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How I Decided to Become a Notary Signing Agent

Signing-resized.jpgI’m not sure how most people come to the realization that becoming a Notary Signing Agent is the next, right career move for them. I came to it honestly, if not exactly directly.

But when I think about it, the old Grateful Dead album, "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been," comes to mind. If you remember the record like I do, it is fair to say you may have had your share of careers. I sure did. I worked almost 20 years in academic publishing in marketing and sales. I’ve also spent more than a decade as a freelance journalist.

When I was laid off last September, I wasn't concerned with securing another job in publishing. I was well connected and had marketable skills and experience. I learned, however, that securing that next job in a shrinking industry would prove difficult.

The Job Search

I applied for every publishing job for which I was qualified, even over-qualified. I applied for university writer positions, thinking to leverage my journalism and academic publishing experience. I even applied for a job as a conductor on Amtrak, thinking I could turn my love of trains and travel into a full-time gig.

My results? Not a single interview for more than a dozen applications for university writer positions. Two interviews for publishing jobs that went nowhere. A great lead on a job at a major publisher where I had the recommendation of a senior vice president. I was not hired, even after four months and countless interviews (though someone with less experience, i.e., cheaper). Even Amtrak didn’t call me back. It was time to try something else.

My Notary Signing Agent "Aha Moment"

One evening over a cocktail, a light bulb went off in my head. What did we pay the Notary who came to our house last year and helped us sign and notarize our loan documents? That seemed like it might be a good fit for me. I pulled out our copy of the loan documents and there it was: Notary fee $175.

That seemed generous compensation for about an hour’s worth of work (I‘d learn that there is more to being a Notary Signing Agent than just the signing). I’m entrepreneurial by nature, good with people, detail oriented, know a bit about real estate and have connections in the industry. Plus I would have flexibility to work on a book project that has been stalled for years.

I turned to Google and found on the NNA’s website that there’s a thing called a "Notary Signing Agent." The cost and time commitment seemed reasonable. Obtain a Notary commission (a one-day class for $179), take an online course to be a Notary Signing Agent (an online course, also $179). There are other expenses, as I'd learn. But all-in-all, a low threshold to start my own business.

I was sold. There was an NNA California-Required Notary training class near my home the following week. I signed up for it and was on my way!

Putting My Notary Signing Agent Business Together

Once I had all my training and certifications in place, it was time to start building my business. This is the order that I did it as one thing leads to the next:

  1. Professional headshot. Everyone says that it improves your chance of getting an assignment. Get this first as you’re going to need it for many of the following steps.
  2. Website and email address. I think of this as my internet business card. It signals my seriousness about my business. I used GoDaddy.com for www.gildenmobilenotary.com. It was less than $100 for the first year, including the URL. Designing the website was intuitive. They have templates for Notaries.
  3. Business cards. Again, use that headshot. Keep them on hand; you never know when you’re going to need one.
  4. Laserjet black and white printer. You’re going to be printing up to 200-page documents so you want something that is a lean, mean printing machine. I bought an HP Laser Jet Pro M402dn for under $200. You'll want something that can handle print jobs with both letter and legal-sized paper.
  5. Signing Agent websites. SigningAgent.com and SnapDocs.com are the first 2 I signed up for. SigningAgent.com is a database for customers to search for NSAs and is the official NSA website for the NNA (use your headshot!). SnapDocs.com is also a database of Signing Agents and has some great tools to help you keep track of your business.
  6. Signing Agent agencies. 123notary.com has a list of top 25 loan signing companies that hire Notaries. I went top to bottom, starting with companies that are closest to me. I even took one application in person to the company’s office about 30 miles away and met the vendor manager. It seemed like that didn’t happen every day so hopefully that’ll give me a leg up!

Now I’m ready for my first signing.

Gilden-web.jpg

James Gilden became a Notary Signing Agent in July 2018. He is a writer and publishing professional who has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and others. He has also worked for SAGE Publishing and The American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is working on a book about World War II centered on the story of his great uncle, a decorated B-17 bomber pilot who was shot down over Nazi occupied France and became a POW.

3 Comments

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Rebecca Boyd

27 Jul 2018

no way

Shauna Wickes

03 Aug 2018

I am glad to see that you are on your way to be a mobile notary signing agent. I am currently a mobile notary signing agent and it is the best choice I had ever made in fact I have just recently applied for my LLC and I am messaging and forwarding all of my information to all title companies and mortgage companies Any agent I see that may need a notary. I am sending all my supplies to them I am getting my name out there. Good for you and good luck.

Michelle L Riley

25 Oct 2018

James, I enjoyed reading about your start in this rewarding and sometimes-insane business. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish you success and look forward to reading more from you.

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