Today, we’re speaking with Jess Carlson. Jess is a witch, an intuitive Tarot and Oracle reader, and a spiritual mentor who helps women unlock their inner badass witch goddess through sharing magickal and spiritual practices and tools for everyday life.
I’ve invited Jess to the Biddy Tarot Podcast today because she recently became a Certified Biddy Tarot Advisor, and I wanted to hear a little bit about her journey.
Jess has actually been reading Tarot professionally for quite a while, but she felt that it was time for her to get certified in reading Tarot. It wasn’t necessarily about building up her skills but more about building up her credibility and perhaps even reaffirming that she was on the right path with her Tarot readings.
Jess has some really interesting insights into what made it a good decision for her. In this podcast episode, you’ll learn:
- Why Jess chose to become certified as a Tarot reader
- All about Jess’s Tarot business and how she’s been able to position herself as a high-quality Tarot reader
- How Tarot certification helped Jess’s business
Let's get into it.
- Learn more about Jess at JessCarlson.com
- Learn more about Biddy Tarot Certification
- Free Tarot Tutorial – 5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence
You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this Episode 93: Becoming a Certified Biddy Tarot Reader with Jess Carlson.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you'll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. Now, here is your host, Brigit Esselmont.
BRIGIT: Hello, and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. As always, it’s my absolute pleasure to be talking with you about Tarot today. Now, in today’s episode, I have a very special guest, and her name is Jess Carlson.
Jess Carlson is a witch, an intuitive Tarot and Oracle reader, and spiritual mentor who helps women unlock their inner badass witch goddess through sharing magickal and spiritual practices and tools for everyday life. She shares tips and teachings on using magick, witchcraft and spiritual techniques to help you gain more confidence, get in touch with your inner wisdom and make soul-driven decisions, so you can live in alignment with your purpose.
Now, I’ve invited Jess to the Biddy Tarot Podcast today because Jess recently became a certified Biddy Tarot reader, and I wanted to hear a little bit about Jess’s journey. It’s interesting with Jess because she has actually been reading Tarot professionally for quite a while, but she felt that it was time for her to get certified in reading Tarot. It wasn’t necessarily about building up her skills but more about building up her credibility and perhaps even reaffirming that she was on the right path with her Tarot readings.
I’m going to let Jess do the talking because she has some really interesting insights into what made it a good decision for her. You’ll also hear about Jess’s business and how she’s been able to position herself as a high-quality Tarot reader, and she’s done that in some really neat ways. So, without further ado, let me welcome Jess Carlson.
BECOMING A CERTIFIED BIDDY TAROT READER
BRIGIT: Welcome, Jess. It is so fabulous to have you here. How are you doing tonight?
JESS: I am wonderful! Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.
BRIGIT: My pleasure. So, for those who don’t know you, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came into this world of Tarot.
JESS: Oh boy. OK, so I got started with Tarot when I was quite young. I was 8 years old when I first discovered Tarot. I was just plotting through the library one day and came across a book that had pictures of Tarot cards in it, and I was so drawn to the imagery, which in just life in general, from a child up until now, I’ve always been drawn to imagery and art. The images in these cards, which were so different from anything I had ever seen, just fascinated me.
I grew up in New England. I grew up in Connecticut. I grew up close to Salem, Massachusetts. I grew up with all of that history being talked about quite often and taking those trips to there, so I was always just kind of interested in that sort of stuff.
I continued to look into it as best I could at the age of 8 and 9, and then at 10, my grandmother bought me my first Rider-Waite Tarot deck because she was tired of me coming to her house and taking all of her playing cards and mixing them together and pretending I was doing Tarot readings. She bought me a Tarot deck at the mall in the hopes that I would stop messing up her cards. That was really how I got started.
Honestly, from the age of 10 when I first got the cards, I continued to really… It was playing with them at first, but when I got into high school and got a little bit more into spirituality and specifically Paganism and Wicca, I really started to study the cards and read them for real.
It took off, and when I was in my early twenties, I started doing readings in a metaphysical shop on a whim because I knew the ladies who owned the shop, and they knew I was into Tarot, and they said, “Do you do readings?” and I said, “Sure!” They asked, “Would you like to come in and do readings on Saturdays just to try it out?” and I did. I apparently was a hit because people kept asking for me during the week, and they started adding me on during the week as well, so I was reading there two or three times a week sometimes. I eventually started my own Tarot business online, doing online readings later, and that leads me to now.
BRIGIT: Fabulous. I was having a look over at your website, and you describe… Well, I don’t know whether it’s you describing yourself or the website or it’s both, but you “wild witchery and daring spirituality.”
BRIGIT: Speak to me a little bit about that—what does that mean for you?
JESS: To me that means that I don't feel the need to stick to a script or play by rules or go a certain way because that's what people do. When I was in my teens and early twenties and was really studying paganism and was involved in different pagan groups and specific traditions and taking initiations and things, I really quickly realized that I was not someone who wanted just to go the path that was handed to me, that I didn't like doing things because that's what you're supposed to do. To me, I feel like spirituality is daring when you say, “I’m not going to follow the rules; I’m going to follow where my heart leads me.”
The same thing with the idea of wild witchery. To me, it just means going where magick takes you, as opposed to being like, “Well, I’m practicing this tradition, so I must stay within these guidelines.” I’m very eclectic in my practice. I’m not Wiccan anymore. I don’t consider myself to be really of any specific spiritual tradition, although I do call myself a Buddhist witch. My philosophy is Buddhist; I don’t consider my Buddhism as my religion. I just feel like I will take from what calls to me and what works in my life and, when I’m working with my clients, what works for my clients. I kind of feel like when you can take from… Some people call it the “buffet style.” If you take buffet style, I just think sometimes it tastes sweeter than if you just take what’s given to you, and you have to swallow stuff you don’t like.
So, that is, to me, what doing the wild witchery and the daring spirituality is. It’s just saying, “I’m going to go and do this my way, and it’s going to be wild and daring.”
BRIGIT: I love it. I can absolutely resonate with that, that’s for sure. I hate being told what to do! It’s an interesting segue then into the point at which you decided to get certification. Sometimes people might see certification as having to do it a certain way, but what prompted you both after having been a professional reader for already quite a long time, and then, two, wanting to have that sense of freedom? What prompted you to go, “Right, I’m doing certification?”
JESS: The real reason was because I’ve gotten certification in anything else you can imagine at this point in my studies and in my career, and I had always resisted the traditional Tarot certification. I have a few Tarot certifications in other specific uses of Tarot, like using Tarot for counselling and things like that, but I didn’t have that traditional “Certified Tarot Reader” certificate.
The reason I had never done it was because, just like you said, it’s often the programs that you would see established by very well-known and well-established readers were very much the “You have to sit down and write out the meanings both upright and reversed of every card. You have to have meanings for all 78 cards.” Basically, what you’re saying is, “So, my meanings have to mean what you mean or what a book means, and if there’s anything that deviates from that, I’m not going to get certified.” That was always the way that I took it. I didn’t like that.
What I think a card means in a totally non-context situation is going to be different than in a reading. So, my whole thing is I wouldn’t mind being certified if my way of being certified meant just demonstrating my skill and demonstrating what I do and being certified based on my merits as a reader and not just someone who memorized a bunch of stuff, you know? It felt so much like high school and college to me. “Just go learn these things, memorize them, and if you can display that you remember this stuff, then you pass.” I didn’t like that.
JESS: So, when I saw that you were offering a certification course, and I knew that we had very similar views on Tarot, I was like, “OK, well, let's look into this because this would be more my speed of doing Tarot and getting certified.” I just felt like, at this point, 20-plus years of reading professionally, it would be a nice thing to have with all of my other qualifications. While it's not necessary, I feel like it sets new clients especially at ease to know that you put in time, to know that you've actually been studying and doing this work and that other people who are recognized as being experts in the field have said, “OK, no, this person knows what they're doing; they get my stamp of approval.” So, that was why I decided to do it.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I mean, look, there’s a lot of discussion around whether you need to, should become certified, particularly in Tarot, and whether that’s legitimate or not. What kind of helped you sift through that and go, “No, Tarot certification is for me, and it valuable?”
JESS: I think because at this point, like I said, I’ve got everything else. I have certifications all the way down to dream interpretation and numerology and how to help someone find their spirit guide. I have the most ridiculous list of certifications and things like that. Some of them are totally legit and useful, and some of them are just absolutely ridiculously silly, but I keep them on my list of stuff just to say, “Hey, I even took the time to do that!”
So, I just kind of felt like this is the sort of thing where if I’m hoping that when someone finds me and they start to get to know, and they consider if they want to work with me, and they say, “Oh look, she’s taken this program. She’s certified in this modality. She’s done this work,” but there’s nothing about Tarot, and Tarot is one of the first things that I include in what I do. I felt like, “Well, it would probably be nice to have something in there to say I’ve actually really spent time on Tarot as well.”
That was really why I felt at this point it was just time for me to do it, and again, I think it was just the setting in which it was going to be done, the way in which it was going to be done resonated with me more than any of the other certification programs I’ve come across over the years. It just felt right to me at the time.
BRIGIT: Yeah, and was there anything kind of unexpected—you know, unexpected surprises, pleasant ones—that emerged for you? I know that when you’ve already been practicing something, and you go and do another course in it, sometimes it’s like, “Well, am I just checking the boxes with stuff I already know, or am I discovering new things?” So, I’m curious: Were there any new discoveries for you through that process?
JESS: This is actually really funny because people started to notice that I was doing something different in my readings and asked me why I was doing this differently. For years, I’ve never read with reversed cards. In my mind, I would just have these random times where I would be like, “You know, I just feel we’ve got to use reversed cards today,” and I would always look at them as blocks. You’ve got an upright card, then a reversed card, then an upright card; the reversed card is a block to get from this upright to the next upright. That’s how I’ve always worked with them on the rare occasion that I felt drawn to work with them.
But while I was doing your course, as soon as you said, “And now we’re going to talk about reversed cards,” I thought, “Oh my God, crap! We’re back to this again—not reversed cards!” And I pushed myself in the exercises and the readings to go ahead. Even when you said, “You don’t need to use these reversed cards; you can use them upright. Just note that.” I was like, “Nope, I’m going to use the reversed cards. I’m going to push myself to see them differently,” because all the different ways that you explain how you can approach them opened up so many doors to how to use them.
I started actually using reversed cards with my clients. My email clients would get their readings and see the reversed cards, especially my long-time clients who always knew me to not use them. “How come I got so many reversed cards? You’ve never used them before! This is a little weird!” I would explain to them why, and they were like, “OK, it’s perfect. I mean, it makes total sense; it’s just strange to see it.”
That was a surprise to me, but not only did I find it comfortable to do, but it absolutely has worked out in the end, and it’s something I’ve kept, which I didn’t think I would. I thought I would use it for the course and then go, “All right, well, we’re going back to business as usual,” but I didn’t. That’s been nice.
Plus, just even though I’ve been doing this as long as I have, let me just tell you: Do not think that I was not sitting there during the certification process being nervous about the readings that we had to do. Don’t think I wasn’t nervous! I was. It felt like doing readings for the first time, which was just so strange, but it was a lot of fun.
BRIGIT: Yep. Awesome. That’s good to hear. Now you’re a certified Biddy Tarot reader among other things as well. What’s changed or emerged for you now that you have this certification?
JESS: I just feel so much more… I mean, not that I didn’t feel confident before, but now I just feel like I have something to back that up, and I have it from someone who I admire and who I’ve always followed and enjoyed her work, and now everyone else is like, “Oh, Brigit from Biddy Tarot! Oh, I know her! I love her website! I love her blog. Her stuff is so interesting. Oh, you’re certified by her? Oh!” So, I have had some very surprised, like, “Wow, I didn’t know that was a thing,” and some reactions from people both new clients and regular clients who are now aware of that because I put it everywhere. It’s all over my reading pages and everything. It’s been interesting. I’ve had a few people say, “Oh, well, if you're going to be certified by someone and make me feel good about it, that’s a good place to go.”
As far as online Tarot and the way that I approach it and the way that you approach it, with that intuitive kind of way, people recognize you. They know your work, so for them, I think for people to say, “Oh, she’s certified with Biddy Tarot—OK, well, that’s legit!” That was another reason why I was like, “I’ll just go ahead and do this, and we’ll give it a try. If I don’t pass, it’s OK. I’m not going to hate myself about that; it’s all right.”
So, when I got the email saying, “Congratulations! You have been certified,” was like, “WOOHOO!”
JESS: I was so nervous, but it was great. It has definitely opened up, in my opinion, some new avenues, I think, because I think being able to say to someone, “Look, I am a certified reader,” on top of all the other things I am certified and on top of all the years I’ve been doing it, I do think that it adds to my credibility.
BRIGIT: Yeah, that’s good to hear. I mean, for you, you already have this beautiful, established business. I was just popping over to your Instagram profile and, actually, you definitely have more followers than we do—14,000 followers. So, it’s not like you needed to have some level of credibility because you had already built up that credibility. I’m assuming it’s kind of the icing on the cake, really, from what you’ve already created.
JESS: Absolutely. I felt like this was me doing something really more for me than anything else. I felt like this was me proving to myself that I do what I do well and that it’s not just my clients being nice—although, believe me, when I have the rare occasional one that doesn’t like something, they let you know. But for the most part, all the people I work with love what I do, and I’m always kind of like, “Oh, are they just saying that because they don’t know how to say they don’t like something?” It really was, like you said, the icing on top of everything else. I did it for me to confirm to myself that I actually am good at what I do, having done it for all these years and never really having anyone critique it in that way, I guess you could say.
BRIGIT: Yep. And I’m curious because I was also checking out your reading prices, as I do just from a business perspective, and I love the way that you're charging for your readings… I’m curious: Have you recently increased your rates, or have they always been at quite a healthy level?
JESS: They've shifted a little bit. My Skype and phone reading prices have been that way probably since the middle of 2016, and then I did take them away for a little while and then brought them back and left them at those prices. My email readings are what did increase, and I felt like… It was both from just an energetic perspective and a business perspective even though email readings to me are easier because I can do them in my own time. I very much a night owl, so if I can do a reading at 1 in the morning, that's perfect. But at the same time, it is more time consuming because there's a lot of other stuff that has to go into it. I have to type everything out; I take pictures of the cards; I let my clients pick if they want Tarot. Some people don't like Tarot. I also read Oracle and Angel cards, so they can pick those if they want. I always show them the cards they got, and I make everything really pretty in a nice e-book format.
It's time-consuming, and I always have looked at it as “Well, you know, it’s an email reading; it’s a PDF. I can’t charge a lot of money for that.” And then when I stopped and realized the value is the same as in a phone reading, and it’s just delivered in a different format, the prices aren’t as high as my phone readings, but it’s still high for an email reading, especially on the platform because I do my email readings through Etsy. And especially on Etsy where people do readings for $5, I’m charging $60 and up for the most part, so it’s high over there, but the value is there.
Because of how I read and my approach to the work that I do, it’s not just “Oh, here’s the card you got, and here’s what’s going to happen to you.” That’s not how I read. Because of how I read, it’s an approach from a different angle with more of a life-coaching perspective. To me, it deserves a higher pricing, I guess you could say.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely, and I think you get, number one, a different kind of client, different kind of response or buy-in commitment to that reading, and then even actions that come out of that. I think when you get a cheap reading, you can just take it or leave it if you want to.
JESS: Right. And I think that’s… I’ll tell you one thing that I noticed straight away when I changed my pricing. This was not a surprise, but it was interesting to see it happen with me, having had clients that I had been reading for for years get unhappy about my change in prices and say they weren’t going to come to me anymore, and I’m like, “That’s fine. That’s OK. That’s totally fine.”
But the level of client that I would get completely shifted, and it became the kind of people that I really want to work with, as opposed to someone who is really just looking for someone to tell them what to do or tell them what they want to hear, and that’s it, and then they can just walk away. They want to walk away feeling like everything is hunky-dory, even if it’s not. They want to be told everything is fine and that they’re good.
When I changed my prices, I started getting clients—the higher the price, the higher the quality of client. Absolutely. I started getting clients that really wanted the help to make changes in their lives. They weren’t just looking to put a bandage on something. They weren’t just looking for a little pat on the back to feel good; they really wanted help, and I was like, “That’s much more where I want to be.”
JESS: It does limit the amount of problem clients and complaint clients and clingy clients. It does change that because someone’s not going to keep coming back every week for a reading if they have to pay $60, but if they’re only paying $10, they’re at your door constantly with every little hangnail. “What do I do?” And that’s just not the kind of reader I am. I know there are people who love to work that way, and that’s awesome, but I’m just not that kind of reader. I want to work with someone who has a real issue that they’re stuck with and that they just don’t know what to do, and they want intuitive and spiritual guidance to get them through it, and they love the idea of a reading to be the way to get it.
BRIGIT: Yep. I mean, for you to be able to get in that place where you feel confident… I mean, you’re charging $199 for an hour-long Skype, which I think is great, by the way. To get to that place though, you have to have that confidence, and you have to be able to see your own value and the value that you can deliver to your clients to feel good about that pricing. Have you gone through that “Oh my God, is it too much? Am I really good enough?”
JESS: Yeah, absolutely. And when I would undercut myself with a lower price, sure, I’d get more clients, and I would be more tired and more drained because they were rougher sessions with people. When I do a phone or a Skype session, especially when I do Skype… You know, I try to do video Skype as much as possible because I like to be able to see the person. Otherwise, I ask them to send me a photo. All my email clients have to send me pictures because that just helps me to get a better feel for them, again, bringing in some of the other things that I’ve studied and done.
When I’m sitting there doing a Skype reading with someone, and it’s a lower priced reading, and it’s not as committed, and they’re not as into it—they’re just there looking to hear a certain thing—and we’re looking at each other, and they just have this look of they don’t care; they just want to hear something specific, and they’re waiting to hear it, and I’m putting in all of this energy into trying to bring them that guidance that I feel they need. I figure that’s why you came to me, but in the end, that’s not why they’re there.
When I was doing $40 and $50 readings for an hour, it was just the worst. They were not the kind of clients that I personally wanted to work with, so I slowly started upping my prices every six months. I went, I think, from $45, knocked it up to $75, and then six months later, I was up to $100, and then I added the 30-minute reading for $45 and then had to up that, too, because they were just coming back, so I had to up that price, too. Even for a half hour, it was still too much for me to handle.
I just slowly increased the prices, and then last year, I got to that $125 to $199 range that feels right for me for where I am right, especially the way that business-wise it fits in with my other things that I do. With my coaching and with my email readings, it’s the sweet spot for that particular type of reading.
BRIGIT: Yep, absolutely. I’m so glad we talked about pricing because it’s really important. Often, there’s just so much stuff that gets tangled up with pricing and where that sweet spot it, so it sounds like you’ve found that nice place of alignment, which is really, really good.
Just changing tack a little bit, if you were to meet yourself, say, back in your early twenties when you were starting to read professionally again, what kind of advice would you have?
JESS: I really think the biggest advice I would have is don’t feel you have to do it the way that everyone else does it just because you want to get paid for it. I think it’s so much more important… You know, it’s your reading practice, and you're not working for an employer, so you don’t have to do it anyone else’s way! I think it’s really important to read the way that you are comfortable reading, in a way that makes sense for you, in a way that delivers value to the people you read for. That’s one thing I would absolutely tell myself because I did spend a lot of time just going to psychic fairs and watching other readers and seeing how they did things and what their approach was and then trying to adapt those things, and then spending months working that way and realizing it didn’t feel right and then going back to the drawing board with it. That’s a big thing.
And then the other thing is, like we just talked about, pricing—not feeling that you can’t charge what you feel your value is and not looking at it as “a Tarot reading.” It’s so much more than that if you approach as more than that, which I do. I know back in those really low days when I did the 800-line readings, and people were paying $1.99 a minute to work with me and trying to get what would be an hour-long reading in a five-minute time span… You’ve just got to say, “No, I can’t do this; this is not valuable for me or my clients. It’s not right for me.”
So, I think that when you're starting out, yeah, it’s scary to ask for money, but when you get to the point where you're ready to start asking, I don’t think that you should try to be cheap because there’s the whole idea between the word “cheap” and the word “inexpensive.” We always use the word “cheap” when we talk about “Oh, those cheap Tarot readings” because they are cheap all around. It’s not just that they’re inexpensive. They’re cheap in value; they’re cheap in feel; they’re just cheap in quality. They’re no good, so don’t do that to yourself just because you want people to pay you.
JESS: So, go your own way, and charge what you’re worth. If I had told myself that… If I knew that when I was 22, I probably would have been doing even more at this point, but that’s OK. That’s all right.
BRIGIT: It’s all good. Awesome. So, Jess, what’s next for you? What’s coming up for you in the next few months?
JESS: I don’t know, and that’s what’s awesome. I don’t know. I am really kind of at a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants phase right now, which is fantastic because I really think over the next months and through the end of 2017, I really think my focus is going to be on blogging and writing and doing readings, and that’s really going to be where I put my energy.
Years ago when I went by a different name, I actually had a Tarot book out, and it was a massive 350-page, ridiculous book, and it needs a serious edit. I’ve been wanting to do that for so long, and I feel like this is the year to get it done, so that’s probably where I’ll be spending a lot of my time.
But yeah, “I don’t know” is the answer.
BRIGIT: That’s good! I like it.
JESS: Whatever comes up. I kind of feel like that’s where I need to be right now, just open to whatever comes.
BRIGIT: Yep. Beautiful. And finally, where can people find out more about you?
JESS: I can be found on my website, of course—JessCarlson.com. I can be found on all social media, except for Snapchat because I don’t understand the purpose of Snapchat. You can find me—I have an account; I just don’t use it. But you can find me everywhere else as JessJCarlson on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—all that fun stuff.
BRIGIT: Fabulous. We’ll be sure to post those in the show notes, which will be at BiddyTarot.com/93.
Awesome. Well, Jess, it’s been an absolute joy to chat with you today and also just to hear about how you're building and growing your business and how certification has played a role in that. So, thank you so much for sharing that today. I really, really appreciate it.
JESS: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
BRIGIT: So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jess and I as much as I did. I really enjoyed just listening to her journey and her path towards becoming a professional Tarot reader and then integrating certification with her journey as well. And it's awesome to see Jess having such a great influence in the Tarot community with what she's doing.
Now, if certification sounds like it might be of interest to you or something you want to check out a little bit more, then go to BiddyTarot.com/Certification. Now, we’re currently in the waitlist, but in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be opening up the doors to the program so that you can sign up. Also, it’s really just jam packed full of Tarot training, plus that certification piece as well. Find out more over at BiddyTarot.com/Certification, and join the waitlist as well.
All right, my dears, I hope you have a fantastic week ahead. And just remember: If you do want to access the show notes for today, they’re at BiddyTarot.com/93, and you’ll also get details on how to find Jess on the internet. Fabulous! All right, have a great week, and I shall be chatting with you again very soon.
Bye for now.