Let’s be up front: I am using the word “tarot” here because it’s what my business was first built around. For simplicity’s sake, I am just going to keep using the word tarot throughout, but this article can apply to anyone who is doing client-centered spiritual, magical, or healing work.
You love tarot. It’s been your dream to read professionally and you’ve been working your ass off to grow your reputation. Word’s getting out and your client list is expanding.
But something’s wrong. You’re tired, stressed, and struggling to make time for yourself.
So what gives?
I think most of us start our tarot businesses because we love tarot. It’s a hobby, a passion, and a spiritual path. We have fun with it, find value through it, and believe in sharing it with others.
When you turn an interest into a vocation, you have to remember that it’s not going to feel the same as it used to.
When you go pro, tarot is no longer just tarot. It becomes your job, and even if it’s a job you love, it is still work. And like any kind of work, it can lead to burnout if you’re not careful.
Especially if you want to take your tarot practice full-time, or already are. But even if tarot is your side-hustle, if you’re charging money for it, there are professional standards you need to live up to.
Paying clients have different expectations than your friends will.
And if you’re really serious about building a long-term, sustainable tarot business – even on a part-time basis – you’re going to have different expectations for yourself, too.
Ambition, achievement, security, and success will all become part of your relationship with tarot if your sights are set on building a thriving business.
But those pressures aren’t always easy to navigate. Here are some reasons your tarot business might be burning you out.
1. You need better processes.
It always amazes me how many people let clients book appointments any which way: Via email, text, Facebook, Instagram, and more.
Hot tip: Don’t use multiple inboxes or multiple modes of communication. If you are on various social media platforms, and you have a website, and, and, and…you can have people coming at you from all directions.
It takes time to go back and forth to set up appointments in this way. When I used to do bookings by email, it sometimes took up to 20 messages before we nailed a time.
Some tarot readers make the mistake of thinking that they’re only working once they’re in front of a client and the session has begun. But here’s the thing: As soon as you are emailing, DMing, or texting with a potential customer, you are working.
Having solid processes in place allows you to streamline bookings, cancellations, rescheduling, and more.
The fix: First, if you don’t have a website, make one, and then get a good scheduling app to integrate into your site.
There are a lot of scheduling apps out there these days. I use Acuity (no affiliation, just an honest recommendation.) Generally, I find paid apps far more reliable than free ones. Make the investment.
Update your calendar to reflect your availability, and let clients book themselves in so that you’re no longer going back and forth with each other. It will save you so much time (and some apps even integrate with platforms like Instagram).
(Sidenote: Selling your services strictly through Instagram or other social media platforms is very right now. You don’t own your content and if any of those companies close, or change their policies, you lose your platform. It’s also not a reliable way to build a client base that you can reconnect with down the road.)
2. You are letting your clients determine your schedule.
When I first went full-time with my tarot business, I figured I should be as available as possible at first in order to build my business and get myself established.
So I offered appointments every day of the week, from 11am to 8pm.
Talk about long days, right? I realized, eventually, that this wasn’t a real schedule. I was just making myself available whenever someone wanted a reading. I hadn’t worked out any days off for myself, or days to run the rest of my business.
One thing this all taught me is that I can’t be everything to everyone. And that means I can’t be available every day.
The truth is, there will always be people who need weekend appointments, evening appointments, and weekday appointments. You really can make your own schedule in this industry.
That can be so freeing, but also overwhelming. Are there better days than others? My schedule has evolved a lot over time. The best way to start is by asking yourself what you can realistically commit to.
If you make a punishing schedule where your social life is squeezed out and you’re seeing clients morning, noon, and night because you want to convenience as many people as possible, you will lose yourself very quickly.
Instead, start with this:
How many clients can you see in a day? This is different from how many you want to see. If you want to see six, but can only manage three, then three is your number.
How many days a week do you want to see clients? I don’t read tarot five days a week – it wouldn’t leave me with any time to write, teach, or plan new projects. Know your number and offer availability from there.
When are you off the clock, and why? We all have obligations outside of our client work. Honour your commitments on all levels, not just to your business.
Tell clients when you are available to work. Don’t be afraid to stick to it. It can be hard to say no, and scary to think that people might go elsewhere if you can’t meet them on their terms.
If someone really wants a reading from you, they will make it work. If your schedules don’t synch up, let it go. There are lots of other clients out there for you.
3. You are taking the idea of “being of service” too far
I’ll level with you: I find the phrase “being of service” to be completely exhausting.
We hear it a lot in spiritual capacities, but some people take it way too literally. To the point where they don’t allow themselves to explore their own boundaries, or live within their limitations.
And we all have limitations.
Once again, you can only do so much. While so many of us start spiritually-based businesses because we do want to be of service, to help people, to share tools like tarot because we believe in them so much…it doesn’t mean you can help people all the time.
And sadly, there are going to be times in your tarot career when people treat you like a vending machine.
If you’ve ever read cards at a big party, you know the pressure that comes when a line-up of people starts to snake through the venue and you’re not sure you’ll be able to give everyone a turn.
Or when you receive an antsy email from someone who “must absolutely see you today”…even though you aren’t feeling well and have a full client docket already. And yet, you can hear yourself saying:
“I’m here to be of service, so Spirit must want me to step up.”
We always want to be busy and booked up in our practices, but there can come a point where you just can’t take on any more work.
I’ve had times where I have taken on as much as possible and had people send very resentful emails complaining that my calendar is closed.
And those are the times when it’s tempting to make an exception.
Would it have been healthy for me to take on more work? Probably not.
Would the quality of my work have suffered? I am sure of it.
It’s not always easy to say no, especially when your compassion is telling you to say yes.
How about being of service to yourself, too?
If you can’t, you can’t. No one needs to know why you’re not available.
The fix: Run a wait list and let people know when you’re available again. Practice saying no, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Trust your intuition when it tells you to take a break.
4. Your clients have too much access to you
This ties into Point #1, when we talked processes, but I want to reiterate it:
I really discourage people from contacting me any other way than via email. It’s easiest for me to have one place for all of my professional communication.
It’s also easy for me to control when I’m checking those messages. I have certain times of day when I read my email, and I no longer check email on my phone.
If I’m taking time off, I can set up an auto-responder on my email to let people know I won’t be answering emails while I’m away.
Texting, phone calls, and social media messages don’t allow for the same kind of distance. Texting with clients can be a very slippery slope, because it erodes any “office hours” you have in place if people come to expect that they can reach out any time.
The fix: Set your office hours and stick to them. Know your boundaries, and let people know the best ways to get in touch with you, and when they can expect to hear back.
5. You’re not diversifying your income
If you’re running a tarot business as a side-hustle, it might be enough to just offer tarot readings.
But if you’re trying to make it as a full-time reader, you have to get used to doing a high volume of readings every month. In peak seasons, readers can be in high demand.
It’s a lot of energy to put out there, though. And with appointment-based work, it’s easy to reach an earning ceiling. To give yourself a raise, you either need to raise your rates, or add more hours to your client schedule…which is another road to burnout.
Plus, full schedules can leave you with little wiggle room for the unexpected. You might need to take a sick day, or might just want a day off to catch up something.
If you’re feeling claustrophobic with your client load, consider other ways to make sales.
Teaching workshops, selling e-books, or creating pre-recorded classes or courses can be a great way to pad your income so that you’re not always relying on one-on-one appointments.
Tip: Make time to make things. It’s hard to create if you’re in front of clients all day. Block time off in your schedule to work on a project. It might feel strange at first to turn down client work, but what you create can help generate sales for months or years to come.
Think of it as an investment in your business.
6. You’re treating your tarot business like a 9-5
The entrepreneurial path is not like the 9-5 world. You’re not going to make the same amount of money every day.
You’re also not going to work eight hours a day. Some days will be long. Some will be short. When we do tarot readings or other energy work, a couple of hours in session might feel like you just put in eight hours.
Time is non-linear in this world, and so is money.
The road to burnout here is paved with people who expect that they can do 35-40 billable hours of readings a week, or who consistently push through their exhaustion.
Remember that being self-employed often takes more work, but it shouldn’t stifle your freedom altogether.
Your business has ebbs and flows, and so do you. Don’t force yourself to operate at the same level all the time.
For example: If I am teaching an evening workshop, I don’t book any private readings that day. If I do, I’m setting myself up for a long work day, and I know any private readings will take up the energy I’ll need for class. This is a path that’s about balance, not robotic productivity.
7. You’re not charging enough
So many tarot readers undercharge for their work.
I’m not advocating anyone charge exorbitantly for their readings (I once saw a reader charging $700 an hour, which is audacious in my opinion), but I do think we need to be realistic about how many readings we can do in a week, what our costs are, and what we need to take home on top of that. (If you want to read more about charging for tarot readings, I’ve got a blog on that right here.)
The cheaper your readings, the more you will need to do to make ends meet.
Aim to be profitable in your work. If you are profitable, it will show in the energy you bring to your sessions, and it will allow you to make the time and space you need in your work and business to breathe.
Undercharging doesn’t only burn us out, but it can lead to resentment towards our work, too. If you’re not getting paid enough, you won’t be able to sustain yourself in the long-term.
Decide to play the long game. Commit to your practice, and to yourself.
Until next time,
Want some help figuring out your spiritually-based business? Book a reading with me and let’s get things sorted.