Why Your New Tarot Business Might Fail
(And How to Make It Work)
As my friend Jenna Matlin says, tarot is having a moment. Psychism, of course, has been popular throughout history. There have always been seers, oracles and diviners. I often joke that if prostitution was the first profession, psychic reading was the second. (Although my midwife friends insist that the second profession was midwifery.)
Tarot, and cartomancy in general, are newer tools of the psychic trade. Long before we had cardboard and printing presses, we had stones, beans and bones. Perhaps tarot’s current popularity is borne simply of its modern accessibility.
Whatever the reason, I am thrilled that there are now more tarot decks, tarot classes, tarot groups and tarot readers than ever before in history. Yet, there is another trend that I see that is a bit more concerning. That is the trend of enthusiastic new tarot professionals leaving the industry as quickly as they came in.
Jenna and I discussed this in our last informal Tarot Biz Chat. Her take is that pro tarot readers can burn out quickly, and that many new tarotists don’t know how to protect themselves from burnout.
She has a point. I have seen burned out readers retire with drama and fanfare, although usually after several decades of successful practice, not several months or years.
I believe there are a multitude of reasons talented new tarot pros often quickly throw in the towel, and some of those reasons don’t include burnout. Here are some of the problems I have seen in the ventures of my students and colleagues over the past twenty-five years, along with some advice on what to do differently.
You Started Pro Reading Before You Were Ready
This is an easy trap. Tarot teachers and business coaches will encourage you to be brave and get out there without evaluating whether you are truly ready. Psychic fair operators will push to get your butt in a chair as quickly as possible because they are under-staffed.
It might be that you felt encouraged because you did a few practice readings that went really well. Perhaps you had an immediate financial problem and felt tarot could be a source of much-needed revenue.
The solution here isn’t to quit, but to back off and brush up. Sometimes a tarot reading flows smoothly. All the cards make sense in their positions and appear to answer questions succinctly and definitively. It’s those readings that fool us into believing tarot reading is easy. When the cards don’t make sense at first, or the client communicates in a challenging way, we need to rely on our studied knowledge and the experience we gained from countless hours of practice.
You Aren’t Practicing Good Psychic Hygiene
This is where I think Jenna’s theory about burnout really applies. If you feel drained after a reading, or if you are having a hard time receiving intuition on demand, or if there are days you just don’t feel like doing a reading, it’s possible you aren’t doing the energy work that is necessary for professional tarot.
The trick to fix this is fairly simple. Make sure you do strong energy work to create sacred space for each reading. Connect yourself to both earth and heaven, and become a straw, or a conduit, for energy.
Give nothing of yourself to your client and take no energy from them. Serve them with the limitless supply of energy that you pull, as a conduit, from earth and heaven.
After the reading, shake your energy off, and consciously release your client.
You should emerge from a long day of readings feeling energized, not drained. If that is not what is happening, meditate, breathe, work with your energy and be a better straw.
You Aren’t Attracting Enough Business
Very often when I hear this complaint it is followed by a list of reasons excuses explaining why it just isn’t possible to gain new clients. Those excuses often include geography. That is, the belief that people where you live just aren’t into tarot, or don’t like getting readings, or believe that this stuff is evil.
I will be the first to tell you that every geographic area is different, and some are easier to work than others. However, the difference is not that people in some areas enjoy what we do and people in other areas don’t. The difference is that in some areas, people are more closeted about it, and therefore you have to work harder to identify and serve them.
On the flip side, if you are in a mystic-friendly location, you might feel the market is choked and there is no room for you. That’s an excuse, too. If you are a good reader, there will always be people who want to see you.
Another reason readers don’t attract business is they don’t present themselves with confidence. Clients will only be as confident in you as you are in yourself.
Another problem is you might be marketing to the wrong demographic. It’s amazing how often I see tarot readers marketing to other tarot readers. While we do sometimes read for each other, your tarot friends and students will not always be your best source of clients. The vast majority of your clients will be people who want answers and insight and don’t give two pents about tarot, metaphysics, spirituality or how you derive your information.
Your Goals Aren’t Clear, or Your Expectations Aren’t Realistic
Perhaps you attended a tarot party and watched a mediocre reader make a thousand dollars in an evening. Perhaps you believed a shyster tarot business coach when they told you that it’s easy to make a six-figure income with tarot. Perhaps you believe that memorizing seventy-eight key words is all it takes to give a meaningful tarot reading.
I have met many aspiring tarot pros with unrealistic expectations of both the earning potential of a tarot reader and the ease with which they could do the work and make the money.
Legitimate tarot reading can be moderately lucrative, but only if you are patient and work hard. If your goal is to make a lot of money, there are hundreds of better jobs to choose.
It’s important to be clear about your goals. Professional tarot offers so many different types of opportunities. You can entertain at parties, work on the phone or webcam, work in shops and psychic fairs, or find your own venues. A college student can often make more money and have more fun working psychic fairs than hustling fast food. You can read tarot as a side hustle or a full-time job. Just be sure about where and how you want your tarot business to fit in your life, now and in the future. Don’t expect a full-time income from a part-time effort, and don’t expect a full-time income when you first start out.
Most importantly, only choose to be a tarot professional if you love reading for strangers. You may love tarot and may enjoy tarot books, classes, art and friends. That’s a beautiful thing. Perhaps the best, most important use of divinatory tarot is for one’s own enjoyment and enlightenment. None of that, however, means that you will be delighted to have your job be reading tarot for clients. But, if reading for others does delight you, I promise there is no greater joy than having that be your livelihood.
If you are interested in taking the next step in growing your business, make sure you get a copy of my book, Fortune Stellar.
If you would like to work one-on-one with me to grow your skills and business, contact me about a custom mentorship program.