A couple of weeks ago, I read with intrigue a post by James Wells, titled “I Value Who I am and What I Do.” He relayed a short conversation where his client was asking him why he charged $145 per hour for a Tarot consultation.
It got me thinking.
How much am I really worth? How much value do I place on my services as a professional Tarot reader?
No doubt it is a question that is many people’s minds, not just for those starting out but who have been reading the cards for a long time. There are always external pressures and circumstances, such as economic conditions, busy lifestyles, increasing business expenses, and changing client needs, that push us to question how much we are charging and whether it is enough or too much.
So, in this post, I explore a number of different ways to charge for your professional Tarot readings and what may influence your decision.
Free Tarot Readings
Offering free Tarot readings is a great way to get started as a Tarot reader. Many Tarot enthusiasts who are making the transition from amateur to professional provide free Tarot readings to friends, family and strangers in order to build up experience or build up a client base.
To make the most of this approach, it is important to be very clear in your own mind about what it is you want from the experience. Is it that you are looking for constructive feedback? Clients? Testimonials? Practice? Once you know this, clearly articulate to your clients that you are providing a free Tarot reading in exchange for feedback, a testimonial, contact details, etc. so that you are also meeting your personal goals in the process.
That said, offering free Tarot readings has its downsides.
I believe that offering free Tarot readings for an extended period of time can be somewhat dangerous to your personal brand and reputation. First, the ‘perceived value’ of the Tarot reading is low because the client has not had to pay. Clients expect to just get an answer from you, any time, and your advice may be perceived to come easily and without much effort on their part. Clients may be less likely to pay attention to what you have to say or to value what you have to offer. Over time, this can prove to be very exhausting on the Tarot reader.
To get avoid burnout, it is essential that you set boundaries. How many free readings will you do per week and per client? What will you do if a client becomes abusive of your free reading service? How will you ensure that you are getting what you need from the experience?
Second, when you do decide to start charging, be aware that you may lose a lot of your original clients. Often the clients who request a free Tarot reading will not request a paid Tarot reading. While it may feel like you are building a huge client base, ask yourself whether these clients will stick around when you start to require a fee for your service. I recommend that you make it clear that you are offering free Tarot readings for a limited period of time, and after this time you will start to charge for your readings. This sets an expectation early on.
When I first started reading Tarot, I offered free Tarot readings on the Free Tarot Network. I enjoyed the experience and appreciated all the feedback that I received. However, I got to a point where I felt like I had gained the experience I needed and that my time and insight was valuable enough to start charging a fee. I believe I also made the right move by offering free Tarot readings on a group website rather than my own. This way, visitors to Biddy Tarot weren’t expecting a free Tarot reader, even when I became professional.
Budget or Low Cost Tarot Readings
When I started charging for readings, I offered a $10 Tarot reading for first-time clients. It was a ‘try before you buy’ strategy that encouraged paying clients to try me out. If they loved the reading, they would return and pay usual prices.
This is another good strategy for when you are just starting out and building your experience and confidence as a professional Tarot reader. Budget or low cost Tarot readings can act as an incentive for people to try you out. You might restrict it to first-time clients, or you might have a blanket, budget price (all readings $10).
The downside to this approach is similar to offering free Tarot readings. There is an expectation that you will always offer low cost Tarot readings or that the value of your reading is not very high. It can be potentially damaging to your reputation long-term – if you continue to under-value yourself, your clients may under-value you also. So, be mindful of how you pitch such an offer.
My recommendation is not to say, “I’m just starting out, try me!” Instead, pitch yourself as a talented Tarot reader who is offering low costs Tarot readings for a limited time only, after which your prices increase. This sets the expectation that your prices will increase and that you are worth more than what you are offering.
Mid-Range Tarot Readings
Mid-range Tarot readings are generally in the vicinity of $60 to $80 an hour. Of course, this fee doesn’t take into account the costs of running a business, so keep in mind that you are actually earning less than that amount.
Some readers will charge by the minute or hour, while others will set a fee based on the number of Tarot cards used or the number of questions asked.
Most readers with 5-20 years experience will offer their Tarot readings at this price range.
I am really pleased to see a number of popular Tarot readers and authors offering their services at this rate. For example, Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady) charges between $15 and $45; Barbara Moore (creator of Steampunk Tarot and author of multiple Tarot books) charges $20 to $40; and James Ricklef (author of Tarot: Get the Whole Story) charges $20 to $50. (Sept 2013 Update: These prices continue to change and evolve as the readers do.)
My professional Tarot readings fall within this bracket also, and I charge from $29 to $49 for a Tarot reading. (Sept 2013 Update: My prices have increased, but so too have the quality of my readings and the time and energy committed to my practice)
I see this pricing strategy as a conservative and well-balanced approach. It is taking into account the needs of the clients by not charging excessive amounts, but it is also taking into account the needs of the reader, especially when running costs, education, skills and experience are considered.
That said, I do wonder, sometimes, if we are under-valuing ourselves at this price level. You’ll see what I mean next…
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Premium Tarot readings
Some professional readers will charge in excess of $120 per hour for readings. Some may even charge up to $200 for a one hour consultation.
Often these readers are celebrity readers or have a very defined skill set. Perhaps they integrate psychology, coaching, or spiritual studies into their readings, offering a holistic service.
James Wells, Tarot consultant, fits into this category. In his post called “I Value Who I am and What I Do,” he captures his response when one of his clients asked him why he charged $145 an hour:
“I do tarot consultations for people, prepare for each session by looking over my notes about their topics and questions, do my own administration, make sure the place is clean when clients arrive, brew the tea, attend conferences, and buy books and decks related to my field of work.
“It’s all part of doing what I love to do and offering to the world what I’m called to offer. It’s not just about the money, it’s a part of who I am. $145 per hour ensures that I get fair compensation for it.”
I applaud his confidence and his self-assurance, knowing exactly how much he is ‘worth’ and why. I also really like that he can articulate this so clearly, rather than just saying, “Because I can.”
The upside to charging a premium rate is that you are showing that you are ‘worth it’. You value your skills, experience and what you have to offer. What’s even better is that your clients are most likely going to listen to what you have to say. If they are paying $120+ per hour for their reading, then they will want to make sure they get value for that money and are more likely to act on your recommendations.
That said, you must deliver. You simply cannot charge a premium price and then only give a half-arsed reading. It would be unfair to both you and your client. So you must be confident in your skills and the results of your reading. You need to believe 100% that you can deliver value in your Tarot readings.
Alternative Pricing Models
If you are still in two minds about whether you go budget or premium in your Tarot reading rates, there are a number of alternative pricing models you can use to find something ‘in between’.
If you want to have a premium service where clients pay $150 for a full hour’s reading, then why not also include a low cost option of $15 for a one-card draw. This way, clients can try you out or buy what they can afford. You don’t have to compromise on your time or value – simply slide the scale of your offering down to match the price.
I use this approach with my fee structure, by offering a Mini Reading (3-5 cards) for $29, a Standard Reading (6-10 cards) for $39 and a Deep Reading for (11-15 cards) for $49. Most people still opt for a Standard or a Deep reading, but at least the choice is available.
By Donation / Pay What You Want
We have a local restaurant in Melbourne called “Lentil As Anything” where you pay whatever you can afford for your meal. The same model can apply to your Tarot readings, where you leave it up to the client to decide how much to pay you. You might call this “pay by donation” or “pay what you think it’s worth”.
If you feel uncomfortable about charging a set fee for your services, or you are starting out, then this model may work for you. I think it is something you would need to experiment with, though, to ensure that you are still able to cover your expenses and get paid for your time.
Freebie Days and Competitions
If you select a mid- or premium price range, then you may also consider offering a couple of freebie days or competitions where you offer free readings. This way, the clients who cannot afford a Tarot reading with you normally can try their luck for a free reading on these special days or in a competition.
Donating to Charity
One Tarot reader I know likes to donate a portion of her earnings to charity because she feels that this is a more ethical way of earning money from her clients. In her country and culture, Tarot is still an unknown and it helps to increase a sense of trust by letting her clients know that she will donate to charity.
Knowing How Much to Charge for Your Tarot Readings
To work out exactly how much to charge for your professional Tarot readings, you need to take into consideration the following different factors.
- Target market and audience. If you work in a market or location where people simply cannot afford a premium Tarot reading, then you may need to adjust your prices accordingly.
- Experience level. If you have been reading for a long time or have specific experience relevant to your field, then you may consider charging a premium for this experience. On the flipside, if you are new to reading Tarot, then offering your services at a lower rate may help to build your experience.
- Other skills. If you have other relevant skills (e.g. life coaching, counselling or channelling) that you can bring to the table when reading Tarot, then you may want to charge extra because your skills mix is unique and highly valuable.
- Business costs. You need to take into consideration the cost of running your business, including room rental, web hosting, business administration, payment fees, ongoing education, books and resources.
- Income goals. What is your ideal per hour rate? What amount do you want to ‘take home’ at the end of the day, after all expenses have been accounted for? And how much money do you personally need to sustain the lifestyle you have or desire? Once you know this, it will make the job of selecting a fee structure a lot easier.
- The value of your time. If you have a busy lifestyle with many commitments (family, work, personal, etc.) you may want to charge a higher per hour rate simply because your time is more important to you. Less readings for more money may appeal a lot more than more readings for less money.
- Your personal brand. When I asked my husband (who has worked in pricing modelling) what a professional Tarot reader would need to consider when setting up their fees, the first thing he said was ‘marketing’. If you market yourself well and present yourself in a professional manner, then you will have a much better chance of selling your services at a higher rate. On the flipside, if your website is out-of-date or your practice rooms are messy, then your clients are going to wonder why they are paying so much for a reading.
At the end of the day, my view is that you need to be compensated fairly for your time and your insight.
As a professional Tarot reader, you typically invest a lot of time and energy into developing your Universal knowledge, building an ethical business, and giving as much of your insight to your clients as possible.
This has a value on it.
You also need to show your clients that you value what you do and so your pricing structure needs to reflect this value. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients to pay what you think your time and insight is worth.
Be bold! How much do you charge for your professional Tarot readings, and why? Leave your comments below. Remember, this is about sharing as professionals (or aspiring professionals).
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