Tarot for the Modern Reader
Free Readings- Should You Give Them?
Free readings. Should you give them as a tarot reader? There is no right or wrong answer, and there is a place for everything both in business but also as a newer reader as well.
***This is the second article in our Back to School Series, a collection of 6 posts all designed to help you with your practical reading skills! It presumes you already know how to choose, buy and care for a deck (if not you can visit this post So you want to be a Tarot Reader); and that you have at least a basic working knowledge of each card, even if it's just recognizing the card and knowing a few keywords for each. This series is all about the readings!***
There are times when readers will give a free tarot reading, and there are times when it might be better not to give a free tarot reading. Let's explore these and see what's right for you!
Just to note, most readings are never truly "free". In almost every case, you are hopefully getting something out of it, even if it isn't money. A reading will take your time and energy and attention, so you want it to be for good reason, meaning you are being compensated in some way. Otherwise, you may end up feeling drained, burnt out, and even resentful.
Free Readings When You are a New Reader
Obviously in the beginning, most of the readings you do will be free readings. Meaning that you are not getting paid money to do them. And truthfully, until you feel confident enough that you are delivering a truly accurate and insightful reading, you may not want to take payment in the form of money.
But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be getting anything out of them. In the beginning when you are learning the cards, doing readings for friends and family is a great way to test your knowledge with someone's situation other than your own, and to also get comfortable reading for someone else. You might feel a bit nervous and believe me this is normal.
However, this is a good thing. Although the reading is technically a free reading, you are gaining valuable experience reading for others, sharpening your skills and your interpretations too. When I was new and first started reading for others, I found meanings for cards that were not in my own repertoire to begin with. Cards would show up for certain situations that I never would have thought of, but now, those things have added to the richness of my understanding of those cards. Nothing like real life scenarios to give a card meaning.
In this case, you are getting a value exchange. You are getting practice reading for others repeatedly, growing your confidence as you calm your jitters and learning more about the cards than you ever thought possible. You also want to get feedback though as well. Let your friends and family know that they aren't doing you any favors by being "nice" so constructive feedback would be the most helpful here.
Free Readings When You Have Been at it for a Bit
There will come a time when you have been reading for a while and feel like you can actually give a reading without holding a book in one hand or obsessively checking the card meanings online for every card you turn over. Sure, you still feel nervous and know that if you DID check that book or website, your interpretation might be fleshed out even further, but at the very least you can get through a reading on your own, even if you feel a bit sick in the stomach doing it!
The best free readings to give at this stage are to a large group where you can offer your services for free like a charity event. This tip actually came to me directly from Mary Greer when I was first starting out. It worked like a charm and I never forgot it. The best event to try is a charity event where you may not be getting paid (that first year anyway!). You are a bit of entertainment and provide something fun and useful, BUT if you aren't perfect, that's ok, no one paid you cold hard cash to deliver.
What You Are Getting out of the Free Readings at this Stage
Instead, you are helping the event have a better turnout (hello, tarot reader in the house!) and on your end, you are getting some crazy practice. You will go through that event reading for dozens of people back to back to back with little breaks. Of course you need to take care of yourself with regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, and adequate food and drink, but as a whole, you will get an experience reading for a large volume of people in succession
This will open you up to a whole world you never knew existed! You'll get alllll kinds of questions and all kinds of seekers as well! Some will actually have a real question they genuinely want your help with (bless their sweet souls), others will just want to test you. And everything you can possibly think of in between! But either way, you will come out of that event having earned some serious tarot reading chops and feeling heroic! The lack of pay will let you off the hook to perform and you can really take in the whole experience.
Additionally, this is a great time to get into some facebook groups ( or other social platforms as you feel so inclined) and exchange readings with other readers for practice. There are quite a number of tarot groups on facebook. In many of them, you don't even need to do a specific one-to-one exchange with someone. People will post readings that they did and you can try your hand at interpreting them. Although I would still do one-to-one exchanges with other readers with similar skills as you.
Free Readings at an Intermediate Level
Once you have been reading for friends and family for practice for a while and even for some strangers for free, it could be a good time to read for other readers, and not just online. Have you considered a local meet-up group? Do a real reading in person for another reader and let them do one for you. That will get your reading chops going!
If you have a newsletter or a blog site that you write on regularly, you could even do weekly or monthly readings for your followers. Yes, it's a free reading which will take your time and energy but only one a week or a month is probably a good investment of your time at this level to build a following if that's part of your plan. What you are gaining is additional practice and keeping your practice going (because when we stop doing something regularly we backslide).
But additionally, you are also helping others who will truly enjoy your interpretations, learn from them, and find resonance in their own life. I believe anyone who stumbles across one of my weekly messages did so because there is a message in there for them.
And in any situation where you find yourself reading for someone, ask for a testimonial that you will be able to use later as proof of how pleased your sitter was (with their permission of course), Later, when it comes time to start charging for your readings, those testimonials will not only help you make sales, but also boost your confidence as well.
Free Readings as an Advanced or Professional Reader
Ok...now here is where we have to cut the mustard. Once you are at a point where you are reading for others professionally, there are only a limited number of times that free readings are truly a good idea. Readings truly take so much out of you, and once you are getting paid to read, it's not "just a hobby" anymore. For some it's their livelihood and we don't often "go to work" for free.
So at this level, we have to be more discerning. Here, we are only doing free readings at times that it makes good sense for us. There are times that a free reading is awesome and I'm going to share those, as well as times that it is not so awesome and what to do instead.
I also want to point out that this level of discernment is more for the professional reader. You can be an advanced, very skillful reader having read for a long time, yet not be reading for money. There are many many readers for whom is it a lifelong hobby. In those cases, I say you do whatever you fancy and whatever makes your soul feel good!
Giving Free Readings as a Professional Reader Benefit 1
First of all, one of my very favorite examples of giving free readings is when I am exchanging them with another reading professional. Notice this 'reading exchange' is at every level. But by this level, I am super excited about it! I occasionally exchange readings with my good friend Erika who is a superstar Lenormand reader. This is SO FUN for me and I think for both of us really. Because we both read different systems, but have mastered the system we each read, it's a totally fun exchange. I don't feel depleted by the free reading, I feel so excited for MY reading!
And this is actually all readers honestly, I truly LOVE trading readings with my fellow Tarot peeps. I know they are going to bring some wildly different reading style to the table different than my own AND I'm going to learn something new myself! Not to mention, get an accurate reading by someone other than myself for once. Being a professional reader can be lonely sometimes. Nothing is more fun than being at a conference with like-minded women and trading readings over a cafe table!
Giving Free Readings as a Professional Reader Benefit 2
Another time that I will give free readings as a professional reader is with my friends and family. I do not subscribe to the theory that we should not be charging for our spiritual gifts. #notgonnagothere. However, I do believe in using my gifts for good, and just like every fiscally responsible business owner, I have my philanthropic and humanitarian beliefs, and when I can, I have no problem tossing a few cards for a friend. To be honest, sometimes this is fun because I am a little more relaxed and will ask stuff l wouldn't normally, like "is she pregnant" and just see what the cards throw out hahaha. Feels like a middle school slumber party :)
I also like to take my cards sometimes to parties or gatherings because they are just fun, and I get to see the wonder in people's faces as they experience and sometimes even learn about what tarot cards are for the first time. And it keeps me active in my local area, even meeting women who would like to book a party with me if she enjoyed her mini-reading. It's a win-win and one that leaves me feeling good inside, not depleted.
Giving Free Readings as a Professional Reader Benefit 3
These are mostly business purposes. The key here is to be smart about WHICH purposes. This is where it is easy to get tripped up and overspent. Been there, done that. A good one for me was exchanging services in different niches that I would have had to pay for otherwise. I once exchanged a tarot card reading for some website tech help. That would have been expensive for me, as in cash out of pocket. And she was super stoked to get a free reading, as that would have been pricey for her too. Win/Win.
The other time I find it is a good idea to give a free reading is with a hostess or event coordinator or potential one. My hostesses get a good free reading from me in exchange for hosting a party. I don't skimp here; they get one of my longer readings. A satisfied, happy hostess encourages more bookings. At bigger events, the event coordinator isn't getting a free reading in exchange for having people there, she is often an employee. However, if I can get her a quickie free reading, that goes a long way when she is thinking about who to book for her next event. It also gives her a positive experience with me and makes her more likely to recommend me to others as well.
Personal Challenges with Free Readings as a Professional
There are two scenarios where giving free readings as a professional will really deplete you. The first is in your personal life. It's one thing to do occasional readings for fun for your friends and family, but eventually, many of your friends may start hitting you up to "throw out a quick card" for them on the regular. Because you know, you're good! And you love your friends so much and want to help them. You know Tarot can help and it's great that they see it too and trust you as a source of solid advice or even prediction. But if you are reading professionally, and especially working in your tarot business all day, this can get to be a challenge over time.
Let's face it, even as a good reader, it still takes a hot minute to flip some cards, snap a pic, text out your advice to your friend and send it all, and that assumes it's a quickie request by text! You could be fielding phone calls, in-person video chats or requests to hang out and 'bring your cards'. So, in the advent of a win/win, I ask my friends to have a card party and introduce me to more of THEIR friends. They get the answers they need (and that I do want to give them as a true friend), and I end up feeling less burnt out or resentful and acquire new business. Win/win.
Business Challenges with Free Readings as a Professional
I'll be brutally honest. There are few business situations other than the two I mentioned above that work out for me to be worth it when it comes to Free Readings. I don't give free reading samples or free days or free number of people per week, etc. I'll be honest, people value what they pay for, when they have skin in the game. Most free work is under-valued, and these RARELY if ever turn into paying clients. That's just the reality of how money works. It doesn't really attract more business or future business. Like attract likes.
Same goes for giveaways. People opt-in for giveaways for physical products far more than readings. And honestly, if you give away a deck you purchase on Amazon for $20, and you typically charge $50-$100 an hour for your work, what do you think is going to be a better investment of your time and money anyway? Time IS money as a reader. And I've learned how valuable my time is.
Even other times that I offered free readings in exchange for something (like taking my survey) turned out to be sooooo overwhelming….It took sooo much time in my business to fulfill all those readings. I should have made it a drawing to be entered into for a free reading instead of a reading for each person taking it, (or better yet, a physical product!) but hey, live and learn. Ultimately you have to do what feels right for you, and learn for yourself what works and what doesn't.
So Should You Give Free Readings?
I think for the most part it comes down to where you are in your business. In the early days you want to do as many as possible to build your skills, and you want to be careful about the decision to charge people really money, only when you feel ready. Note that doesn't mean you won't feel nervous or anxious!
As you get further along in your practice and become a professional reader, you will need to get quite discerning and skillful at determining when it is a good fit for your business (and sometimes your heart) to give free readings. It's easy to burn out and even get resentful, and nobody wants that. Reading is a labor of love and we want to keep the intuitive channels open, happy and healthy. Reading can also be quite draining on every level for a reader, even when you are enjoying it, so that's another reason to be cautious with how much you do. Managing our energy is extremely important as a reader.
What's next in the Back to School Series
I hope you have enjoyed this second article in the Back to School Series, Should you Give Free Readings. I'd love to hear your thoughts and to know what type of reader you consider yourself right now and if you do free readings. Can't wait to see you back here next week for our next post in the series, all about how to give a yes/no reading. If you missed the first post about Reading for Prediction vs. Reading for Empowerment, go check it out now! In the meantime, please share your thoughts about this over in our community on fb in our group Tarot for the Modern Reader.
Lesson 1: Reading for Prediction Vs. Reading for Empowerment
Lesson 2: Should You Give FREE Readings as a Tarot Reader
Lesson 3: 3 Ways to Give an Accurate Yes/No Reading
Lesson 4: 5 Fail Proof Tips Every Reader Needs to Give an Accurate Reading
Lesson 5: Using and Creating the Right Spreads for Everything
Lesson 6: 3 Tricky Cards and How to Confidently Read Each
I'm Liza, professional Tarot reader, writer and mentor, and this is Tarot Liza. Everyday we're working to bring our mission of delivering more value and Tarot education to the Modern Reader to life! Welcome! Read more...
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