Don’t be afraid to ask a question?
If you don’t ask, then you already know the answer. It is no.
If a baby cries, they are asking for something, and the answer would rarely be no. If they are hungry, they ask for food in their inimitable way, and the answer will mostly be yes. If they cry, then they are asking for attention. Sometimes, much to their displeasure, the answer will be no. They probably already knew that but considered it was worth a shot. At other times, their tired parents may just give in. The baby has asked the question and this time has got the attention. The baby asked the question and got a yes.
After this baby stage, people are generally taught not to ask for things. Many of us were brought up to be grateful for what we had. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. Humility and lack of greed are good things.
Sometimes you just have to ask a question
However .. sometimes there comes a time when you need to ask for things, to stand up and take a chance. You already know, that if you don’t ask then the answer is already, no, so if you do ask and the answer is still no, well at least you tried.
We all know that asking for something does force us out of our comfort zone, there is no doubt about it. Many of us don’t like the idea of rejection. Asking a question, could mean that someone may validate your fears by actually saying no, and this is too much.
In this travel writing business – asking questions is vital
There is no denying that this is a business and a hard one. It is also highly competitive, and one where we need to ask a lot of questions. We ask our peers, and we ask questions of businesses that we believe will add to the quality of what we offer to our readers.
What is much harder when starting out is asking for something in the first place. It may be as simple as asking a question on a forum that you know full well that most other people know the answer to. Do you ask and feel insecure because others may think you are not up to scratch? Or do you ask away, get a solution and move ahead? If you don’t ask, you won’t get the answer, or waste so much time finding it yourself, when a quick question would have given you a positive result.
Say no to bullying – cyber and real life
On a slight tangent, but still applicable. Many travel writers are in various groups developed to support one another in growth and development. These forums are to answer questions, no matter how trivial, and 99% of the time, these are amazing to be a part of.
The other 1% is when you see people bullying others. This is when people feel intimidated to ask a question for fear of being ridiculed, which is a form of bullying. I don’t get this. I dealt with this at school, and now I see grown-ups doing it. As with what we told our students, either stand up for yourself, report the bully, or in my Dad’s own immortal words, ‘unknow the bully’.
Bullying in real life or in the cyber world is never ok.
When you are trying to grow your business, you need to have some street cred to continue to grow and become a valuable writer to your readers.They need to know that you offer something that they need. This means that you need to ask for things.
This is where you need to be very clear with what you are asking for. Why you are asking for it, what are your expectations, what can you deliver to them and your audience, and in communicating very clearly about how you will work together. It is all about ROI for the companies and your readers, and to your business.
How I started to ask questions
When I started, I was brazen and went straight to the top and asked if could I write for some of the big guns. Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog allowed me to write for him, and I will remain grateful to him always. If I hadn’t have asked, then of course the answer would have been no. I asked Dave and Deb and ThePlanetd and Dave of Dave’s Travel Corner, and they also said yes. Not only that, but they also provided advice for newcomers to this field of travel writing, by providing guest posts on my baby site. Again, if I hadn’t have asked, then the answer would have been no. I feel very indebted to them for their generosity. I did approach some others, and their answer was no. That is part of the risk that you take in asking a question. Sometimes a yes, and sometimes a no.
When we first started pitching to companies, it was super stressful.
Many of us suffer from what is called the ‘fraud or imposter syndrome’ where we don’t think that we are good enough.
I attached a link to an article that says that this syndrome is more common in high achieving women. Go figure.
When we got our first job in Switzerland, we did feel like frauds or imposters. When you think about this is ridiculous. We both have University degrees and Masters degrees and have worked for a long time, so we have a very substantial curriculum vitae. However, we did a very good job and felt validated when we got asked back, and when another tourism board contacted us to work with them, based on this gig. We felt even more validated when our readers asked us more about it and for further information on traveling there.
We are now a lot more confident in our own abilities. We know that we offer is a valuable and valued service. We know that we are professional and we always deliver quality.
Asking however, is still difficult. It will never change. However, asking can lead to so many yes answers, and this for us as travel writers, means that we can bring rich content to our readers.
Ask me anything. I will probably not say no.
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