Find Your Writing Voice

By request, for the lovely Laura, who will be reading this in impossibly beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia.

In a world where content marketing is often (wrongly) considered the only way to do anything anymore, and when we’re constantly being told that if we don’t blog we’ll die, and everybody and their dog wants to get into indie publishing, one of the issues on a lot of people’s minds is writing voice.

Are you struggling to find yours?

I have always maintained that if you can competently speak – and by “speak” here, I mean “open your mouth and have words come out”, not “orate effectively with impeccable articulation, diction, and poise” – you can write.

You can write, and your writing voice will be readable.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your writing voice is currently readable. For many new content creators, and sometimes not-so-new content creators, their writing voice feels stiff, or stilted, or stale, or perhaps other words that start with “st”. Many content creators are concerned that they sound overly academic, or inaccessible, or frankly, boring.

But these are not overly academic, inaccessible, boring people. Very seldom do they wear jackets with elbow patches, or even corduroy pants. These are nice, interesting, sometimes even fascinating people hitting a block when it comes to writing voice.

So for those people, we present:

6 Steps To Finding Your Writing Voice

1. Put yourself into a situation in which you can formally relax and have a comfortable, engaged conversation.

“Formally relax” sounds kind of weird, doesn’t it? It sounds like an oxymoron. But in fact, formal relaxing is exactly what you need to do to make this process work.

We want you in a situation or environment that you already associate with relaxation, but not sleepiness. For many people, this involves wine. For others, in requires comfy slippers and tea. Perhaps you associate your deck with long chats, or your couch, or your mom’s kitchen.

We are creating a space in which you can most easily get comfortable and talk.

(Seriously, if you drink? This is the time. Don’t get plastered, but a glass of a pleasant gamay noir would loosen things up nicely here.)

2. Find an intimate who you really like to talk to.

This talking has to be talking – the kind you do with your mouth. No internet chat. In person is fine, phone is fine, Skype is fine. Your mouth, their ears.

You also have to be very comfortable with this person. (Husbands work well, if you have one laying around and you happen to enjoy his company. Mothers, ditto. Otherwise, go with a friend.)

To meet specifications, this person should be capable of not interrupting everything you ever say.

3. Talk to them on a topic about which you feel excited, interested, or passionate.

For our purposes today, “topic” is different from “subject”.

A subject might be “hockey” or “the Toronto Maple Leafs”. A topic might be “Pat Flynn was the greatest coach to ever live, almost as great at coaching as George W. Bush was at running America” or “how Tie Domi met his wife” or “why Darcy Tucker should run for office.”

(Yes, I’m dating myself. Shut up.)

For most people, this topic should not be work-related. That’s because for most people, their work writing is the writing they’re most self-conscious about, and it’s going to make the process harder than it needs to be.

We want a topic that you get a charge out of, and one on which you can speak intelligently. If it’s difficult for you to come up with a topic on your own – and it might be – show this article to the person you’re going to be speaking with and have them come up with a few topics for you. If they know you well, it should be very easy for them.

You should be able to talk on this subject for a minimum of ten minutes, easily.

(If I was doing this with my handsome partner, for example, I would pick “tell me the story of how Harrison Ford got to be Han Solo”, “how to crack an egg like Tony Danza” and “why it’s patently obvious that Mary Ann was hotter than Ginger”.)

If you think it would be helpful for the two of you, prep your person on the topic and the exercise, and they can actually set up a more formal interview-style session. They can even ask specific questions they’ve planned in advance, if that’s what floats your boats.

4. Tape your conversation.

Use the recorder on Skype or the voice recorder on your phone or a microphone, and tape yourself talking.

You might have to try this out by yourself a few times to get used to being recorded. Most people feel like they sound ridiculous, which makes them sound ridiculous. The first time Dave recorded me I couldn’t take my eyes off the microphone and it was among the more awkward experiences of my life.

(Aside: The actual awkwardest moment of my life was when I was a freshman in high school and my pants fell down in a packed Swiss Chalet on homecoming weekend. Drawstring pants, my old nemesis.)

Plan for the conversation you tape to sound weird and totally roundabout. We are aiming for you to sound just like you do in regular conversation, complete with unfinished sentences, “you know what I mean?” every second breath, and so on. You are NOT trying to sound good, or smart, or logical. You are aiming to sound YOU.

If you were to play this tape to someone who knows you, they should be able to believe that you didn’t know you were being recorded. We want NORMAL.

(Your talking partner may have to tell you when you sound forced. Expect it to happen a lot. Just keep going.)

Talk for between ten minutes and an hour.

5. Get the recording transcribed.

We use Rev because they’re fast and cheap and don’t tend to screw up very much. If you go with them, get the standard, non-verbatim version so that you don’t pay extra to have your every “um” and “uh” written down for time and all eternity.

6. Edit the transcription to take out everything that doesn’t make sense.

Take out the “you know what I mean?” and places where you didn’t finish a sentence, or you went back and changed something, or you repeated yourself.

Edit to the point where it is a reasonably logical progression from beginning to end. Try to make it look kind of like an article, or a diary entry. Nobody will ever read this, so don’t bust your butt making it look like something it doesn’t have to look like.

If reading the transcription makes you want to die – and it makes me want to die, so I understand – have someone else do this for you. Or drink a lot of wine first. Or drink a lot of wine while someone else does it for you.

This is your most natural writing voice.

The word choices you make in natural conversation are your natural voice. The sentence structure you choose in natural conversation is your natural voice. The examples you give, the jokes you make, the analogies, the metaphors – these are what make up your natural voice.

I use words like “predilection” and “admirable” and “cohesive” in my speaking, and as such, they make sense in my writing. They don’t sound forced. My 8-year-old son, Jack, never met a sentence that couldn’t benefit from the addition of the word “necessarily” and as such, when he writes, he’ll write like that.

You don’t decide on a writing voice. You don’t pick and choose, or emulate, or aspire. Once you figure this out, your writing voice will become the easiest thing in the world. (Writing won’t be. Writing is easy or hard based on any number of factors, up to and including Mars being in Capricorn. But voice will be a piece of cake.)

Your writing voice is like your DNA, or your gait, or your fingerprints. They’re yours, and if they’re obscured for some reason, that doesn’t mean they’re gone. You just have to uncover them, and they’ll be right there.

What to do after the writing voice exercise

If you are unaccustomed to writing, or to writing naturally, you will still need practice. A singer can find her voice, or a public speaker, but still need a lot of turns at the microphone before they feel confident and secure. So what do you do between now and then? How can you hasten the process?

Your best bet is to get a book of writing prompts and spend a little time each day, or each free day if your schedule is too packed to let you relax, doing some of the writing exercises. Non-fiction or memoir style prompts are better if you’re trying to get into content marketing, whereas fiction or story prompts are a better choice for novelists-to-be.

Pick whichever prompt feels easy for you that day. Don’t let anybody tell you that you have to do things in a certain order. Go with what’s easy, not what’s hard.

Don’t expect to feel comfortable quickly, but expect it to be quicker than you think. It’s easy to think that because you haven’t felt confident or assured for a long time, it will take an equally long time to get to feeling good.

Don’t worry about that too much.

Silencing your writing voice took a long time, and a lot of concerted effort on the part of the culture, the media, and the school system. A lot of people worked very hard to shut you up, but once you’ve found your voice?

You get to keep it.

For more on writing, read about the time I had writers’ block for four years. For more on reluctant content marketing, read about what to do if you don’t want to blog.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Freebie Friday
To celebrate my love of alliteration, this Friday is “Freebie Friday.”

What is the freebie, you ask?

One of the modules from our launch class (BIG LAUNCH), which we’ll be re-opening in late December.

Since December is a long way away, and I want my alliteration now, let the freebies begin!

We’ll send out more over the next few months so that you can learn something new (pretty much) each week about increasing sales and conversion, and get a feel for if you’d like to join the BIG LAUNCH class this year.

To give you some context, the freebies will be a selection of our “Launch Multipliers”, which were designed to supplement the core training, and specifically, to capture “almost buyers”.

The core training in BIG LAUNCH teaches you how to run your launch the right way for your business, and these Launch Multipliers are specific tactics you can use to take your sales higher.

(There are 108 Launch Multipliers in the course.)

Your first free sample is below.

Stay tuned for upcoming Freebie Fridays for the BIG LAUNCH class – we’ve got a lot of good stuff to send your way.

(You can download the PDF or MP3 above, or read the full text of the Launch Multiplier below.)

Getting Great Testimonials

Hello, and welcome – I’m Naomi from IttyBiz and you are listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers. This track is called Getting Great Testimonials and is all about how to go about acquiring the kind of testimonials that will tip your “almost buyers” over into becoming “actual buyers.”

This is really important to consider when you’re thinking about testimonials. A lot of people think there’s something magic about testimonials, and that if you just have enough of them or if they are juicy and exciting enough, that the hordes will descend upon your little sales page and the riches of Babylon await you.

Well … no. Testimonials do not “generate” sales. No one goes to a sales page, or sees a commercial, or hears one on a radio ad and says to themselves “Wow! I never considered buying this thing before, but now that Bob said that Spotlight Toothpaste made his teeth eighteen shades whiter, I can’t wait to make six easy payments of only $19.99!”

That’s not how it works. A testimonial does not take the unconverted and give them their come-to-Jesus moment. It doesn’t do anything in and of itself.

However! What a testimonial does do is take someone who is already predisposed to buy – or predisposed to seriously consider buying – and tip them over the edge. A good testimonial is like a little nudge that finally tips the scale and makes someone go from “I kind of want it but … I don’t know …” all the way over to “Ok, I’ll buy.”

Testimonials are persuasion, pure and simple.

Not the slimy sort of persuasion that gets someone to do something against their will or their values, it’s the kind of persuasion that works on a person who is thinking “I’m almost there. Now sell me.”

So the average person on the street doesn’t care that Bob’s teeth are eighteen shades whiter. But the average person on the street who has been thinking about whitening toothpaste for a while, who has picked up a tube of it in the grocery store and put it down thinking “I’m not sure if this stuff really works,” who has been comparing one brand against another and can’t make up their mind … that person hears about Bob and says, “Ok. Sold.”

That’s what you need to know about testimonials from the start – because if you don’t know that, then you’re going to fall into the same trap that a million other marketers get caught up in. You’re going to plaster your sales page or your flyer or your radio ad with line after line of “This thing is great! You should buy it because it’s dreamy!”, and you’re probably not going to make any extra sales.

In fact, you might lose more than a few, because most people get turned off by that kind of testimonial in the first place. You’ve seen them before if you’ve been around the block at least once. You read the testimonial and roll your eyes, and your confidence in the thing you were considering buying goes down.

So let’s not have that happen to you. Let’s talk about how to make customer confidence go up, so you can make lots of money and buy all of our other training as well. Yes. I just said that.

Ok, let’s start at the beginning, so you know how to get good testimonials from people. And by “good”, we’re talking about the kind of good that tips “almost buyers” over the edge.

From a conversion standpoint – and really, the whole point of these Launch Multipliers is about conversion, testimonials serve three very specific purposes.

The first purpose of a conversion-oriented testimonial is to reduce skepticism.

Because buyers are, and really should be, pretty skeptical of any given purchase. We’ve all been burned before, and we’ve all gotten our hopes up and discovered that something we bought didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped.

At the same time, we’ve all hesitated because we didn’t want to get our hopes up. We’re nervous and afraid. We’re worried that something won’t work for us because our situation is different from the average person. We think we’re unique and special snowflakes, and that the problems and hurdles and roadblocks we’re experiencing are generally unsolvable because of some constraint of time or talent or willpower or circumstance.

So there’s a lot of skepticism at play when someone is considering buying something from you or from anyone else. Unless you’re starting out with a bad reputation or you’re in an industry that people have negative associations, there’s always going to be some kind of hesitation at play that significantly affects conversion. These are the customer objectives that we talked so much about earlier in this class.

A good testimonial is going to come out and acknowledge those objections. They’re going to make it real and take the step of bringing them out into the light.

This is where you see a lot of testimonials starting out with phrases like “I was pretty uncomfortable buying this workout program, because I’ve tried a lot of them in the past and they just didn’t work out the way I thought they would.” Or “I came into this class expecting it to be a lot of the same old crap I’ve heard before.” Or “Holy Christ my heart sank when I bought this thing. $500 for a blender! I thought my husband was going to divorce me.”

These are real things that real people think. And when they appear in a testimonial, real people say to themselves “That’s exactly what I’m thinking! I’m pretty sure that this is going to be a big old serving of dashed hopes with a side of regret.” And being up front with that is a really good thing for your sales.

It doesn’t sound like a good thing because you’re leading with a negative, and a lot of people get scared when they hear that you should start out with something that sounds like it will send buyers packing. But here’s where it works out in your favor.

First, the reader is going to want to see what comes next. Divorce over a $500 blender? That’s kind of salacious. “Afraid it was going to be crap?” Now we have to know what comes next. And it’s the best kind of having to know what comes next, because now the reader has identified with the person in the testimonial. Because they can see themselves having the same universal concerns, now their brain is pretty much equating the testimonial giver’s experience with their own experience.

So when it gets better for the person in the testimonial, which we’ll talk about next, their brain imagines it getting better for them. And poof – skepticism starts dissolving. It’s just basic human psychology, and it works across the board on everyone.

On the very surface this could look like a marketing trick. But it’s not a trick, because your testimonials are going to be based on real people’s experiences. You’re not making things up here. Whatever objection your testimonial addresses, it’s a safe bet to say it’s a common experience for your readers. Generally, most objections fall into the category of “the human condition.”

And because of that, what we’re also doing while we address skepticism is we’re making your customers relatable. To the reader, your customers are people like them, and we’re reinforcing that. So whether your objection is something is as strong as “I swore I’d never buy another Microsoft product after the last time” or something as bland as “I had no idea if this thing would help,” we’re presenting something that resonates with the reader. And resonating with the reader is a key part of building trust.

So that’s the first part of good testimonials. Address objections and skepticism so that you’re creating relatability for the reader. If you don’t have any testimonials that do that, you can also swing it by incorporating personal details about the person giving the testimonial to create contextual clues. If you’re selling that whitening toothpaste, a testimonial that begins with “I’ve been a smoker for 25 years” will make the reader automatically imagine the objection that’s present there. That smoker has a big problem to solve, and it’s unclear whether the toothpaste will be up to the task.

Now, let’s talk about the second important part of conversion-oriented testimonials – the buyer experience.

This is pretty simple. What we’re looking for here is language that explains something that happened behind the scenes. If you walked into a salon and your hair was a mess, and when you walked out you looked like you could steal somebody’s husband with your sexy new hairdo, we kind of want to know what happened in between point A and B. How did this magic happen?

This touches on two elements important to the buyer. First, they want to know what to expect. If they read that when you went into the salon, someone took you through a lookbook of styles, or they asked you what was important to you, or they really took their time on that back part of your hair that always causes trouble, that’s important behind the scenes information.

They want some information about how the process works. It just makes people more comfortable to get a better picture of the process, not only for their own peace of mind but to be able to see that some real person out there had a real experience. And if they’re in the state of mind where they’re imagining the experience is their own, they’re going to have something to look forward to. Reading something like “I thought the people in this salon were going to rush me through, but I was really impressed with how they took their time” is going to sway them.

The second element here is that people really like gossip. They like to hear some kind of juicy details, even if it’s about something inane or unimportant. They need to have the experience fleshed out for them. So to hear the part about how the hairdresser walked you through a lookbook, or managed to wrangle your embarrassing cowlick … well, it’s just something to sink their teeth into.

And this is exactly why pandering testimonials don’t work. If you read “I was thrilled to consult with Naomi and Dave on my launch – they’re the dreamiest and the bestest people ever!!!” you’ve got nothing to sink your teeth into. It’s just sizzle without the steak. But if you hear “Naomi really helped me calm the hell down about my launch” or “Dave walked me through the copy for my sales page and fixed the stupid mistake I made in my headline without making me feel like an idiot”, now you’ve got something.

So that’s the second part of a good testimonial – detail on the buyer experience. This is usually where the objection gets reversed, and the details important to the buyer come out.

And now we come to the third part of the conversion-oriented testimonial: The end state.

Here’s where we basically communicate some kind of happy ending. Maybe it’s a concrete happy ending, like “and then my teeth were whiter than they’d been in years” or “my income went up so much this year I bought my mother a car.” (That last one was actually one of our testimonials for a coaches’ course we ran years ago. The weird thing was it was from an artist, not a coach. Well, she became a coach for artists after that course, but still. Weird. But happy ending? Check.)

The end state can also include a message from the customer to other potential customers as well as the seller. This is where you see things like “Thank you, Sarah – your catering really saved what would have been an otherwise drab Christmas party,” or “If you’re looking for a acupuncturist who understands people with arthritis, then Jim is the guy for you.” These types of closes can do a lot to tip people over the edge.

Ok, we’ve covered a lot so far, so we’re going to do a bit of a recap so that when you’re working on getting your own testimonials, you know what kind of information you should be gathering. Ideally you’ll make your own template for people to fill out, with specific questions, and we’ll give you some ideas here that you can use for your own.

But first, the recap. Testimonials are not complex or intimidating. They really come down to three things, which we’ll call before, during and after.

Before is “What life was like before I handed you money.”

During is “What you gave me in return when I handed you money.”

After is “What is different now that this whole party is over.”

If you’ve gone through Month 3, the sales page Class Pack, you’ll have fleshed out a lot of what that could look like for a customer already. Now we’re just getting it in their own words.

So let’s give you a little bit of specific guidance on the kinds of questions you can ask while you’re soliciting testimonials from customers.

In the before stage, you’re going to be looking for answers to questions like these:

  • What was your situation like before you bought this? How bad was it? What problems were you facing?
  • How did that situation make you feel?
  • What made you consider buying this when you did?
  • What were some of your concerns or worries about buying this? What were you afraid of?
  • What were you hoping would happen when you bought this?
  • Why did you choose to buy from me (instead of someone else)?
  • How did you find us?
  • What made you trust us?

Now, when you get to the during stage, you’ll be asking questions like these:

  • What was the experience like working with us or using the thing you bought?
  • What were some highlights of that experience?
  • What concerns or worries were taken care of?
  • What specific services did we do for you, or what specific things did the product do for you?
  • What was different about this experience compared to other experiences you’ve had in the past?
  • What pleasantly surprised you?
  • What was most satisfying about the experience?
  • Would you consider making this purchase again, and why?

Finally, when you get to the after stage, you can ask questions like these:

  • What concrete results did you get?
  • How do you feel about your results?
  • Who would you recommend this to?
  • Do you have a personal message you want the seller to see?
  • What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
  • What other things are different, or what’s changed?
  • What negative issues are solved or gone forever?
  • What does your future look like now that this has happened?

So, those are some of the general types of questions you can ask your customers to get testimonials that have potential for conversion. You’ll want to tailor them to your industry or your customer type, and remember that the questions themselves are there to serve those three primary objectives: to reduce skepticism, to describe the buyer experience, and to describe the end state. The more detail you can get around that, the better they will be at converting readers into customers and multiplying the results you get with your launch.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk just a little bit more on how to go about getting the testimonials in the first place.

First, start asking. This is usually the hardest part, because until you get used to it, asking for testimonials can be scary. But it’s only scary because it feels like people are going to get weirded out if you ask them for a testimonial. That’s not true.

Yes, if someone has had a rather lackluster experience, it’s going to be weird getting a testimonial from them. If it’s been forever since they made their purchase, it might be a little awkward touching base after all that time. So it’s ideal to try and get them soon after they made their purchase, because the experience is fresh in their mind and they’re in a great mood, but no one is going to slander you on Facebook because you asked for a testimonial. So don’t go in imagining it has to be scary. The worst you’ll get is a no, or a non-response.

So we want you to assume that people are okay with giving a testimonial whether you initiate the process or they give you positive feedback some other way.

So when someone says, unsolicited, that the experience they had with you was great, that’s your cue to say “Yeah? Can I get a testimonial?” Personally, if I know someone well I’ll say, “I’ll be expecting a glowing testimonial about that.” It’s fine. It’s expected. Ebay has conditioned this generation of internet goers to assume that a testimonial is expected. People rarely do it unsolicited – they’re too busy thinking about them to think about you and your future sales. But if they’re asked, they’ll almost always give.

If I say on the phone that I’d love a testimonial, I’ll follow up with an email that says something like, “We’re making some updates on the site. I’d love to get that glowing testimonial we talked about.” Saying the updates thing gives a reason for the request to occur now. I’ll also add “If you have no idea what to say, I can shoot you over a template of questions and stuff that might make it a little less like blank page syndrome.”

You can also just make it part of your general sales process. A certain length of time after purchase, you touch base with them and let them know you’re looking for any good testimonials, and you’d love it if they could give you one. You could do this via email, regular mail, a phone call. Some people will say yes. And the people who don’t say yes will either give you a polite no or never return your message.

But in general, you have to expect and assume testimonials are forthcoming by people who like to talk about their positive experiences, just like you like to talk about your positive experiences.

You have to assume they’re out there for the having. You have to feel entitled to them. Not so that you can act entitled – that’s the fastest way to make sure you won’t get them – but so you will feel confident and not get all weird thinking that you’re bugging them. I promise, one request isn’t bugging. Ebay bugs them a lot more than you do.

So that’s what we have for this Launch Multiplier. Now you know how to get testimonials that tip those “almost buyers” into the “very nice people who sent me money” zone.

Thank you so much for being here with us today. I’m Naomi from IttyBiz and you have been listening to the BIG LAUNCH launch multipliers, Getting Great Testimonials. I’ll talk to you very soon.

(Thanks for reading!  For future updates on Freebie Fridays and lots of other good stuff, sign up for our newsletter and free marketing courses below.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

What Should You Wear To Work?

Last year, we implemented a dress code at the office.

(OK, I implemented a dress code at the office. Plural is probably not appropriate here.)

I implemented a dress code and it had some cool effects and every now and again I think about writing an article about it. Then I read this article about what entrepreneurs should wear to work – and of course, as we all know, you’re only an entrepreneur when you are under 30 and attempting to sell software in California – and I thought, you know? Perhaps now is the time.

Because dressing up has provided values I couldn’t have expected – and no, Dave going on way more dates is not what I’m referring to – I want to propose the same idea to you. Kind of like A Modest Proposal for the office, except not satirically.

What if you dressed like a grown-up for work?

Major decisions should not be based on rebellion once you are past the age of 14.

It was fashionable for a while, and maybe it still is, to put the word “pajama” in your business name to show the world exactly how indie you were. It didn’t start that way, I don’t think. I think it started as a way for mommy bloggers to differentiate themselves, and “pajama” served as a handy word anchor to show, “Um, I’m at home? Like, in my house? Not at a workplace?”

After a while, though, it became a rallying cry.

It wasn’t, “I work from home” anymore.

It was, “I work from home, b****es! DO YOU SEE ME? Do you see me IN MY PAJAMAS?!?! Take THAT, corporate!”

Is it just me, or is that really juvenile?

“Nobody takes my work seriously!”

At the same time as everyone was burning their ties and pantyhose, it was (and definitely still is) very normal to complain that nobody takes an ittybiz seriously.

The neighbors ask the Very Serious Business Owner to collect their FedEx packages while they’re out because it looks like they’re not doing anything.

The PTA asks the Very Serious Business Owner to man the cookie booth because it looks like they’re not doing anything.

The partner, the mother, or the sister asks the Very Serious Business Owner to drop off the dry cleaning because it looks like they’re not doing anything.

We like to sit around with our ittybiz friends and complain that nobody takes us seriously, but we’re not exactly wearing the badges of people who take themselves seriously.

I don’t know, but it seems to me that if a person were wearing what they would wear to IBM, far fewer people would be asking that person to hang around waiting for the courier to show up. It wouldn’t drop to zero, no. But it wasn’t zero when you were working outside the home. Plenty of people make plenty of inappropriate requests of non-ittybiz owners, too.

“But I don’t even see anybody!”

Comparably, this is probably true. You don’t see the receptionist, or Brad in marketing, or your boss, or your boss’ boss. You don’t see the parking lot guy, or the client, or Linda from head office.

All of this is true.

But you do see the grocery store clerk and the coffee shop guy and, probably, the dry cleaner. You see the woman at those PTA things, and you see the mechanic, and you see the courier.

In my world, those people are not nobody. They’re potential clients and referrers. When you start looking at the world at large as a networking meeting rather than a forest full of nobodies, it’s amazing how dressing decently doesn’t seem like such a hardship anymore.

“But I’m so sick of wearing [suits / heels / bras / shirts]!”

Can I tell you something? Come real close so I can whisper.

Are you ready?

Sometimes I get sick of paying people.

It drives me nuts. I’ve been doing it for years, and honestly? Sometimes I get sick of it.

I get sick of washing dishes, I get sick of taking showers, and I get sick of vacuuming wood floors. (I got wood floors because I didn’t want to vacuum. Apparently, I have a tendency towards self-delusion.)

I get sick of flossing, and eating healthy food, and even unschooling. Sometimes I wish Jack would just go to school already.

There are lots of things we get sick of. That we are sick of them is not, in itself, is a good reason to stop doing them.

If we’re sick of something, the mature thing to do is analyze whether that something is providing value, whether the same value can be achieved another way, and whether the benefits outweigh the costs. “I hate it, therefore it has no value” is not a rational statement.

So where do we go from here?

At this point, some general advice would probably be in order.

1. Consider wearing something else.

You can wear whatever you like. You can wear whatever you like, you can wake up whenever you like, you can work wherever you like. Your choices are your own, and they always have been.

Even in corporate, you’re generally allowed tremendous freedom in what you wear. This isn’t IBM in the fifties. Nobody’s coming to your desk to measure your cuffs.

You’re allowed to do whatever you want. It just might be a worthwhile idea to actually think of what the best thing to do is, rather than doing whatever the hell you feel like and then expecting it to be okay.

2. “But people shouldn’t judge me for what I wear!”

If you don’t like it when your teenage son shows up in hair down to his nose and a faded black hoodie, you judge people on what they wear. If you don’t like it when his girlfriend shows up in a skirt with less cotton than an aspirin bottle, you judge people on what they wear. If you don’t like it when your husband wears socks with sandals, or tucks his shirt in, or doesn’t tuck his shirt in – congratulations! You judge people on what they wear.

You judge, they judge. It’s okay. We’re all friends here. But friends don’t let friends delude themselves. No, people shouldn’t judge you for not brushing your teeth for fourteen straight months, either – hey, it’s your mouth and you can do what you want with it – but they do judge, and they always will.

3. What rules do you expect other people to follow?

Unless you’re a celebrity under the watchful eyes of the paparazzi, no one is really giving a second thought to the particular clothes you are wearing. They’ll only notice if something is amiss. (Dave always says things like this are like plumbing – you only notice it when there’s a problem.)

Imagine you walked into a building where someone was professionally engaged in the same strata of pursuit as you. (In other words, if you’re a coach, compare yourself to a psychologist, not a sculptor.). What general standards would you expect that kind of professional to meet?

4. Would YOU take you seriously?

Now imagine that you’re in a lineup of 5 other people who do the same thing you do. Take how you’re dressed on your average Tuesday and imagine they are, as the saying goes “dressed for success”. Would you take yourself seriously as a contender? We’re not asking if you’d outshine them, we’re asking if you’d look like you’re phoning it in. To use the coaching example, do you look like a coach, or do you look like the coach’s cleaning lady?

5. Have you tried it another way?

“But I work fine in pajamas! I’m perfectly productive! That’s just the way I am!” is a common refrain, and it may have validity. But until you’ve tried it another way – and truly tried it – you don’t know if you’re most productive in pajamas. And doesn’t your ittybiz deserve you at your most productive?

It’s your business and you can run it any way you want to. If you’re experiencing all the success you ever dreamed of, and you get to do it looking like you just rolled out of bed ten minutes ago, then more power to you. But if you could use something to take things up a notch or two, dressing for work and seeing what it does for your ittybiz wouldn’t hurt.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.