For those of us who like to follow the stars, regular horoscopes can provide structure and a sense of continuity in a chaotic world. Maybe you check out your stars each day in the newspaper, or follow an astrologer on Facebook for weekly forecast? There’s something incredibly soothing about knowing not only the phase of the moon and the movement of the planets, but what impact these might be having on our own lives here on earth. And whilst I always check in with Corina’s monthly horoscopes on Autostraddle, on a weekly basis I look to Chani Nicholas’s Monday emails for interstellar information to help guide my days.
Chani is not ‘just’ an astrologer; she’s also a talented writer and a passionate activist and LGBTQ and feminist advocate. Her horoscopes and full and new moon musings draw thoughtful parallels between the political and spiritual spheres, bearing witness to the pain and injustice many of us face and consistently offering positive, practical advice for change. Her words encourage us to look critically and compassionately at both our inner lives and the world around us, and how all of these ride on the ever-changing energy of the moon and stars. This bridging of the astrological, the personal and the political — via truly beautiful writing — means that Chani is a unique voice in the self-help field.
In this month’s Follow Your Arrow, Chani gives us a peek into the day-to-day life of her business, explaining how, no matter how she tried to avoid astrology (thinking it was too left-field for a career), eventually it claimed her. Chani also touches on the challenges of time management as a solopreneur, and the incredible leap of faith it takes to channel your gifts and start your own business.
Chani Nicholas, Astrologer
Los Angeles, CA
Hi Chani! Can you tell us a little about your business?
I write weekly horoscopes and other astrological musings. I teach online courses that help people make use of the potential of each new moon as well as courses on other significant current astrological transits (e.g., Venus retrograde) and broader courses that help folks unlock the power of their astrological chart.
How would you describe your approach to self-employment? What personal qualities inform your approach?
I was definitely winging it for a very long time but I trusted that if I found what I was good at and really passionate about, and then did it all day, every day, something would eventually happen. I am a perfectionist and, as painful as that can be when you are putting out weekly content online, it has served me really well.
When did you know that this was what you wanted to do? And what were your early goals, your first steps?
Astrology chose me. I didn’t want to do it professionally. I always loved it. I always understood it, almost like it was my first language. It was a total relief when I was introduced to it, but I wanted to do something that had more ‘credibility’, whatever that means. I had an idea of a successful person and an astrologer was not really it. I wanted to do something that was more recognizable to the public, like activism, education or the arts. I didn’t want to be in the esoteric outskirts. I grew up in a very alternative type of environment and because of that I never romanticized healing work. Being an astrologer was the norm in my family, in a way.
I tried to ignore astrology for many years but nothing else ever really seemed to work out and the astrology wouldn’t let me go. I have always dreamt about the planets, they speak to me, teach me and instruct me. They also harass me when I don’t pay attention to them, they don’t like it when I ignore them and have no problem letting me know about it. It’s not a fun experience. Working with them is easier than not so I finally gave in and gave astrology what I had to give it. When I did that, everything started to unfold.
There is nothing as satisfying as working on what we’ve been gifted by the gods. We all have some talent, some gift, some thing we are meant to develop. When we do, the energetic rush is unparalleled.
What’s the best thing about the work you do?
The best thing about what I do is that I use every single ounce of myself, everyday, all day and hopefully it helps someone, somewhere. I get to put every hurt, hope and healing experience into everything that I create.
And the worst?
I’ve had to develop a very thick skin. Lots of folks get angry with me for many different reasons and I’ve learned to be totally OK with that.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work?
My work is constantly expiring. I write 3,000-5,000 words a week and once the week is gone, those words are irrelevant for the most part.
How do you approach time management?
I suck at it. My assistant has to constantly badger me for things.
And what about work-life balance?
I work Monday-Friday, 8-5 on a good week. On a busy week I’ll work 7 days from 8 til goddess knows when.
My wife and I both work from home. We both run my business, plus she has a national non-profit, FreeFrom, which helps survivors of domestic violence gain financial independence and stability. Needless to say, we could easily work 24/7 if we didn’t stop ourselves. Our social life has, at times, suffered greatly but we make a concerted effort to make time for each other, friends and family regularly.
Can you tell us about your financial situation when you started out?
I started with nothing. Less than nothing. I started with a lot of debt and no idea how to make this a business or that it would ever be a business. My only start up cost was my time and energy.
Is your business sustainable now? And how do you feel in general about the money side of ‘following your arrow’?
If you want to make money doing your own thing you have to be prepared to think long-term, work overtime, and get nothing in return save for your own satisfaction for as long as it takes to make your business work. Having your own business isn’t for everyone. There is no stability in it. You have to love risk. You have to thrive in adversity. You have to be willing to dig deep time and time again with no promise of success. You have to be OK with being exhausted, alone, unsure and unpaid at points.
My business is sustainable now. It took a long time to get it here though. There was a lot of unpaid work for many, many years. A lot of doubt and fear. But I wouldn’t change it for the world because it is the absolute right fit for me.
Where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years’ time?
Doing what I love with those that I love: co-creating spaces in the world that facilitate more love.
How do you market your business?
I market the classes that I teach on Facebook, Instagram and in my newsletter. I don’t do any other outside marketing.
What’s the most valuable tool in your kit?
How does being LGBTQ impact on your business (if at all)?
I do not seek to, nor is it possible for me to, hide any aspect of myself from any part of my business, relationships or life. Being queer isn’t something that I can separate out from being a writer, astrologer, artist or entrepreneur and I would never want to.
Are there any websites, blogs, books or people you rate for business advice or ideas about your work?
I get all the business advice I need from my wife, Sonya Passi. She’s the CEO of my heart and my business.
What’s your hot tip for queer women who want to start their own business?
Do you. The more specific your work, the more you’ll attract your people. The more specific your work, the more loyal your people will be to you. The more sincere your work, the more longevity and success it will have.