're talking about.

Because I want this blog to be a channel for useful information, I also believe in full disclosure, meaning no sugar coating. So, I've now hit my first road block as a professional reader and similar blocks probably come to anyone's path, who wish to make a living with or from tarot. If that is something you're planning, here are some real-life issues that might pop up to hinder your progress or rather, the money flow.

Firstly, I don't think tarot is a great way to become rich and it shouldn't be used for (solely) that purpose. Given that tarot is a form of giving advice, people always have other options to obtain advice such as chatting with friends, seeking for formal therapy/life coaching/healing, trying to figure all out on their own... so tarot as a product is "nice extra" for many to buy, it's not a life essential like groceries. Thus, finding for paying clients is always much harder than finding people who'd be happy to get a freebie just to try it out.

I started my paid readings on a bigger business website but unfortunately I didn't generate enough repeat customers to "earn" a continued spot on the site. The website seemed like a great idea at first and it worked in terms of getting regular reading requests and a steady flow of side income, but it was also very competitive between other readers on the site. The pressure is on to outperform the fellow readers, offer something no one else does and so on. Of course, this can lead to stellar service but it can also lead to "empathy overload" aka "unnecessary" repeat readings.

All the feedback I got from customers was positive: they got clear, solid advice to their problems and were happy to move on. Too happy, in a way: they did not need to come back to me to ask for clarifying questions or further advice, because I already laid out the options and what's likely to happen. Hence, no repeat customers, no repeat purchases, not enough cash flow to show to the site I'm worth keeping.

I did not have the knack to deliver readings in a way that persuades people to ask more paid questions or to seek more support and confirmation from tarot. I simply blurted it out there, clear cut, done and dusted, off you go. I also did not have heart to tell customers (stupidly, from my point of view) that I can't answer further questions so I often pulled an extra card on top of the paid cards, if further questions came up in the chat following a reading. Great for customers, bad for business.

I was given a period of 3-4 months to prove my worth and given that many people only pay for a reading every quarter, half a year or for an anniversary, New Year, birthday etc., I don't think that was long enough period to see how many of my customers were keen to come back.

I have also done email readings and face-to-face readings on my own account since Christmas and of these, I first enjoyed in person meetings better than online. I've slowly changed my mind, because reading in person takes  a lot of energy and also time (reading for 60-90 minutes in a row is much harder than flipping out a few cards for an email question). Doing readings after a full work day is actually much more draining I anticipated; for some reason most clients want to see me during the week, not during weekends.

In addition, people can get "addicted" to personal readings and come back time and time again to ask about the same or similar issues. By email this does not tend to happen, people seem more money-conscious when they order things online!

When I started this blog and reading services half a year ago, I consulted another professional tarot reader to see how I would go. I wanted to get an unbiased view instead of a reading tainted by fears or dreams of mine, done by me. She told me that time, timing, scheduling and exhaustion would be the main themes coming up. I wouldn't worry about money (which is true, given I have another paid job), but I would overwork if I didn't pace myself. I should preserve my energy and enthusiasm instead of splashing it all out there, full speed ahead from the beginning. And she turned out to be right. Now I've hit the roadblock she predicted, and I need to regroup and rethink what to do with this business.

I have now come to realise that to protect my own energy levels and interest towards tarot, I have to limit my exposure/immersion in it and focus solely on email readings for now. It does not generate nearly as much income as readings in person or readings on the big business website, but it's still an outlet for people to find me and for me to reach out to those who need tarot. Currently I sell one reading per month, whereas I used to do 5 readings per week on the big business website (priced around $20/each) and 1-3 face to face readings per week ($59/each).

This is a major plunge for me, but funnily enough, I'm not disappointed. All good things in life take time to develop and mature and for now, I feel better to focus on blogging and chatting about tarot instead of treating it as a full-day business.

I have not been as active as I could have in finding customers, and I'm sure I could be a bit further ahead business-wise if I had done all the networking, advertising and pitching I was planning to when I founded this blog. So I'm not saying someone else couldn't be already making some (up to half?) of their income through tarot after first six months in business. However, I do think it's more likely that to build a solid reputation and customer base tarot is a line of business that takes years to come to full fruition. This is to all antsy pants out there who want to be on top of the world within the next quarter! ;)

Best of luck for your tarot (or related esoteric) business if you have one, and feel free to ask a free 3-card sample reading from me. Any topic goes, I'll deliver within 24 hours unless there's a long queue of requests or something urgent stopping me - in which case I'll always let you know.

Requests to tarotsaskia(a)

Have a great mid-summer, if you're at the Northern Hemisphere, and great mid-winter, if you're Down Under or someplace else in the South Side!

Do you want to start your own business or other creative project? Make a wish, close your eyes to visualise it - and then follow through in practice. Takes time, effort and sweat, but that's the only way to succeed.

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