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Being a mobile Notary is the perfect side gig for this actress

Meet Chelsea Rivera: She’s a young, hip, digitally savvy actress. She’s also a successful mobile Notary who has become an ambassador for the profession to a new generation of millennial Notaries.

Notary work is often seen as a job for older folks or financial professionals who work in banking, but Rivera discovered the work in Los Angeles while seeking a replacement for the customer-service gig that was draining her soul and forcing her to miss out on important auditions and other opportunities. 

Rivera went from fielding complaints and dealing with frustrated e-commerce customers all day to cruising through Notary assignments with grateful, satisfied customers and, eventually, an income that allowed her not only to pay rent, but to buy a home.

“People don’t think of being a Notary,” she said. “It’s so shocking when I’d tell people close to my age (what I do), they were like, ‘What? That’s a thing?’ They were out there, really hustling to make ends meet, and I’m like, ‘You’re missing out!’”

Rivera says the job isn’t an instant money maker; it’s a commitment. Building a Notary business and clientele takes time and hard work, just like any business, but it’s definitely worth it for people like artists and actors, especially if you’re hustling at a job that underpays you or leaves you too exhausted at the end of the day to form words.

Taking on the role of mobile Notary

Rivera moved to Los Angeles from Texas to pursue her dream of acting, but she needed income in the meantime and she knew working at a restaurant or bar wasn’t going to cut it — she tried waitressing once and poured too much (very expensive) wine in someone’s glass, leaving too little for everyone else at the table. The embarrassing moment was burned into her psyche. She turned to customer service, a common choice for people who are pursuing an artistic career on the side. 

“When I’d tell people … my age (what I do), they were like, ‘What? That’s a thing?’”

Chelsea Rivera

Unfortunately for Rivera, her particular side hustle came with some side effects, like customers who talked down to her all day and a rigid schedule that prevented her from going on auditions and booking gigs. She’d be taking calls in her apartment in downtown LA while people shouted on the street below from a never-ending labor dispute between a bar and its employees, she recalled.

“Eventually, I had a hard talk with myself and decided I really needed to find something else,” Rivera said. From there, she turned to a Facebook group where members often posted jobs. She began searching for flexible side income and found a post from a woman named Rachel seeking mobile Notaries.

Rivera didn’t have any training as a Notary, but she did have other key skills, including impeccable customer service and the ability to present herself in a professional manner to clients. Rachel took Rivera under her wing, guided her through the process of getting her commission, trained her, and then turned her loose to complete assignments that she passed along throughout the Los Angeles area. Rivera mostly handled general Notary work and decided not to get certified as a Notary Signing Agent.

Gaining confidence and camaraderie

After working as a mobile Notary for a little while, Rivera’s confidence soared, and she found that her professional success boosted her acting success. She didn’t realize it at the time, but her transition was strategic: She removed everything that was problematic about her previous employment, including the harsh complaints and the rigid schedule, and replaced it with positivity and flexibility, which had a cascade effect throughout the rest of her life.

She didn’t have co-workers, per se, but she did become a part of a close group of local women Notaries who would meet up for happy hours and share assignments with one another.

“It was great to see, especially coming from the acting world, which can be cutthroat and competitive,” she said. “It was really refreshing and nice for my soul to see this tight-knit group of women supporting each other. If a job came in for one person and she couldn’t make it, she would pass it to ‘competitors.’ They would do that for each other.”

She also noticed that these women really put their clientele first. “It wasn’t a greed thing; it was, ‘This person needs a notarization done, let’s get that taken care of.’ It was definitely a group effort.”

She ended up moving to Atlanta about a year ago — she has a large group of friends there, and film production in the area is booming, though she still does some work in Los Angeles. 

Notary on Demand

Even though she changed cities, she didn’t change side gigs. She got her Notary commission in Georgia and recently started her mobile Notary business, “Notary on Demand.”

And the financial success she had in Los Angeles from her mobile Notary work and acting jobs gave her the means to buy a nice, 3-bedroom townhouse in Atlanta.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of her activities on hold, but she is now working on building up her website’s ranking via search engine optimization, which she initially learned from her Los Angeles mentor. She wants to show up number 1 when someone Googles “mobile notary in Atlanta” and she knows she needs to be able to compete with established Notaries who already have five-star reviews on Yelp. 

She’s still in the early stages as she builds her website’s authority and lays the groundwork for her business, but she’s really excited to help other artists and actors the way her mentor helped her. Making money is “a forever issue that artists have to combat, in terms of making ends meet,” she said.  Mobile Notary work is slow starting, but it’s a far better investment than serving or customer service.

Chelsea Rivera on the set of the HBO Max TV series "Doom Patrol."

Another perk to Rivera’s renewed confidence is that casting agents have been more impressed with her performance in auditions. You can see her in several TV shows and films: episodes in the first and second seasons of “Doom Patrol,” a DC Universe production, an episode of “Council of Dads,” and a small role in a film called “The Glorias,” in which she shares a scene with Julianne Moore.

One day, you’re huddled in a bathroom taking a call from an irate customer, and the next, you’re a successful businesswoman with a sense of purpose and power following your dreams. It’s not a Hollywood story — it’s a Notary story.

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