Where’s The List of Good Clients? 

Where’s the List of Good Clients?

A question that newer notaries frequently ask goes something like this:

Would anyone give out a list of good signing companies that pay what we deserve and pay on time?

My answer is :

No. My list is based on years of my own experiences and what may be a great company for me may be the pits for you.

You have to take the lists that are available and work them to develop your own list. (See Where Should Notary Signing Agents Sign Up? for more on this topic.)

After that,  you have to figure out how to find clients who are not already on those lists so you’re not competing with every other NSA in your service area.

No one who is successful is going to hand you a list of good clients. This may sound blunt and harsh, but it’s the truth.

Why would anyone give away what they had to work long and hard to get, especially with the widespread prejudice against newer notaries —  because of the perception that it’s the so-called newbies who are taking the lowball fees and pulling down fees for everyone?

As you will know if you’ve read my previous post, I don’t exactly agree with that prejudice, but it is a factor here as to why successful NSAs would say no.

I’m currently working my way through the training at Notary2Pro. They have a list in their graduates area. You have to pay to take their class, so the list is not free.

The Loan Signing System by Mark Wills has a list. Again, it’s for their graduates and you have to pay to take their classes.

NotaryRotary has the oldest list available and it’s rated by NSAs,  but their list  (Signing Central) is only available to paid members.

123notary publishes lists from time to time, which are free. They’re based on posts in their forum, which even they will admit has been seeing less traffic lately.

You can find other lists online or in books or ebooks, and someone might even share the old National Notary Association list with you (which they stopped updating or providing several years ago). Take these with a grain of salt & research them carefully using Google and Facebook and Signing Central and the forums on NR, 123, and NotaryCafe, as there are many firms that are low pay, slow pay, or no pay.

All of which brings me back around to no one who is successful is going to give away their hard-earned list of good clients. You have to do your own research and develop your own list.


You can consider this a companion piece to my earlier article about the flip side of the good lists, those who are deadbeats. That article is here:

Where is the Reliable List of Deadbeat Firms ?

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How to Find a List of Lenders for Possible NSA Work

How to Find a List of Lenders for Possible Notary Signing Agent Work

For a list of lenders, you really do need an imagination, as just looking via a search engine (google, bing,  yahoo, others) without knowing what to look for is a waste of time. Here are a few ideas.

Most  companies have to be licensed in each state where they do business, which puts them under some state regulations. So, start with determining what agency or agencies regulate banks and mortgage lenders in your state. See if they have a list of what companies they are regulating.

Then move on to whatever agency regulates reverse mortgage lenders (this may or may not be the same as banks or regular mortgage lenders) in your state and get their list.

Then you can look for who regulates federally-chartered banks & mortgage lenders. Get their list.

Or you could haunt the county register or recorder office and see which lenders are on the recorded deeds or mortgages or releases of lien for the past however many years they will allow you to look. That will show you who has done lending there, but not who may be planning to do so and some of the previous companies may have changed their names or gone under or been bought out by others — but it will be a list.

Or, find out what the “newspaper of record” is for your area. This is usually not the regular newspaper that everyone reads, but a specialized paper that publishes legal notices & little else.  You can probably find out what that paper is by asking any attorney in your area. Whoever publishes that may be able to sell you a list of mortgage lenders and banks that have done business in your area within whatever time period you’re willing to pay them for.

One or more of those methods should work to get you a starting list of lenders that are relevant to your NSA business. Of course, you’ll still have to work the list to qualify each and every lender as a good fit for your business before you research specific contact info for your marketing efforts.

Good luck!


(This article was written in reference to posts on various online groups about applying to work directly with or for lenders.

I’ve not done any such applications myself,  but people wanted a list. I was trying to show them some options for getting a list that would be relevant to them in their location. 

If a lender is doing business where the NSA is and if the NSA knows that, the NSA could certainly attempt to become the preferred notary for that lender in that area and get the lender to ask any title companies that they work with to use that notary.)

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My Advice to New Notary Signing Agents 

Know your state’s laws and rules inside & out before you even consider offering notary services to the public. The Notary Law Institute and the National Notary Association can each help you with this,  and there’s no substitute for reading everything you can that your state published on notary topics. Pay particular attention to any Notary Handbook or Guide, rules from the Secretary of State or other notary administrator for your state,  and any Attorney General opinions that cover notary-related issues.

Get training from Notary2Pro, the NNA, and/or the Loan Signing System.

Get certified and background checked from the NNA. 

Join notaryrotary.com as a paid member and use their Signing Central and their (often very snarky) forum to qualify prospective clients. 

Do the same with the 123notary.com forum and their 123notary.com/s ranked list of firms. 

Post in the forums on NR and 123 whenever you have a good or bad experience with a firm — those forum posts show up in Google searches (although not always on the first page). 

Comments on Facebook do not show up in Google searches. 

Learn how to do searches on Facebook and through Google and on YouTube. This will give you access to a wealth of information that you won’t have if you just post a question or two now and then in a notary group in Facebook. Doing research is the only way to learn beyond the surface and it’s a very important part of any successful business. 

Read everything on 123notary, NR, NC, AAN, ASN, and the NNA sites. 

Buy and read and use Laura Vestanen’s book on Marketing Your Non-loan Notary Services. It’s the best guide to marketing GNW and you can adapt much of that to marketing NSA work, too, if you’re clever enough. (You can find it on Amazon or abebooks or eBay.) 

Go to sba.gov and read everything there about starting & running a business. Use that site and/or score.org to get at least one SCORE mentor. Use the sba.gov site to find the closest Small Business Development Center and take their free classes. Sign up for the SBA, SCORE, and SBDC newsletters so you know about upcoming free training & networking events in your area or online. 

Sign up for free classes in business at your local library. 

Read my blog here (notarymemphis.wordpress.com), especially the For Notaries category and the Notary Tips page. 

When my books become available for purchase, buy them & read them. 

Learn what these and other terms mean, as they’re commonly used in the NSA industry & you need to know them in order to understand online comments and conversations: GNW,  NSA,  refi, NR,  NC,  123, NNA,  AAN,  ASN, SPW, CFPB, GLBA, RESPA, RTC, CD. 

That’s my advice in one big clump. 🙂
(This post is current as of September 4, 2017. I will post updates as I see fit. Please keep reading the For Notaries category here for additional information. )

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How Do Notaries Make Money?

There are a few ways that a notary public can make money.

First (and most basic), she can offer to notarize documents for the public or for her employer and coworkers or for clients or customers of her employer. This requires that the signer come to her and bring their identification and the document (unless the notary or her employer has a reason to provide the document). This is called general notary work and often referred to by the initials GNW. Income from doing GNW is usually limited, either due to lack of signers or due to state laws or rules that limit how much a notary may charge for GNW.

Second, she can offer to go to the signer at a location of the signer’s choice. This is called mobile notary services and many states allow the notary to charge a reasonable trip fee in addition to her notary fee. Income for mobile notary services can be spotty, as most signers prefer to avoid paying a trip fee.  It can be quite profitable to do when it’s available.

In each of these first two types of work,  the notary deals directly with the signer (or with her own employer) and this customer pays them for their service. Most often,  this is done in cash at the time of the notarization.  (For either of these types of work, I highly recommend the book Marketing Your Non-Loan Notary Services by Laura Vestanen, which is available from Amazon. It’s THE best book I have seen to understand how to create an income doing GNW and Mobile Notary Services.)

Third, she can sign up with signing services, title companies,  and/or lenders and offer a specialized type of mobile notary service called notary signing agent services or NSA work.  This involves serving as the independently-contracted agent of the notary’s own client (and as a notary public), with various duties required for the signing agent role.

Being an NSA means dealing with clients (not customers), so contracts and billing and all the other aspects of running a business come into play.

Fourth, once she has mastered one or more of these others, a notary may be able to make money as a paid expert, which could mean being a contributing writer, an author, a speaker, or a teacher.

But the biggest way that notaries make money is by being a “notary and…”

  • and lawyer,
  • and banker,
  • and insurance agent,
  • and small business store owner,
  • and accountant,
  • and real estate agent, 
  • and employee of one of those,
  • or some combination of the above .

The National Notary Association publishes an annual census of notaries. The most recent one said there were over 4 million notaries in the USA.  Based on that and comparing that to how many notaries that I’ve seen on the various directories and in Facebook groups, I would guess-timate that over 95% of all notaries make their money as a “notary and…

What this means in terms of notary education and other matters will be the subject of another article here soon.

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Training For Notary Signing Agents – Part 1

Training for Notary Signing Agents – Part 1

There is a saying in the writing world: “If you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it yourself.”

So, whenever I see people complain about the available training for notaries who want to move into the notary signing agent (NSA) business, my first thought is “Why aren’t they creating the training they want instead of complaining about what someone else has created?”

After all, if you can’t or won’t learn from the training that’s available, going on social media to complain about it is a very poor way to introduce yourself to potential clients and customers, especially if your biggest complaint was that you found it boring or that it put you to sleep.

Just consider that the signing assignments that this training is meant to prepare you for aren’t exciting like sky-diving or bungee-jumping. Being a notary signing agent is all about doing paperwork. If training to do the paperwork puts you to sleep, maybe doing the paperwork for a living is not right for you.

On the other hand, there appear to be NO outside reviews available of the training that is mentioned most often, so it is easy to see that people may be disappointed because they did not have a realistic set of expectations as to what they were buying.

So, please join me as I begin a series that takes a look at Training for Notary Signing Agents. This article is intended to be an overview. If things work out as I hope, you can expect to see more in-depth pieces in the days and weeks to come. Today, we will look at the NNA, N2P, and the LSS.

National Notary Association logoThe National Notary Association  (NNA)  certification and background check is accepted by many lenders & title companies, including most of the largest firms, and many signing services require it from their NSAs.

This is because the NNA has been in existence for several decades; they partnered with the American Bar Association to write the first model notary law and several revisions to it; that model notary law has been accepted in whole or in part by the majority of the states; and the NNA has used their longevity & perceived expertise to develop relationships with major players in industry and government. So, the NNA brand carries value to many of those firms that we NSAs want to work with.

Getting training, certification, and a background check (your credentials) from the NNA is a marketing decision, as it makes your efforts to market to those firms far more effective.

The NNA used to provide a list of signing services & title companies, but stopped doing that a few years ago. Even so, you will find NNA certification and background checks listed as a requirement on the sign-up pages of many firms that show up as you do research for potential clients on 123notary, NotaryRotary, NotaryCafe, and other sites.

In addition to credentials, the NNA sells supplies, memberships, books, and their annual convention.

(Disclosure: I have been a member of the NNA off-and-on since 2001 or 2002.)

While Notary2Pro (N2P) has only been in existence since 2009, it has one focus: training notaries to be as successful as they can be. The certification and background check offered by N2P are accepted by a sizable list of the firms, and the list is in the graduates area on their site. (N2P does not sell a background check directly, but they do offer a link to a discounted one in their graduate’s area on their website. They do not sell supplies or the other stuff that the NNA sells.)

Currently, it seems thast more firms accept credentials from the NNA than from N2P. Of course,  that could change — and the list in the N2P graduates area is screened by them to weed out those with known issues (such as whether they pay on a fair & prompt basis).

While getting credentials from the NNA appears to be mostly about marketing, N2P is reported by many notaries to be a far better educational experience — one that also offers a marketing advantage with that list of vetted firms.

(Disclosure: I took the TRID class and exam from N2P and am currently enrolled as a student with them.)

Recently, some notaries on Facebook have been bad-mouthing both the NNA and N2P and their classes.  Some of these notaries are touting the Loan Signing System (LSS) by Mark Wills, who runs a signing service.

The LSS website mentions both six figure and seven figure incomes, which makes me wonder if he’s conflating / confusing what a signing service might make if they have a large enough pool of NSAs taking lowball fees with what an NSA can make if they follow his training. I don’t know any NSAs who make 100K per year gross (the minimum six figure income), let alone a million dollars per year (the lowest seven figure income). So, those income numbers are a huge red flag to me, warning that he may be selling false hopes.

You can look at the LSS website yourself and see how it compares to the offerings from the NNA and N2P.

My first question is:  Who accepts the Loan Signing System course certificate?

The LSS are big self-promoters, with their ads popping up often online, but I have never heard anyone explain why they would spend money for certification if it’s not going to be accepted by firms you want to work with.

My second question is: Where’s the Return on Investment (ROI) for that expense (of taking the LSS training)?

One notary stated that they didn’t take the LSS class to help with marketing and their ROI was the education they received. This attitude struck me as evidence of a lack of knowledge of business basics. So, please bear with me as I address that.

I agree that education is a value, but that does not make it part of the Return on Investment of your business. Education is a form of personal skills enhancement, which is only a ROI if it makes money for your business.

Skills can lead to ROI if they help you improve your income or profit as a result of those skills, but they are not part of the value of the business. (They may be part of your personal value. Whether and how that translates into more income or profit for your business is not always clear or certain).

Many skills are not helpful in terms of ROI because the person holding them does not know how to (or fails to) market them as a benefit to customers or clients.

If the customer or client does not see the skill as a benefit to them, they are very unlikely to pay for it, because people only rarely pay for features — they pay for benefits.

If your enhanced skills don’t lead to more income or profit, the return on investment was nothing — and the investment was wasted.

Some skills are not helpful in terms of ROI  because they simply don’t relate to what the business is about. Taking a class in customer service while you are an attorney or a legal secretary would be an example of this, as it does not relate to the day-to-day work of a law firm. A better option might be a membership in a professional organization that offers multiple ways to get trained in legal work.

So, my take on ROI is that it only counts if whatever you get out of your investment boosts your bottom line. Maybe you can’t offer a dollar-for-dollar, straight line connection between the investment and a better bottom line, but if you can’t draw at least a crooked, dotted line between that education and increased income or profit, the return on the investment you made in acquiring the education is not there.

For more on ROI, please see here: Entrepreneur Encyclopedia on ROI

and here: Investopedia on ROI

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