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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.”


Add your comment


31 May 2016

I don't have a comment because I can't see the article! Make this go away so I can read the information!

National Notary Association

31 May 2016

Hello. We're sorry if you are having technical difficulties viewing an article. If you can please contact us at and describe the problem you're having, we'll try to help you resolve it.

Judy Thompson From Ocala, Florida

13 May 2019

Is there a way you can get me in contact with Frank Metayer of San Diego, California I have been NSA for a few years, there are several people who I refer to NNA to become a notary. I would like to start a signing service and help more people as well as building a successful business. Please share my comments with him and or any other signing service who's willing to share ideas on how to get started. thanks

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2019

Hello. You can reach Frank Metayer through his business website:

Sandra Lee

15 Oct 2019

How can I get a mentor to help with NSA?

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2019

Hi Sandra. Try this article for tips on finding a mentor:

Marian Joyce Kolb

04 Jan 2021

I was a Notary several years ago in CA.- must i retake all the study material to qualify?

National Notary Association

06 Jan 2021

Hello. Yes, because your commission has expired, you will need to apply for a new commission, take the six-hour training course and pass the exam.

Sandra Dee Stevens

12 Aug 2022

I was just wondering; I read somewhere that there is like one notary to every 72 people and so there is a huge demand. Is it just me? or is it a hard job to tackle due to other more seasoned and educated Notaries? I have been looking for something to do from home because I can not have a traditional job as my husband had a stroke about two years ago and a couple of lesser strokes before that and I am his full-time caregiver. He is getting much better but not well enough that I can leave the house for a full-time job. I need to do something and love helping people protect themselves i. from the wolves i.e. big companies that would otherwise take advantage. I am bored and need some extra income. I had considered doing something with my photography as I love the art of capturing the beautiful outdoors or even pets and still life photography. I found out later that it is a saturated field and with the threat of A.I. taking over in the creation of photography or videos much better than cameras and phones, I fear that I may not be able to compete. Is this something that I should spend my time getting involved in? I am more comfortable creating ads via internet websites or blogs and doing most of my work online. So many of you have struggled to find your niche in life and figured it out? I am all eyes lol...I could really use a break and someone who cares about others to help me out. My family has always had success when starting a Business but I never wanted to be stuck working with and living with family also. This is Sandra Dee aspiring to be successful like you all.

National Notary Association

15 Aug 2022

Hello. You may wish to read the article "Is the Notary industry overcrowded?" by Notary Sharelle Evans:

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