" Look at your kitchen table - is this where you intend to do your Consultations? Wrong. You need to create a space where you can be seen to be a professional person of substance. " "
This article evolves from a discussion on the Festival list in which I proposed that many gifted astrologers get locked into 'poverty consciousness' because they undervalue themselves and their art. Many have difficulty in separating the 'spiritual' aspects of astrology from the mundane world in which to earn a living. I do not believe that earning a decent living from learned skills in any way compromises one spiritually. 'Sacrifice' is one of the unfortunate side effects of the 'spiritual' journey, one to which we are conditioned and need to rise above.
We spend a great length of time learning astrology and invest a lot of dollars in the process. It is an honorable profession but one unfortunately that still carries a stigma of misconception in the public eye. The public will not change that - only astrologers themselves can possibly do so. If astrologers skulk around in the netherworld of 'not worthy' or undervalue their own personal abilities to offer a professional service to people, then nothing changes. Only by adopting a professional businesslike approach to astrological practice will we collectively make inroads into greater acceptance by the public.
Several issues were raised in the posts. It is clear that there are many who would like to practice astrology full-time. I have attempted to answer some of the issues basing my answers on my own experience. One issue was that of fee - how to charge for consultations and make a living without compromising one's 'spiritual' values. For those anticipating setting up in practice, or revising an existing practice these tips might be useful to you.
Before you even begin, have a 'vision'. Without it, you have no place to head for. That vision presumably is to have a lucrative practice that does not demand you give over your whole life to it. So address your finances first.
Obtain the statistics of "average income" across the board in the country/state in which you live and determine the fee according to where you feel you fit in the span of 'average'. Most of these statistics can be broken down into 'blue collar", middle management and executive - decide where your training, knowledge and expertise fits. Most practitioners fit into the upper/middle management level I should think. Your studies have taken as long as Most University degrees.
Decide realistically what you expect, like; need, desire to earn in a year, (what you could earn in a 'proper' job at the level you have chosen. If you want $50,000 a year then you have to set your business plan so that you obtain that.
If the base income of your practice is to come from consultations, then you have to determine a fee, see how many clients you would need to fulfil your business plan and if it is achievable, then there you are - fee set! Do not fall into the trap of deciding how much you will charge and then try to fit the number of clients into that structure.
Be realistic - how many clients can you see in a day without becoming jaded and burned out? You need to allow yourself time out for other activities like reading, further study, attending lectures, your leisure activities, family and social life. In other words work a working day and no more. If you went to a 'proper' job you would work xx number of hours. Do the same in your practice. Multiply this by the number of days you wish to work in a week, then multiply this by the number of weeks you want to work in a year.
Let's use $50,000 gross income as an example of your financial vision. You want to work 4 days a week and have a month off for holidays and a month to attend conferences. So you will be working for 10 months, i.e. 40 weeks, 4 days, a week, a total of 160 days. You need to earn $312 a day. Now, let's say you can handle 4 clients a day but some days you will only have one, others two, others three and at a maximum - four. Your average client load is two and a half. So a fee of $156 allows for slow days. Easy! You now have a target - two and a half clients a day for four days is 10 clients a week and you get a long weekend! Play with numbers until you feel satisfied that you too can do it!
Having established what you need to generate your $50,000 - look at how you are going to 'sell' your services - remember - you are the product, so you are selling yourself and your skills.
Do a little astrology - Look at your own Venus in your chart and really ask yourself how well you value yourself because if you don't value yourself then no body else will! Look at your 2nd house - any querulent planets there should be banished to the nether regions. The ruler of the 2nd - is going to work for you, or against you. What are its qualities - how can you use it to best effect? Look at the aspects between Venus and that ruler - is there some self defeating mechanism at play? What houses does Venus rule in your chart? Angular houses are great for making money - Succeedent houses for hanging on to it and Cadent houses for frittering it away! Any planets in your 2nd house should be examined along with those in the 6th. The 6th house tells you a lot about your capacity to work, to apply yourself and organise your day. Look at your 10th for your ambition levels - how fulfilled are they? This house indicates the way you stand in the public eye - what is your image? How can you use this to promote yourself? Is there a planet there? Read your own chart as if it were a Horary chart asking the question "How should this person operate in business".
Then look at your kitchen table - is this where you intend to do your Consultations? Wrong. You need to create a space where you can be seen to be a Professional Person of Substance. The unconscious message that reaches the client is " This person has substance, class and professionalism - others must use their services, otherwise they would not have such ambience - ergo - they are good". If you do not have a room you can use specifically for consultations, find out about office space sharing. A lot of practitioners in other fields are happy to share.
Yes, I can hear you cringe - this is business, marketing, public relations - not esotericism - you are your own product - market yourself. You don't change from the lovely spiritual healing person you are just because you are earning a decent income!
PleaseÖdon't have incense burning - some clients are allergic to it and astrology does not need incense. It needs commonsense and knowledge. Incense does not enhance your reading - it gets in your client's eyes and makes them want to leave. Keep that to 'smudge' your rooms for a little while after the client has left, if you really can't live without it! A bowl of fresh flowers is enough. You donít need neon zodiacs and other accoutrements either. A few discreet charts, a nice planisphere, a reproduction celestial map, even a globe of the world, your certificates and a couple of pretty astrological artifacts are nice - a roomful of then make it more like a craft shop than a consulting room. Make the place fresh, clean, friendly, businesslike and above all comfortable. Keep the kids dogs and cats out of it.
Greet your client and shake his hand - that way if he's nervous and clammy you know you have to settle him down - he's scared. Touch is always important in making a contact. If you are a toucher by nature do not overdo it. Have tissues available. A lot of clients cry. Dress nicely - track pants are not suitable nor do you do the profession much good if you have too many dangling zodiac signs hanging round your neck. You don't need to 'power dress' - your client needs to feel comfortable with you, not intimidated.
Give your client something when he leaves - everybody likes a little something to carry away. Some hand outs on planets signs and houses in a little booklet that you've written yourself and printed up nicely. A brief explanation of what transits are, some nicely drawn glyphs that they can use to refer to when they get their chart home, your business card - good quality card - the feel of it is important. Even a flower or a little crystal adds the personal touch. Print the chart up as a 'presentation' chart. Colourful charts are nice to keep. Slim folders containing all the bits and pieces, labeled with the client's name takes seconds to do, and personalizes the 'gift'. Add a list of services you provide in a brochure. Let it be known if you do 'group-speak'.
Many clients will take your information to their social organisations - this is 'spin off' income - next thing you know you are invited to come and talk to the School for Bungie Jumping Seniors or the Biodynamic Organ Grinders Association. They tell you they are poor but they have 20 members all willing to pay you $5 for an hour or two 'speak'. It's a cold and rainy night and really $100 doesnít go far. Wrong! You get your $100, supper, meet some nice people and 4 of them make appointments for private consultations - and they tell their friends. And before you know it your next week's income is assured. And one or two of them are members of the Arizona Water Diviners Association, and they have 30 members who can pay you $8 each to speak and guess what - no advertising fees!
If you donít want to do group-speak, then find an inexpensive way to advertise. Your business card is very useful. I leave mine in cafť's, hairdressers, bookshops, etc. as a matter of course. Hand them out to people. Use your local press. Find out from someone in the media, a publisher, or someone involved in advertising, what the breakdown of the population is in consumerism in your area. If Print outnumbers TV and Radio comes out on top, concentrate your dollars on Radio, and use the print media to your own ends. For example, when I returned from UAC this year, I sent a little item to the local newspaper saying Linda Reid, local author and astrologer has just returned from a 6 weeks tour of New Zealand and the USA, where she gave lectures and promoted her recently published book. Not the greatest world shattering news but it was reported as "Local Author returns from Triumphant Tour of the USA". Cost me nothing - filled a gap in the paper, gave the family and friends a good giggle and booked out my appointment book for the next 8 weeks! Small ads and local publications are more productive than national 'glossies' and cost far less.
When you've got so many appointments that you are working full time, the difference between the $25 you thought was 'esoterically' the right thing and the $100 fee you are charging goes a long way to achieving your vision! Then you can come to Australia and visit us!
Naturally you are going to look at your costs and make allowance for them - costs can be kept minimal if you are sensible.
So, how are you managing your day? Did your last client pay in cash? What did you do with it - slip in into your purse because you have to go to buy groceries? Wrong. Put your money in an account. Keep proper records. Then you know how you are going towards your target. Yes, I know that blouse would look good on your daughter, but blouses come from personal income not from business income. You are not working for yourself - you are working for your business. That little mind switch above all else is a major attitude breakthrough. Never underestimate the powerful message your subconscious gets when you start to work for your business. When I became a company, with shareholders (my husband) and a company secretary (me) and a managing director (me) and an office manager (me) and a product (me) I can't tell you the shift that occurred mentally. No more - 'yes darling I'll buy that for you' Any money that comes in is business money! No frittering! Use your significant other's money for treats!
One of the most useful things I find in practice is the appointment chart - a chart set for the time of the appointment - I can tell then if they are going to be late! (Air rising) - if they are going to give me a rubber cheque or a shonky Visa card (Neptune in the 2nd) - or if they are going to hit me over the head with a meat-cleaver (Mars conj. Pluto in the 7th house!) The chart will often give you insight into the "real" reason that they are coming!
I cannot address the legalities of practice which vary considerably from country to country, state to state, but I can tell you how I overcame the 'fortune telling is not legal' rubbish. I wrote to the Taxation Department here in my state asking the question - "if a person earns money by doing astrology consultations are they eligible to pay tax?" The reply came back, "if a person earns more than x amount of dollars, then they are bound to pay tax. Now, I figured if you get recognised by the taxation department as a genuine income earner, it is a moot point and an arguable one about the legality of your profession! If they want to argue legalities then they donít get the tax!
I hope these few tips are useful.
has been a practising astrologer for over 25 years. She is the
Managing Director and Principal of the
Canopus Academy of Astrology, which offers correspondence and Online Internet Courses.
She is owner and general factotum of
Canopus Books - astrological mail-order bookshop. A lecturer, author, workshop facilitator and private consultant - visit Linda's astrology site at http://www.panplanet.com
© Linda Reid