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New Business And Income Trends Affecting Mobile Notaries

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Updated 6-19-19. Mobile Notaries continue to be sought out and opportunities for increased contacts and new business abound.

An interesting thing happened on the social news, trends and discussion website Reddit last December 7: Notaries made the front page.

Packed amid posts about celebrities, politics, video games and consumer reports, a user posted a discussion thread asking, “Where can I find a Notary?” For several hours it was the third most popular post on Reddit — the 5th most visited website in the U.S. with 1.6 billion users. Commenters offered suggestions and shared their experiences looking for a Notary, and becoming one. Nearly 400 opportunity-seeking people also recently dove into a deep discussion about becoming a mobile Notary entrepreneur. 

Notaries have never before been such a hot topic among the general public. But that is changing as the national demand for Notary services increases and, with that, the demand for mobile Notaries. The realities of 21st century economic and consumer needs are redefining what it means to be a mobile Notary. So the question is: What does it take to succeed? The National Notary conducted an in-depth survey of our community and interviewed dozens of mobile Notaries to answer that question.

The New Notary Business Model

Being a mobile Notary is a viable, profitable business venture — especially as on-demand services become more popular. Thirty-nine percent of both full-time and part-time mobile Notaries said their businesses became profitable within a year. Overwhelmingly, the veteran mobile Notaries interviewed said they follow a simple business model:

• General Notary work

• Loan signings (Notary Signing Agent)

• Non-Notary services

For Cheryl Casebolt of Simi Valley, California, this model works well, although it took time and effort to develop. Before becoming a mobile Notary she spent several decades working in the corporate sector. “I had a lot of experience doing many different things, but I wanted a change. I figured I’d see if I could build a business out of that experience.”

Casebolt got her Notary commission in 2008 and immediately began marketing and networking. “I put ads in papers. I created a website. Put magnets on my car. Signed up on all the Notary listing websites. Started using social media to connect with potential clients. I did everything I could think of,” she said.

The work began to come in. But it really took off when she began visiting local businesses, including attorneys who did not have in-house staff. She soon picked up more Notary work, and also some paralegal work — an area in which she had experience. Her business continued to grow and she currently offers several types of services, including personal assistant, secretarial, paralegal and concierge services. “I’m doing something that I enjoy, and I’ll do it as long as I’m able,” she said.

Former law firm office manager Terri McKay of Powder Springs, Georgia, was inspired to become a mobile Notary after talking to the Signing Agent who handled the closing for a home she sold.

She initially became an NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent and dove into part-time loan signing work. But when her law firm closed she transitioned to full-time and expanded into general Notary work. Loan signings were too cyclical with the ups and downs of the market, so to keep things going, she began buying ads on Google, visiting military bases, hospitals, social workers and other businesses.

“Today, 55 percent of my business comes from loan signings and 45 percent general Notary work,” she said, and she is working to continue the shift more toward general Notary work.

Niche Building For Notaries

Mobile Notaries of the early 2000s lived off loan signing work. Today, they follow a very different strategy rooted in general Notary work and non-Notary services. The key to succeeding today is finding a niche that matches your skills and expertise with the needs of your community or market area.

Notaries interviewed for this article had unique skills, backgrounds, or interests in industries like law enforcement, education, real estate, insurance, medical, social work and military service. And they are using those interests to create opportunities. Some find niches in handling I-9 verification forms.

Another niche-building expert is longtime mobile Notary Laura Biewer of Modesto, California, who also mentors budding Notary entrepreneurs. Her business, At Your Service Mobile Notary, handles notarization requests for inmates and law enforcement personnel, international adoptions, advance health care directives, trusts, automotive signings, pension verification documents and more. 

Before 2008, when the housing market crashed, 95 percent of her business came from loan signings. Today, she said, loan signings account for a mere 15 percent of her business. When Biewer comes across Notaries just getting into the mobile business, she now counsels them to start with general Notary work and find a niche. “The competition in the general Notary world is not as heated as in the NSA world,” Biewer explained. It also doesn’t require the financial outlay for office equipment, supplies and other requirements. Once the business starts generating income, then invest in becoming a Signing Agent. 

Sweat Equity

The common theme mentioned by long-time mobile Notaries is sweat equity. That means putting in the time and effort to research what opportunities your community may offer. Then putting in the time and effort to market services you can provide.

From a business-building perspective, the biggest challenge is marketing. Most mobile Notaries spend less than an hour a week marketing, according to the survey. So it is not surprising that large majorities of both full- and part-timers want more business or are struggling to find assignments.

Posting a profile on Notary listing websites is the most common marketing method for full-timers and part-timers alike. These listing sites primarily cater to the mortgage industry. Creating social media pages is a distant second, followed by creating their own websites and networking at professional/business organization meetings. Branching out requires an ongoing effort to get your name out in the community, find potential clients, and build and maintain relationships.

“When I started, I did a lot of networking,” Casebolt said. “I put ads in papers. I signed up on all the Notary listing websites. You have to put your name out everywhere, and when you start getting clients, you keep in touch with them.” She also became an active member of the local Chamber of Commerce and a women’s networking group.

For many, the effort is more than worth the return. As McKay put it, “If it is important to have freedom and luxury to work for yourself, why not build your own dream rather than someone else’s.”

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

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