Q&A: How to take your first steps into professional tarot

So a whole bunch of you want to know how to ‘go pro’

And by this I’m thinking you’re not asking me how to build a magnificent tarot business empire (yet)…but more about how to take those first steps towards charging for readings and making money from your awesome tarot skills.

professional tarot

I’m no expert.

I will freely admit that I am making this whole shebang up as I go along and it happens to be working very nicely. 2015 will be the year I wind down my other business (web design) to devote myself to tarot full time, and that is SO exciting for me.

Here’s how I did it:

1. I started a tarot blog. I didn’t ever imagine anyone would read the damn thing!

2. People did read it. And very gradually, after about a year, I started getting occasional requests for tarot readings.

3. I did these for free at first – I certainly didn’t feel confident charging for my readings. I did TABI’s free reader endorsement programme – a vigorous training/mentorship scheme where you complete 25 full-length readings for real clients, under the guidance of a personal mentor.

4. I provided free readings via TABI for a long time – and at the same time I did reading exchanges with other budding tarotists I’d connected with online.

5. Eventually, I felt confident to charge for my readings. I added a PayPal button to my website, didn’t like it, fiddled around, and found my preferred way of charging. I did this totally on the sly as I was employed in a ‘proper job’ and I did something like two paid readings per month. The feedback was great, I loved doing it and I wanted more!

6. I went self-employed. This brings a whole new set of scary and amazing challenges to the table. Fortunately my living expenses are low – I don’t have kids/car/a mortgage – so I felt free enough to take the risk and just… quit. Go solo. It’s definitely not that simple for everyone but it’s something anyone can work towards if they want it.

7. This year, I upped my game. This meant revamping my website (handily, I have the skills, but anyone can learn…or pay a professional!) and getting serious about marketing. Ish. I listen to feedback from clients and readers and am always looking for ways I can provide more of what people want, keep the love, and make a living. As I said, I’m making this up as I go along, but I will say that it keeps on getting better and better.

challenge 2. My reading space, onboard my boat, Swallow.

My ‘office’ on board Narrowboat Swallow

My best advice for people who want to make this journey:

Read for free before you start charging. There are lots of different ideas about this and some people will flat out tell you never to give your skills away for free. I disagree – it takes a lot of time to build confidence in reading for other people – tarot reading skills are one thing, reading face to face or online for others requires another set of skills on top, and you’ll need to practice.

Read at community events or offer free readings via your website – or join TABI and go through the procedure to become a Free Reader there – to find out more about what it’s actually like to read for clients.

Assess your online presence. If you want to market your tarot readings online, you’ll need a decent website. Read: a Tumblr probably won’t cut it if you’re serious! Still, it’s a great place to start networking and building your experience. Better than this is a proper blog, where you can establish your own ‘voice’.

If you need help starting up a blog, try I Can Build a Blog – it’s full of resources and tutorials. And if you do want a proper website, I’m your gal :)

Get your relationship with money straight. If you think it’s bad to charge for tarot readings then you’re not going to get anywhere. Figure out what you feel about this and get a straight-up answer in your mind to the question of charging for your time, skills and energy. Here’s an interesting post about that from Beth Owl’s Daughter.

Have a clear code of ethics/terms and conditions. This is about setting your boundaries, protecting you, protecting your clients and making sure that people know what to expect from a reading with you. If you don’t predict the future – make sure they know this. If you like to swear a lot in your readings, give your clients a heads up so they can decide if your style is right for them.

Get your head around tax, registering your business, insurance and the other legal stuff that business owners need to know. It’s tempting to stick your head in the sand – if you find yourself doing this, then you’re not ready to run your own business.

Don’t expect to make it happen overnight. Tarot reading is still a kooky thing to do – not everyone is gonna jump up and want to pay for a reading the moment you announce your availability. Be ready for the long haul. Build your reputation.

practicing-tarot-reading

Mo and Jenny practicing reading for each other at a local tarot group

Further reading: tarot business resources

The classic book on setting up a tarot business is Professional Tarot by Christine Jette. It’s a little dated (2003) but well worth reading as it covers everything you need to think about in order to get your business up and running, except for web marketing.

The go-to person for establishing or developing your tarot business is Theresa Reed, AKA The Tarot LadyYep, she’s a long-time professional tarot reader, but she’s also a leading tarot business advisor, with all kinds of packages and products to help you find your feet as a professional tarotist:

ALSO: Kelly-Ann Maddox of The Four Queens recently wrote a series of blog posts on running a spiritual business for Global Entrepreneur Week. There’s some great advice here about personal boundaries, marketing your business and more. Read Kelly-Ann’s posts here.

If you’re serious about making money from tarot, there is so much advice out there online to help you think around the complexities of starting your own business. Explore the web, Google stuff, be prepared to deal with ‘business speak’.

Remember that most of the tools you need to run your own biz aren’t specific to tarot – look beyond the esoteric world and get reading creative/small business blogs. These were started by people just like you, who decided to make a living doing what they love, and sharing their journey with the world.

A few small business blogs I love:

Tara Swiger – Tara is just the coolest person ever. She started out with her own hand-dyed yarn company, learned a shedload of lessons, and provides really generous, gentle, right-on advice for creative small business owners.

Hey Shenee! – This is proper shiny, but down to earth and practical – full of punchy tips. And Shenee’s Brand Quiz is good fun.

The Design Trust – An educational resource for anyone wanting to start their own business. There is so much here I don’t know where to start!

Paul Jarvis – I’ve not taken Paul’s online course yet but I’ve read a couple of his books and this man speaks the truth. I really, really love his work (he’s a web designer too) and his approach to the freelance ‘lifestyle’. Enjoy!

Sarah von Bargen – Sarah’s small business blog teaches me something new every time she posts. She really knows what she’s talking about and has loads of sound, real-life ideas about marketing and building client relationships.

Leonie Dawson – Leonie’s sugar-sweet ‘we’re all business goddesses’ approach isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but the woman talks so much sense that you seriously can’t diss this.

Legal stuff

Help and advice around registering your business, tax and legal stuff is country specific. Search your government website or Google for your country’s guidance on registering a business and paying your taxes and national insurance.

For a simple tarot reading business this stuff won’t be too complicated or hard, but you will have to take care of it if you’re serious about making a living from tarot. Don’t let this put you off – it’s just part of being a grown up and owning a proper business.


Are you a tarot business owner? Got some advice to share? Or maybe you’re just about to start? Add your thoughts in the comments, or post a link to your favourite business blog!

14 comments

  1. thetarotlady says:

    Thank you so much for the generous mention! I also did what you did – jumped right in. I would NOT recommend that route to most people! LOL I had to learn to swim the hard way – but for me, that worked well. For a lot of people, it’s smarter to start this as a side hustle and then wean from the day job.

    I also want to add: no matter how long you are at your game (I’ve been reading professionally for about twenty five years now), you must keep learning. Business changes and evolves. If I was doing my biz the same way as I was ten years ago, I’d be struggling. Keep learning, keep trying new things, keep an open mind, and give your business a lotta love! :)

    • Beth Maiden
      Beth Maiden says:

      Ha, yes I’ve always been of the ‘jump into the water and you’ll probably learn to swim’ persuasion but that’s definitely not for everyone. For most, building up your biz in the evenings, putting away savings from your day job, gradually working to a point where you’re ready to go solo is a lot safer and smoother.

      And oh my god – well I’ve only been at this five years but I can’t see how you would ever stop learning!! I guess one big business mistake people make is to decide they know it all – those are the peeps who’ll be left behind when technology changes, or who don’t keep up with new developments in tarot, or who end up out of touch with what their customers actually want.

    • Beth Maiden
      Beth Maiden says:

      My pleasure Monika! I think it can help people to read a real-life story rather than ‘just’ tips – but everyone’s path is different. I’d love to hear how others started up their tarot (or any other) businesses :)

  2. Thank you so much for mentioning my Global Entrepreneurship Week blog posts. :) I’m so pleased that they have been helpful to people and can continue to be.. It’s such an amazing feeling to actually be making your passion profitable. I really don’t think there’s any way to describe it. It’s nice to be able to encourage and help others to get there if they want to, and this blog post is positive and uplifting but also realistic and down-to-earth which is awesome. x

  3. Donnalee says:

    I love this practical article with the little-but-crucial items presented as lists–very helpful!–and especially love the links: the one to making a blog will get my attention in about one minute, because I need the upgrades ASAP! I have already subscribed to many of the mentioned sites today, which is good for everybody. Thanks again for a helpful post!

  4. Siobhan Rene says:

    What a lovely resource!! Packed with solid advice and references to people with solid advice. The only thing I might add is a mention of BenebellWen.com. Her blog is hilarious and insightful and pretty regularly she drops ridiculously thorough and useful tips for pro tarotists.

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