10 Tips on How to Succeed as a Reiki, Bodywork or Massage Therapist

They are questions I get a lot: How do I get started doing Reiki/Massage? Where do you find your clients? What are the first things I need to do?

I’ll share with you all the answers.  But I warn you, almost as a rule, people do not like the answers. I can sum it up in just 5 words:

A lot of hard work

And there you have it.  Having a practice is not a “set and forget” proposition, it’s something more like a garden-it requires attention, labor and love to start and sustain it.
Here’s the top ten things you need to know to start a thriving Reiki practice.

1.Forget what they told you in Massage school or Reiki training about the business you are in…if they told you anything at all.

Massage schools tell you you’ll make $40,000-65,000 your first year while “making your own hours”.  You’ll be lucky if you make half that as an independent contractor where you will only work when there is work to be had.  Usually, there are no promises for a minimum amount of hours, and no benefits. You don’t work when YOU want to work, you work when your CLIENTS want a session.  That’s usually service hours (nights and weekends) because most people work 9-5 or thereabouts. The only people making $40,000-65,000 per year in this industry are owners of established spas.

Reiki practitioners that do not offer any other services are often passed over for jobs by people who do.  It is much easier for a business to book someone with more versatility.  Generally, the only time I see listing for Reiki practitioners who offer no other services are in remote parts of the country where no one else offers Reiki.  So, if you simply wish to offer Reiki, you may be going it alone or renting space as a partner in a collective practice.

2. If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one else will.  I Direct a 9 person wellness collective in South Philly called Philly Community Wellness, and one of my duties is the process of vetting new members.  These members are actually paying rent, and earning 100% of what their client pays-essentially, the opposite of a job or contractor, they are independent entrepreneurs.  In order to work side by side with us, prospective members still need to submit three things before I will even sit down and interview them in person.  They are:

  • Resume
  • Proof of Training
  • Proof of Insurance

TIP-It helps to have these scanned as files you can email too, if at all possible.

Even the clothing stores in my neighborhood require a resume, and they pay about $7/hour.  People you want to work for or rent with need to see who you are in one clear snapshot.   If you are looking to rent space alone, a landlord will want to see at least this (more likely, they will demand an actual business plan).

Proof of Training – Employers and partners alike will check your credentials…and yes, I have caught people with their pants down on this before. If you are trying to fly under the radar without having completed training, you won’t get far, and you’ll make a bad name for yourself in the process.

Proof of Insurance-Absolutely, and yes, for Reiki as well.  Read the policy carefully to make sure that it truly covers you (i.e, that your training was enough hours, etc).  Just because they take the payment does not mean that you are covered if you fail to meet the requirements.  And check stipulations-in example, practitioners are seldom covered for fires caused by candles.

Many Reiki practitioners mistakenly think that they do not need insurance, since what they do is not massage and has no contraindications.  Any lawyer will tell you a huge amount of lawsuits against any kind of business involve slips and falls on their property. No, they don’t just sue your landlord (although they will sue them too) and no, your homeowners or renter’s insurance will not cover it.  Those policies only cover people visiting you at a residence.  If you are using your residence as a business, you are not within the policy. Reiki practitioner insurance generally costs less than $200/year, and is well worth it!  (If you are starting a home based practice, read item 5 very carefully)

3. You are a Reiki, Bodywork or Massage PROFESSIONAL.

You want to be a pro?  Fake it till you make it, play the part.  Here is an email I got from someone looking to join the collective:

I am {name} a Certified Massage  Therapist , ABMP member interested in practice ad the community wellness center…

Besides the fact that we don’t offer massage (something made clear on our website…doh!) It needs to read something more like this:

I am interested in becoming a provider at {your business}.  I am experienced in {services A, B and C} and studied at {school}. My approach is integrative, meeting the client’s individual and unique needs. (or, something true about your method of practice, what clients you may wish to specialize with, etc)

I have attached my resume for your review, and references are available upon request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


your name and contact info

Tip-Calling a business prior to emailing them is generally a good idea. 

I once requested a resume from someone, and they asked me to help them write it.  Google, anyone? Make sure your voicemail is ready for people to leave professional messages, check your email regularly, and get an email address that is not something along the lines of “bootylicious6969@email.com”.

Also, avoid saying negative things about other practitioners whether they practice your modality or not.  If you are talking poorly of another practitioner or business, how can your client imagine you making them feel any better? If pressed, simply state that you don’t know enough about them to form an opinion, and suggest they look the person up on Yelp or other public review site.  You’ll come out smelling like a rose.

4. Prepare yourself to be part of the service industry.

Many people entering the world of Professional Wellness Providers right now are corporate refugees facing little or no job opportunities in their former profession or looking for more meaningful work.  I find many aspiring practitioners are resistant to letting go of their former titles to chat about their practice in the back of a grocery store, stumping for clients and possibly being heckled in the process.  It can be a humbling experience. And, it’s the only way to get things rolling.  Sorry, but it is the truth. Also, see item 1 about the hours you can expect to work.

Another huge problem I’ve seen is the lack of client service skills.  If you are treating society at large, you therefore need to be socially aware….ignorance is not bliss.  Remember the Golden Rule.

This list identifies just a few of the clients I have seen in the past 12 months:

  • Sexworkers (persons who perform sexual services for compensation)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender folks
  • Genderqueer persons – those who may not identify as “male” or “female”, and may prefer gender neutral pronouns (i.e. “they” instead of “he” or “she”)
  • Persons with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and STIs
  • Those with Mental Illness (I fall into that category, as I have been treated for Anorexia)
  • War vets and domestic violence survivors with PTSD (I fall into this category, too-I’m a domestic abuse survivor)
  • Sex assault and abuse survivors
  • People who have had abortions, and/or work in abortion clinics

Are your space, your intake sheet and demeanor inviting to all of these people?

I once had a practitioner show up to interview to join the practice.  I waited on the steps outside for her and as she approached the building and I asked her who she was looking for, she gave me quite a look and refused to answer…three times.  She stared at the number on the building, horrified by my presence, and called the number she had been given…and was horrified when it was my phone that rang.  People with dreadlocks, piercings and tattoos run businesses AND GET BODYWORK too. She was too embarrassed to continue with the interview.

We’ll have a follow-up to this post with advice on what to include and leave off an intake form, and please check out the links at the bottom of this post for more information on how to start preparing yourself to serve the masses.

5. You need a safe place to practice

I’ve been scolded and scoffed at for making this statement before, and I’ll continue shouting it from the rooftops.  If you provide any bodywork service, clothed or otherwise, anywhere (not just Cities), you need a safe and secure place to see your clients as your safety requires it.  I’ll put it to you this way-Archangel Michael is totally my homeboy…and it does not mean that I am going to light a cigarette while drenched in gasoline.  I’ve heard every excuse:

“It only happens in Massage, not Reiki” I know 4 Reiki practitioners that were robbed or had a sexual incident occur.  Criminals don’t care what you call it, they are not there for healing.

“I’m careful” People are careful about Birth Control too, but yet there are a lot of us walking around!

 “If something bad happens, I manifested the situation” That is the law of attraction used backwards as a tool of victim blaming.  Two of those four Reiki practitioners I know DID NOT report their incident because they blamed themselves in this way.  Two opportunities to get a criminal off the streets were missed.  Enough of the blame game…report it!

Two safety tips:

  1. NEVER post bodywork services on Craigslist.  It’s against their use terms now because someone was killed doing that.
  2. Do NOT accept phone calls from blocked, private or anonymous phone numbers. In my experience it greatly cuts down on the number of “sketchy” calls.  If your phone carrier does not allow you to block these calls, use a forwarding service like google voice (which is free) that does.

Also, it is illegal in most places to run a business from a residence-check your local zoning requirements and ordinances.  You could be fined, shut down, or even evicted if you live in a rented space, as it is likely in violation of your lease.

So, that’s the five BIG things I tell anyone who is looking to start a practice.  It ain’t pretty, but it is the truth.   Just like a well-tended garden, your hard work will pay off in a most beautiful and rewarding way.

Here’s 5 small tips to help your garden thrive:

Business Cards They do not need to be fancy or expensive, and you ideally want to go through 500 cards every 2-3 months.  You can design your own online at vistaprint.com. Bonus points for avoiding pink and flowers, because men enjoy Reiki too! Hand them to everyone you meet, and leave them everywhere there is a place to.  I’ve met clients at the grocery store, Wawa, Library, walking down the street…

Email Marketing Keep track of client and student emails, and put out an email signup sheet at every event you take part in.  Email marketing is inexpensive and effective.  Ones to try are Vertical Response and Mailchimp, but there are hundreds of low-cost options.

Meetup.com Set up an event and/or take part in other events to meet like-minded people & potential clients.  Don’t just explore Reiki, but other things like nature groups, metaphysics, yoga…

Public Events, Community Service & Volunteering Get a table at a festival or fair, host a free workshop at a local natural foods store or library, offer your services for free at fundraisers.  Start a neighborhood beautification group, or volunteer at a local charity.  You’ll meet great people who want to support you, and likely deepen your practice in the process.  I volunteered with a local animal shelter when I was first starting, and the effort was rewarding in more ways than I could have imagined. GET OUT THERE! Most people still don’t know what Reiki is. Collect email addresses and distribute business cards.

Start Trading In my opinion, the most important tip of all…trade sessions with other local bodyworkers, especially those who offer services that differ from your own.  You’ll get much-needed self-care while letting other know who you are, and learn about other modalities that can help your clients.

Please enjoy the following sources & resources to help your practice, and may your garden prove fruitful:

Starting a Reiki Practice – Business Basics by Marianne Streich Another great article on starting a Reiki practice, including information about business structures.

5 Easy Things to Make Your Clinic Shine More Brightly by Michelle Faucher A wonderful article on how to make your practice more LGBT friendly, with lots of resources linked within. A must read.

Reiki for Veterans by By Eileen Dey, M.A., RMT & Michael Emanuel, RMT A personal account of Reiki for Vets struggling with PTSD.

Reiki Wellness Project more about Reiki for Vets with PTSD

Healing Triumphs over Donestic Violence-How Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers Can Change the World by Stephanie Mines, Ph.D. Best practices for Bodyworkers treating survivors of Domestic Violence

The Sex Workers Project Information about the rights of individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance, or coercion.


6 thoughts on “10 Tips on How to Succeed as a Reiki, Bodywork or Massage Therapist

  1. Bertie Byrne

    Im a very positive person and I do not agree with people slating each others work on blogs ect, but I just feel as though I had to leave this comment to say that, your information is portrayed in a very harsh negative manner , although it is informative I feel that especially with the work you are speaking about a gentler more positive approach Would be much more effective. Peace & light

  2. jcrows0713

    I want to thank you for the bit about ‘people who use the law of attraction to blame the victim’ and the “law of attraction backwards” I am so glad you mentioned this. I was feeling alone in what I sometimes see and hear regarding this, so good to know I am not alone. Also, thanks for the tips in starting up a Reiki businesses, very helpful.

  3. priyanka

    Reiki healing is very easy. Reiki Healing and Love will flow without any effort on your part. Place you hands on your self and others and experience Reiki Healing for your self. How you begin your practice of Reiki is up to you as there are no set in rules for learning Reiki.perform self healing regularly, preferably daily in the beginning. As well as improving your health, it will balance and center your mind/ body/ spirit system, thereby allowing for a dramatically increased flow of Reiki energy during healing sessions.The Reiki treatment is a most beneficial and rewarding experience for both the practitioner and the receiver. It’s always different and no description can truly represent the awe that the experience can inspire. It’s a joy to both give and receive a Reiki treatment. The more you work with Reiki the deeper it gets and the more it flows.
    for more information or queries log on to http://www.helpmepapa.com

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