Biddy Tarot Planner

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Going ‘Pro’: Taking the Big Leap with Shelley Ruelle

By June 7, 2013

Today I welcome Shelley Ruelle, a newly professional Tarot reader with a lot of energy and ambition. Shelley started out as a Free Tarot Reader at Biddy Tarot and after a few months and a quick pep talk via Skype and email, she embarked on setting up her own website. I am not kidding, she did it in one weekend! I was so impressed! Now, she is working hard on sharing her unique perspectives on Tarot through her blog at Sparrow Tarot and offering her Tarot reading services. Find out how she did it!

{Brigit} Tell me about your Tarot journey, from when you picked up your first deck of cards to now?

{Shelley} I had been fascinated by the tarot since high school and throughout college, but for some reason never brought myself to actually buy a deck of cards. Despite my curiosity, I mainly associated it at the time with “hocus pocus” types of magic store tricks and had scenes in my mind of shady psychics holding fake séances, so I always figured it wasn’t anything I’d be ever be able to actually relate to. Then when I was about a year out of college, my boyfriend at the time knew of my interest and bought me my first deck for my birthday, along with the book “Tarot for Dummies.” Everyone has to start somewhere!

That was nearly 13 years ago. I began to read everything I could about the tarot, doing readings for myself on a continual basis, deepening my interpretations as time went on. I occasionally did readings for close friends and family if they asked, and these were always powerful experiences, but I never thought my skill was something I could use to benefit others, especially strangers who I knew nothing about. Late last year, however, I began feeling down about the fact that my day job lacks a component that for me is necessary for feeling fulfilled: working towards empowering others. I began to consider putting my more than a decade’s worth of experience into service. It was a perfect fit, because I believe so strongly in tarot as a tool for growth, personal insight, and objective information on life situations.

{Brigit} What did you do to prepare for yourself for becoming a professional Tarot reader?

{Shelley} Although I felt comfortable with my knowledge of the cards and my way of interpreting the story that comes through in a reading, I didn’t have any “proof” that reading for strangers would be possible, accurate, or as useful as I had found the tarot to be in my own readings for myself. So, to test my scepticism and gain experience reading for strangers via email, I spent two very intensive months offering readings on the Biddy Tarot Free Readers page. Every last doubt I’d ever had completely vanished as I continually received responses from clients who were amazed at how “spot on” their readings had been. I began to see the tarot as an even more powerful and mysterious gift, as I connected with people I’d never met in such a meaningful way.

{Brigit} How did you know you were ready to become a professional Tarot reader?

{Shelley} Two things helped me to make the leap to go pro. One was an initial coaching session with Brigit, a “freebie” 15-minute chat in which, after clarifying that I didn’t have any logistical challenges or skill gaps to prevent me from going pro, she simply asked me: “So what are you waiting for?” and I had no truly valid answer to hold me back. Brigit’s enthusiasm and encouragement gave me the push I needed out of the “nest” so to speak.

The second factor was the consistently positive feedback I was getting from my free reading clients. Many began asking me how much I charged because they wanted additional readings from me. When the free reading clients started becoming so loyal that they were scheduling a follow-up reading one month to the day after their previous reading with me (since clients on the free reading page can only request one reading a month), I knew it was time to start devoting myself to my professional business.

{Brigit} What has been your biggest fear or challenge in taking this leap, and how did you overcome it?

{Shelley} I have to be honest: my biggest fear was how others would see my “coming out” as a tarot reader. Despite all the years of building my intuitive practices and working with the tarot, I always kept it as something personal and private, especially since I’m quite rational and logical in my work and dealings with others. I didn’t want people to see me as a scam artist or someone looking to make a quick buck because I figured that’s how most people viewed metaphysical or esoteric practices. But then I realized that was the exact reason I needed to just let my fears go, and be like The Fool and “take the leap” without a safety net and go pro: I am convinced that the more honest, hard-working, ethical and truly caring and talented tarot readers we can get out there in the professional world, the more likely society as a whole can begin to see tarot for what it is–a beautiful and mysterious art that can help us live our lives in a fuller, more constructive, responsible, and ultimately more joyful way.

{Brigit} How did you go about setting up your Tarot business?

{Shelley} I spent an intensive but short period setting up my website and doing research regarding pricing and logistics, and then creating the social media infrastructure to support interaction with my clients and online followers. Since there isn’t much by way of overhead, the process actually isn’t that complicated. The tools of the trade, other than the deck itself, are housed in my years of experience both in my own life and with the cards themselves. Tarot is an art that is as unique as each reader.

{Brigit} Tell me about your Tarot business. What makes you special?

{Shelley} At the moment my business is primarily online at sparrowtarot.com, as well as on Facebook at facebook.com/sparrowtarot and Twitter at twitter.com/sparrowtarot. I live in Rome, Italy, and although I’m bilingual in English and Italian, I find that most of my clients come through online English-speaking contacts. I do schedule face-to-face readings via Skype on request, but given time zone differences, I find that email readings suit my business best at this point. They also give me the chance to reflect more deeply on the possible interpretations of the reading itself, and give it more depth as I can take my time with an email reading in a way that I might not be able to face-to-face. Another great aspect of email readings is that the client has a nicely laid out and detailed description of the reading, so they don’t have to worry about taking notes or forgetting anything; they can refer back to it at any time.

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What makes me special is that I approach tarot from what I like to call a “humanistic” perspective. My readings give my clients choices, information, options, and put the responsibility for living their lives in their own hands. I use my practice to help clients see things that they most likely already know deep inside but need a little outer “push” to acknowledge fully, so they can then take action more confidently, in the way they feel will suit them best. I want to use my tarot practice to help people feel more empowered and in control of their own destiny.

{Brigit} What’s your vision for the next 12 months for your Tarot business?

{Shelley} Because my online presence is new, I plan to focus on building a solid community of clients and online followers to interact with via tools like Facebook and Twitter. I’ve also launched my newsletter, The Sparrow Tarot Companion, on a weekly basis so I can keep in close touch with my online followers and clients. The goal with my newsletter is to give my readers an extra source of inspiration for self-empowerment through tarot on Mondays, so they have some great food for thought and an uplifting start at the beginning of each week. These next 12 months for me aren’t about profit margin, they are about building online presence, a trustworthy and positive reputation, and a deeper personal knowledge of the tarot, of which we are always students, no matter how long we’ve been practicing.

{Brigit} What do you believe will be critical to your future success?

{Shelley} In addition to the online community and presence I just mentioned, I am convinced that success will come through my continued focus on service to others rather than seeing this business as simply “making money” or just another job. I certainly didn’t go pro to get rich! Although ultimately I would love to take my business to a level where it could provide me a full-time income, at the moment I want to continue to have the freedom to perform readings not out of financial necessity but out of my ability in sharing empathy and giving meaningful interpretations to each person’s individual story as expressed through the tarot.

{Brigit} What is your one piece of advice to aspiring Tarot readers who want to take the leap and become professional?

{Shelley} Approach this practice as a professional business, but at the same time don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re providing a personalized service to people who entrust you with their innermost thoughts, questions, hopes, and struggles: with that comes a great responsibility that requires self-reflection and constant personal work as well.

{Brigit} Any other comments or learnings you want to share?

{Shelley} When I first started working with the tarot, I felt that I had to follow all the rules laid out by professionals who had written books. I was afraid to make a mistake, afraid to add my own voice, afraid to let the cards speak to me personally. My advice is not to see tarot as something that requires rote learning or memorization, but rather as a life-long learning process and a tool that requires constant interaction, without being too rigid or worrying too much about whether or not you’re doing it “right.” Structure is good in the beginning but don’t be afraid to let your own voice and interpretations come through. I think keeping your heart in the right place, with loving intentions for this work and your clients, can go a long way in assisting you as a reader at any stage of your journey as you communicate the messages that the cards are sending to whoever is consulting them. Enjoy your practice and make the cards an integrated part of your everyday life.

Want to ask Shelley a question about her journey? Leave your question in the Comments section and she’ll get back to you! (NOT for request free readings!!)

About Shelley

ShelleyShelley offers professional tarot readings through her website sparrowtarot.com. Shelley has been working with the tarot for nearly 13 years and truly loves using her practice to help clients through self-discovery, personal growth, and by revealing options for making constructive, thoughtful life decisions.

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ABOUT Brigit

Brigit Esselmont is the author of the #1 Amazon best-selling books the Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings and the Biddy Tarot Planner, and the brand new book and Tarot deck, Everyday Tarot. A professional Tarot reader for more than 20 years, Brigit founded Biddy Tarot in 1999, where each year more than 4.5 million people (like you!) are inspired to live more mindful and enlightened lives, using the Tarot as a guide.

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