Your Ask is a comparatively small call to action you put at the end of every piece of content after you provided value. It is not limited to money. You can ask for feedback, for ideas, for showing up, for considering sharing. At the Salon, we discussed the topic with a wonderful crew of 14+ Knowledge Entrepreneurs.
A big shout out already to Max who added so much value with his initiative to create a Google Doc with running notes during the event 🙌 This not only helps me a ton for doing the write-up, it also saved amazing insights that I overlooked in the heat of moderating the Salon.
Your Ask is not promotional but fundamental to make your expertise sustainable
Right from the start, we surfaced a fear that many creators have. Isn't asking for something promotional? How would the world look like if everyone would do this? Be open to update your mindset. As a creator, you are providing value with your expertise. The foundation for almost everything we do is an underlying value exchange. This is obvious in our jobs, where we can only focus on expertise when we get remunerated enough to make a living.
Humans live in groups and we constantly try to surround ourselves with people that could fit our tribe. Nobody wants to be around people who are constantly taking. So we apply this standard to others and also to ourselves. We do have a strong urge to never become that person that only takes. So also see it from the other side. If you don't include Your Ask, your audience won't know how to return the favor.
Only one example for providing value — take notes
Massimo surprised us with a great example of how to provide value at a Zoom event like this. He put a document in the chat where he would take notes of the event and invited other participants to add their own. As I was busy moderating I only noticed this initiative in passing. After the Zoom call, I left without saving the chat and so I reached out to Massimo. When he sent me the link to the document I was so happy to see the results. He not only took notes but also structured the document.
Now while we're at it, I would strongly advise Max to include a small ask for me and the other participants. For example, he could invite me to share a link to a blog post that includes the notes he created. That way we would not only got value out of the notes but also had a chance to consider other content from his blog.
Always include your ask, also when you are starting out
Alisa asked a wonderful question: when starting as an entrepreneur, at what point should you start including Your Ask in your work? I'd strongly advise you to start right away. Including Your Ask is a habit that every creator should develop as soon as possible. The question is not when to start but rather what to ask for. And when you start you ideally ask for small actions instead of money.
Dylan felt relieved not to be constrained on money as Your Ask. Especially when starting feedback, ideas, or answers to questions can be much more useful and motivating than financial returns.
Ziga shared how he was very transparent with his audience that he would eventually turn his newsletter into a business. Creators may feel guilty to engage with an audience and then suddenly ask for money in return. Transparency can help but also keep in mind that everyone has to make a living, so I don't see any problem in asking. As long as you don't demand (explicitly or implicitly) to engage with Your Ask, I don't see a problem to lead with value and only ask for something in return at the end.
Asking to share your work is a big ask
What are examples of asks that creators put to their audience? Mark made it a habit to ask his audience to share his content with friends. This is a good example of how an ask does not have to be about money while still provide large value to a creator. Growing an audience takes time and asking for support from your audience is crucial.
Even if it may not feel like this but asking your audience to share your content on your behalf is a rather big ask. It puts the responsibility for the quality of your content on them. Make this ask a part of your repertoire but don't take it lightly. Ask only explicitly after being sure that you provided a lot of value.
Time is valuable but generally not part of your ask
We discussed whether the time and attention of your audience, for example, to read your newsletter, should also be regarded as part of your of ask. Though I am very sympathetic to this reasoning I advise you to be careful with such a mindset. All your content should be created in a way that respects the time and attention of your audience. Still, even the most valuable products or services do require time investment from the receiver. Time should only become part of your ask if you have doubts about the value you provide, for example when getting feedback on a very new product.
Your Ask is a subtle curation system for your audience
The mindset of asking is a great way to get familiar with another fundamental principle. Don't persuade others to see the value in what you do. Rather create in public and attract the people that see the value in what you have to offer. Grow a beautiful audience that has no doubts to get value from your creation. To do this there have to be systems to weed out people who don't get enough value from you to be a good fit. Your Ask is a great system to do this. It will only appear annoying or unwarranted to those people who don't get value from what you created. So by routinely including Your Ask you put up a subtle system to curate your audience.
Put yourself in the shoes of a kind audience
Shay invited us to put ourselves in the shoes of the other side. Creators are often overly critical of their work and the value it provides. Switching perspectives can help. If you receive something valuable, don't you want to return the favor? See Your Ask as an invitation for those people who got value from your work and are already looking for ways to engage.
Vary your ask frequently
Keep your ask interesting and effective by changing it a lot, ideally each time. Seeing the same ask, again and again, is not only annoying, but it also reveals that you couldn't pay attention to them as an individual.
If someone engaged in your last ask, what is the point of asking the same thing again? If they did not engage, it probably wasn't a good fit. Some people like to share your work, some don't. Some people spend money easily, some don't. Some people like to give feedback, some don't. Varying your ask gives everyone a chance to engage at some point.
As usual, a small group remained more than 30 minutes longer in the call and continued the discussion. This Salon was another great example of how a conversation with a diverse group of people that share a common goal creates amazingly valuable insights 🌟
Consider joining us some time 👋
PS: This time I invited the audience to add a short intro of what they do in the chat and found it so rewarding that wrote a small article about it.