As I write this, I’ve been a notary for about seven years. I was first commissioned in April 2013 but didn’t get any signing jobs or even do any general notary work until September of that first year. If I recall correctly, I don’t think I even tried to market myself or knew how to. Anyway, that September, a signing service found me on signingagent.com, and I had my first signing! I had received my notary training from the NNA and was also a member, so that’s how they found me (the included signingagent.com online-directory profile). I think I was paid about $90. I was so nervous it took me a minute to even remember what went in the blanks on that first notarial certificate! I spent the next year and a half doing many, many signings (about 200) for a different but very low-paying signing service (the average fee was only $70!).
The pay might have been low, but I was new, and I not only wanted but needed the experience. Some signings were difficult, and others were easy. Pretty much all of them taught me something in that first 18 months, whether it was learning about a document I hadn’t seen before, or how to keep my composure when spouses got into a fight. I remember the day I got two signings in the same day! WooHoo! Then I remember when I got two days in a row, with two signings on each day! And so on. Each milestone was earned and celebrated. Then a new signing service found me and wanted to pay me an astonishing $125 – I was elated! Fast forward seven years. I’ve now done close to 700 loan signings (some years, I didn’t take as many as other years).
Get the experience
When people learn something new, I feel that they need to be just brilliant at it right out of the gate, which is rare; most need to pay their dues. Notaries need the experiences of real signings, and knowledge of their state laws, and certainly, extra training never hurt anyone. If questions arise about handling a document or a particular situation, notaries need to know where to find the answers. Know where the resources are and how to access them. NNA members always have access to the NNA Hot Line (I still use them on occasion), and then there are the state notary handbooks (or facsimiles of, depending on the state) or mentoring groups. Looking back, I realize that I could have done many things to speed up getting higher fees for signings, rather than what happened over that first year or so. Things I could have done to make myself more visible to more hiring companies. Following is a list of what new notaries or those interested in getting into Loan Signings can do to speed things up in their journey to further their careers.
Ten Ways Notaries Can Advance Their Career
- Get certified as a Loan Signing Agent with more than just the NNA – with companies such as Notary2Pro and NotaryCoach – By the time I learned about these two companies, I’d been doing signings for years and figured it would be redundant. However, I have a feeling there’s still stuff I can learn!
- Find a Mentor or coaching program like Laura Biewer Presents Library – Extensive videos and other resources for new and experienced notaries.
- Join quality directories like Notary Café and Notary Rotary (I’m still listed, and people tell me to this day that’s where they found me, for both loan signings and general notary work).
- Spend time on forums – like Facebook notary groups (search; you may have to ask to join some of them), and participate in live-action calls like the weekly TNT zoom call (I spent a lot of time on the Facebook groups when I was new, and I try to sit in on TNT calls when I have time).
- Attend Notary Meetups/Zoom calls and local Real Estate get-togethers.
- Drop off biz cards at your local title companies – you never know when they are low on the number of preferred NSAs on their list and are looking for more.
- If you have the time, and the means, attend notary conferences like the NNA and Notary Symposium, also seek out other local notary organizations out there.
- Blog consistently on your website – Exposure, in a general or targeted sense.
- Post on LinkedIn, everyone should have an account – Engage your target audience(s)!
- For those in California, join The California League of Independent Notaries – the first and only advocacy organization in CA requiring all members to be commissioned notaries and strives to promote public awareness and advocate for California Notaries by building community, providing communication and lobbying for policy that strengthens the Office of Notary Public and represents their members’ common interests.
In summary, get your experience. EARN your dues; though some of those earlier experiences, especially at the start, may be at less than desired fees. And then it’s all about furthering your education and your reach. Reach out to contacts. Learn. Increase your exposures. It takes time, and no one can do it but you. But you’ll get there. One step at a time. Happy “Notaring” to all of you.
Kerri Marvel, owner of Kerri Marvel Services; CA Notary Public & Signing Agent, Website Designer & Optimization Services. After spending about 20 years in various capacities in data management, then about 8 in the food industry (personal chef, caterer, restaurant owner), Kerri went back to ‘data’ – computers and websites, and became a notary to fill the gap when business was slow. Today, notary work makes up 50% of her income. Contact: Kerri at firstname.lastname@example.org