Reality Check: What it’s really like working as a full time tarot reader

by Theresa Reed on March 8, 2016

reality check what it's really like working as a full time tarot reader

Hillary Parry and I are doing a joint venture on our blogs where we give a little peek on the truth of what it means to do this work – full time or part time. Be sure to read her take on Reality Check: What it’s really like working as a part time tarot reader.

It may sound glamorous or fun to work as a full time tarot reader.  The truth is: sometimes it is.  I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I’ve even been flown to locations to read for clients. I’ve attended some swank events + some of my clients have become dear friends.

But peel beneath the surface and you’re going to see that this work ain’t for the faint of heart.  Especially if this is your full time gig.

Do not ever believe the hype that this is “easy” work or “easy” money.  It’s not.

Here’s my rundown on the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a full time tarot reader.

The good:

Full time self employment means my schedule is my own. I set my agenda to how I best operate and to what makes sense for my family.

I’m not very good with authority so I make a pretty rotten employee.  Having my own business allows me to be the boss of me.

I can make very good money.  Far better than if I had some 9-to-5 job. At least, that’s been my experience.  I can devote my time to making as much (or little) money as I need.

My work helps people.  I get wonderful letters all the time from people who’ve been impacted by my work.  That feeling = amazing.  Knowing that I’m doing something that inspires…yeah. I love that.

I meet some awesome people.  I have the time to meet new clients but also to connect with peers.  My tribe is the best.

The bad:

The hours can be long. There are some days where I am at it for 12 hours.  I often work weekends when the load is huge.  Four hour work weeks?  NOT.  Being in business for yourself requires a lot of effort – and time management.  Remember: you’re not just doing readings.  You’re marketing, writing content, handling paperwork, meeting with your team (if you have one), planning, creating, etc. – and let’s not forget you also have a household to run.

Boundaries are a constant lesson.  When you’re full time, both clients and family members assume you have nothing better going on so they expect you to drop everything and either a) toss some cards or b) do some other favor.  And let’s not forget the no-shows, the habitually late, the rude skeptic, or the deal seeker.  You have to weed them out and be firm. (PS this is an EVERY DAY thing.)

Marketing is uncomfortable if you’re an introvert like me.  But you have to do it or you don’t have a business.

Distractions are constant – keeping those to a minimum is my personal hell.  Not just the never-ending emails but the cat vomiting on the carpet right as I’m about to do an interview – on air.

You have to do paperwork and other tedious admin stuff.  Fortunately, I’m a super nerd so I kinda get off on filing things and writing numbers in ledgers.  If you’re not like me, you’ll hate this part and probably put it off until it becomes unmanageable.

Doing it all yourself is possible but it means your life sometimes feels like one big business journey rather than a big life.  Hiring help doesn’t always go the way you want – and trust me, there are some mighty flaky people out there who are not worth the money you’ll spend.  Finding a trusted hire?  Like finding a missing sock in a landfill.

The ugly:

If you crave a secure income, you’ll hate being a full time tarot reader. The income is variable. Feast ‘n famine.  You must be a good money manager during both lean and phat periods.  If you’re not a good money handler – and if you are scared of the thought of an unstable income, this is NOT the path for you.

You also have to pay for your own health insurance and your retirement.  There is no employer to pay for your benefits so you’re on your own. Putting aside that money every week when you’d rather spend it on a fancy dinner or some new bling really sucks.  But the alternative isn’t pretty.

Taxes.  Nuff said.

Sick days and vacations equals no money coming in the door.  Which means that needs to be budgeted in too.  Oh – and you’ll also need to learn to set aside money for emergencies.  Because computers die, husbands break their hands, and cars get totaled in the middle of the night by drunk drivers (yes, all three have happened here).

See the theme here with money?  Something to consider mighty hard before you dump that day job.

Remember what I said about boundaries above? You also have to set hardcore boundaries with really nasty, unbalanced people.  You have no idea of what I’ve seen over the years.  Suffice it to say: I’ve learned that there are some really unstable and terrible acting people out there.  From cutthroat peers to copycats to trolls to creeps to violent people who are looking to take out their problems (or fears) on some random tarot reader – yep.  Like I said: you have no idea.  Being at this full time for as long as I have means you learn very quickly that you can’t be nice to everyone because some people are not nice. I hate that. (Being visible has it’s price. Your chances of encountering jerks is amplified.)

Burn out.  When I used to do tarot parties, I came close to burn out on many occasions.  One can only do it for so many hours of the day before you crash.  I had to learn to pull back the hard way (I gave up parties a few years ago and am much, much happier).

Whew!

Lest you think that the bad outweighs the good, let me say this: for me, it doesn’t.  The freedom to be me, to work on my terms, coupled with the immense gratification I receive from serving the many wonderful people who sit at my tarot table (or phone, or email…) makes this all worthwhile.

My advice if you are considering doing this full time: make sure that you are in a secure enough position financially so that you can do it with ease, joy, and peace of mind.  That might mean: putting aside money so that you have a nest egg first.  Or having a side hustle to supplement your tarot income.  Or having a partner who pays the main household bills.  Or waiting to go full time until you’re damn sure your tarot income will more than cover your ass.

Get that money stuff in order because it will be much better than working in fear and scarcity.

Then, set up and run it like a real business.  With real hours, a website, policies, boundaries, an accountant (my most important asset), and basic biz skills. And finally, in the wise words of RuPaul, “You better work.”

Blessings,

Theresa

© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016

image from stock photography

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