The business of tarot: How much to charge for your tarot readings

depositphotos_42455827-Old-tarot-cards-rotating-andTalking about money can be uncomfortable. Especially when it comes to asking for it.

And that’s why it can be so, so hard to know how much to charge for your tarot readings, especially if you are just starting out as a professional reader.

When I was first getting my business off the ground, I had no idea what to charge. I’d been getting readings as a client for years, and I knew what they charged, but I told myself, “Those people are way more established than I am. I can’t charge at their prices. I have to work up to that, right?”

Wrong. I realized really quickly that I was totally selling myself short, and dangerously so. I knew what I needed to make just to get by every month, but my prices were so low that I needed to really bust my butt just to make ends meet.

I was also putting tons of time into the work I was doing – creating custom tarot spreads; sending detailed, follow-up notes; and of course, there was the time spent keeping my reading space clean and organized for in-person clients.

In other words: A one-hour reading would actually take me upwards of two hours to prepare for and wrap-up, and I had to start taking my labour into account, not just face-time with clients.

Ace of PentaclesI realized I needed to work more efficiently, but I also realized that I needed to offer prices and services that better reflected the time and energy that went into my work – while making sure that I felt supported by my business overall.

If you’re just getting started in your tarot business, you might not be sure what your pricing should look like, though. It’s not uncommon for readers to start out with lower prices.

There can be resistance around being realistic about how much you need to make, want to make, and feel you deserve to make.

You might think that starting out with lower prices can be a way to test the waters to see what people are willing to pay, rather than basing prices off of true needs, like monthly bills that have to get paid somehow.

It can also be a sign you’re battling with some insecurities about whether your readings are “good enough” to command a fair price. “What if people don’t feel they got their money’s worth?” Customer satisfaction is a valid aim, and one that every business – spiritual or otherwise – has to grapple with.

And underselling yourself can also come from having checked out the competition and felt that you are not established enough, not good enough, just…not enough in general to enter into that same price range.

You don’t have to charge prices that feel exorbitant to you, or that price out clients you’d like to work with. I’ve seen some readers charging hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, which is clearly going to make their services inaccessible to many. 

But if you are really looking to run a tarot business that can support you full-time – even if you are starting out with it on a part-time basis – charge your true rate now. Don’t wait until later to figure it out.

Because even if you’re not planning on making this a full-time gig, you just never know what kind of decisions you might face down the road. There might come a day when you do want to go full-time, and it will be really hard to up your rates if you need to. Especially if your loyal clients are used to part-time prices.

Your true rate should cover your costs – tangible and intangible. That means your labour – your time and energy – but it also means any hard expenses like website maintenance, subscriptions or other fees, and the cost of your workspace. And don’t forget that the cost of living is always on the rise, so eventually, you might have to raise your prices even if you’re at a comfortable pricepoint. I’ve had to raise my rates in the past, and it can be a tough decision to face.

For me, I see clients on Skype, on the phone, and in-person. If I am calling a client on the phone, I am still using Skype to do that, which costs me in Skype credits. But that’s the point: It costs me. So my pricing needs to cover that.

When people come to see me in-person, they are coming to my living room. That might seem free, but I still have to pay the rent here. So my pricing needs to help provide me with a space to live and work.

If you’re seeing clients in-person, whether at home or in a rented office space, there are other costs, too – some that customers may not think about. Toilet paper, Kleenex, and cleaning products to keep things spic and span are all part of the costs – plus the time to keep everything professional and proper.

Sure, I would have to buy those things anyway, but I use them and buy them way more often with people coming in and out of here week after week.

That means the washroom gets cleaned every day. That means time spent vacuuming and cleaning the floors every day. That means washing the drinking glasses that clients are using.

None of these things are free. They are things clients might not see as part of what they are buying, though. Because to them, they are paying for a reading. But your work goes well beyond the time spent on delivering that reading.

So set your rate in a way that is fair and true to your time and energy – and your cost of living if tarot is going to pay some, or all, of the bills. 

Because one mistake in setting your prices based off of what you believe people are willing to pay is that when you do want to raise your prices, those clients might not follow you. Which is why it’s important to set yourself up with a fair rate from the start. And yes, you can always raise your prices down the road, but at least give yourself a realistic base to start with, not one that you know is way too low to sustain you. bigstock-Still-life-with-esoteric-objec-15363872-360x260

For me personally, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. I started working at the age of 11 and relied on minimum wage jobs until my college years. I remember the first tarot reading I got at the age of 17. It was $35, and I was making $6.85 an hour at a mall. Even then, that $35 was a lot to me – it would eat up the bulk of a full shift at my job. 

That memory is also why I offer readings at different price points.

I also run a sale or two every season on my readings and classes, all aiming to keep my services remain accessible for a range of clients while being true to my situation, which is that tarot is my main source of income.

So be clear about who you want to serve, and how, while remaining realistic about what your base costs are and what your profit needs to be. Leave yourself some wiggle room for rainy days, unexpected costs, rent hikes, and everything else that life throws your way…good and bad.

Still feeling some resistance? Here’s a tarot spread to help navigate your relationship with money as you get your business going:  

1. What value do I offer as a tarot reader?
2. How can I start to honour this value through my business?
3. What can I do to strengthen my relationship to money?
4. How can this relationship transform in the year ahead?
5. What can I do to create a solid foundation through my work overall?

Money spread

Until next time,

Liz xo

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