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Notary Bulletin

COVID-19 shutdown leads to a new career as a mobile Notary

Like so many people around the world, Keena Carson of Hampton, Virginia, found herself in a COVID-era conundrum: She quickly needed to find a way to support herself after her business shuttered in the wake of the pandemic. As a marketing and public relations professional specializing in the events industry, her business opportunities dried up overnight as states locked down.

But she found a new opportunity from a Google search.

“It was pretty scary for me because I like security; I like to be able to take care of myself,” said Carson. “I was just online doing what I think a lot of people were — searching how I can make some side income during the pandemic. That’s how I found being a mobile Notary.”

Today, Carson is a thriving mobile Notary and Signing Agent who is using the skills she gained from her marketing and PR work to boost her business, as well as create a growing social media following that is hungry to learn about the Notary profession. This is how she did it.

Jumping into the mobile Notary world

After learning about mobile Notary work, Carson was confident that it was something she could do successfully because of her strong research skills and detail-oriented nature. The basic transition of becoming a Notary was easy for her, particularly because in Virginia all she needed to do to get her Notary commission was fill out the application on the Secretary of State’s website and pass a background check.

But then she had to get into the nuts and bolts of what being a Notary Signing Agent is all about. For that, she took an NNA course and read the Notary handbook from front to back several times. After she felt comfortable enough to jump into her new business, Carson launched her website, made a business page on Google and did one of the things she does best — talk to people.

She told people she knew who worked in mortgage offices that she’d put up an NSA shingle. She put her business cards in her mother’s hair salon and talked to customers there about her business. She took to social media and began putting out content about being a Notary. She was up and running, and her business soon took off.

Old skills pave the way for new success 

Although she had to learn the nuts and bolts of working as a Notary, Carson went into her new venture armed with numerous skills she’d acquired from her public relations business. One of the main things that helped her succeed as an NSA was her strong business acumen and understanding that running her own business was much different from working for an employer.

“I would say that definitely put me at an advantage,” she said. “People need to understand that when you become a Notary, you essentially are starting your own business. It’s not like a 9 to 5 job where you’re punching a clock or anything like that. Since I come from a marketing background, I understood what I needed to do to launch and be consistent.”

Similarly, her time management skills have been helpful, as they’ve allowed her to create strategies for tackling her NSA work, as well as the general Notary work she does.

“Being an independent entrepreneur, you have to create processes and systems that work for you. When somebody is working a regular job, that stuff is set in place already for you. But in your Notary business, everything is on you,” Carson said. “I tell people you have to do what works for you. Make whatever processes that let you make the money you need to make so you’re comfortable. Some people aren’t used to that, they don’t come from that world.”

Just as her public relations skills, ability to work a room and upbeat personality have helped her launch her business, they have also helped her create a rapport that makes people feel comfortable during every signing.

“When you’re a Signing Agent, you’re dealing with a lot of different people and a lot of different personalities. You’re going into people’s homes, so you have to know how to talk to people and make everybody feel comfortable,” Carson said. “I try to make the process as relaxed and easy as possible, and I think somebody that’s not necessarily a people person, or somebody that’s not used to having to deal with different personalities, may struggle.”

Carson not only works the room, she works the community. She’s constantly out and about networking, so word-of-mouth from the people she’s met has also been a strong driver of her success.

“I’m constantly reaching out to people and being visible within my community,” she said.

To increase her visibility, Carson has been steadily growing a social media presence that’s helped her amass nearly 20,000 viewers on her TikTok and YouTube platforms. Her social media posts give viewers a look at a day in the life of an NSA, as well as tips and tricks for current and prospective Notaries. Although she doesn’t necessarily get clients through her social media, she’s been able to connect with other Notaries and encourage people in her audience who are interested in becoming a Notary.

“I do consultations, and when people have questions I answer them truthfully from my experiences, as well as provide any tips I think are helpful for anybody that’s just getting into the business. I also do mock signings with people because I know for me, I would have loved the opportunity to go through a refi package with somebody prior to actually doing it. That would have been a huge confidence booster.”

Learning, growing, teaching  

While Carson came into her new business with numerous useful skills, she has also learned a great deal during her Notary journey. In addition to becoming well-versed about the laws in her state, which she advises every Notary take the time to do, one of the most important things she’s learned this last year is that no matter how much competition there is for work, providing great service always gets rewarded and helps a Notary stand out in the crowd.

“When you do good work, you’re always going to be good. Your work is always going to speak for itself,” she said. “In the Notary business, that is probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned because you’re always going to stand out when you’re always doing your best and doing awesome work.”

What also makes Carson stand out is being a somewhat younger Notary. As someone in her mid-thirties, she sees the value of young people getting into the business. She’s so passionate about it that she hopes to one day be able to promote the mobile Notary profession to high school and college students because she believes it not only can help them earn money, but also give them skills that will help them grow into young adulthood — from budgeting to paying taxes to managing their time effectively.

The thing that surprised Carson most is how she quickly fell in love with Notary work, and even as the world is opening back up, she’s not planning on jumping back into the PR business fully any time soon. Instead, she aspires to move forward with both careers, and she even wants to get to the point where she can hire other Notaries to work for her.

“I think being a Notary is going to be my new career because I’m definitely not ready to let it go,” Carson said. “I love it.”

 

8 Comments

Add your comment

Tamar Jackson

23 Aug 2021

This is a great read! I've been following Kenya on Youtube since the beginning of the year and and she always provides words of wisdom when it comes to operating as a mobile Notary Public and Signing Agent.

Lisa Yan Liang

23 Aug 2021

Good Morning, I am a notary in California. Please let me know if the State of CA has pasted the law for Remote Online Notarization. If so, how to apply for RON? Thank you, Lisa Liang

National Notary Association

23 Aug 2021

Hello. California has not authorized its Notaries to perform remote notarizations at this time.

Jamille McClendon

23 Aug 2021

This was a great read! I follow her on YouTube and shes very informative! Thank you for highlighting her!

Tina Koepke

27 Aug 2021

Let me get this straight…. She decides to become a notary after her business closes because of Covid-19….. so at most, maybe 18 months ago. And she now has enough experience to do consultations, advising and training other notaries? Honestly that’s a bit offensive to the notaries that have actual experience, time in the trenches and learned the myriad of types of transactions and varied documents associated with each lender, title company and state. I have no doubt she is an awesome networker, social media user, can work a room, launch a fantastic website, make a google business page, and put out content on being a notary. Great skills yes, but she is not a expert Notary Public. This is very good advice to new notaries on how to build your business and get opportunities to gain experience…. But please don’t look at her as an expert Notary Public. She’s a newbie.

Richard Parker

30 Aug 2021

Congratulations to Keena! It's good to see more qualified notaries in the business. I have been a NSA since 2008 in Chesapeake, VA and when COVID-19 hit last year, I completely changed my business to RON only transactions and closings. My income didn't skip a beat. It's important to adapt where necessary.

Monique

14 Sep 2021

Twenty-thousand followers! I am one of them. It’s pretty remarkable what dedication, hard-work, and reading can do for a person’s business, no matter how long they have been in the business. Some people learn and experience quickly, while others - not so quickly. Congratulations, young lady. I will continue to be one of the 20,000. I think I’ll go read my Notary Handbook again and again.

Jackie Wells

14 Sep 2021

Great reading Kenya’s story. I’ve been following her on social media every since I heard about being a LSA back in September or October 2020. I took the leap and am enjoying my decision. My next step is to get on social media once I feel totally confident in what I’m speaking about.

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