Getting started / Finding a company / Getting hired / Keeping accurate records / Averaging your calls / Paying your taxes

Getting Started

You've decided to take the plunge and become a 900-line reader. There are many things you need to know before you sit down for that first reading.

In many ways, reading for a pay-per-call line is an ideal way for the tarot card reader to generate income. You are your own boss -- setting your own hours and working from home. The company provides the clients, so there's no beating the bushes for paying customers. There are pitfalls, though. Reading for a large number of clients each day or night is emotionally and psychically taxing. You WILL have to find ways to alleviate the psychic strain, whether through meditation, calling on Guides or Angels, or cleansing and protecitve exercises. This may be the biggest challenge you face as a phone reader.

You will encounter difficult or disturbed clients. Most people who call 900 lines are in emotional turmoil. Some may be agitated. Most have hit bottom and are looking for a way out. As a lightworker, it's the reader's responsibility to give these clients a fresh perspective, some constructive answers, and -- most importantly -- hope. We're in the trenches on the 900-lines, so expect anything. (It's important to know, though, when to terminate a call. Don't take abuse! See How do I handle harrassing callers? in the tarot900 FAQ. Use your back button to return.)

Okay, pros and cons aside, now on to business.

Finding a Company

Finding companies is easy. Many advertise in the classified section of newspapers and magazines. Some can be found on the Internet. You can even find companies by watching those late night psychic infomercials. Find a company that appeals to you, then read How do I choose a reputable company? in the tarot900 FAQ. (Use your back button to return.)

Getting Hired

Now that you've found a few companies that meet your criteria, it's time to apply. Web-based companies often have online application forms. For all other companies, call the customer service department and ask to speak to the psychic manager. Many times, you'll get a recording asking you to fax your employment request. In this request, state your special skills and other information about your tarot practice. I sent a resume and cover letter with my inquiry.

If the psychic manager is interested, he or she will contact you for a reading. Don't stress over this. Like everyone else, these managers like to get readings and will be very receptive, providing you know what you're doing. (If you have never had a professional reading prior to your interview, find a good reader in your area and get one. Many times, seeing what other professionals have to offer is very helpful in boosting your self-confidence.) If you meet the company's requirements, you will be mailed a contract, a company profile, and other pertinent information. You will be asked to send a copy of your social security card, driver's license, and a signed W-9 form with your signed contract.

Get a W-9 form online
See a sample contract

Remember that you are not working for this company. You are an independent contractor. That means you've signed an agreement to answer calls for this company, but they are not your boss. You will receive no company benefits. So if you get carpal tunnel syndrome from flipping too many cards, there is no worker's compensation for you. Likewise, the company will report all your earnings to the IRS. If you fail to pay your taxes, it's not the company's responsibility. It's yours and yours alone.

You will be required to have a dedicated line for your phone work with no special features (i.e. call-waiting, call-forwarding, caller ID, etc.) You will not receive calls until this line is installed.

Keeping accurate records

You've got the job. You've got the phone line. It's time to get started. Many companies request that you keep a log of your calls. Remember, this is YOUR business. Keeping accurate records is to your advantage. See a sample phone log. Some companies require that you FAX your daily log to them, others do not. Some lines require you to collect addresses and/or club memberships, so you must keep an accurate record of these.

Averaging your Calls

Most companies will cull readers who do not keep a predetermined call average -- somewhere around 12 minutes seems to be the standard. It's vital for you to keep track of your own average, and I advise you to calculate it at the end of every phone session.

It's easy. Keep a stopwatch or kitchen timer by your reading area. When you pick up the phone, note the time in your log. Perform the reading. Note the time when you are finished. At the end of your daily session, add all your minutes on the phone and divide by the number of calls you received. Voila! That's your average for the day. Take all your averages in a pay period, add them, and divide them by the number of days in the pay period. That's your average for the pay period.

Some lines don't include in your average any calls less than two minutes. This gives you a true average, as those callers hanging up before 2 minutes are only calling for the free minutes. A few 3 or 4 minute calls in one night can really blow your average -- another pitfall of the industry. Some readers, when getting several short calls in a row, will log out. The reasoning here is that callers are possibly responding to a free minutes promotion in an infomercial or ad. Wait awhile, then log back on. Why do this? Some companies pay on a sliding scale. The higher the call average, the more per minute you are paid.

Some lines have time limits on readings. Going over those limits means you won't get paid for the call. Companies limit calls to avoid "chargebacks". If a client refuses to pay his phone bill -- and some do after running up an hour or more with a phone psychic -- telecommunications law allows the phone companies to charge these calls back to the company. The caller, then, has received a free reading. Law states that he cannot have his phone disconnected from refusal to pay a 900-line charge. (Keep your eyes on the industry. Phone companies in some states are refusing to accept 900-line charges. Whether or not this is the beginning of a trend remains to be seen.)

Consult your psychic manager about how pay is calculated using your call average. Normally, total minutes on the line is multiplied by your pay rate.

Paying your Taxes

Stay on top of your taxes. Many readers pay quarterly taxes to avoid large payments at the end of the year. A wise idea is to put back 30 percent of each check . Your required payment won't be30 percent, but better safe than sorry. You'll have a little quarterly bonus.

Check out the IRS small business page. Also see their Tax Law Questions site.