Last Updated: December 2021. Acuity no longer offers a free tier, but they do have a 7 Day Free Trial. This post is officially outdated and will be revised at a later date.
Update: May 2021. While I no longer offer tarot readings in my services, I still highly recommend Acuity for my clients and members of The Fiery Well. When you start adding detailed contracts for things, then it’s time to upgrade to Dubsado.
I see a lot of TarotTubers offering tarot readings by appointment while saying “PayPal me and we’ll set up a time” … and I have to wonder: how many emails are you bouncing back and forth trying to nail down a date and time that works?
And if you have multiple people? How many times has one client grabbed a date and time, and then you have to email everyone else and say, “Sorry, my schedule has changed. Here is my availability now.”
And then… someone else you were emailing with grabbed an open availability and now you’re emailing AGAIN with someone else.
Have you had this game of tennis? It takes up hours of time that could be spent doing readings, spiritual hygiene, or downtime for yourself.
So how do you solve this part of the problem?
Systems, scheduling apps, and services.
The issue can be, however, budgets! Especially when you’re first starting out, or readings are a side hustle or hobby, budgets are tight, right? Let me introduce you to Acuity, one of the most comprehensive scheduling programs I’ve come across that has one of the most amazing free tiers.
I’ve used a few, and am always on the lookout for more, but for now, I highly recommend Acuity.
Their paid plans handle everything for you: you set up your availability, the client chooses a date and time that works for them, pays you, and you have your session! (And they have a whole host of other integrations with Mailchimp, Quickbooks, and more.)
You can do A LOT with their free account. But, you can’t collect payment for the appointment at the time the customer makes it. So how do you get paid and link the appointment with the payment?
That… takes a bit of jiggery-pokery. [Insert 9th Doctor, Dr. Who reference here.]
If you’re up for it, we will modify Acuity’s confirmation emails with a bit of their special codes, add a link to PayPal for payment and utilize a printed appointment tracker to … well, track everything.
Up for it? Let’s go.
For this “tutorial” you will need:
- A FREE Acuity Account, setup and ready to accept appointments (Acuity shows you how to do this, so we won’t be doing that here.)
- a PayPal.me link
- Some patience
- A notebook, or my “Tarot Appointment & Payment Tracker” PDF
Acuity has frequent webinars to help get you up and running. And tons of help articles for setting up your Availability and creating Appointment Types. Take your time and get that setup, then come back here.
Modifying the Default Acuity Email
We’re going to edit the default Email > Initial Confirmation.
This is an email that is sent to you and your customer when they create their appointment. Both of you receive the exact same information: type of appointment, its date and time, and where it will be. For our purposes, we want to add a few custom tags provided by Acuity. You can use any of the tags in your emails, and adjust the email design however you’d like, but for today we’re going to concentrate on just two:
The Appointment ID is an absolutely unique identifier for your scheduled appointment. Think of it almost like an Invoice number. Every appointment has one!
The Total is … the total price for the appointment they have scheduled. If you collect tax, offer coupons, discounts, or add-ons, this total will include the final price after all of that. It is the final total we will send to PayPal for payment.
Adding the tags
The default email is pretty basic and ends with “Thank you, your appointment has been successfully scheduled.”
You can see by the screenshot of our “Appointment Scheduled” email that I’ve added a line that says ” Appointment ID: %appointment_id% “.
You can call this whatever you like… Invoice, Session, Appointment… use something that works for you, but be sure that the code %appointment_id% doesn’t vary.
I’ve also added a line with a link for payment: “You can pay here: “.
Again, use whatever language suits you and your customers best.
You don’t have to have the %total% at the end of the link, but that will auto-fill the payment amount for your customer so you have a better chance of being paid the correct amount from the start.
When your customer goes through the payment process on PayPal (they can choose how to send the funds: their account, their credit, their bank, etc.) they will be given an opportunity to leave you a note.
In your confirmation email, I highly suggest instructing your customer to copy and paste their Appointment ID into this notes box so that when you receive a payment notification from PayPal, you can immediately see that the payment was for an appointment and not something else, and will help you identify on your tracker, which appointment has been paid in full.
Tracking the Appointment & Payment
When you have an appointment scheduled, you will receive the same confirmation email your customer does.
This is when I take the information (name, email, date, appointment ID) and put those into my tracker. (I use the paid tier, and track my readings manually because I love pen and paper tracking of all the things.)
Then, when you receive a payment notification email from PayPal, I simply mark the appointment as Paid.
With the tracker I can tell at a glance what my schedule is and what appointments need payment, and then I have a running list of appointments for my records.
While there is still work required to link payments to appointments, we have at least solved for the problem of appointment email tennis, made it easy for customers to pay us with a pre-filled amount link and and set up a way of tracking payments as they come in.
Are there other ways of connecting payment and appointment? There are lots of ways, but if you have that many appointments and payments coming in?
It may be time to upgrade to the paid account.
When to go for the Paid Account
Go paid as soon as you can afford it, or can no longer afford to track everything manually!
Have five, ten, or twenty appointments a month? Upgrade! What is your time worth?
How much time are you spending tracking everything and chasing payments? Weigh that against their monthly plan, which at the time of this post starts at $15 a month (or pay for a year and get a month free)!
Now that I use the “Emerging” paid tier plan, I don’t have to do any follow-ups, reminders, or chasing down payments. Acuity handles everything for me.
I use Stripe for payments and the money is deposited directly into my account and synced with Quickbooks for my accounting. Also, by using Stripe I can hold the credit card, accept deposits, and charge cancellation fees!
I also use multiple appointment types for Tarot, Web Development, and Client meetings, all with different working days and hours. How do I keep track of all those different calendars? The Emerging paid plan allows me to sync my Google calendar, so I only have to keep track of one calendar and Acuity handles the rest.
If I have something come up, like a doctor’s appointment, or my kid has a snow day, I only have to edit my Google calendar and mark the time as “Out of Office” and Acuity won’t allow any appointments to be booked during that time.
Use Instagram or Facebook for your tarot business? If you have a business profile for Instagram you can add a “Book Now” button to your profile, which links directly to Acuity, so you don’t have to have one more #linkinbo.
Facebook? You can feature appointments directly on your Page and customers can select and book an appointment with ease. There are also integrations with Messenger, but I’ve not tried those… yet!
Another great syncing feature and integration? Acuity integrates with Mailchimp & ConvertKit, so my customer can be added to my mailing list with a check of a box when they create their appointment. One less thing for me to do manually (always ask before adding someone to your list!)
A Few Closing Notes
Make your customer agree to your conditions before your appointment. Acuity lets you ask your customer some pre-appointment questions with their Client Intake forms. I highly recommend that you utilize this and have a Terms of Service blurb. Layout all the ground rules: do you offer refunds? If yes, when? Be specific. Personally, I do not offer refunds because my time is still exhausted for the appointment and they are paying for my time, whether they like the reading or not.
Appointment Dates – Don’t offer your full schedule all day every day. Be specific about when you can, and want to, do readings.
Appointment Times – Please, for the love of your own physical, mental and spiritual health, give yourself time between appointments. You can add buffers before and after appointment times in your Settings. Please give yourself time to pee, if nothing else!