NSA Tips Part 2


So, this next bit of advice should be helpful to you NSAs out there who enjoy working smarter, not harder (Part 1 :sparkling_heart:). We already know that we are in this by ourselves, for the most part. It’s important to make wise decisions with your time and energy. Currently, the economy is taking a nosedive and I believe things will get even worse. Signing service alerts are not only 80% less frequent (or more), but the fees offered are just tragic. Many are laying off their employees en masse. People aren’t really refinancing anymore due to higher rates. Title companies are closing more in house to save money, affecting direct opportunities. There is also a lot of talk of a mortgage crash incoming, so who knows what the future holds…

So, buckle up. Be clever. Be aware. Now is not the time to give up on your standards or sell your soul for a dollar. Now is the time to focus! Many of the posts on this forum are constantly talking about difficulties. I hardly ever see anyone on this forum actively helping their fellow notary, sharing solutions, or linking notaries to beneficial content. I find NSAs to be fractured. Divide and conquer is the best way to reduce power. Together, we are strong. Separated, it’s easy to pick us off one by one. Use, abuse, and discard. I hope some of these things can help the notaries out there, like me, who didn’t have anyone to really walk them through things properly. I figured this stuff out on my own and thought I’d share.

Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you disagree, that’s totally cool, just know it makes no difference to me. :kissing_heart:

1. Compress PDFs before scanning.

  • Gmail will only allow you to send scans of 20MB at a time. For a while, I was sending packages back in 3, 4, and sometimes 5 different emails! It was a huge waste of time and energy. I actually remember making a thread here asking for ways to send them more easily. I don’t remember anyone giving me the advice I was looking for. Luckily, I found it for myself. Compression! Really simple, actually, now that I think about it. There are programs online where you can compress your entire package and then make it small enough to send in 1 email. I❤️PDF is a free one. So much easier and faster.

2. Always save your tracking labels.

  • Always drop your docs off in person and make sure to get the tracking label. Write the signer’s last name on the respective label and save them. This is insurance for you. On FedEX and UPS labels, they list not only the tracking number, but the time it was dropped, day it was dropped, store number, and location of the store. I have had signing services state they “haven’t received their documents yet” after I’ve dropped them a day prior. I present them with the label and they don’t respond again… Take it up with UPS/FEDEX, babe! After dropping, the docs are out of your hands. Your tracking label is proof and insurance so signing services don’t try to come after you (and they will).

3. Stock up on folders/label sheets.

  • FedEX and UPS will give you a bundle of folders and label sheets for your use. I just grab 50 at a time and keep them in my trunk. Then, outside of the store, you can package them perfectly in your car and just walk up to the line and get your tracking label. This has saved me many times when certain stores are “out of legal size folders.” Sometimes they don’t even know what legal size folders are… Just skip the hassle. Have your own.

4. At the table, start with a description of your position.

  • I have found that many services do not educate their signers on who we are or why we’re there, exactly. Therefore, you should take up this responsibility for yourself. You are an independent contractor who has nothing to do with the inner workings of the loan/signing. You can present the docs, summarize the content, point out pertinent information, and guide them through the signing. You are not responsible for explaining things in depth to the signer, which should have been gone over by other parties. That’s the lender’s responsibility. By setting this up beforehand, the signers will appreciate your position. If they have an in depth question, direct them to call their loan/escrow officer.

5. Take control of the signing.

  • You are the signer’s guide and consultant. You are in control. You can establish this by setting the ground rules regarding the signing and gauging their experience level. If you seem unsure of everything, the signers will decide to read everything in the package. If you are confident and efficient, they will naturally follow your lead. One way takes forever (1 hour+ signings), and one way is efficient (30-45min signings). Make sure they know how to sign (as their name is printed), where to sign, what ink color to use, and when to write the date before the signing starts. I do this all the time and almost never have problems and never have to sub out documents because of a glaring mistake. Because my signers don’t make mistakes, I print their copies double sided since I don’t rely on them to cover my butt if something goes wrong, which has saved 1000s of pages of paper (good for your wallet and the environment :deciduous_tree:).

6. Create a long distance fee.

  • As our economy continues to circle the drain and CEOs bring in record profits, you can see that funds are trickling UP instead of down. The rest of us deal with higher and higher costs to survive. Make sure to figure out which mileage constitutes “long distance” for you and ask for your fee if it exceeds that. A $100 signing may be a good deal if it’s 10 miles away, but what about 25? 35? 50? For every additional mile, the value of the signing goes down due to wear on your car, gas, and time (which we’ve established is equal to money). My personal limit is 25 miles. Establish for yourself what your distance is and what you will charge for going beyond it. Many signing services have stopped even pretending to engage in negotiation or banned negotiation altogether. This works in their favor because they do not have to increase their fee for increased work and time (scan backs, long distance driving). There is a “take it and be grateful for it” attitude in the air. That is their right. And it is your right to ask for what you are worth.

7. Create your own acknowledgements and jurats.

  • Every notary and NSA should have these. In TN, there is certain verbage that must be used to make it official. Check your state laws first and then create your own. I have 10 copies of acknowledgments and 10 jurats with me at all times in my briefcase. It works really well for general notary work that doesn’t contain a notarial certificate. Sometimes, lenders will include these in signing documents as well in case a notarial certificate needs to be redone. If you have an extra copy of the document, you can use that. But what if both documents get messed up? Now, you’re covered either way.

8. Make a business card, leave a business card.

  • Always always always leave your business card. Duh! I’ve had many past clients reach out to me directly when they need a will, POA, general notary, marriage, or other real estate documents completed. You can use vista print, moo, and other sites for this. It makes things seem way more professional, as well. I’ve made 1000s from referral work.

9. Use one credit card for all business expenses.

  • Oh my goooodddd… I did my own taxes this year and it was hell. I was looking across 3 different credit cards for my business expenses and it dawned on me… Why not just use one business card exclusively for all business transactions? Duhhhhh. It was so simple! But, I’d never been told this or read it on here. Pick one credit card and charge everything related to your business to it! Your phone plan, your website, gas, car repairs, car checkups, paper, toner, ink, business cards, everything! I’m doing this now and taxes are going to be easy peasy. :relaxed:

10. Break the employee mindset.

  • You are not an employee, you are a business owner. You will find various individuals :face_vomiting:attempting to shame you for demanding more, for calling out bad business practices, or for promoting change. Ignore them! I and others have been attacked on here by individuals saying “quit whining!”, “get a new job if it’s so bad!”, and “no signing service is going to work with you now!” I’ve literally blocked hostile members on this forum who continue to reply to every post I make :joy:. It’s honestly so sad and bitter. They clearly don’t have anything else going on in their little lives or important work to do. People who say this are small minded gatekeepers of the status quo who toe the company line, not visionaries attempting to improve the welfare of the NSA profession. Nor do they care about other NSAs and their ability to make a living in this great country with fair pay for hard work.
  • A mindset of fear is not your friend when the going is tough. Especially as a business owner! Ask yourself, do you want to work with scammers, grifters, and exploitative entities? If anyone rejects you for having boundaries, morals, and integrity, thank your lucky stars! :star2: They’ve self selected themselves out of your life just like a toxic boy/girlfriend! Trust me, there are plenty of fish in the sea :fish::tropical_fish::sushi:. How many posts on this forum have put a spotlight on companies for non payment, ignoring communications, and shady behavior in the last year alone?! The number of scammers is clearly increasing as the economy worsens. Thinking only of themselves, they line their pockets at the expense of NSAs. Those warning posts have been so helpful to me and many others! We did not have to get burned, because they were kind enough to give us the 411. If someone sees your honest experience online and runs back home to blacklist you because of it, be grateful.
  • Remember, you set your rates, not the signing service. You determine what jobs you will take, not the signing service. And you determine what you will or will not do with your time, not the signing service. If your values and goals match up, then great. Enjoy a prosperous business partnership. If not, hasta la vista, baby! :sunglasses::v:t4: The exploitative signing services (not all are like this!) are banking on your desperation to keep them in the black. The good and decent signing services/title companies/banks/law offices are helpful, timely, professional, and pay you a fair fee for honest work. Those are the ones you work with! Do what’s best for you, but keep the larger picture in mind and never give up your power. :boom::exploding_head::boom:

You are spot on regarding what is occuring in the real estate business right now. I have seen this cycle 3 or 4 times now. I worked in escrow over 20 years. The last several years I’ve done mobile notary! The feds predict more interest spikes and us notaries will see even more of a decline. I am not a Debbie Downer, it’s simply fact! And I believe this is just the beginning! I refuse to drive 50 miles round trip or more for a signing fee of $75.00 plus printing and scanning docs.! Minus your gas cost, printing and time your lucking if you profit $20.00


For large files - don’t compress, create a Zip file. Quicker and easier, and you can email a zipped file with Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo.

Business cards are great! Love them! I use gotprint.com - less expensive and the formatting tools are superior to Vista Print.

Great post, great advice, succinctly put and well written!


Great post! Thank you !

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