2a: What to Expect

What to expect?  

There are “Pros and Cons” in this career as in any.  First, let’s talk about the good stuff.

Many years ago when she first became a signing agent, the one thing that Carol Ray enjoyed more than anything else was being her own boss.  Many notaries agree, as a notary you create your own work schedule, you do not report to somebody else.  In short, everything that you do in your business: success, failure, and knowledge is all up to you! You are responsible for yourself. 

Flexibility is key for many in this career.  You really can create your schedule to fit around your other needs, such as family, another career, or even another business.  We have many graduates who successfully work full-time at other careers.  

Of course, we have always advised students not to share with signing services or lenders that they are only part-time notaries.  We’ve found that some employers will not call notaries who are part-time or will not add them to their database of notaries.  These employers are not going to stop and think about whether they can call you after 5:30 at night or only on Thursdays and Fridays. So, if someone calls you with work during a time when you have a conflict, just explain that you would love to help but you are already booked. 

When getting your notary business off the ground, you may want to take as many signings as you can.  It’s important to build your reputation, but once you are established as a “go to” person, you can very much choose your schedule.  If you have something else on the table that you want to do, explain politely that you are busy and have committed the time already. 

Another advantage for many notaries I that they enjoy being a home-based business.  In the new normal following all of the Covid lockdowns, many people enjoy remote work.  It is very nice sometimes to be able to work at a computer in your PJs!  The flexibility is wonderful for many people, who have active lives, raising families or who just want to be able to easily fit work into other things without a commute.  

That there is a minimum required investment and overhead is a third advantage.  As a signing agent, you don’t have to rent or lease an office, there’s no storefront, expensive inventory, equipment, and supplies. This makes it an accessible business to start for most people.  Your biggest investment is your time and energy, your training, and a few tools to get started.  Also, as a home-based business, many of your expenses are tax-deductible (check with your accountant on specifics) but deducting part of your home office expenses can be appealing.  Compensation in this line of work, can be quite good.  Remember, it’s not just the signings, there is work to do prior to going to the signings and of course work getting ready to send the documents back after the signings. You still should be compensated enough money to cover your expenses and to make a profit on your time.  

For Carol Ray, a major benefit is that chance to meet wonderful people and help them through sometimes stressful times.  If you are a people person, this can be a wonderful job and a great experience.  

Another perk is, one of the best things about this job because you are going to meet a lot of really friendly and interesting people and sometimes these signing appointments actually turn into almost a social occasion. We do talk later on in the course about the reverse mortgages and I think that some of the seniors that you are going to meet doing these mortgages are just going to blow you away. I say this because you will learn about their lives, their interesting collections, and things that they have did in the past so that’s a real perk. 

My husband and I did this together for seven years and we meet some wonderful people. Now I must tell you that I like to snoop. I am always the one that want to look at people houses to see what they got going on in there. I like to look behind the curtains. So, if you’re anything like that, you will enjoy this job to because you will get to see how other people live. Now sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s pretty awful, but it’s really interesting and you don’t have to stay wherever you’re going very long, so it can be kind of fun. 

Some things to consider

Some of the best things about this job also present drawbacks.  So, for example not having a boss sounds great, but it means you must be self-disciplined and self-driving.   Working from home means not having others around to talk to, and making your own schedule might mean working at off times beyond the typical 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.  This can also might mean taking last-minute signings, so changing your plans to take an assignment to build income and reputation.  

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the job is that your income can fluctuate.  Being a signing agent can be very lucrative.  It’s important to recognize that you will have to take time to build your business, and you will have busy months, and slow months sometimes.  

One thing we like to mention is that there are companies out there that will call you and tell you they have a signing for you for 50 dollars or 60 dollars.  It’s important to remember you have expenses involved in doing signings, and you must take those into consideration.  As a notary you should be fairly compensated for your time, including your travel time and preparation time, and your expenses, such as printing, gas and wear and tear on a car.  Always make sure you are making enough money to make it worthwhile. So, when someone calls you to offer a lowball fee, our suggestion is to respond with a reasonable minimum fee and decline the job if they are not willing.  Most companies are willing to pay a reasonable fee for good work, and you do not want to work for anyone who is not willing to pay fairly. While it’s beyond the scope of the course to talk about fees because they vary so much by geography and other factors, it won’t take you long to figure out what is your minimum fee to do signings.  On our graduate website, and in our forums, we have more information on current fees and what to expect.  

A couple of final thoughts before we move to the next section.  Entering a stranger’s home can be a very strange and unnerving experience at first.  And this is difficult for some people.  You never know what you are going to come up with!  For example, there may be a lot of animals.  If you have a problem; for instance, where you are allergic to say cats or dogs, let the client know.  It’s okay to do that.  Call them (or when you’re talking to them) find out if they have cats in the home and let them know that you are highly allergic.  Ask if they don’t mind, please just for the short time you are there would put their animals away, or meet somewhere outside the home.   

Clients are usually cooperative. But you never know!  You may find an elegant home, spotlessly clean, or a home with kids and unorganized chaos.  As a notary, you need to assure you stay safe, but you also need to be able to deal with these types of circumstances.   

So, with all of these pros and cons in mind, let’s move to the next section and learn all about being a Notary!