Getting started as a notary public is the easy part; it’s turning that skill into a profitable profession that’s the hard part. Many men and women start a notary public business because it’s fairly easy to get into, or because it was a required part of their existing job. But over time, they realize that simply being a “notary public” is not only unprofitable, but very time consuming and boring. Then they hear something exciting: they could use their notary seal to earn an estimated $25 per hour by helping borrowers sign their loan documents and a whole new world opens up to them.
I had worked from home in many capacities before I began researching what mobile notary publics were, but I didn’t like the long hours and minimal pay. I wanted a flexible career that worked around my family’s schedule, and I wanted a guaranteed income. I didn't want to worry about commissions or home party sales.
I became a notary signing agent (originally called a mobile notary public) because I wanted a home business that allowed me the flexibility to work around my family: to be able to pick and choose the hours I worked as well as the time I took off—and I didn’t want a boss deciding whether it was the right time to take off or not.
What intrigued me the most about becoming a notary signing agent was the fact that I could be gone for two hours and make $50 on a single job. That meant, if I wanted to make $250 a week, from a part-time business, I only had to take one notary job per day or five notary jobs in a single week-end. Heck, I could earn up to $4,000 per month—before expenses—if I hustled and put in some real work. Where else was I going to find that kind of money in such a short amount of time?
This was the answer to my dreams. Becoming a notary signing agent would allow me the opportunity to earn an income, but still give me the flexibility of being a stay-at-home mom! And how much I made was literally dependent upon how much work I chose to put into the business. I could work part-time around my children or full-time—the choice was mine.
So when I realized becoming a notary signing agent could offer me everything I wanted in a home business, I began researching what it meant to be just a “mobile notary public” versus becoming a “loan document signing agent” who used his/her notary seal to help borrowers refinance their home loans.
To become "just" a mobile notary public meant I would have to abide by the state’s mandated fees for notarizing certain forms and travel expenses, and truth-be-told, there just weren’t enough people needing this type of service to become a lucrative business by itself. In fact, it wouldn't justify the expenses of working from home. But to become a “loan document signing agent” meant I would receive a guaranteed set fee of $50 per job.
The hard part came in learning the ropes because the notaries in my area weren't too keen on sharing information—and who could blame them? And since this was a fairly new way to use one’s notary seal, there weren’t any books or seminars to help me get started, which meant I had to step outside my comfort zone and simply “pester” others into giving me a few pointers and actively listen (err read) what others had to say on the message boards. Over time, I began to piece together the information I needed to formulate a business plan.
That business plan looked something like this:
After gathering all the information and weighing the odds of actually making this work, I got up enough nerve to make some "cold contact" calls, pass out a few flyers, and even distribute a few introduction letters. It wasn't easy―as I fumbled through the first few phone calls―but with each call, things got easier.
Since there were no signing agent courses to take, I had to wing it. Learning by trial and error was never my strong point, but I wanted to make this work so I took all my research and wrote out a study guide to help me get through my first few jobs. I even contacted a loan document signer to mentor me. In other words, she let me accompany her on two signing agent jobs to see how the process worked first hand.
It took months of research before I had enough information to feel comfortable enough to make my first move, but in the end, I did what was necessary—I bit the bullet and went for it. The more I worked the business, the more knowledgeable and confident I grew in my abilities. In fact, working as a notary signing agent was easier than I thought!
I’d get a call or page from a signing company asking if I was available to handle a loan document signing on a specific date, at a specific time. If I said yes, the signing company would fax me a confirmation letter regarding the appointment and tell me when to expect a copy of the loan documents for the appointment.
A few days later, a package arrived at my door. This package contained all the information needed for the loan document signing. I’d read the instructions, check the loan package to make sure everything was there, and then set it aside until the day of the appointment.
Once the borrowers signed their loan documents, I notarized the necessary forms, gave the borrowers their copies and then mailed the original loan documents to the title company listed in the package, via their code. It was that simple!
Even though I had the option to turn down work without hurting my chances of getting another notary job, I took every job that was offered. Eventually, the jobs began to really pick up and I got a taste of what it would be like to be gone all day and all night. I didn't get to see my children (then 5 and 9) all day and all night. In fact, by the time I got home everyone was in bed, including my husband. That's when I realized I’d lost my priorities. As much as I wanted my notary public business to work, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom more.
So, I sat down and re-evaluated what I wanted for myself, my family, and my career. Yes, I wanted to be my own boss. Yes, I wanted to work a job that I loved. And yes, I wanted to have my "own" income. But, I also I wanted to be have more time with my family and I wanted to be readily available for my kids.
That’s when I decided to pursue my new career as a notary signing agent on my own terms. I would work enough hours to turn a profit, but only accept jobs that worked around my family.
In the end, I determined that working part-time was plenty business. It was just enough to help me feel successful, just enough to prove to myself that I could make my business work, and just enough to help me feel as though I was contributing something to the household budget. And more importantly, I was still able to be the mommy I wanted to be.
And the lesson I learned was: "Whatever you do in life, do it on your own terms. If you want to work less hours and spend more time with the family, you can do it. It's all about choices."