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Reality Check – What It’s Really Like Working as a Part Time Tarot Reader

part time biz

Theresa Reed 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 Theresa’s take on Reality Check: What it’s really like working as a full time tarot reader.


There was a time when I hid the fact that I had a full time job (other than tarot reading) from my clients. I thought it was shameful and somehow unprofessional that I wasn’t doing tarot full time; that I was less of a reader for it.

Then, it would somehow come up in conversation that they or someone they knew was looking for an editor, and I would say, “Oh, I do that!” … and consequentially have to explain that tarot was not the main squeeze I had purported it to be originally.

Let’s just say it’s easier to be honest up-front about my part time status rather than do an awkward backtracking.

Here’s a dirty little secret for you that I’m bringing to light, right here and now: I am in fact the norm amongst tarot readers. Most tarot readers are NOT full time. Those that are are the rare exception.

You’ve heard the myths and the glitz: Going full time in tarot looks glamorous, but part time seems easier, with less risks.

Here’s the reality: part time tarot reading may be less risky than going the whole hog, but it still takes work. More work than you’d think.

Part time doesn’t mean half-assed… at least, it doesn’t have to!

Like I said before, Theresa Reed is the rarity in this field — She’s a full time tarot reader. She’s the exception to the rule, and I’m the rule: most tarot readers are part time.

There are connotations that go along with part time tarot reading: the assumptions people make about what I do and the reality.

I’ve heard a lot of speculation about why most tarot readers are part time. In fact, I’ve felt some of those speculations myself, such as the myth that part time readers are cowards deliberately avoiding the leap to full time. Sometimes going part time is a calculated decision, based on love of two or more passion careers. That’s how it worked out for me: I loved editing and tarot equally… there was no way for me to really choose.

The reality is, it would TOTALLY be easier for me to not do tarot as a business. Yes, really. While I could do tarot as a hobbyist, I feel it would be disrespectful to the high regard I have for the tarot for me to be anything LESS than a professional about it. This is the reason why I am a part time tarot reader. I am still a professional: yes, you do have to pay me, yes, you do have to make an appointment, and yes, it DOES annoy me when people look at me at my reading table and say, “How FUN!”

As a part time reader, I have found that there is an expectation from potential clients that I am “on call” 24/7, and my policy of no same-day or emergency readings is rarely heeded, even though it is stated very clearly on my website. I have found that same expectation carried over to full time readers for a different reason: because full time readers set their own schedules.

Because I am a part time reader, my schedule is mercilessly guarded and regulated—by me. My day job as a Senior Copy Editor comes first, so all hours at the office are blocked out. Second to my day job is my personal life and my husband. What is left over is delegated to my tarot business, which is no less of a business than any other, with set appointment times (evenings and weekends).

What seems to be a rigidity (a tight schedule) is actually a freedom for me and a weight off my mind.

Some things aren’t really so different from a full time reader. I still have to pay taxes for my business (just like a full time reader would [and should]). I still have to keep on top of scheduling people. I still have the joy and privilege of meeting people and sharing in their lives that I wouldn’t otherwise get. I still keep confidentiality and anything said in a reading remains absolutely sacrosanct and private.

In many ways, my life is not so different from a full time reader’s, once you have me across the table from you deck in hand. The upside of having a full time job other than tarot is that I don’t have to worry about health insurance and retirement: those things are taken care of by the company I work for. I don’t have to worry quite so much during the “lean times” where people aren’t as keen on getting a tarot reading, because I have the salary of my full time job to depend on.

The other side of the coin is that the impetus to promote myself and my tarot business is entirely on ME. I do not have the “hunger” that would drive a full time tarot reader to keep putting themselves out there. Ironically, I do STILL have that hunger regardless, that drives me to do many of the things a full time reader would do to promote themselves, such as give interviews, write this here blog, read at events, and unabashedly hand out my business cards to people!

Here’s some more reality checks about part time tarot reading:

Reality check: You do still have to pay taxes. This may depend on the threshold of money you make in your tarot business that takes you over the line between hobbyist and professional, but truly, just talk to an accountant and file your taxes accordingly with Uncle Sam.

Reality check: You do still have to promote yourself. That fact never changes!

Reality check: There will be times where you have to make a choice between your full time gig and your part time gig (spoiler alert: the full time gig usually wins out).

Reality check: You will have to navigate the rough waters of being approached by co-workers from your full time gig wanting a reading (and sometimes you’ll have them visibly balk when you tell them your rates!).

Reality check: Tarot conferences, decks, travel, and the like all still cost money. You may be using money earned from your full time gig to pay for your part time tarot… and you’ll have to make sure that what you’re spending doesn’t outweigh your income coming in. Again, this circles back to taxes: keep your expenses and income in order so that you have plenty of documentation when tax time comes around.

In conclusion, being a part time tarot reader is a tricky balancing act, juggling a full time day job, a full time marriage, and the tarot world and its joys and pitfalls simultaneously. Is it worth it, to me? Hell yeah! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, that golden rule that Theresa taught me years ago still applies: treat your business like a business. Even if it is a part time one.


Image courtesy of death to stock photography


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4 Responses to Reality Check – What It’s Really Like Working as a Part Time Tarot Reader

  1. Meredith says:

    This was an awesome read! I just went pro myself as a part time reader. I keep my full time gig for the same reasons: Insurance and income during slower periods. I like doing both right now. I get a much bigger feeling of accomplishment! Of course the hope is to one day switch to full-time 🙂

    • Hilary says:

      Thanks for reading, Meredith, and welcome to the wonderful world of part time tarot reading! <3 You may find that your day job serves you in your tarot job, and vice-versa (a side effect I neglected to write about, but still true!). That's wonderful that you are feeling a sense of accomplishment from your choice. Keep trucking!

  2. Dylan says:

    Thanks for sharing, Hilary! Inspiring read. I have a hypothetical question for you. Say Tarot were your full time gig. Also say that money isn’t an object, just for a second… How many people would you ideally like to see in a given wee? 25? 15? 5? Assuming you would still maintain your other familial priorities, of course!

    • Hilary says:

      Hi Dylan!

      I think it would depend on the week and whether or not I had a party or class booked during that week. Since this is a hypothetical, I’d probably like to book at least 5 hour-long sessions a day, and work 5 days a week. So, around 25 people a week if I were a full-time reader.

      Theresa Reed has an excellent post about this if you are thinking about tarot business and how many readings it “would take” to make it a living: full or part-time:

      Roughly, it’s all about “the number”: your monetary goal, and how many clients that would take a day, week, month, year to make that number happen. Thanks for reading!

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