Reading at Fairs

By Terri C.

With Halloween coming quickly, this time of year is an incredible time to be out doing readings.  You might even find yourself in the position of working a Psychic Fair.  I’ve been running in the fair circuit for several years now, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve found.  

First, find out from the fair coordinator who does the scheduling. At my monthly fairs, the coordinator has a scheduler for us. The scheduler takes the payments (flat rate for all readers) and then we get paid a percentage of our earnings at the end of the day.  Another circuit I run in, the reader pays a flat rate to the coordinator up front.  We are responsible for our own schedules.  The sitters pay the reader directly and we can charge what ever we want.  

Why is important to find this out in advance? If you are doing your own scheduling and the sitter are paying you directly, you need to have some sort of reader board, poster or flyer near you, that explains what you do, what you charge.  Some readers prefer to use some sort of a sign up sheet, others do not.   A sign up sheet can help you keep your schedule moving along, but if you did not get a chance to see who signed up and they are not there when you get to them, this can cause a challenge.  If you skip to the next person and the first person comes back, you could potentially have a very upset sitter and possibly lose the reading.  Either way, you want to keep your schedule moving along, even when you are doing a reading.  Some readers also like to use what we call a Wrangler, this is someone who promotes you, in front of your table or booth and helps keep track of the waiting list.  You might also, want to try to find out what some of the other readers charge and try to come in close to what they are charging.  In my area people charge anywhere from a donation (based on what the sitter feels the reading was worth), to $1 a minute, $20 for 15 minutes upward to $40 for 15 minutes.

Also, find out if you have to bring your own table and chairs or if those are provided.  You don’t want to show up to a venue expecting a table and chairs, only to find out upon arrival that they are not provided.

Plan on arrive 20-30 minutes before the event starts.  This allows time for you to set up your space, ground and be ready for when the doors open.  If this is a small event, occasionally, the coordinator will have you move around, especially if someone cancels out at the last minute, so do try be a bit flexible. If it a large event, the spaces will normally be set in stone and if someone doesn’t show up, the space sits empty.

Try to angle your table so you have a clear view of the door.  Then walk back to the door and make sure that your table can be seen, if possible (some venues this is impossible).  Let your table be a reflection of you!   Consider a seasonal table cloth that goes to the floor and a spread cloth over that. A small candy dish (Yes, you can entice them with chocolate!).  Small polished stones (I let them pick out one to take home) are a nice addition to any table.  Business cards and tri-folds or flyers explaining your services are valuable tools. I also keep 3—4 decks in my bag. (If you only use one, that’s fine. Personally, I like a variety. I also try to keep one “child-friendly” deck as I am referred a lot of children (of course, with their parents sitting right there with them.) To keep everything looking tidy, under my spread cloth, I keep a simple one-sheet mailing list and when I’m finished reading for them, I ask if they would like to be on the mailing list. You may also want to keep a small notebook and pen at your table, so your sitter can take notes if they’d like.

Also, if you would like to use real candles or incense, check with the coordinator. Some venues will allow this and others will not. It depends on the fire codes in your area.  You can always opt for the battery operated candles.  They look very realistic.

Expect to read for all ages and be asked to read on various subjects. Use short, easy to remember spreads. 7-card horseshoe, 3-card (need to know, why it’s important advice/outcome), are examples of simple spreads.

Keep the readings to schedule; 15 minutes; 20 minutes; 30 minutes.  Set a timer for 1—2 minutes before the end of their time. This gives you time to wrap things up, ask the sitter if they have any questions or need clarification on anything.  Plus, they feel that you’ve actually given them a bit more time... therefore they leave your table feeling “special!”  This also allows you to give them your business card, tell them that you do private readings, in person, or via phone. (However, you run your business outside of the fairs.) 

For keeping time, you might choose to use a small digital kitchen timer, it's a fairly quiet can find small timers about the size of a half of a business card, so it blends in and is not easily seen on your table.  An hour glass would look very cool on the table, but not as functional. You might want to go with a pocket watch.  They look great on the table and there is no distraction of beep, beep, beep

If you are not getting readings, or it is slow, talk to everyone as they go by. A great catch line is: “Would you like to experience a reading today?” This should get them talking to you. If the answer is “No.” Then say, “That’s ok, maybe I’ll get a chance to read for you another time.” (or something of the sort). What I am really getting at that if there are customers in the room, talk to them, don’t bury yourself in a book or other distraction.

When you are busy, give yourself plenty of short breaks...even if you just get up and walk to the restroom and wash your hands. You’ll be shaking a lot of hands during the day, so this isn’t a bad idea any way!

Drink lots of water during the event...I mean LOTS...I typically go through about 64 oz. during a fair. Bring your favorite snack foods, and a lunch, pack more food than you think you’ll need. You will be using a lot of energy and you will need to replace it!  Also, plan for a simple take out meal for after the fair, go out for dinner, or cook the day before, so you can just re-heat.  You may want to plan in advance to have someone special meet your for dinner, you will probably want to talk about the experience.

Acknowledge that you will be nervous going into it...and that’s ok! Relax! The first one will be the hardest...and it will flow from there.

Above all, have fun!

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Questions? Comments?