Three things you need to start promoting your business are professional business cards, professional email address and a professional web presence. You can get free cards but the printer puts an ad for their services on the back of the cards. Free email addresses like gmail are fine, but don't use personal names. You should avoid using names like NumberOneGrandpa@ or MomsHomeCooking@ because potential clients may not take you seriously. When starting out, your professional profile at GoGetNotary.com can serve as your web presence and it's THE place for a directory listing.
Notary Business Cards
Your business cards don't have to be fancy but they should look professional. You can find ideas on our Sample Notary Business Cards. If you create cards on your computer, be sure you choose a good quality stock to print your cards, something like Avery's "Clean Edge" stock. Two-sided cards are a good choice when you include two or three testimonials on the flip side. If you're curious about the "free" business cards you see advertised, check out Free Business Cards. Our new favorite printer is PsPrint.com, excellent price, quality and service!
Notary Email Addresses
An email address has two parts, the name you choose to put in front of the @ symbol, and the domain name or hosting company that follows the @ symbol and handles your email service. Email addresses are easy to get. You may have an email address through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as @cox.com, @cableone.net, @comcast.com. Another choice is to create a Google email account so the second part of your address will be @gmail.com. Though not as quite professional as an address with your own domain name, in my opinion they do look more professional than @hotmail.com. Probably most important for professionalism is the name you choose before the @ symbol. I've seen too many people use their personal email address; they don't realize how those addresses reflect on their business. Any title or escrow company contacting a notary for important loan document signings will not be impressed with GrannyLuvsYall@hotmail.
Notary Web Presence
Everyone expects to see a web address on your business card. Don't have one? You should because you can get a domain name for about $13 a year. Even if you have a website here at GoGetNotary.com instead of a separate website, you can still have your own "permanent" web address with a domain name. The beauty of the domain name is in the flexibility because you can direct it to a web page or a web site any time you choose. Buy a domain name now and forward it to your your GGN website. Then later if you launch a separate website, you can switch the domain name to your website. In the meantime, you can post that domain name in other directories and forums—building links—and use it in your email signature and on business cards, and you won't have to change it when you point it to your website down the road.
Website: A website doesn't have to be expensive. For beautiful design, I like the Weebly sites a lot. You can have a free site but it will have ads on it, or go for their Starter for $8 a month. A self-managed 5-page template site at GoGetName.com is $4.99 a month or $8.99 a month for a 10-page site but has limited design choices. I set up a sample notary signing agent site (shown left) to show what can be done with a simple $4.99/month template site. It isn't as attractive as the Weebly websites, but it could get the job done. Learn more about websites and Internet marketing at Internet & Websites.
GGN Website: You can use your GGN web page profile in place of a website but it helps to have a forwarded domain name for your marketing. The info you'll have on your GGN web page is the info you would usually have on a website. In fact, many websites don't have enough info to justify 5 or 6 pages. Start with a web page in a good directory, then add a website when your business justifies the added expense. Or if you're struggling to pay for a website now, let it go and forward your domain name to your GoGetNotary profile. Just make a copy of your website pages so you don't have to rewrite everything when you launch the next website later.
Domain Names: A few notaries have told me they let their domain name go when they decided to cut back and drop their website. Please don't do that! You've probably included that web address on business cards and posted it various places on the Internet. You worked hard to get links online so don't lose that connection. If you give up your website, keep your domain name and forward it to your GoGetNotary website. When the economy turns around, you may want another website and you'll be able to take advantage of still having your domain name and all those links you built. Read more about domain names and forwarding at Your Own Domain Name.
If you're planning to buy a domain name, buy it separate from any package website deal offering a free name.* That way it will still belong to you if you decide to cancel your website later. That domain name will be your "permanent" address for your notary business so guard it like gold. While I'm on the subject, remember not to panic if you get an "URGENT" renewal notice, especially in the mail or by phone. Those are usually scammers who will charge you $75 to $150 instead of $12 a year. Legitimate domain name resellers will send you a renewal EMAIL 90 days, 60 days, 30 days, 15 days and 5 days out. Just make sure you can locate your login info, username and password, and keep your email address current in your account contact info so you get the renewal notices.
IMPORTANT: You don't actually buy or own a domain name. You pay for the right to use the name for a year or whatever period you pay for. It's more like a lease than a purchase. Even if you create a name specifically for your business, you can still lose it to someone else if you don't renew it on time. Unless your name is trademarked, you can't keep another person from "buying" and using your original domain name if you let your "ownership" lapse. My advice is to set it to auto-renew every year or the renewal date on your calendar to do it manually.