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By Fluke And Design: How 3 Notaries Built Thriving Businesses

Updated 1-16-18. Building a thriving business as a self-employed Notary can be challenging, and there is no set path to success. Here are the stories of three Notaries who began their careers doing one thing, collided with an opportunity or a setback, and found themselves working from a car, a home office, or a storefront, notarizing documents and handling loan signings. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Notary Frank Metayer

Taking A Chance On Success
 

Frank Metayer of San Diego, California, was introduced to the world of mobile Notaries while working for the National Notary Association in 2004. At the time, he sold Notary Signing Agent training packages.

But it wasn’t until a second stint at the NNA — after trying to get a real estate investment firm off the ground — that he saw the potential of being a self-employed Notary.

He was full of enthusiasm, but lacked any real experience. His first year was hard. He managed to start getting a lot of loan-signing assignments from a local signing service but did not get paid much for his efforts.

One of the things that helped save his new career was getting a mentor. “You need a mentor — someone who is successful — to survive,” he said. He was about to give up on being an NSA when his mentor reminded him that he needed to do more than just loan signings.

She told him about other types of services he could offer. He also started to experiment with different marketing techniques. Traditional methods, such as postcards and fliers, proved ineffective. Things changed when he started applying techniques on the internet, such as Google Adwords Express, which targets local businesses.

He also set up a Yelp account and got clients to write reviews of his services. “Yelp made a night and day difference,” he said. “Business really picked up after I got three five-star reviews, then went through the roof after five reviews.”

That new business included a growing influx of general Notary work — such as notarizing trust documents. He also works with a company that needs Notaries to witness DNA collection for immigration services, among other unusual jobs. 

He then launched a national signing service of his own by recruiting NSAs from one of the forums. After a little more than two years in business, Metayer employs a network of about 93 Notaries across the country.

“You have to treat this as a business. You can’t just say, ‘I’m over here guys. Give me business,’” Metayer said.

Sonita Leak

Doing What Gives Her Joy
 

Sonita Leak of Greenville, South Carolina, spent a good part of her young adult life trying to find the career that was just right.

At age 32, she was a single mother in Greenville trying to eke out a living in telemarketing. “I told myself, ‘$7.25 an hour isn’t going to cut it.’”

Instead of working for somebody else, she realized she needed to be her own boss and “do what gave me joy.”

Leak saw an ad for mobile Notaries on a website, and she thought, “This just might work.”

She was so excited, she started her own website advertising her new business — Greenville Notary — as soon as her Notary commission came in.

She then became an NNA-certified NSA in 2012 and signed up with various Notary listing websites. It wasn’t long before the first loan-signing assignments came in. For one listing, Leak recalls signing up for the service at 2 a.m., and the next morning her phone was ringing at 11 a.m. with an assignment.

She, too, realized that she needed to branch out into other types of Notary work — including powers of attorney and affidavits.

Because South Carolina is one of four states to authorize Notaries to perform weddings, Leak added wedding officiant to her list of services. “I was shaking in my boots for my first wedding,” she said.

When Leak launched her business, she benefited from the fact that there wasn’t much competition. There were only about 12 certified NSAs in her area at the time. However, she did not depend solely on that for her success.

She learned about internet marketing and has applied sound strategies to build her success. Among other things, she blogs almost daily about various Notary-related subjects, including the different assignments she gets.

Leak said her road at times has been challenging, but she’s never been bored. “With everything I’ve done, I try to see it as positively as possible,” she said. That’s especially true of her Notary career.

Kelly Charpenet

Reluctant Entrepreneur
 

Kelly Charpenet of Santa Monica, California, got a phone call one day from a good friend who had a spur-of-the-moment proposition for her: “Want to take a Notary class?” the friend asked. “What’s a Notary?” Charpenet responded. 

“I don’t know, but I heard you could make good money,” the friend said. Charpenet said yes, and that’s how her career as a public servant was born 15 years ago.

Charpenet had no idea what she was getting into when she walked into the class. At the time, her business developed video games for major entertainment companies, and it never crossed her mind that she would start a Notary business.

She actually started Santa Monica Notary — and created a website — as a simple way to set-up a business location in the city. In those first couple years, she only did a few notarizations, focusing on the video game side of things.

In fact she stopped doing notarizations completely after an emergency signing for a woman with ALS. “I had just lost my mom, and it really traumatized me,” she said.

But people kept coming by her downtown office for notarizations. At first she turned them away, but ultimately decided to start taking on Notary work.

Two things really helped her business take off. First the business name proved to be true inspiration. When people in Santa Monica would do an internet search for a Notary, her business came right up. One customer even congratulated her on being the number one result on Google.

The second key was having a physical location in downtown Santa Monica. That made it easy for people to come by. Since that reluctant start, her business has gradually expanded. Today, the business includes several other Notaries beside Charpenet.

Her core marketing strategy is to maintain an active presence on social media. “We keep local residents abreast of traffic, construction projects and other events,” she said.

And she is always open to new opportunities, or “whatever the universe brings you,” she said. “You have to have a little faith, perseverance and luck.”

 

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Frustrated

31 May 2016

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31 May 2016

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