The How & Why to Becoming a Wedding Officiant with Sonita Leak, The Marriage Notary

weddings Jun 03, 2021
 

Hi there!

Believe it or not, becoming a wedding officiant or celebrant is relatively easy to do, depending on the state you live in. Sonita shares her journey from timid notary to thriving, self-confident officiant in today's episode. Vow to take this role seriously, and you can reap the rewards of being a part of the happiest day of your couple's lives.

Sonita's Bio: As one of the National Notary Association’s Notary of the Year Special Honorees for 2019,
Certified and Background-Screened Signing Agent Sonita M. Leak is a mentor to a nationwide group of Notaries Public.

She has changed the Notary game by making it appeal to the masses with her authentic style of Social Media posting.

Sonita was determined, as a single Mother of six children not to fail. With over 5,000 loan, mortgage and other document signings under her belt, she is looked at as an ultimate warrior in the Notary Signing Agent business.

Not only is she a Notary Public, but as one here in the State of South Carolina, she, like other Notaries in the state can officiate wedding ceremonies as part of her duties.

As the Owner of GreenvilleNotary.com, she also officiates under WeddingsbySonita.com.

Some of this weeks episode highlights are:
29:35 Work toward perfection but don't ever beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Know that you did your best, and be proud of it.
33:13 I don't look at anyone as competition. You are who you are, you do what you do. If you do it well, people will cling to you and hire you.
38:45 At a certain point, I stopped focusing on other peoples businesses, and started putting everything that I did into mine. When I did that, it started taking off!

--- Full Raw Transcription of Podcast Below ---

Sonita (00:00):
You want to work toward perfection, but don't ever beat yourself up because of a slight or even a major mistake! Know that you did your best on what you did, and be proud of it!

Introduction (00:14):
Welcome to the SideHustle Lounge. If you're looking for flexible ways to earn income, grow your mindset, and live the lifestyle you've always dreamed of, you are in the right place. So lower the lights. Grab your favorite beverage and join your host. Founder of NotaryCoach.com and Amazon bestselling author of Sign and Thrive: How To Make Six Figures As A Mobile Notary And Loan Signing Agent, Bill Soroka.

Speaker 1 (00:50):
Hi everyone, and welcome. Cheers to our guest today, Sonita Leak, The Marriage Notary. Sonita, thank you so much for making some time for us today.

Sonita (01:00):
You are so very welcome, Bill. Thank you for having me.

Bill Soroka (01:03):
Yeah, it's my pleasure. I've been really looking forward to this guys! Were talking about how to become a wedding officiant and why that role is so important. So Sonita, I'd like to really just dive into the "why" about it right now, because of all the career choices, why did you become a wedding officiant?

Sonita (01:26):
Well, that, wasn't my first mode of operation. I became a notary public here in South Carolina first and I'd operated first, starting out as a loan signing agent. I didn't start with the small stuff. I started right into the loan packages and loan signing part of it. We did have the opportunity to marry couples as notaries here in South Carolina.

Sonita (01:55):
One of just a few states that has that ability without any additional licensure or certification. I was very nervous, very tense about it. I had high anxiety. I didn't have too much self-confidence to think that I could do it. And so I didn't really start officiating ceremonies until two years into my notary commission. But once I did start, it was very enlightening and I, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I said, you know what? Let's just go forward with this. Let's move on. Let's build this, like give it a chance.

Bill Soroka (02:39):
What was, what was the impetus to do that though? Was it a friend that said, Hey, will you officiate my wedding? Or did you just see the possibility in it?

Sonita (02:47):
I saw the possibility in it. I didn't really, and I let's go back. I didn't see the possibility in it because I was very nervous.

Sonita (02:54):
I couldn't even really hand out or pass out business cards. When I first started business. I, because of personal situations, my self confidence was so low that I just didn't give it a chance. But once I did, I said, you know what, I'm going to jump in with both feet. I'm going to do this and see how it pans out.

Bill Soroka (03:16):
And it turned out pretty good, right?

All over social media bragging on your couples and sharing their story. I would imagine that becoming a wedding officiant must have tapped into something really deep for you. Can you talk a little bit about that and why it's so important to be a part of that special day with people?

Sonita (03:38):
Sure. Now I started my career out coming from a telleservices standpoint. I was a customer services agent, a customer service agent for many years at that was my shtick.

Sonita (03:53):
Mostly telephonic. So on the telephone telephone communication. And I kind of built my business from that because I pride myself and even still now on customer service, which everyone should do. And every couple, I don't see people as the same. There's no individual that's the same as another. And so in my business, I kind of crafted my wedding style around that. And I just, with each and every couple, I am vested in making sure that their experience is top notch, whether it's from just making it legal, which is just signing that, you know, of course you have to officiate a ceremony and signing the paperwork all the way to a formal ceremony. So everything up until now has just been, you, you get that sense of pride in what you do over the years and it just builds greater and greater.

Bill Soroka (04:56):
I love that. Can you, you mentioned too that when you first started this business, you were at a, a certain point where you maybe lacked confidence for personal reasons. Do you find that this business whether it's both as the loan signing agent and the wedding officiant, or just the wedding officiant, how did that help you pull yourself out of that?

Sonita (05:20):
Well, what really helped in pulling myself out of the low self-esteem and low, low confidence was building the business and gaining the knowledge. There were, there was a time where I outsourced many of the things that I do myself now, and it's just the one-stop shop. It's me. I was outsourcing to Silicon valley. I was outsourcing my graphics. I was outsourcing content and learning the background of what you do. It's like undercover boss learning the background of what builds your business has really helped a lot in what I do.

Sonita (05:59):
It's a little more fulfilling when you do it yourself. And that's where I it's just, you're vested in everything that you do and you have your hands in it. And that, that makes you appreciate it more.

Bill Soroka (06:18):
That is so relatable. And it's almost like, you know, when you wake up each morning and you give yourself a little win, whether it's creating an awesome graphic for Instagram or posting one of your videos, there is something that just kind of lights you up and it proves to yourself every day that you can do this.

Sonita (06:37):
Yes, sir. Definitely.

Bill Soroka (06:40):
You obviously do I take great pride in the work that you do as a wedding officiant. Why do you think it's so important that other wedding officiant do the same?

Sonita (06:49):
It's not just your business, that of course, if you want to grow in any business, you need to make sure that your I's are dotted and your T's are crossed. You don't want to portray in any form or fashion. That's why I treat every, I don't treat everybody the same, but I treat every ceremony, whether they're arriving in their scrubs from work or, you know, they're in a rush, they don't have, there are some people that are rude. There are some people that are, you know, I just treat everybody as if I would want to be treated. And that's how other officiants should take on their business. You know, like if I was in a rush, if I was in a hurry, if I was people talk about Bridezillas and I say, there's no such thing as a bridezilla. People react certain ways to certain things, a bride who's getting married might be a little tense. A groom might be tense. Their family members might be a little tense, but when you are a professional, you know your stuff, you know what you're doing, you are on your P's and Q's you, there's no way you can fail if you're on your P's and Q's no matter who you're dealing with and how you're dealing with them.

Bill Soroka (08:11):
it sounds like you're really advocating for really becoming the expert and knowing your stuff inside and out.

Sonita (08:17):
Right. Right.

Bill Soroka (08:20):
And is there a certain, I look at it from my perspective and I am a wedding officiant, but I am really hesitant to, to jump in with both feet because I got this fear that I'm going to mess up somebody's biggest day of their lives. How do you overcome that?

Sonita (08:41):
So, number one, to help you overcome that is I say that initial consultations are very important, whether you're doing that. And of course, because of what's going on currently with the pandemic, conducting them by phone, by zoom recording, or if you, if they want to meet in person, making sure that you're taking the precautions necessary, you're asking, you're getting information. You're probing for information. Well, hopefully well ahead of time, especially if it's a formal ceremony to prevent those things from happening to prevent mistakes from happening. But as I also tell other wedding officiants, don't expect to be perfect. There's no expectation of perfection. You're doing the best you can in what situation you're given.

Bill Soroka (09:33):
That's probably some really good advice. That's really hard to, hard to take easier said than done. Sometimes we put so much pressure on us.

Sonita (09:40):
Yes, we do. We put a lot more pressure than is warranted. And that's when I began officiating ceremonies. That's where I was. I, my first ceremony ever, it was an apartment complex. And I was just, I was a nervous wreck bill. I was a nervous wreck. And the couple they called me like a couple of days prior and they said, we want to get married. And I was like, this is my first one, but I didn't tell them that. So I arrived and it was an apartment building. They said, come on in. They had a couple of friends over, they had there. Now this is the kicker. They had their kids running around. There was a baby running around. They had pooped their diaper and stuff was everywhere. The house was a mess. And I was like, you know what? At that point is where I said, I got this, I can do this.

Sonita (10:34):
There's a certain comfort in that. I guess it was, it was, it went well. I was operating from my, I had like a little Acer, one computer or aspire one computer. And I was reading the bows from it because I didn't know what I was doing exactly. But they were happy with my performance right then and there in that situation. But a couple days later, the bride calls me and she says, ma'am, how can I get an annulment? Oh my gosh, that was, that was a monkey wrench in the whole operation. But it set me a little bit more at ease during the ceremony and after they were happy with the performance. But then on the other end, I don't know how happy they were that they got married, change of heart there. And I guess there's only so much you can control and you can't control. Yeah.

Bill Soroka (11:37):
Pretty memorable first time. And I would imagine through the years you've had some that really stand out and I, your couples are probably like your kids. It's really hard to say who was your favorite, but do you have one aside your first that really stands out as memorable and you were glad you were.

Sonita (11:57):
I sure do I have many, but let me tell you about one particular ceremony. The couple contacted me. Well, you know, the time in advance it's for a, it was for a formal ceremony and it was at a very popular event venue. That's no longer in business currently. It was inition right chain and I wasn't nervous per se. It was an experience. They contacted me to officiate and I was gung ho we did our initial consultation and garnered as many of the details as I could, or as we could.

Sonita (12:38):
And I was well-prepared. What I wasn't prepared for was that the ceremony did not have a day of coordinator or a wedding coordinator. They had the venue, they had the space, we had the rehearsal, the day of, Bill. And so on top of having the rehearsal, the morning of, and the ceremony a little bit, you know, a few hours later, I had to stand in and act as a day of coordinator. So I was doing positioning. I was in charge of recessional, processional, lining everybody up, how the flow was going to go. We added a little special giving away ceremony, portion of it, where the elders of the family were in their seats and the bride walked over and she was ushered over to them. They kissed her on the cheek and I showed her off to the groom and it went off without a hitch.

Sonita (13:40):
And it was excellent. I mean, I, I couldn't have officiated a more planned out, fought out ceremony day of that's. I would imagine it sounds like you stepped right in, there was the hero and I can see where that could serve a lot of people. It was giving me anxiety, just hearing about it, but then also you kind of get to control everything. So it's almost eliminate some of the middle people in between. So it sounds like you really shined in that. And, and let me add it. Wasn't just me that shine throughout. It was the entire wedding party because they were open. And it's the openness of the people that you're working with that will definitely assist you in whatever you do. So if people are shut down and they say, well, I only want this a certain way. And this is how it has to be, you know, it's their party, you know, they're paying their it's their day. But when you have clients and customers that are more open to your suggestions, that definitely works in your favor.

Bill Soroka (14:46):
Yeah, I bet. I bet. So taking that into consideration all the other weddings you've officiated, and you even help other people step into this role as well. What do you think is one of the most important qualities that a wedding officiant has not most important, important quality, but most important qualities. Okay. You are not, you're not just there as an officient you're there when you are there, especially when you're given additional duties, like master of ceremonies. If you're announcing you are instructing people to stand up, sit down to, you know, you're giving cues to the bride. You're giving cues to the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. You're holding a microphone in the process sometimes, or mic'ed up in the process.

Sonita (15:45):
You're not speaking too loud. You're not speaking too softly. You are making sure that your posture is correct. You are doing that. Also taking an account of all the many different things that you've been all the different pieces of information that you've been given about the ceremony. You have to know when the, when the, when everybody steps in the room, all precessions are not the same. When people come in, they're not the same when people recess or exit, it's not the same. So you have to keep an account of everything that's going on during the ceremony. And you are following a program. So it's not just here, you use talk. And then here you talk a groom. It's all of those things intertwined in one.

Bill Soroka (16:36):
So a little bit of organizational skills, it sounds like adaptability and flexibility is pretty important too. Definitely through the years through all of these you can tell that you love doing these wedding ceremonies. Is that a fair statement?

Sonita (16:51):
Is it, is it gives me joy much joy.

Bill Soroka (16:56):
You say that it's absolutely worth it for you. Have you found would you say even that you've found a calling in this?

Sonita (17:03):
Yes, definitely. When I began Bill, I was like I said, a nervous wreck. I didn't know if it was 100% what I wanted to do. And as I officiated more and more and presided over more ceremonies, I became more comfortable with it. And now I'm consulting others to become wedding officiants. And it's just exhilarating every time I take on that role of leading them of where to go, how to go.

Sonita (17:37):
Whereas I think of the days when I first began and I wish I had somebody like me to lead me forward in that I wish I would've had somebody like me and there are other people out there that actually do that. So definitely encourage others to get a mentor or follow someone.

Bill Soroka (17:59):
I love that you talk about the power of mentorship, because really, I mean, if I was going to pick what I would classify as one of the most rewarding positions or roles or businesses, it's gotta be wedding officiant has gotta be in the top five or at least the top 10, right? I mean, that's an exciting day to be a part of, and it makes such a huge difference. I think the right wedding officiant can really make a ceremony work smooth, obviously. I'm sure you agree with that too. So it's it behooves people to take it seriously, get a mentor, get that training, get a little guidance on that. And I know that's a service that you provide and for those listening, you can get into the VIP room at SideHustleLounge.com and I'll have the links to Sonita's contact information and where to reach her. But before we do that Sonita, like for the people who are listening right now, and they're thinking, oh, maybe I'll try this. Maybe this is what I want to be a part of. Maybe I want to be a part of the best day of some people's lives up until that point. How would they get started to become a wedding officiant?

Sonita (19:13):
Okay. So to get started, of course, you definitely want to refer to your state rules and your local rules and laws on wedding. Officiation you, there are wedding officiants, and there are what are known as wedding celebrants.

Sonita (19:31):
So a wedding Officiant does have the legal capacity to marry a couple. They can write and sign off on paperwork, legalize the ceremony, legalize the marriage, a wedding celebrant on the other hand is a person who officiates or presides, should we say presides over the ceremony, but they don't have the legal capacity to, there are wedding celebrants. There are states that will allow that to happen. And whether the state allows it to happen or not, whoever legally marries them does have to, like, for instance, in the state of South Carolina, they actually have to perform a ceremony. So if I have a naked legal ceremony where they just want to sign the paperwork, they want to get it done. They've been, they've been together for many years and they just want to go ahead and get it done. They want to make it legal. I, as the wedding officiant do have to say, well, do you, John takes Sally to be your lawfully wedded wife. Do you Sally, take John to be your husband? So knowing the rules and the state laws is the first thing that you want to seek. You want to know those, and then that sounds familiar. Yes. And then research it. You, you can jump out there. That's fine. But knowing more is, I mean, knowing what you're doing is the ultimate goal of getting started. Because if you just jump out there, you know, I have efficiencies that come to me and they say, well, where can I get a copy of sample vows? If you researched on the internet, you can find those well, how do I learn what I'm doing? You can go and you can seek out videos on social media, on other ceremonies, pull up party, wedding party, setup, formats. There's many different formats. Learn those. That's where you can start.

Bill Soroka (21:37):
Nice. As far as the, like, as far as a resource for people who are just getting started, like on the state rules, I know a lot of people just say, Hey, go to ULC or Universal Life Church, start there for your research. Or do you recommend that? Or do you have another resource where people can just go and just say, all right, click my state and here's kind of my starting place.

Sonita (22:00):
Yes. I say this to those who want to start out or who are already wedding officiants, go on an internet, web search query, any search engine console type in your keywords, marriage, wedding, efficient sample vows. And you can start there. You can go to the major sources and, you know, to the notary associations, you can go to your secretary of state's website if they have that information available. But this, this is how I started. I went on the main web search engines and I started there.

Bill Soroka (22:41):
Nice, nice. So literally just about everything that you would need to get started is available at your fingertips, which we can, we love. And it can be a little bit of a rabbit hole sometimes, but just get started.

Bill Soroka (22:55):
I think the important takeaway too, is that you are 100% responsible for knowing those state and local laws. I wonder if you could dive in a little bit different, cause you talked well about the state, but are there other laws like within a city or county or something that might affect marriage law?

Sonita (23:15):
Well, if trying to think on that one, I'm not familiar with, of course I'm not familiar with every municipality or every city or every state's rules. And I do get questions for neighboring states and there are certain requirements, like for instance, here in the state of South Carolina notaries can right into North Carolina, they can write into Georgia. They can write into Washington DC, but as far as being able to legally marry a couple in those states, you have to follow those states requirements. So you have to definitely do your research on the, especially with destination weddings specifically, you can like, for instance, I have no clue what it takes to marry a couple in Las Vegas, but I have conducted wedding consultations for wedding officiants who are in other states.

Sonita (24:11):
So in Nevada or in DC, I've conducted consultations for, so it's basically more on a general wavelength for me. So they definitely have to do their research on wherever, whatever city or state they're in because the onus is not on me in that.

Bill Soroka (24:31):
Well, that's 100% responsibility for our own business. Yes. And there's some oftentimes confused confusion around this. And I speak to the notary community a lot about the power of being a wedding officiant, but sometimes notaries get blocked and they say, oh, well, my state doesn't allow me to be a wedding officiant with my notary commission, but there's an obvious workaround for that, right? Can basically anybody be a wedding officiant is as long as they follow their state's laws.

Sonita (24:59):
So that's where we get to the term of the wedding efficient and wedding celebrant. So me, my thing is, and even when I present later on down the line, anybody can act as a wedding celebrant, you mold yourself, you do the research, you follow, of course your state or local guidelines.

Sonita (25:19):
If it's allowable, you can be that wedding celebrant that presides and stands in place of the person marrying the couple or the, should we say the ceremonial side of it. But then when it comes to the, and I will tell you this bill, most of the couples that I even do that make it legal paperwork for they're making it legal before their actual big shebang ceremony. And that's most couples that I see. And so I'll have couples come to me and they'll say, well, we want to go ahead and get this done. And I know this is not common place. And I'm like, yes, it is. Most couples do that. And so they don't know that people are actually making it legal and legalizing their marriage before their big ceremony. So they'll usually do it March, say today's March 15th or today's April 15th, 2020. And then we're going to get married March 15th or March or April 15th, 2021.

Sonita (26:21):
Well, we're going to make it legal on this date. And then we're going to have the larger ceremony next year in Jamaica. Or we're going to have that larger ceremony next year here locally. But it's going to be the larger ceremony.

Bill Soroka (26:36):
I think that's such a great perspective. I don't think most of us who aren't getting married everyday, don't even think about it. But a lot of these couples they've already signed the paperwork they're already legally married there that's taken care of. So the part we see the celebration is really just ceremonial and that's right. And then when it's the ceremonial component, literally anybody can be that celebrant. That is really good information. Sinitta thank you. Okay. So people are listening. They're like, well, I think I've got this. I've got the personality for this. I've got the organizational skills. So if they go through and they find out what their state requires, how do they build a business doing this?

Sonita (27:18):
Wow. It took me many years to learn my craft. There are two or should I say there are probably different ways to go about it. You can hit the ground running, do your own research, conduct your own research. And for many years it took me many years, but this is Bill .... This is year nine of officiating ceremonies. And I am still learning. It's a continual learning process. You you'll want to definitely learn the terms within a marriage ceremony. What the difference between the maid of honor and a matron of honor is don't put me on the spot. Okay.

Bill Soroka (28:07):
I won't.

Sonita (28:07):
I promise best man duties are the ring bear that it's mostly a symbolic role. Usually the ring bearer, which is usually a young boy is not always a young boy. It could be the flower girl is holding the rings. It could be that the grooms, the BR the best man is holding the rings. It might be the brightest holding the grooms ring. The groom, the best man is holding the bride's ring. The ceremony can go very different for each ceremony. So you have to know the different roles that each, of course, the traditional roles of what each person within the ceremony plays along with all the other different things. Now, you also pointed out that about messing up during a ceremony or so I wanted to kind of touch on that too Bill. You want to work toward perfection, but don't ever beat yourself up because of a slight or, even a major mistake. Know that you did your best on what you did, and be proud of it.

Sonita (29:19):
Nine times out of 10, they didn't catch the mistake, the crowd, the wedding party, they're nervous themselves, shake it off, move on, and learn from everything you've performed and experienced in the past. So if you made a mistake, learn what you did wrong and try to work on that never expect to be perfect.

Bill Soroka (29:38):
I love that. And it applies to the philosophy of Kaizen of that constant continuous improvement. There's always going to be ways to refine and get better, but just take each experience and learn from it. I love that approach and I'm sure that served you really well. And I love that. You also speak about knowing the language of your couples. They're going to be asking you questions. So it's definitely going to add to your credibility and your confidence when you understand the difference between those definitions, but how, how do you get the phone ringing and dinging Sonita - is this old fashioned advertising? Is it all referrals. It's all. Web-Based, how's that work.

Sonita (30:19):
It is an intertwined orchestration. So you are of course putting your best foot forward. You're making sure that your business is operating seamlessly, as seamlessly as possible. Now you are attempting to of course, advertise word of mouth, which is still number one and promotion. So everybody that I get in front of whether it's notary work, whether it's efficient work, I'm either giving them a card. I'm communicating with them on a constant basis. When we set appointments, I am following up on each and every appointment. I'm making sure that they know that I'm going to be there on the day of, I actually officiated a ceremony recently that the efficient did not show up. They not necessarily that they didn't show up that they called and they canceled. Last minute, I get that quite often. I don't know how that happens that they don't have someone put in place or they can't call someone to say, Hey, I can't be there step in for me.

Sonita (31:39):
But it does happen. I communicate with each and every couple in a way that they know that I'm going to be their foot feet forward and I'm not going to back out. And if I do, if there is a possibility that I can't be there, it's informational. So I'm going to tell them, Hey, look, I'm sick or look, I can't there was a conflict, sometimes conflicts do occur, be upfront and honest with each and every couple or party that you are, will potentially step in front of because that builds onto your credibility and reliability as well.

Bill Soroka (32:22):
Sure. I could see where that would be huge. And it's, I mean, it sounds like you've you're advocating for having a network of other officiants that you could rely on and support, and that will support you as well. Do you find that valuable?

Sonita (32:35):
Oh yes.I see often on social, especially, you know, there are these meetings out there over my competition and I don't look at anybody as competition. You are who you are, you do what you do. If you do it well, people will cling on to you and my referrals out. I don't have any problems with referring people to other officiants, to other wedding professionals, to other notaries. It's never been an issue. If you can't do it, Bill, you can't do it. And if, if somebody can do it better in a particular time and place, I'm not going to stack myself. I'm not going to stack myself with two and three formal ceremonies in a day. You'll burn yourself out. So it's best to refer, keep yourself on an upper level. And you know, that's, that's that weight off your shoulder.

Sonita (33:41):
Just go ahead and do it because then of course you'll build your network and you'll be seen in a better light. It's not that you want to necessarily do it because you'll be seen in a better light. It's just for your wellbeing. And also for that couple, you don't want to fail. You don't want to fail them.

Bill Soroka (33:59):
Yeah. You take such pride in what you do that you want to make sure that they get the best service and wouldn't you find Sunita too, or don't you find that there's really no true success unless you're helping other people anyway. So when you refer to these other officiants, you're helping their dream come true too. And helping the customer 100%. I love how you, you talk about the constant communication. You obviously deliver an amazing ceremony. You share that experience. And I think that probably contributes to getting personal referrals.

Bill Soroka (34:33):
Where else do you find customers though? Are you being, are you advertising online? Are you on directories? How does it work if people want to get there to get more business?

Sonita (34:43):
Well, gosh, Bill. So I started out with flyers. I started out grassroots campaigning. I had flyers, I had business cards. It was me and my kids, the kids that could walk at the time we were going around to local businesses, putting flyers on doors on we were going and visiting assisted living facilities. And this is when I was doing mostly notary work and loan signing, agent work. I was going visiting hotels. I was visiting hospitals and getting on their notary lists. If they had a notary list, if they didn't have a notary list, I was encouraging them to build those notary lists because for facilities in different places, they, you know, I was out there grassroots, campaigning.

Sonita (35:30):
I was going and putting cards on mailboxes. I didn't know where I was going with bill, but I was gung ho. I said, I want to do this. I want to get it started. I want to hit the ground running. I was telling people as many people that I knew that I could, because remember at first I couldn't even, I didn't have the confidence to even pass out business cards. So I was just telling people in my local, very tight knit network about what I did. And then I was just putting those cards out there because you know, different places, coffee houses, just wherever I could, I was putting my cards. So that's where I started.

Bill Soroka (36:10):
It sounds like you did that because you, this business had to work for you. Yes. It had to take off for you.

Sonita (36:17):
Right. And has it, it has tremendously. I started with, with six kids under my belt. Still have the six. I have grand baby and I have another grand baby on the way.

Bill Soroka (36:30):
So that is amazing. And would you say that this business, whether the wedding officiant combined with your notary and loan, signing business, was this a game changer for you and your life at that time?

Sonita (36:42):
Oh, definitely. It was definitely a game changer. I, I already had the knowledge of building websites. I had search engine optimization skills. I used the telecommunications and teleservices work, the interpersonal interactions, everything that I did work-wise I had experienced being a hostess and cashier at a casino, every upfront and personal job that I've had or telephonic job that I've had. I have input. I have put that input into my business and it has helped tremendously what a gift to bring all of your past experiences.

Bill Soroka (37:28):
You don't have to, you don't have to check your bags at the door. You get to bring all of that with you to serve your customers and your business and your vision. That's right for where you're going now.

Sonita (37:38):
And I love that and typing, I love to type that was my first passion was typing. I never had like a content creator. I have the blogs on both WeddingsbySonita.com and Greenville,Notary.com built both websites. I've built website websites for other people, but then at a certain point in juncture, I just stopped focusing on other people's businesses and started putting everything that I did into mine. And after I started doing that, that's when it really started kicking off.

Bill Soroka (38:15):
What a valuable lesson, building your own dream Sonita. I know you're on social media all the time. Would you find that the blogging and the sharing, the couples stories on social media, has that served your business well, do you think that helps generate some of your business?

Sonita (38:36):
It does. But I don't post my couples for business. I post my couples because I'm proud of, of course their union and as a celebration of their union, when I create content that is advertising, that's a diff that's different to me. And I don't know if any other wedding efficiencies at that way, but that's my take on it. And that's what I do. And that's how I do it. I, of course my social media pages are both personal and business. I, I do intersperse less personal in there now because I do like to keep private moments, private. I don't put on social media, like my children's like choir performance or their athletic performances any longer. I used to do things like that. I now have more of a business focus on my social media platforms.

Bill Soroka (39:46):
Got it. And I love that you share authentically. And I think that comes through the today's consumer, the couples, no matter what business we're in, they can smell in authenticity. And I think they are attracted to authenticity. And I think it's pretty clear. This is serving you so well. Sonita,, thank you so much for sharing so much of your perspective and your experience. I know if there's any of our listeners who are interested in kind of diving deeper into what it takes to become a wedding officiant or even a, a wedding celebrant, you can visit the VIP room at SideHustleLounge.com. I'll have the links to Sunita's website and socials. You can also find her all over social media under GreenvilleNotary.com And WeddingsBySonita.com as well. Sonita, thank you so much.

Sonita (40:43):
So very welcome Bill. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Bill Soroka (40:46):
I'm so glad we connected. Thank you.


- Bill

 

Intro and outro music licensed through Lofi Panda

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