Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Protect them. Don't lose your notary dog or cat due to fireworks on the 4th!

Notary friends:

Around this time each year, dogs and cats go missing and are never recovered.  

Remind friends who don't "get it" that pets need to feel safe and should
not be left outside without safe shelter during the fireworks we love so much. 

Fireworks scare and confuse them.  
(See my little guy Foxy Stone at the bottom of this page.)

Over the weekend, I almost didn't heed my own advice.  My ancient old dog and I were on vacation in Galveston County. Foxy Stone was lying at my feet when the fireworks started on the other side of the bay...a pre-4th celebration.  I picked him up just in time to take him inside before he bolted.

Start a Notary Blog to get more business! (Read or Watch Video)

Today's Notary News is...  

Start a Notary Blog to get more business!

BONUS BELOW:  Eleven Topics for your Notary Website, Social Media, or Blog

Notaries who want to be found by more people who will use their services can increase Google's interest in their websites  or blogs by adding updates in the form of articles and blog entries on a regular basis.

Do you want to start a notary blog, but don't know where to start?

Maybe you'd like to be a blogger, but don't have a clue how to get started.  Perhaps you want to add a few articles to your current website.

Making that first blog entry can be daunting.  Over the next few weeks, in between other notary news, I'll sandwich in pointers on how to start a blog, where to get more tips, and some of my favorite blog fodder (topics that I like).


Notary Topics to Consider

Below are several topics that I believe are good starting points for video blog entries (also known as vlogs) added to a notary blog or social media page. You can also write your blog entries and add a few graphics if you don't feel like making a video.
  1. My Favorite Five Notary Websites and Why 
  2. Seven Websites All Notaries Should Bookmark
  3. Best Notary Videos this Week on YouTube 
  4. Top Websites on Which to Advertise
  5. Positive Video about a Notary Friend or Mentor
  6. Pros and Cons of Remote Notarization
  7. Nine Ways to Determine if Someone or a Company is Client-worthy
  8. True Confessions:  Why I Blog
  9. How to V-Log (My first video was on this topic; this is an improved version and it should get better each month, I hope.
  10. Blogging Websites, Blog Tips, and Blog Experts
  11. Good Health Tips for Bloggers (It really is a thing!)

In the future, I will be covering most of these topics on this website and others, as well. 

You are more than welcome to use this list for to develop a video channel of your own.  If you do, I would be so grateful if you'd mention Notaries and Notary News and refer to this list. 


Introductory Tips for Setting Up a Notary Blog

These tips are fairly general and I'll flesh them out as appropriate in detail in later blog entries.

  • If you are antsy to go with your blog endeavors, try Blogger or WordPress. They are the most common, in my opinion.  Both have free versions and also have great help files. There are many other alternatives and I'll cover those in subsequent posts.
  • Answer Who, What, When, Where, and Why Upfront. When you make a blog post, let your readers know why you are making the post and why it is important to your readers. If you can't do that, maybe you need a different subject.  
  • Use spellchecker and try out the free version of Grammarly.com.   Believe it or not, Google really does care about spelling and grammar. 
  • Why start a blog? In the beginning, I did it because I wanted to learn to write.  Believe me, there are a ton of people who will critique your writing around the clock when you aren't an established writer.  I blog these days for several reasons that I'll cover in a blog entry on the topic stated in number eight above.  For today, I'll mention these:   Reason 1 - Google likes regular updates and fresh content; I want to be number one when certain words are used in a search;  Reason 2 - Equally important as number one:  I'm one of you.  I want to talk to you about things that affect us unfettered by anything except my own audacity factor; and Reason 3 - Finally, I want to be what's called an influencer.  It's important to me that I get information out on notary laws to you with my opinion.  Call it ego or perhaps I have been in the right place at the right time for the last ten years, and it has given me a unique perspective on certain issues; I feel like I should not squander it. 
  • Finally, the things that I wish someone would have told me!  My research says that you are wasting your time flirting with Google to gain better search engine rankings if (1) your blog entries aren't at least 400 words in length and (2) blog entries or articles are shorter than five paragraphs.  It's fine to have shorter blog articles, of course, but it won't really encourage the Google love  that you are seeking.  (3) Finally, your readers will be frustrated if you don't organize your text with headings. (4) Google will like you better if you use the H2 and H3 tags.  More about this in a subsequent article!
  • Buy a good keyboard and comfortable mouse. For pete's sake, don't get one from my favorite store called Big Lots that's $10 and the brand is "iHome."  UGH!  Buying a better one today!  See below and avoid it. The mouse broke immediately--the keys on the keyboard are hard to punch and they stick. 


Know the Correct Words for your Notarial Certificates (+Video).


Tonight's News for Notaries

I am recording late this evening because I wanted to share a bit of information.

I just finished notarizing a power of attorney for a young man whose wife will be signing on his behalf in another state. It was the strangest power of attorney I have ever notarized. It was in the form of an affidavit (and prepared by an attorney). Within the document, the signer swore upon his oath that the document he signed was his intent which is different from the ones I have seen.

TIP: No Need to Look at ID if the Notary Knows the Signer

I knew the husband, so there was no reason to look at ID and if you know someone well enough, it’s your prerogative as a notary public to notarize using personal knowledge as the way you identify a signer.

TIP: Always Scan the Document and Look for a Certificate

I scanned the document quickly with my eyes. It had no notarial certificate on it so I had to write one above the area where a  signature line waited for my signature.

Fortunately, with my focus not being the best when people are hanging around me and waiting for me to notarize a document, things were in good order at this household.  The baby was being happy and  quiet.  The sweet old bear of a dog wasn't too interested in what I was doing, and the two witnesses who were called in at the last minute weren’t watching me.

Item of Interest:  Signer's Wife was an Attorney

The signer’s wife was an attorney and holds a license in two states to practice law, neither of them being in the state where the power of attorney would be used. After I explained my dilemma and that I had to write in a certificate, she agreed that it was right for me to handwrite in a jurat that says “sworn to and subscribed to before me…” because of the swearing wording in the beginning of the document indicating that an oath was required by the husband. Fortunately, she knew me and knew I wasn’t grandstanding by insisting a certificate was necessary.   I wrote the certificate in by hand.

As an aside, I’ll mention that I do a lot of real estate work and have worked for real estate attorneys. I know that if the P.O.A. isn’t notarized correctly, it presents a problem.

TIP: Things that Can Happen if a Power of Attorney is Notarized Improperly

If you have had experience with real estate, you know like I do that one of three things is bound to happen if you notarize a power of attorney improperly. In this case, my worry was...

(1) The title company wouldn't let her use the power of attorney to complete the document execution if it was not notarized properly.

(2) The power of attorney would not be accepted when recorded with the documents she signed on hubby’s behalf (and recording the power of attorney is usually a requirement).


(3) The lender would  reject the power of attorney and would not allow her to sign loan documents on her husband’s behalf.

TIP:  Caution -  Affidavits and Powers of Attorney are Low-Hanging Fruit

Affidavits and powers of attorney are both low hanging fruit when a party to a transaction decides to get out of his or her obligation! I was notarizing a document that was BOTH of those things. I wasn’t going to notarize this document if I wasn’t notarizing it properly.

Today’s take-away tips are:  

As a notary...

  • Know exactly what your notarial certificates should say. 
  • You will be doing yourself a huge favor by memorizing the correct wording for your state’s notarial certificates
  • Please don’t ever just sign your name and stamp!  
  • Be sure that you have a certificate on which to complete the notarial act. 
  • If there isn’t one, write one in.
  • Read the notarial certificate provided for you, if there is one.
  • If it is not substantially like your state’s notarial certificate, make corrections to it neatly.
  • You may also attach an acceptable notarial certificate.
Above is a Today's Takeaway Tip Sheet with this information on it.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Placeholder: Article: NYNP (New York Notary Photographer) Rohan Anthony

This guy's photography of the streets where he notarizes 
documents mesmerizes many notaries...me included!  

Stay tuned for more about Rohan Anthony...this author (moi, Brenda S.) has a lot of work to do to get it right.

NYNP (New York Notary Photographer)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Day in My Wild Mobile Notary Life (Stick to your authorized duties!)

Several weeks ago, I received an assignment from a guardianship firm to provide mobile notary services.  First of all, the package they sent was not completely addressed and that delayed its delivery to me.

Next, I opened the package and found there was no contact information for the people whose signature I would notarize.  Five days ago, I called and left a message with the law firm and did not receive a call back.  Today, I called and left another message.

They called back and said the signers’ phone numbers were on the cover letter.  There was no stinkin’ cover letter!

Them:  Oh, yes, there was. 

Me thinking:  No…no there wasn’t.

I assured them I wanted the check attached to the documents and could not cash it until I completed the job and I needed the phone numbers so I could do that.   The cover letter was provided to me via email.  I have no idea what’s going on in this case, but there were two signers for me to track down, Mr. Man and Ms. Lady.

I guess that sometimes God allows the notaries in Heaven to play tricks on us, the poor mortal notaries.  

My head was spinning by the time I had set this appointment up.  

When I talked to Mr. Man, he said,

“My notary commission might have expired, am I just signing documents? Do I have to notarize anything?” 

Me:  No sir. I’ll just be notarizing your signature. (Thinking:  What??)

When I talked to Ms. Lady, she said,

“Bring your driver’s license so I can properly ID you!”

Me: Gladly, but I’m notarizing YOUR signature.

That confused her!  She thought she was going to get a notarial fee.

Got that quieted down and then…

More problems
Now that I’ve got the appointment set, I have more problems!!  I can’t sign this … Texas notaries cannot certify that that they took certain actions.  They can certify true/correct copies of documents, but this isn’t that.

I got a little bit of expert input on it. I have decided that I will certify this as an individual, but not as a Texas notary. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Join our Texas Notary Facebook Group.

We have a lot of work to do....join us.  

10 Tips for Making a Video Post on your Notary Website (Because Google Gets What it Wants)

Make sure you don't look like this.
Are you ready to make your notary website the favorite one in Google-Land?  I am!  I want my site to be easily found for notaries seeking notary news and how-to information.  Google favors blogs and websites with images and videos.

I put my nose to the grindstone and I have just finished making over twenty selfie videos.

Fortunately, I won't be posting them all on this blog! I deleted all except a couple of them.  As I learned one tip after another, I realized that rather than post a video that said "Hi, I am Brenda, and here's why I am posting this video...blah, blah, blah..." I would post a summary in ten tips of what I learned while trying so hard to make my first video on this blog.

Tips from Today's Personal Video Experience

Breaking news:   You always look crappy on the thumbnail...and, you should probably never say "stuff" in your video.  But, if you wait until it's perfect, you will never get it posted!!  

1. Set aside two to three (or four) hours to get your first one minute of video.
It will take time.  Hopefully, the tips below will save you a bit of time and you won't lose your entire afternoon. (I did.)

2.  You can probably use your smartphone camera.
My favorite camera for recording my selfie videos turned out to be a Note 3 that I kept as a spare after I purchased my Note 4 in September 2014. Although, I purchased a Canon PowerShot Model SX 710 HS for this purpose as well as for picture-taking while performing inspections, I prefer the Note 3 for selfie videos; the quality is great and the battery lasts.

The Canon is awesome for inspection pictures, but it doesn't allow me to see what the frame looks like while I am recording.  So, for now, I like my old Note 3.

3. Decide what to wear and don't look sleazy. 
You'll need to figure out what type of clothes look right for the video.  I figured out that the first top I wore looked nothing like the image that I wanted to portray. Oh boy...a little skin goes a long way on a video.  The top I chose originally is not revealing, yet when on video, the image was "Yuck, a sleazy grandma." and I was going for "This is a professional business woman dealing with 100-degree Texas Weather." I changed my top.

Canon PowerShot SX 710 HS
 (Great for Inspections, but not my
current selfie video choice.)
You may realize that you need to wear a different color, and you will also recognize that if you make several videos on the same day for use on different messages, you should probably change clothes.  One of my favorite bloggers said that he makes several video and audio messages on the same day.  It's more time efficient. I agree, but I wonder if he changes clothes!

4. Avoid scary makeup. 
You'll realize that you probably need to alter your makeup techniques a little bit because you will look dead in most of the videos.  Your eye shadow may look like you had it done by Bette Davis's makeup crew in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

5. Look up, not down.
Ladies, no matter how young you are, gravity is a cruel mistress. Position that camera above your vision line just slightly so you are looking up a little bit.  Otherwise, you'll see things in that video that will cause you to seek therapy.
Note 3 - Great for Selfie Videos

6. Turn the sound off on your cell phone (AND, your dryer, doorbell, dogs, etc. ).  
If you don't receive a call for two days or a visitor for a month, you will receive several of both while making your video.  Make sure your washer, dryer, and anything that makes noise is turned off.  My dogs slept through the afternoon, thank goodness, or I would have taken them for a playdate next door.

7. Don't provide video shots of your home environment.
Be safe and retain a degree of privacy.  Shoot your video in front of a bland backdrop that is not distracting.  I used my files.  The 'net provides a haven for odd birds who can become fixated on your material possessions or other things.  Sanitize and stage anything that will be in the video.

8.  If you can't get the quiet you need while at your home, try the car.
While the car isn't the best, it is better than the cacophony that makes up the sounds of my home at times.  I tried it out last week while sitting at Wal-Mart and it wasn't too bad.

9. Prepare by knowing the point you want to make. 
Make the point and quit.

10. Look at the camera lens, not your image on the camera.
If you are looking at yourself rather than the camera, it will be obvious and you won't make "eye contact" with your audience.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I've Purchased TexasNotary.tv, Notary.tv and a Few Others

I think Notary.tv is going to be so much fun.

My V-logging will start up soon to test what I have been told about Google's new love of video on websites.  I'm working on what that should look like.

Relax, y'all. It  won't be just me, a talking head.

Search engine optimization has become the most compelling thing I have read up on lately.  I'm obsessed with it. Then, there's learning to code a little with php and mySQL.  I'm also quite interested in developing better internet marketing skills and how to design campaigns that can help notaries...or if such a thing exists.   Oh, and  social media!

I need to calm down.

There's a whole pack of kids living right here in Texas who call me Granny. I should act my age (which is 38, of course) and I need to go bake cookies or knit something and stop thinking about when I was younger and Perl was the go-to and apps were called programs.

Insurance Inspections this Week (after a ten year gap since the last one!!)

I shut down my inspection activities about ten years ago.  At the time, a signing service stepped in between me and the companies I inspected for, so I quit--not enough profit.  I had worked hard to grab the elusive ring that few achieve--the safety and loss prevention (insurance) inspection gigs that pay better.  It never happened...not one call until recently.

The go-to inspector in my area has apparently left because I am getting calls like crazy from a 12-year old ad. They are coming from all kinds of companies and places.

When the insurance deals starting coming around, I started saying okay--but, only with the agreement that I would receive training and handholding through the entire process.  They did, I did and I'll be sharing the fun here as I get out of my writer's chair as called upon and hit the pavement more frequently.

I enjoy inspections.  Now, I know it sounds nuts that I like to go out and inspect when I could do nothing but write.  Inspections don't sound nearly as profitable or fun as writing for the AAN, but there are perks and I just like doing it. It's good to learn new skills and walk around a large building to measure it out in the sunshine.

I don't have a spare minute any more, but I am developing new thoughts, outlooks, and article ideas to make my writing more enjoyable for my readers.  I like that readers know I am not writing about things I know nothing of.

Also, it's not a bad idea for me to follow my own advice.  I say all the time that we shouldn't carry all of our eggs in one basket.  Baskets fall, catch fire, are eaten by bugs, or get dropped...sometimes your basket isn't the right kind or people just want a different kind of basket.  Basket fashion can change overnight!  

NOW, TOMORROW, I have to find two deponents in a probate matter whose phone numbers were not provided to me.  Grrr.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Internet Marketing vs. Notary Marketing - Neither works when the marketer doesn't pull the trigger.

Several years ago, I subscribed to the "BuzzBlogger's" email list. From the first email I received, I felt aggravated with Kim Roach, the adorable buzzing personality who writes and talks incessantly about increasing traffic to blogs and making them profitable.  Why aggravated? She was so persistent. She delivered marketing tips like clockwork. (Nobody likes somebody that's so darn good.)

I made my first purchase from her yesterday.  I read or heard her say on Thursday that she was selling her updated "Rolodex of Sources" in an already valuable and large package.

  I wanted the Rolodex of Sources, so I bought it! It's great and I am happy to get it.  I knew that she would have several sources in it this year that I needed--it would save me a ton of time on an important mobile notary project I'm working on.  So, yeah! I opened my wallet and bought Kim's Birthday Bundle that included her Rolodex of Sources.  Wow!  The list is quality information and high value to me.

Snake Oil Purveyors?
Some people think of internet marketers like Kim Roach and other 'net marketing specialists as snake oil salespeople.  They liken them to the ad in the newspaper or Craigslist that says:

How to Make $500 Using Free AdsFor More Info: 555-555-5555
Easy turnkey system.
Price: $100
 The person who calls and pays for the turnkey plan receives a set of instructions that say: 
Step 1 - Take out an ad in Craigslist that says:
How to Make $500 Using Free Ads For More Info: 555-555-5555
Easy turnkey system.
Price: $100

Step 2 - Do this again and again until you sell five systems.
Yep, that one is pure scam, and...yes, I think...

MANY 'Net Marketers Are Untalented Scammers!
But, hard workers like Kim Roach (plus Brendan Mace, and another favorite Darren Rowse that's on Problogger.net) generate great information, how-to articles, and products each day or week. For instance, like Kim's famous Rolodex Sources that have been created over time and through experience-- a list that's quite amazing to me and saved me at least five hours on ONE project by not having to research some of proven sources on her list.  Kim doesn't sell it all the time, so it's a product that creates excitement when it's available.

 Notably, My Writing  Instructor is a 'Net Marketer and She's Brilliant...and a Writing Professional for the last 20 years. 
Getting a reader's attention is harder than ever! I've learned a great deal from my current mentor (through courses I am paying for). But, it's up to me to implement new ways to communicate with readers.  I have learned that internet marketers are usually the best at figuring out the newest trends.

How does this discussion about internet marketers apply to notaries?
The same principle is at work--about 99% of the people who read or hear tried and true strategies for building a business won't put them into action--too much trouble.

Here's a little secret:   I have been criticized for years by long-time notaries for giving away the tips that I do on marketing and building a notary client list. I'm not worried about it, though, no more than Kim Roach fears sharing her own secrets; the same is true for Brendan Mace.  I receive frequent calls from people who read my articles and blogs; they want me to tell them how to build a business and how to market their services. Usually, I do if it seems the persons asking are genuinely serious and will do the work.

Just like Kim almost surely knows that 99% of the people who have read her money-making secrets about internet marketing won't implement the tasks precisely as instructed to create new income, I know that 99% of notaries are not going to do what it takes to leave the computer and implement a marketing campaign in face-to-face visits.

Some would rather keep the status quo than change their work strategies.  It's important to realize that it's their choice or as a mentor/blogger, you'd feel terrible!  Many are interested, but few pull the trigger to DO it.

That's probably enough on that subject for now.  You'll see this post again, in a book.

That Project That Keeps Me Up at Night, Literally--it is SO Late Right Now!
Currently, I'm putting about 50 hours a week (and so far, investing about $300 per week) on a personal project for Texas notaries that should enhance business for all of us... Learn more by joining the Texas Notary Professionals Workgroup on Facebook --MUST be a Texas Notary to Join.  (No exceptions.)

Have a great week!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Business Card Marketing Strategy for Notaries

Are you a new notary signing agent who wants to develop a list of mobile notary clients? Try this easy business card marketing strategy. If you work this plan regularly, you’ll find your mobile notary client list and referrals will grow!


1-Set a day and time each week for implementing this business card marketing plan. You’ll leave the comfort of your computer and spread your business cards throughout the area you serve. Don’t stop until you have visited at least five new business contacts (ten would be better).

2-Deliver a short business pitch to each new potential client you meet. For instance, you could say: Hello, my name is ___ and I own a mobile notary business. I started it six months ago because I saw a need to serve busy professionals in this area who don’t have time to rush out and find a notary when they need documents notarized.

3-Give each new contact a business card and ask for one in exchange. Once you leave the office, quickly note anything discussed during your conversation on the back of the card.

4-Send individual emails that evening or the next day to each person who gave you a card; thank him or her for the conversation and say that you hope he or she will refer you to others or call you when notary services are needed. Always include a coupon (good for the next month) in your initial email. Check the notes you made on the back of the business card and mention any points from the conversation.

5-Add those names and email addresses to a list that will become your client mailing list. When you send out emails to your list, never put all the names and addresses in the “To” section of an email because that will usually make recipients unhappy.

6-Use an inexpensive service like Your Mailing List Provider to ensure recipients can unsubscribe from your email list at any time. Put a link to your email list on your website and say that subscribers receive monthly coupons.

7-Try to find those new contacts on LinkedIn and ask to be added to their network; that’s another way to be visible to your potential clients.

8-Send a note out monthly to your list or start a simple monthly newsletter that has interesting content related to your service area (e.g., a monthly calendar of community events). Include a coupon that is good for a month and mention that it is a special coupon that only your subscribers receive.

9-Use this growing email list to send out greetings for all holidays and always include a special gift coupon for notary services for use during the holiday week.

10-Finally, always have your business cards with you leave your home or office. That includes going to your doctor’s office, the dentist, seeing your accountant, going to your bank, taking your pet to see the vet, visiting your child’s school, or even when you are at your local grocery store. Run through a quick business pitch, hand out your business card, and ask for one in exchange. Send individual emails to these contacts to follow up and, of course, add those contacts to your email list.

Sorry for the Hiatus

Several of you have written to ask if I'm still around.

YES!  I am.

I had a hard April and May, but June is going to be awesome!

In April, I made a trip to the E.R. and the doctor gave me a bit of scary news.  It sounded like I might be very sick, but I wasn't!!  I'm great!  No problems!

It was plain ol' gallbladder stuff.   I had it removed in May and life is good again.

Again, sorry for the big pause on my blog.

Thank you for noticing I wasn't writing.



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