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8 Web And Internet Marketing Don’ts For Notaries

web-and-marketing-internet-.jpg(Originally published in the November 2018 issue of The National Notary magazine.)

Since starting my Notary business in 2010, I have learned a lot about marketing online — and I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I realized that knowing what not to do is almost as important as knowing what to do.

The following are some of the things that I’ve learned and the mistakes all Notaries should avoid as they market their services online.

1. Don’t Post Any Content Without Proofreading It

Before you post anything, make sure that your content is as error-free as possible. We are all human, mistakes do happen. The best way to avoid mistakes is to check and double-check. Much like you double- and triple-check your Notary assignments, you need to do the same with your web content. 

Keep in mind that spell check may not catch everything, so don’t completely rely on it to make your content error  free. The website hosting platform WordPress will automatically spell check your content, but if a word needs to be spelled a certain way and WordPress’ spell check doesn’t recognize it, the program will change it. That’s why it’s important to proofread and go through your content to make sure that it doesn’t have any mistakes.

But if something does have an error, and you missed it before posting, don’t worry. You’re going to have a mistake or two here and there. But when that happens, you can always fix it. If I find a spelling or grammar mistake, I’ll just go back and correct it. I don’t beat myself up over it because I’m human. I make mistakes, too.

2. Don’t Overstep Professional Boundaries As A Notary

When posting information about Notary issues and practices, make sure you do not cross the line into offering legal advice — that’s asking for trouble and is considered the unauthorized practice of law. I often run into other Notaries who post about closing a loan, and they mention that they provided information on the terms of a specific document.

Remember that we as Notaries are allowed only to tell signers where to sign and how to sign and give direction as to where they can find something specific within a document. In no way, shape or form are we to explain things like why a loan isn’t fixed, or why the APR is higher than the interest rate — not even on a blog or social media post.

3. Don’t Compromise Client Confidentiality

Although I will write about work experiences in my blog, I never name names. Instead I will write that it was a private transaction. And even then, I ask the client for permission to discuss the transaction. Also, if there are a lot of people around during a signing situation, I won’t write about it in my blog at all.

Also, never post your location on social media when you are actually there. Not only is this a safety hazard for Notaries, it can also put your clients at risk. Remember that you are at times carrying important and secure documents on behalf of clients, and you definitely wouldn’t want to compromise their information. This can be the difference between successfully completing an assignment and having a signer file a lawsuit against you for identity theft. I often will wait for hours after an assignment before posting about it. Think of it like going on vacation. You don’t want to post about a trip while you’re on vacation. If you do, you have told the world that your house is available to rob and pilfer.

4. Don’t Use Your Notary Business Website To Experiment

Don’t play around with your Notary business website. If you want to try something new — such as adding features, different types of content or changing the design and look — do it somewhere else until you know what you’re doing. I lost a whole two years of my blog because I was building someone else’s website and accidentally installed their WordPress website over mine. The major lesson I learned from that experience is to always back everything up.

5. Don’t Forget To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

If you use content from any source, whether it’s a photograph or a quote, you definitely want to give the creator credit. Preferably, you should ask first if they don’t mind you putting that content on your blog. Then of course, link back to the source.

6. Don’t Allow Drama On Your Notary Business Platform

Don’t foster negativity on your social media pages. There are a lot of people online who are negative and miserable in their own lives, and they want you to be miserable along with them by picking petty fights back-and-forth on social media. I don’t let that energy in. I just try to remain as positive and as professional as possible because I don’t want to spread that negativity.

7. Don’t Forget To Use SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of formulating your content to appear higher in search engines when people look for information about Notaries. When I first started learning about websites years ago, I researched ways to get the word out about my company to the widest possible audience with less effort. I also researched back-end sites and discovered I could use such things as metatags and other language in the background of my coding to have the search engines find my content easier. This may seem complicated, but it’s easier than it sounds. Now I have over 15 years of experience dabbling with search engine optimization and I’m still learning new things. I would suggest researching how SEO works so you can bring traffic to your site organically. I used to pay for search engine results, but now I get the results I want on my own through the quality of my content.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

Anything you deem worth doing in your web strategy will take time, effort, and lots and lots of research. Tinker with what works and what doesn’t. It’s easy to make mistakes along the way, but when you do, don’t beat yourself up — learn from them. The object is to make less work for yourself in the long run.

Sonita Leak owns Greenville Notary Service in South Carolina.

Additional Resources:

Building Your Business

 

3 Comments

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Johnny Compton

07 Jan 2019

I applaud your comments; especially the items concerning “unauthorized practice of law and client confidentiality”. Those two are the base for our work as a public notary. We must remain neutral, unbiased and diligent in our across the board positive professionalism every moment. Being a notary Public is a privilege not a right. We offer a community service to people from all demographic and income levels. I personally strive to treat everyone with Gods grace.

Lester Gardiner

07 Jan 2019

Thank you Sonita

Donna Thompson

08 Jan 2019

You made some good points to consider. But, I disagree with point 2 when closing a loan and not fully describing to the signer what they are signing. As a closing agent, we have a duty and responsibility to give "full disclosure" on behalf of the lender. Customers don't understand the legal jargin within the 70 pages of a real estate mortgage loan. And I personally had the FBI question my disclosing capabilities when a customer filed a complaint against the lender. I always, always give full disclosure when I'm hired to represent a company for notary services. That being said, it is different when someone approaches a notary for a personal request to notarize a Will or POA, etc. We are not required then to disclose the document, but need to review its completeness (e.g., no blank fields) before notarizing it. Thanks for the helpful insights, Sonita.

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