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The Simple Power of Asking

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

What is asking? It is a simple act of putting together a query in order to obtain the answer. Whether you get an answer or not depends on how a question has been framed and asked.

Ask

Image used with permission

Asking has an awesome power, yet it is one of the most unused methods of advancement.

When you enter the blogging world, there are lots of things which you might want to know. You can get them by just asking. Still, most people avoid doing that: they try to get all the answers by themselves.

Asking in practice

When I started my new blog, I started to look for guest post opportunities and my first guest post What you can take from your Blog’s Worst Day got published on ProBlogger.

I created a draft and send it for consideration. I waited for the next 15 days to get a response to my email, but one came.

I could have assumed this was a rejection but rather than leaving it, I decided to ask about it. I sent a note to ask if the post was still under consideration … and I was amazed to see the response.

“So sorry for my late reply, and thanks very much for following up with me, because I thought I’d responded to your email already! I enjoyed this piece and will be happy to include it on the site.”

Now I want you to take a moment and think: what you would have done in this situation? If you’d have asked in the same manner as I did, you know the power of asking.

If you think logically, you’ll know that posts can be overlooked at ProBlogger, where they might be receiving hundreds of emails daily. It might not be the same on a fledgling blog where there are hardly any emails.

The power of asking

Asking is a sign of courage and a sign that you are ready to learn. Every question demands a response, so it generates active communication.

All you have to do is ask. And ask is what people in best-practices cultures do—all the time.—Winning – The Answers, by Jack and Suzy Welch

Winning – The Answers, is really a great book. It focuses on global business practices, but who doesn’t consider blogging as a business? Jack and Suzy Welch have mentioned one more important point in the book: if you are asking your direct competitors, you are most probably not going to get the answer.

This is true in blogging world, too. If you are looking for the best practices, look at the blogs other than those in your niche, check what is working for them and ask if it can work for your blog.

If you think that it can work for your blog, then go ahead and ask how they are using the technique. Arund 99% time you will get an answer—they will be happy to show you how they have created their blogs.

You can do the same within your niche, but be prepared for lower response rates. Still, you will find some nice people who are ready to welcome a new blogger into the niche.

Ask for topics

What do your readers want? It’s always a mystery! What could be a better way than asking them directly?

Bloggers do run many polls on our blogs as a means to engage the readers. How about running a poll for your next topic? Ask what they want to read. You may end up writing on each topic mentioned in the poll, but a poll can help you give priority to certain topics.

It also does one more thing: it engages your readers for the future posts so they will be tempted to come back and check what you wrote about the topic they suggested.

Ask for friends

Darren mentioned in 31DBBB that you need to find a blogging buddy, but what if you don’t have anybody close to you who can be your buddy?

Asking can help you find a friend or buddy. You can try asking some bloggers in your niche if they want to connect with you: just ask them. You might be surprised to see the responses. No, you might not get many responses, but you do not need many buddies.

You need to make sure that your question is clear enough to convey the message properly. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you ask for a blog buddy:

  • Use open-ended questions to encourage conversations.
  • It should not be about me—it should be about them and what they will get.
  • Try to avoid trivial questions.
  • Try to avoid Yes/No type question, as they don’t generate an opportunity for conversation.
  • Give the person enough time to get an answer.

Ask

Asking is really easy and handy tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to ask with the intent of learning and improvement, not just for sake of it. People can feel your intent in your questions. So keep asking, and keep learning.

What was the last thing you asked for to help develop your blog? What happened when you asked? Share your experiences in the comments.

Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest eBook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the eBook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.

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Comments

  1. rahul says:

    This article should help in getting lots of comments and I totally agree with you should ask with the intent of learning and improvement, not just for sake of it which is very uncommon these day.

    • Sanjeev says:

      It is uncommon because it’s a human tendency to hide their weakness, asking is effective when we overcome that and ask for our improvement.

  2. Denys Yeo says:

    I agree, don’t hold back on checking things out: it is usually easy to do on line and doesn’t take up a lot of time. And often the reason something hasn’t happened is due to an “honest” mistake, and the person (or organisation) involved will usually appreciate being informed of the problem.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Yes, Most of the time it will be a honest mistake, main thing is not to fear of getting rejected as if you don’t ask you are taking that rejection.

  3. For my first guest post, I contacted the blog author on Twitter and told them that I’d be sending them an email with a guest post that I thought would benefit their readers. Then I sent the email.

    I got a response right away on Twitter that he had received my email and was looking it over, and then got a response by email that he’d be happy to share my post (and move it up in the queue because it was such high quality). Because I used a different medium to warn him out my impending email, I feel that warmed him up to the actual email.

    That initial contact also got him to check out my blog and include a teaser for my guest post in his weekly roundup and a link back to my blog (even though we’re in slight different niches). All around, a good strategy.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Absolutely, how you are asking is equally important. Most of the time new and innovative ways can give good responses (I like the idea about asking on twitter, can be used as long as we didn’t make it look like a spam).

  4. Wasim Ismail says:

    Hey if you don’t ask you don’t get. Whether your in sales, or looking to pitch sometiing, or any other line of business. You have to get out of your comfort zone and just ask the questions. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose – right.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Yup, nothing to lose and without asking anyhow we are losing, so why not ask and take a chance of getting it.

  5. True, we often assume things and are wrong (like you mentioned you thought your post had been rejected). Asking can make things a lot clearer!

  6. Totally agree with you, Sanjeev. It’s the most effective and simplest way to get others’ help.

    But for me personally, it is always good to give something in return or at least, show our commitments.

    For example, the iPad 2 giveaway that I am having over my site, it has been sponsored by a lot of WordPress theme developers. How I get those sponsors? I simply send them emails and ask them for helps to support my giveaway.

    And they are happy to help me by sponsoring some WordPress goodies like premium WordPress theme.

    To show my commitment and appreciation to them, I also sponsor ipad 2 as part of the gieaway. Reason why I put ipad 2 as the prize is because it will definitely give some buzz to the giveaway which indirectly bring more exposure to the sponsors.

    • Sanjeev says:

      That’s why I said it should be about them, not us, If you can show them what’s in it for them than it increases the chances of getting response highly.

  7. Tim says:

    I totally agree with Sanjeev, I’ve only done this sporadically on my own site but enough to noticed a distinct difference in response rate from readers just by doing what should be obvious in asking them to do something.

  8. Mark Aylward says:

    Sanjeev
    Well done!
    “Ask and yee shall receive”. Thanks for the perspective
    Mark

  9. The art of asking. I agree that this is very important in sales. You must ask to close the deal. Great article!

    • Sanjeev says:

      Art of asking is really important, we can’t complain of not getting anything if we have not asked it explicitly (we many not get even after asking too). In sales it is more important to ask for specific things and close the deal.

  10. Very true, you never know unless you ask! And often, you will be surprised by the answer.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Ohh Yes, Often we assume the answer and skip the asking part, but most of the time we would be amazed to know that our assumptions are wrong.

  11. Doctor Stock says:

    True… I’ve heard of this applied to sales too… or getting a deal. The difference is lack of face-to-face. So, let me ask… will you like me on Facebook please? :)

  12. It’s very true however some people are shy whenever they ask. I think that is why forums and blogs are essential tools for them so that they can just ask freely.

  13. Kari says:

    Asking is the only way you can know what other people are thinking, and to run a successful business you have to know what other people are thinking and what they want.

    I once heard about a woman (I’m going by memory here) who wanted to write a book but didn’t know what to write about, so she asked people what they were most interested in and the biggest answer was weight loss. So then she asked what part of their body they wanted to lose the weight on and they answered their thighs. She went on like this and wrote a very targeted ‘How To’ eBook that apparently made very good money. The point is that all she had to do was come up with the idea to write a book and asking did a lot of the work for her!

  14. I definitely agree with the motto “ask and you shall receive.” No one knows what you want unless you speak up.
    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

  15. Robby G says:

    Always know who you’re asking before you ask. If you’re more direct and familiar with the person that runs the site and you know what his trends and behaviors are like then everything becomes much more professional and shows that you know what you’re doing.

  16. Philip says:

    In that case…

    Would anyone care to read a frequently updated, Melbourne based blog on property investment/design/land releases? I would like to meet fellow blogging buddies, but they are hard to find!

  17. Elijah Clark says:

    great article, thanks for the info. i will def start to ask for more feedback on my blog

  18. Daniel says:

    I agree to a point.

    In the world of websites and blogs, there are some things you can ask and you would receive some helpful advice.

    There are other questions you may put forth, and in those cases a direct answer would not be forthcoming.

    I have asked a few questions(On certain websites) regarding site issues I was experiencing at that time,

    Yet I never had any responses.

    These questions were what you would expect some sort of response to on most sites.

  19. Faizan Elahi says:

    Excellent article. In my case, I recently asked for a premium plugin in return for a review and I received a positive response ! Asking can do wonders and there is no harm in it.

  20. Switch says:

    My grandmother always used to say “Ask for what you want, the worst thing that anyone can say is NO!” and life goes on…I really like the article. I’m not sure how no one caught the typo on the 7th line though (should be none instead of one). Hahaha my guess is that everyone skimmed through it and had an idea what you were trying to say from your title.

  21. naijadotcom says:

    Its very important to ask questions as you will always go ahead and be alot wiser,just by simply asking.

  22. Of course we need to ask. Most of the important things that happened to me in my life are the things I asked for. Sometimes we have to bottle up that fear an apprehension and just ask for what we want. It’s sometimes necessary to ask only because we want something. There’s no shame in this. There’s always something we can do for someone else. One day the person who did the favour may need our help.

  23. Katie Hozan says:

    Great article. I like how you show that something simple such as “just ask” was translated into such high success. You’re right though! If you don’t ask you’ll never know! Just be confident and patient – your true intentions will shine through.I’m going to share this article with younger members of our chapter who are more intimidated to ask professionals.

  24. Totally true. I’ve actually been blow away by how many times people in the blogging world say yes when you ask rather than no! It keeps me always asking, and the fear of rejection has gone way down.

  25. Ahh this is something quite close to my heart. As a copywriter I am always banging on about having a call to action as part of any marketing activity. It’s simply a matter of asking your audience to do something whether it’s responding to a question, or signing up to your blog or calling you for more information.

    While it might *seem* obvious you want a response, your audiences brain is already moving on to the next thing! A little jog-along never hurts your cause.

  26. In blogging, like in life, so many times things don’t happen or they fall apart because people don’t just ask or state what they want, thanks for the insightful post.

  27. Drewry says:

    and sometimes, it’s good to ask yourself in practice, while talking to yourself and acting out the situation, before presenting it to the person or people you want to ask :-)

  28. Drewry says:

    ask and ye shall receive :-)

  29. Asking with the intent to learn and to improve or asking to shed a light on the other person is the winning attitude. The answer is a bonus. But it is in the asking that we move ourselves forward.

  30. Stephanie says:

    I enjoyed this piece! The only unanswered question is the one not asked!

  31. jackalopekid says:

    A great reminder on sometimes all we have to do is ask.

  32. James Greg says:

    I guess it is all the best to ask. I’m waiting for a reply from an employer and I guess I’ll ask them now. Reading this post made me realize I should ask rather than wait endlessly.

  33. Morgan says:

    I used to be afraid to ask, until I started asking and realized that the worst that could happen would be denial. :)

    It’s important to realize that most people WILL NOT come up with the question or the solution until YOU ask. I’ve realized that just by asking a question, it has opened up more doors for me than I have ever imagined.

    Asking truly is an awesome power. :)

    Thanks for the article!

  34. Musa says:

    It’s an amazing thing but we should put practical use to the teaching “Ask and ye shall receive.”

    Thank you for this update.

    - Musa

  35. Matt says:

    Hey Darren, this blog title caught my attention and I was wondering if throughout your experience blogging have you found any free niche generator? Or a any good ways of finding profitable niches?

    Keep up the good work! I seem to be finding all my blogging/adsense information from you!

  36. Sof says:

    This is a small article, yet very powerful. Sometimes people confuse asking with begging, and so they are very unwilling to ask anybody for anything. And no wonder, they finally fail to succeed in what they are willing to achieve, because without asking one becomes isolated, and success is all about interaction with others.

  37. Grady Pruitt says:

    If you don’t ask, the answer is no. If you do ask, the answer might still be no. Or it could be maybe. Or not right now. Or even yes. Those last three could be the opening you need. But you won’t know if you don’t ask.

    Great post!