I want to talk here about why I have priced my tarot readings at their current rates because transparency is important to me. Pricing services can be such a fraught thing. I remember a few years ago when I did some freelance tutoring, I AGONIZED over what to charge. A similar challenge faced me as I decided to go into business reading tarot. This time around, though, I was able to mostly set aside doubts about my own worth and price my services based on the math: my financial needs, how much time I spend on my business overall (not just doing readings), and what I am willing to be paid on an hourly basis. The result is that my rates may seem a little pricey, but I also know deep down that they are fair. My prices are based on a few guiding principles:
1. It is OK to have financial needs and ask to get them met. It’s OK to price my services according to my needs.
2. I have reached a point in my life where I will not work for less than I think I’m worth. I am asking what I think my time and skills are worth now and slowly building a client base, rather than underselling myself now and raising prices later.
3. The practice of tithing (h/t Sarah Faith Gottesdiener) is important to me. Asking for what my time and skills are worth is important because I am going to pay a substantial portion of my profits toward reparations. The more money I bring in, the more I can give away.
4. Accessibility is important to me, which means that I will always have sliding scale or another instrument of financial accessibility built into my pricing. Currently there are four tiers on my sliding scale and a long list of goods and services that I am willing to barter for.
5. I am worth a lot. I have four years’ experience reading tarot, but also a PhD in English (interpretation of symbolism; communication skills), 6+ years’ experience as a meditator engaging in formal spiritual practice, and a wealth of life and relationship experience. I am not the Font of Wisdom, but I have learned a thing or two, and continue learning.
But how did I come to the actual number I charge—in this case, $75 for a single reading? I’ll break it down here.
Each of my readings involves drawing the cards, making a recording of myself doing the reading, writing a document with journal prompts and symbols to consider based on the reading, taking a picture of the cards, uploading all of these files, and emailing them to the client. All in all, it takes me over an hour, so I am essentially charging a dollar a minute. Unlike a lot of other readers, I do not charge different rates for online and in-person readings. I believe that my clients get the same amount of value from both, even though they are different experiences.
One thing to consider about this dollar-a-minute rate, though, is that for every one minute I am spending actually doing tarot readings, I am spending at least 2 minutes working on other aspects of my business—social media posts, answering emails, bookkeeping, blog posts, etc. When you take that into account, I am actually charging $0.33 a minute, or roughly $20 an hour. (While these activities are not part of the tarot reading itself, I would not be able to run my business as a tarot reader without them.)
But that doesn’t mean I am making $20 an hour. I hold a quarter of that aside for taxes and overhead. I may need increase or decrease that amount after my first year, but we’ll see. Then, I take a third of what’s left over and give that away as reparations to black and indigenous people in the U.S. The rest is what goes in my pocket.
In terms of ACTUAL CASH, every time I receive $75 for a tarot reading, I set aside $18.75 for taxes and business expenses, I give $18.75 away, and keep $37.50. In terms of RATE, I am earning about $10/hr for my work to give readings and maintain my business. These are numbers that I feel comfortable with. $75 for a reading my feel a bit steep—even cheeky!—for a tarot reader who I just entering the scene to charge. But I feel that it is at the intersection of the value my services bring to others and the value I place on my own time and work.
I want to be clear that this is not a judgment on anyone else’s pricing. Everyone’s reality looks different and everyone’s needs are different. Because I have the stability of a day job, I can afford to charge higher prices in the beginning and build a client base slowly. Some people may need to build a client base as quickly as possible, while others just do readings for fun and some coffee money. Privilege comes into the equation, too, which is again why I want to make more money to give more away.
My goal is not to make six figures. Really, my pie in the sky goal would be to bring in US$1,000 every month with tarot. At this point, I am not even sure that I have the time or energy to do $1,000 worth of readings a month, but it’s my stretch goal. At this level, all of my household expenses would be covered and I would no longer have to pull money from savings, plus I would be able to give away over $300 each month. If I actually reach that $1,000 goal, then it will be time for me to reassess if I want my business to grow further.
Realistically, I would be happy if I brought in $1,000 during 2019 in its entirety. I know that by launching my business, I’m starting at a bad time (January and February are slow for tarot readers), and I need to build my client base. I am OK with growing slowly. I am also being realistic about my startup costs and understand that I need to cover them before I begin giving money away, which make take some time. My costs include: tarot decks, my logo, website hosting, and business cards.
Overall, this is my hope: clients will be attracted to me not only because they like my style, but because they will respect the fact that I value myself. I want this endeavor to be one that grows organically and in line with my values, rather than being about making money for its own sake. I deserve to be paid for my time and skills. But I am also looking forward to learning so much from my clients, the cards, and yes–my mistakes!