Turning talk into a profitable business
Judy Fossum uses her voice as a painter uses a brush. From a palette of inflections and intonations, she creates moods and colorings, conveys message and meaning, for her clients throughout the country.
Judy owns Judy Fossum VoiceOvers LLC of Cheyenne. She provides spoken narrations for television and radio spots, corporate and Internet presentations. “In a nutshell, I talk for a living,” she said.
Judy went to work for herself full-time in March 2014, after a long career in broadcasting. At the age of 14, she began working as a part-time disk jockey at a radio station in Bowman, N.D. She picked up a degree in mass communications with a broadcast journalism emphasis and then worked as a news reporter and anchor in Fargo, N.D.
After earning a second bachelor’s degree in meteorology, she went to work for Cheyenne-based Day Weather, which provides customized weather forecasts for businesses, government, and private clients. She also has received professional voice training from several sources.
A major challenge for businesses like Judy’s is identifying potential projects before proposal deadlines pass. That’s why she teamed up with the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network and Andrea Lewis, a procurement specialist.
Using the SBDC’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Judy participates in a program that helps Wyoming businesses find and secure federal, state, and local government contracts. It offers no-cost, one-on-one assistance to small business owners, as well as periodic training workshops around the state.
After coaching Judy through the necessary registrations, a “bid-match” profile was created to help her find relevant contract opportunities. She can check leads sent via the bid-match service. She also received research services from the SBDC’s Market Research Center.
For businesses willing to work the market, Andrea said government contracts can be significant sources of income. “It’s huge,” she said. “The government is the biggest buyer in the world. And they buy almost everything.”
Judy has discovered that her prime opportunities are working as a subcontractor. For example, if a production company needs a voiceover for a corporate video, it might hire Judy.
One such company is O’Leary Digital Media of Ann Arbor, Mich. Owner Casey O’Leary said he became acquainted with Judy through the online networking site Linkedin. He has used Judy for a variety of projects. “I think she’s great,” he said. “Aside from having an angelic voice, she’s easy to work with and takes directions very well. She’s very professional.”
Closer to home, the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center has engaged with Judy in producing radio spots. “She has always done a great job,” Communications Specialist Shelby LaCroix said. “She’s very friendly and easy going, and the quality of her work is very high.”
Since starting her business, Judy has posted a profit every year and has seen substantial growth every year. But Judy’s success didn’t happen without a lot of hard work and persistence. She digs for leads, examines company websites, and then makes telephone calls before forwarding her voice demos. “One call isn’t going to do it,” she said. “You’ve got to be persistent.”
Andrea of the SBDC said Judy’s assertiveness of one of her great strengths. “She is very proactive,” Andrea said. “Judy doesn’t wait for opportunities to come to her. She figures out how best to evaluate leads and possibly turn them into work projects. A lot of businesses do not do this.”
Click on the “success stories” to the right to learn how more Wyoming businesses have succeeded in the Cowboy State.