So, you are broke again. Getting a real job is out as it seriously eats into your sleeping and gaming time and, lets face it, work is hard, mostly pointless, and poorly paid at your level. If only there was a way to get money for minimal effort …
Well, you’re in luck. With a little preparation, some decent patter, no shame (or gag reflex) and a pair of clanging brass balls, you too can advise the President of the United States as a bona fide psychic, if you simply follow these tips and forward $5 to our offices for a registration fee.
Who are we kidding? You have repeatedly watched every horror film and series of the past two decades – you already all over this one. People are hardwired to believe in the supernatural. In fact, science has even explained why so few people take it seriously: the so called God Spot of the brain. So you can, with sufficiently few scruples, make effective a use of this, just like cult leaders and Rush Limbaugh.
People edit reality, only accepting evidence which confirms their existing beliefs. The con is to base your heaps of lies on things that everybody knows or can accept as a reasonable extension of what they know, which means a firm grounding in popular occult culture. And if they do not believe in the occult at all – well, they are hardly likely to consult with you, are they?
Which leads us to …
People will judge your expertise by your language. Every trade and profession has its own language, with words having meaning specific to that profession. Ostensibly, it is to guarantee complete clarity in communication between two professionals. We always have the sneaking suspicion, though, that it is done to make you feel helpless in the face of the guy’s knowledge, and drive up the price he can charge. Think auto mechanics, contractors and dentists (how hard is it to drill some teeth, right?).
You must use this to your advantage. Just as a patient will scream and run if the surgeon tells them they need “a little pink bit removal” instead of saying “appendectomy”, people who consult psychics will expect the correct terminology . Mistaking a previous life for Akashic Records will leave you with less credibility than John Edward.Yet if you spin the lingo right, you sound competent and reassuringly professional.
And speaking of professional…
If there is one thing that modern society has taught us all, it’s that you need a paper qualification to blow your nose properly.
Look at your typical attorney’s office, for example. There are diplomas all over the wall. Half of them could be for winning a sprint in the 5th grade or place certificates in fishing contests for all you know. He never gives you time to examine them. But they sure give an impression of competent professionalism.
Without some sort of diploma, you are going to be at a serious disadvantage, compared to the rest of the psychics. Because everyone trusts a guy with a diploma more than one who is unqualified. You could go the fake route , and may well have to at the start. Or you could invest some money and get a real one from a real organisation. You may as well become a qualified ghost hunter while you are at it, allowing you to wear several different hats for maximum exploitation.
While we are on the subject of appearing credible to the credulous, testimonials can be useful but, in general, are of limited utility since they are widely perceived to be fakes. Unless you write them well and can back them up, using some of your friends and family to play satisfied customers on the phone. A scrap book or framed newspaper clippings rarely go wrong though. Most people think, if it is in the paper, it must be true. Don’t disappoint them. Make them well.
Now the preliminaries are finished, we can move on to tactics.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. The old saying holds even firmer if you are planning on separating a mark from his cash as painlessly as possible. So how to not just impress, but to blow their socks off and make them pants-wettingly keen to hand over their bank details?
A) Do your research. There is no excuse, with social networking sites so widespread, not to know something about your mark before you even meet them. No longer do you have to drive out at midnight and go through their trash looking for clues. Their dirty laundry is usually all online.
B) Go to their house. Do not make them come to you. You can’t really afford to pass up the clues that looking around and inevitable nervous chatter gives you.
C) Cold read them. It is a simple technique, requiring nothing but misdirection, empathy and common sense, that can frighten them out of their socks if done right. Combined with information you obtained in steps one and two, they will believe that you are more real than Santa Claus, ghosts and helpful government. Remember, we are not talking about terribly discriminating people here.
Of course, you may well find a sceptic… one half of a couple believing, the other one looking for a con. Defuse him – for some reason, it’s usually an angry dude – unless you want to be hounded out of town. The simplest way is by disarming expectations. A sceptic will expect you to grab the money and run like the wind. So don’t. Be up front about your charges. A fee to visit, sure, even a plumber does that, but no massive fee and a promise to fix things. Doctors perfected this decades ago. It is called fee splitting. Four or five visits will net you enough to cover your month, then pass them on to another psychic who specialises in the type of problem they have. Done correctly, one couple can keep 6 or 7 psychics in business for a year.
Never, ever, try to attack the sceptic by claiming that “your talent doesn’t work around unbelievers.” Even the most moronic UFO believer knows that is just code for fake. And they will react accordingly, reaching for the phone, if you are lucky, the shotgun if you are not.
Of course, you can even dazzle sceptics, if you use…
Sure, you can walk in, hands in pockets, look around and say “Yeah, you got a ghost,” but it is not terribly interesting. People expect props. Cards. Crystal balls. Slightly strange outfits. When the author, who paid his way through university by telling fortunes and playing poker, went from using ordinary playing cards to tarot cards, takings went up by 300%.
If they really want some drama with their flummery – a well run séance will help you out. You will need a shill, and some equipment for them to use, to bring off a superb séance. The shill normally is introduced as your assistant, or a nurse, because seances are dangerous to your health. Play that up. Getting the audience on your side is one of the fundamental rules of a successful con.
Remember, if you want to keep sleeping on your pile of cash instead of with your “husband” Big Vinnie, that cons are risky for a reason. If they can be proved, you face 5 years inside for obtaining benefit by deception.
The other thing which trips various artists up is the whole tax thing. Keep your books and pay your taxes like a good little boy, and Uncle Sam won’t give a damn.
And if you read this expecting to become a real psychic – get real, bro. The nearest radioactive waste dump is your best bet.