I’m a freelance journalist, writer and language practitioner by trade.
Both my wife and I have come to expect the freelancer’s middle-of-the-month slump, but a couple of months ago we hit a really bad patch.
We were stuck between deadlines with no work coming in and the fridge about empty. It was time to think outside of the box.
Reaching for a tarot deck I’d received from friends, I started doing tarot readings on the side to supplement the food budget.
Before I knew it, those readings became regular. I was making up to $20 per hour — and I didn’t have to don a robe or change my name to “Madame Beverley the Magnificent” (or Miss Cleo, remember her?) to do it!
During the first few months, tarot readings brought in at least $200 of much-needed extra cash. And it didn’t taken much time (or effort) to pull out the cards and do a reading between deadlines.
Here’s how I started making $20 per hour reading tarot cards, and how you give it a try for yourself.
Getting Started in Tarot
I’d been doing tarot readings for friends and family members years before it occurred to me to turn it into a side gig. Sometimes, I consulted the cards to get some insight into a plot when writing.
This experience, along with a range of Tarot books (and my own card-meaning cheat sheet), gave me the confidence to start charging for my services.
Eventually, I ditched the cheat sheet, learned to interpret cards from memory and moved over to my first paid reading. Looking at how other readers interpret certain cards was also a big help!
What’s in a Tarot Deck?
Don’t have a tarot deck? There are thousands of available decks, each with its own nuances.
For beginners, pick a deck that sticks to “classic” imagery. Here are my top five favorites from Amazon:
Marketing Myself as a Tarot Card Reader
My first step was joining tarot groups on Facebook and networking with other readers.
Some of the groups didn’t allow advertising, while others required a test reading before they allowed ads. Many non-tarot groups have rules specifically against advertising tarot readings.
Make sure you read the rules before advertising on any website or group. Otherwise, you could get banned from all of them!
Within a week, I noticed I had more success advertising in the groups and circles I regularly commented in, rather than where I just placed an ad.
People want to connect with you as a reader before they book and pay for their readings.
I started by offering simple and free three-card readings, so people could get used to seeing me around. From there, I started building a reputation and word-of-mouth took over.
If you intend to do readings more than every once in a while, advertise at local venues, fairs and forums (again, read the rules!).
Also, start a blog or website. Set one up for free through WordPress and use it to showcase your work.
How Much is a Reading Worth?
Rates for tarot readings vary. Expect to charge anything from $5 per reading and up. There seem to be a lucky few who earn up to $250 per reading.
What people are willing to pay depends on your experience, reputation, what kind of reading you offer and how you do it. For example, email readings are often cheaper than those done live or through Skype.
I started out offering $5 three-card readings, and worked my way up to $20 readings within a month. These were much more complex and detailed — and I had built up a good reputation.
People like special offers. Once I stopped the free readings, I offered things like “two-for-one readings” if people book and pay for a friend. I also offered “free three-card readings” to introduce myself to new clients.
With Cartomancy Comes Responsibility
Two hard questions from opposing clients made me realize it’s about more than just fortune-telling or interpreting messages from cards.
People come to you because they want answers and guidance.
Their questions can range from strange (“Should I get a cat this year?”) to serious and life-affecting (“Will my kids be OK if I die?”). It’s up to you to help them out.
I’ve seen cases of tarot readers convincing people to leave their families, sell their homes and go to Mexico — don’t!
You have a responsibility not to give bad advice when people come to you for guidance.
Thinking about giving it a shot? Here’s my best advice:
- Get some good tarot books, study up and practice for free with friends, family or yourself before charging.
- Don’t price yourself out of the market: Too low and you’re a newbie, too high and you’re a charlatan!
- Religion shouldn’t be a factor. Clients will come from all walks of life and belief systems. Being a writer, I emphasised writing a beautifully intricate reading, rather than “fortune-telling”.
- Keep taxes in mind when you start doing regular readings
- You’re not just “telling the future.” Don’t rely on tarot cards to give “yes” or “no” answers to questions you don’t want to interpret — and don’t give bad advice!
How to Make More Money
Here’s how you can charge more for your readings:
- Start small, and work your way up to a higher rate. As your experience grows, so will your rates.
- Turn a $5 reading into a $10 reading by offering added extras or new spreads.
- Change how you read: Can you afford to go to your clients, or will you do it via email or Skype? You can charge more for in-person readings, especially if you travel.
- Expand your reach. Start a website, and learn how to make money from the traffic!
Reading the cards for money started out as an experiment and a way to get my wife and I through a rough time, but I’ve continued doing it on demand.
Every once in a while, a new client comes along or the regulars need some insight, and I’ve just kept on going.
Can it work for you?
Have a look: It’s right here, in the cards…
Your Turn: Have you ever read Tarot cards? Would you try it for extra income?
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.
Alex J. Coyne is a South African author, freelance journalist and language practitioner. His work has appeared on various blogs and in national and international publications.