How we approach email tarot readings

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Lately, I’ve received a fair few questions from folks who are in the early days of offering email tarot readings.

Questions like…

I can’t seem to push through and finish this reading – what should I do?

How do you approach time management when it comes to email readings?

The energy feels off with this particular client – should I do the reading?

How do you format and deliver email tarot readings?

How can I create consistency in my readings?

And so on.

If you offer email readings (paid for or for free) you’ve probably wondered some of these things yourself – I know I have.

I’ve been offering email tarot readings for about five years. I’ve learned a lot in that time and I’ve shared my advice below. Before that, though, I thought it would be helpful to call in the advice of a person who has been at it far longer: Theresa Reed, AKA The Tarot Lady. Here’s what she had to say:

Theresa’s handy-dandy advice for delivering email readings without tears (or tearing your hair out).

So you’ve decided to venture into the email tarot reading world and are feeling a bit overwhelmed. Or maybe you’re thinking about it but don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve been at it for a bit…and you still aren’t sure if you’re delivering enough.

I’ve been doing tarot readings via email for a long time and I love ‘em!

It’s a mega-quick way to serve my clients plus a great offering for those who prefer their tarot readings in print form (psst…I prefer getting reading this way myself because I’m a visual gal, not audio).  My clients also dig ‘em because they get access to their burning questions fast – without having to wait out an opening on my calendar.

Sounds like a win/win, right?

In theory, it is. BUT there is a down side to doing email readings.  They are time consuming and if you have a big queue of ‘em, you might find yourself chained to the computer for hours – with little time left over for creative projects or one-on-one work. And then there’s the scope creep: people who try to step all over your boundaries to try to “get their money’s worth” with constant follow up questions.  And sometimes…you may even find that no matter how hard you try, the connection isn’t there.

What do you do with those conundrums?

Here’s my best advice for delivering the goods and feeling good about it too.

Be sure you are charging enough.  How much time does it take you to complete each reading?  Figure out the time spent composing your email readings and then charge based on that.  Do not undercharge or you will end up resenting those email readings when they come in the door.

Always deliver when you say you will. Which means: you need to be honest with yourself on how fast you can get the work done.  If you’re working as a full time reader like me, you may find that you can grind them out within 24 or 48 hours. But if you’re juggling a full time job and two kids, you may find it takes seven days. Only promise what you can reasonably deliver – and then, try to deliver early.  It will delight your clients.

Manage your time well.  On the days I offer email readings, I batch ‘em and set aside time to hammer on until they are all completed.  This works well for me because I get into my groove and it flows like hot lava.  You might find that you work better spreading them out through the day. Figure out when you’re in the zone (and rested) and then schedule in that time to take care of them.

When you’re doing email readings, shut off all electronic distractions.  That means your social media, music, cell phone, etc. are off.  You want to be focused so your readings are clear as a bell.

I recommend sticking to a simple format.  Keep your readings clean, clear, and concise.  You don’t want to overwhelm the client.  I prefer a three card reading, a paragraph for each card.  This works well for me.  (I’ve received email readings from people who sent me over a three page PDF and frankly, I could barely get through it or make heads and tails out of it.  In my opinion, email readings deliver a bigger punch when they are succinct.)

Attaching images is up to you. If you are going this route, you may want to contact the deck designer to make sure they are cool with that.  Some might not be!  (I never attach images – I let the client know which cards I’m using and they can look them up online themselves.)

From time to time, you may come across someone that you just don’t jive with.  In those rare cases, it is better to be honest and refund the money rather than trying to push through it.

Set strong boundaries with your clients.  I have encountered some people who want to come back with additional questions often with the excuse “being confused” or “needing more details.”  I have found that these tend to be people who want to “get their money’s worth” and if you give them an inch, they will bombard you with relentless follow up questions that will turn your twenty minute reading into an hour or more…without any offer of payment.  My rule: once the reading leaves my hands, it’s done.  I don’t allow endless emails or “clarifying questions.”  This policy usually keeps those types away.

Lastly, be clear on your capacity.  I’ve learned that I cannot be available 24/7 like a tarot convenience store.  I now take the button down on weekends, holidays, and vacations as well as any time when I need that time for a heavy writing project.  This has saved my sanity (and my arthritic hands!).  Don’t be afraid to close up shop and give yourself a break.  You’ll be glad you did – and you’ll remain fresh and ready to serve with a smile and a click of your mouse.

Those are some of my best tips, friends.

Keep tarot-ing and typing happily!

Blessings,

Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady


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What I’ve learned from five years of email tarot reading

Unlike Theresa’s, my email tarot readings tend to be long. Short, sharp, fast advice just isn’t my area – instead, I love presenting my querents with an indulgent, in-depth personal essay that they can curl up with and really get into. Different strokes for different folks!

This style of reading presents its challenges. Most days, it’s no problem for me to tuck myself away and do several of these readings. Other times, I don’t feel I have it in me to give what I’d like to, and it’s a battle to make myself sit down and do my work. This obviously doesn’t make for a sustainable, enjoyable practice, or for happy querents! And I know it’s something many of you are struggling with.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with different approaches to these readings, looking for ways to deliver what I want to, to increasing numbers of clients, without burning out or becoming a terrible procrastinator. Here’s my advice:

Time management. My best, best advice for anyone who provides email tarot readings is: set a timer. Decide how long a reading takes, and give that same amount of time to every reading.

It sounds crass, but it works:

  • It helps you to remember what clients are paying for. If you imagine they are paying for ‘a tarot reading’, it’s hard to draw boundaries around what you are actually giving. But if you remember that they are paying for your time, (and the energy and words you can convey in that time), this is a quantifiable thing that can be boundaried. It has a beginning and an end and you are in control of both of these. If you want to go the extra mile, that’s up to you, but you’re aware of what your customer has paid for and how to deliver it.
  • You’ll deliver a better service. Whilst limiting your time sounds, well, limiting, the opposite feels true in practice. No matter what else you have on your to-do list, you know that within a certain space of time you will have this reading done. This gives you the freedom to focus all of your energy on this one particular person and their cards. It’s so much better, and easier, and kinder, to provide half an hour of truly focused energy that a whole afternoon of meandering, distracted, rambling words.
  • It’s fair. Everyone gets the same amount of your time and energy.

When something feels genuinely off. Some clients and/or some questions just don’t feel right. Listen to this feeling, make sure you’re not just procrastinating, and if you truly don’t want to carry out the reading, reply to the querent and explain that you don’t feel you’re the tarot reader for them. Provide a complete and immediate refund, and if it feels right, refer them to another reader who you feel is more appropriate for them (e.g. when I feel that someone is asking for a future prediction, I’ll refer them to my friend Melissa, who offers predictive readings.)

The key to doing this confidently is having a clear code of ethics/terms and conditions. Mine state that I won’t read for third parties, won’t predict the future, and that I reserve the right to refuse any reading. Querents agree to this when they purchase a reading, which makes it a lot easier to turn a request down when I need to.

Formatting and consistency. I use a pre-formatted document template. It has my logo and a few lines of welcome and introduction, so all I have to do is actually add the reading. I also add a photograph of the spread, as I often refer to visual cues in my readings. I save readings to Dropbox, which allows me to send a link to the reading, rather than sending big attachments.

Making space. At the time of writing this, I am between homes and don’t have a dedicated personal space for reading. And I’m struggling with that. The times when I know I’m delivering the very best readings I can are the times when I’ve had access to a dedicated space for tarot. A space I can walk into and be in tarot mode. A space that’s just for me and my cards and the energy of my querent, where I can think and feel and write in peace.

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Of course, not everyone has access to this luxury. I’ve been delivering readings all year without this space, and I’m happy with the service I’m providing. Judging by the feedback I’m getting, querents are happy too. But I know that my practice is really at its very best when it is given what it needs: its own space.

Lastly, to echo Theresa, be clear on your capacity. There is a temptation when you offer email readings to be available all the time, perhaps driven by a fear of missing out on valuable clients or an over-zealous sense of service. I find my business is happier and more sustainable – and my service better – when I am in control of my own time, and I have no qualms about taking down my order form when life is hectic, or I need a break (for example, I’ll be taking it down next week, when I move house!)

Remember that you are not a robot, and your time and your business belong to you. Providing tarot readings is an honour, a privilege, and a joy, but it’s up to you to prevent it turning from something you love into another way to be stressed, unhappy or burnt out.

On that note, I want to mention Theresa’s programme, Get In Charge. It provides 21 practical lessons (one a day) to help you take control of your tarot (or similar) business. If you’re serious about making sustainable living through tarot, astrology or other spiritual services, you’ll find this short, actionable course is full of advice to help you create a sound structure for your business.


I would love to hear from the other email tarot readers out there!

What advice do you have for folks who are just starting into this world, or who are struggling? Do share your tips below.

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16 comments

  1. anemonerosie says:

    I don’t mind when my querents come back for follow-up questions, however, there is a limit. With me they get one draw (the draw that they’re paying for) and I will often re-word whatever I originally said as answer to their questions should they come back to me.

    If the question starts with “what I really meant to ask is…” or “what I was really asking is…” or any number of variations on that theme then they are invited to purchase another reading with me. If they’re asking other questions I’ll draw an Oracle card (one without long written messages, so one like Earth Magic or Earthbound – I don’t want them interpreting it themselves at this point since they will have more questions) and use that to provide them with closure. That Oracle card is a heavy hitter as it wraps up the reading and also has to provide a sense of finality. If I’m drawing an Oracle card for you you’re not getting more out of me without paying for another reading! It’s a very gentle way to be firm about boundaries and the vast majority of my querents understand without asking that it means “okay. Enough is enough.”

    Another thing worth mentioning is the burnout thing. If you’re just totally not feeling it, then that’s okay even while it isn’t much fun. It simply means that you need a day (or more) off, and that it’s time to up your self-care practices. How are you looking after yourself? You have to look after yourself, if you’re doing email readings. In fact, your clients are paying for you to be grounded and in your best state, so charge fairly as they’re also paying for your personal healing/cleansing/whatever you call it rituals.

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      I love this advice. So great you’ve found a way to allow a very little ‘extra’ without overstepping your own boundaries – it feels really empowering.

  2. lefthandtarot says:

    Typing out written emails in TXT or PDF format is yesterday’s technology. It’s faster, easier, and simply more expressive to use MP3 or any of a number of streaming video services to make the service more enjoyable for everybody involved!

      • lefthandtarot says:

        No, *writing* will never be yesterday’s technology, but *delivering readings in a written format when video and audio now easily available* is yesterday’s technology.

        • Beth
          Beth says:

          I don’t think it’s about whether a ‘technology’ is old or new, it’s more about the needs and/or preference of the client or reader. Written is one form, audio is another. It’s like books vs audiobooks. Both are cool! Both give you a different experience. I personally love to receive (and deliver) information in written format, though I get that others like different formats.

        • Power Femme says:

          Video and audio might be preferable for some clients and it is amazing that there are so many different ways for us to deliver distance readings. However, like Beth, I am extremely hesitant to deem written formats as outmoded. We must not forget that our clients do not come to us with identical bodies or minds. If you have a Deaf or Hard of hearing client, for example, an MP3 is simply not an accessible option. Additionally, I have found that many people like having the text they can print our, tuck in a journal, mark up, and save for another time.

  3. Jill Campana says:

    I’ll add my two cents here even though I’m a brand new tarot reader — Theresa Reed is my mentor, so enough said, right?? I only do email readings right now and I love them. I’m a blend of yours and Theresa’s methods in that I do a 3-card reading but I do more than a paragraph for each card. I’ve received great feedback which makes me tingle all over. I do suggest to the querent that if they have questions to let me know and I am happy to extrapolate a bit more on the same reading. I haven’t had much of that yet. I don’t have a website yet, so my readings are word of mouth and people that I know or who are referred to me by friends. I have a lot to do for my tarot business and through the offerings of seasoned tarot readers such as yourself and Theresa, I am sure I will be in full operation by 2017 — that is my intention. I have a couple of other businesses which take a lot of my time and tarot will be a wonderful addition. Thank you for the opportunity to add my comment!

  4. Krystyna says:

    Most of my clients prefer a written reading, I only have a very small percentage who request an audio or video. I also find that written readings allow me more time to connect to the client’s question, as opposed to an audio or video reading where I’m umming and arring throughout while I piece the reading together.

  5. carolina says:

    Thanks for sharing all this valuable information, friends. I’ve been giving friends free readings in exchange for feedback, but I fell it’s about time to start doing it as a paid job. I have twin babies and the email reading format seems just great for me: I can work when my babies fall asleep, I can deliver the reading in silence with my girls near me, aaaaand I’m a bit shy, so this way I can feel “safe” and not “exposed”. Sounds great to me! In my country, as far as I’ve learned, the email reading format is not common. I’d love to ask some advice on how to “introduce” this type of reading. People here expect you to go to their home to do the reading, or that you have an office to receive them. How did/do you explain your querents the type of reading you do? Would anybody share with me a link to their website or blog where I can read different ways of introducing this type of reading? Hope I’ve conveyed my ideas clearly, excuse me if not, since English is not my mother tongue :) Thank you! <3

  6. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for this great article/discussion. I’ve been offering email readings for about a year now, and my clients love them. There is something about the written format and keepsake PDF they can return to over and over again that has long lasting power. But, I am struggling with it because email readings take so much of my time. Often about 4x as long as a video reading. I don’t feel right charging more for an email reading that has 5 cards, for example, than a live reading that includes a 9-card spread, but in reality the first will take longer. So I am thinking of transitioning to all video and getting rid of the written format. I don’t really want to, but I just can’t seem to cut the time down to make it workable for me. Even when I focus and close down email/social/phone. Anyone else been through this?

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      Yes, written readings sure do take some time I find! For me that’s part of the cost, as I said, remember that clients are paying for your time (which includes the skills you can deliver in that time) and charge accordingly. What is an hour of your time worth, what is half an hour worth, etc. If you can’t make the price you’d need to charge feel right, then you’re probably right to switch to a swifter format.

      Theresa’s method of just one paragraph per card is another approach – so her email readings are much more concise and thus quicker to do.

    • Karen Grace Aung says:

      Hi Charlotte. If you Google “Voice to Text” or “Speech Recognition Software” lots of options will come up for software you can install and then when you speak, it turns it into text! Now, I’m not qualified to advise any particular ones, as I’ve only just had the idea to look into it. but if it’s helpful.. I’m happy! xx

  7. Fred says:

    What a fantastic article!!! I’ve been a tarot reader off-and-on for 30+ years now. Mainly face-to-face, for friends, and clients.

    I’ve always felt some what daunted by email readings. Last year as a fund raiser for a Divination Suite at PantheaCon I offered year readings as a perk. I wound up doing audio recordings for the folks that got year readings. My stream of consciousness comes out of my mouth much easier than typing it up, LOL.

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