How To Ask For What You Want

I live by the philosophy of why pay for something when you can get it for free? After all, it’s not what we make that’s important, it’s what we keep that matters. Over the years, I’ve received over $100K of free stuff. How did I do it? I asked for it.

You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

The first rule to getting what you want is to ask for it. However, most people don’t do this. You don’t ask, you don’t get. I guess for many people, it’s better not to ask than it is to ask and get rejected. If you ask and get rejected, you’re not worst off than before. I don’t like getting rejected either but that’s no excuse for not asking.

I used that mentality during IZEA Fast when I asked Neil Patel for a Macbook Air. He asked why I needed one and I explained to him that it would be for my wife. She has a 17″ laptop and I was tired of carrying that around during our trips. He thought for a few seconds and then said, “OK.” You don’t ask, you don’t get.

Do not let the possibility of rejection prevent you from asking for what you want. Have you ever seen a super hot girl with an average looking guy and wondered how the hell he pulled that off? Chances are he was the only one who asked her out because everyone else was too scared to.

The most common sales and marketing mistake is not asking for the sale. The sale rep can do every other step right but the customer will walk out the door because the rep forgot to ask for the sale. Like a guy asking a girl out, many people in sales are scared to ask for the sale and as a result, ends up with no sale.

Asking for what you want is just the first step. The second step is figuring out the best way to ask.

How To Ask The Right Way

A while back, a couple of friends wanted to attend Ad Tech San Francisco but didn’t want to pay the nearly $2,000 it takes to get a full conference pass. Since both friends ran blogs, I told them to email Ad Tech for a press pass. The friend with the bigger blog applied and was rejected. The friend with the smaller blog got approved within an hour of sending the email.

Why was the bigger blog rejected and the smaller blog approved? The answer becomes clear once you read the emails each site wrote. Here is an excerpt from the bigger blog.

I was hoping I could receive a free press pass to the San Francisco Ad:tech conference. I am a web entrepreneur and blogger, and would be covering the event from my popular blog which has an RSS readership of over 1,400.

It will be my first conference ever attended, so I am a bit unsure as to how the process for press passes goes. Would I be correct so assume that it would be equivalent to the Full Conference Pass?

And here is an excerpt from the smaller blog.

Hello this is [insert name] from [insert blog] and I need a press pass to cover Ad:Tech. I was notified by ValueClick and Google about your show. They said we should check it out.

Our site covers [Insert fluff here]. See you in San Francisco.

The bigger blog made several mistakes. The first mistake was he wasn’t sure of himself. Instead of saying, “I need a press pass,” he was “hoping” he could receive one. His other mistakes were saying his blog was “personal” and admitting he was a trade show newbie.

It’s All About Posture and Control

In the PR business, perception is everything and service will always go to the site or blog that the PR rep perceived as better for the show. If you come across as unsure of yourself or on the verge of begging, you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t be getting an invite. The last thing a PR rep wants to deal with is an inexperienced newbie at her show.

It’s all about posture and control. If you wanted to be treated like a somebody, then you have act like a somebody. While it might seem the best way to go about asking for something is to be really nice about it, in real life, being nice usually puts you in last place. This is not to say that you should be a mean bitch. That would be stupid. What it does mean is you should project an image of good posture and control.

When I want something, I assume the position that I am going to get it. Instead of asking, can you, would you or could you, I like to say I require, send it to, put the following names on the party list. People like to see confidences. It’s a natural magnate. An email that display it will always be put in front of an email that is timid.

91 thoughts on “How To Ask For What You Want”

  1. Graham Lutz says:

    I think this may be the way to do it when looking for guest blogging opportunities. You would have to be a bit more tactful, but use the same force and posture in the approach.

    Great post!

    1. Ask and you shall receive. It’s as simple as that.

      1. d3so says:

        This is a very strong tactic. I myself have also gotten a bunch of free stuff and products I’ve wanted just by reaching out. You need a bit of credibility and status though.

        1. Credibility and status isn’t as big a part of it as is confidence. I’ve seen many people bluff their way through things beautifully only because they exuded confidence in what they were doing.

          Confidence in *anything* someone does can be a deal breaker. If you are even slightly unsure or show reticence it can mean failure. A person with confidence will always get a better response, more attention and a better result every time.

    2. Hi Graham,

      I agree and this is the approach that I used to get a guest post right here on John’s blog.

      Prior to making my living online, I was the CEO of a offline biz that I started and in that role one of my chief responsibilities was landing new clients. The “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” rule definitely applied!

      I now adopt that rule in the emails I send out to my list. At first, I was taking a softer approach like “you might want to check this out…” and now its “this is something that any niche marketer can’t live without….”

      The latter converts better.


      1. Graham Lutz says:

        Trent – I’ve been enjoying your insights since I saw your guest post on here. I am putting together a few products and a plan to get some excitement going around them with guest posts.

        That makes sense with the email list – too many come that sound wishy washy and those don’t convince me of anything!

        I look forward to seeing your work progress – You’re doing some cool stuff. Keep it up.

    3. Make Money says:

      I just ask and make sure that anything and everything I do follows their requirements.

  2. Graham Lutz says:

    BTW, why did you pick him to ask for a MacBook Air? Did he have extras lying around?

    1. John Chow says:

      Neil got his MacBook Air for free and I figure he might be able to get another one. 🙂

      1. Graham Lutz says:

        John – My wife is going back to school to become a nurse and she also needs a computer. Can I have your MacBook Air to give to her?

        1. Graham Lutz says:

          That would lend some serious credibility to this post.

          1. PPC Ian says:

            Haha! I love it. Hope this works. 🙂

        2. Graham you learn quite fast … Lollzzz

          1. Graham Lutz says:

            I’m a model student! …and still waiting to hear from John.

          2. Graham … Keep waiting lolzz

          3. Abhik says:

            Some people are born learner :p

        3. I doubt you’ll get that.

          1. Abhik says:

            Me too 😀

      2. Typo alert John, I think you meant Neil Patel not Petal (see above).

        Geez. I’m saving for a MacBook Air too, who to ask? 😉

      3. Kutun says:

        How to get MacBook Air for free ?

        1. Abhik says:

          Go and ask your local dealer..

      4. Kevin Kimes says:

        Let me know where I should send the address for you to ship the MacBook. It is for my fiancee who will soon be in America for the first time, it will be a great a welcoming gift.

        I’ll owe you a favor.

        Thanks in advance,
        Kevin Kimes

        1. Graham Lutz says:

          …bastard… 🙂

          1. Make Money says:

            I could definitely use one! ;-P

  3. David Hodge says:

    With a press pass you can get in anywhere even tourist spots etc
    i have used them in the past but they have a expiry date

  4. John Chow Mein, you got nuts…You really asked for a MacBook? On a more serious note, even the scripture says, ask and it shall be given to you. If you do not ask, you will never know the out come should you have asked. That is extremely sad than being rejected for asking, after all, you are certain of the outcome with the latter.

    Now, how you ask is also crucial as you pointed out. Asking with Confidence helps a lot. Good Post!

    1. Kevin Kimes says:

      Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given to you…”

      But, don’t forget Luke 6:38. “Give, and it will be given to you.”

      1. james says:

        Yes, i am already loving this biblical quote.

    2. PPC Ian says:

      I agree! Really great post. These tips are very actionable, thanks John!

  5. fazal mayar says:

    nice stuff, its like this, if you dont act in real life you get nothing. If you dont ask, you dont get what you would want either!

    1. Make Money says:

      I ask every now and again and sometimes I get what I ask for while other times I don’t….hit or miss I guess ;-P

  6. Louie Sison says:

    That means credibility, authority, guts and nuts… Awesome post sir.

  7. Enkay Blog says:

    Hey John, Good to be back on your blog again reading your posts. Sounds like a great thing and I will once again second it that when you ask, you receive. Will do a follow up post to this very soon! Thanks

  8. Kevin Kimes says:

    This post is brilliant philosophy. I’ve learned this concept to a lesser degree over the last several years. Here is an example:

    I was on vacation in a rented car. I’d rented the car in Washington to drive to Big Bear California and back, stopping at several places along the way.

    Somewhere along the way, a rear tire blew out while getting on the highway! What a hassle! I also found the car to be very, very uncomfortable to drive long distances (Mercury Grand Marquis).

    After the time in Big Bear, I dreaded driving that trap all the way back to Washington. I wanted to fly back instead. The rental companies really like to tack on huge fees for leaving a car so far from it’s origination.

    I called the rental company and pleaded with them to let me return it at the airport without an extra fee. They said no, it would cost $xxx.

    I called another location of theirs a few minutes later and informed them that I needed to return the car to the airport, that I no longer felt safe after the tire blowout, and said I expect not to pay any extra fee for not returning it to Washington. They said they were so sorry for the hassle and of course I could return it to the airport with no extra fees.

    Being assertive and confident saved me several hundred dollars.

    The additional lesson here is you don’t even have to be afraid of asking a SECOND TIME after being rejected the first!

    1. Make Money says:

      People respect and believe people that are a little more stern. Let’s face it, everyone tries to play the woh is me card and it gets old. Someone looks at you and seems serious you start to consider the options a little more!

  9. PPC Ian says:

    I’m very impressed! Over $100k of free stuff? That’s unreal! I better start asking. Thanks for tips.

    1. Yes Ian we all know you and you rarely demand for anything …. We noticed that here at John chow.

    2. $100K of free stuff is pretty impressive. I once won a MacBook air and a bunch of other stuff that came to about $5,000 in prizes.

    3. John how do you calculate the value of those gifts.

      1. I assume he does it with a calculator.

    4. Make Money says:

      I would be happy for $10,000 worth of free stuff at this point!

  10. Thanks John, hope it helps

  11. Huh, well you make perfect sense. I know I attempt to be a little too nice in my emails quite often. Maybe I should be more direct 🙂

  12. Swamykant says:

    Great post John 🙂

  13. Mate Hegedus says:

    The most important point to remember is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

  14. John we all know your policy and the way you follow it.

    Your all presence of events say that.

    1. “Your all presence of events say that.”

      I’m not understanding that one at all?

      1. Go and see all those videos of events where John present and you will inderstand …. Remember Free beer

      2. Kevin Kimes says:

        It seems like a English as not-first-language issue. For some cultures, English is the one of the hardest new languages to learn.

  15. Great advice. I’ve done exactly that in the past, and haven’t paid for a conference pass in quite awhile. 🙂

    1. Graham Lutz says:

      With a name like Zander Chance, you should get everything free, all the time.

  16. Geiger says:

    John, this is Geiger from and I need you to publish the guest post that I emailed you because it will benefit your readers.

    Our site covers various topics related to technology, web development and marketing. See you on the net!

    Jason D. Geiger (John Chow SUPER FAN)

  17. fas says:

    John, I need your old iPads right away. Please courier them to me. See them soon in my mailbox.

    1. You forget to provide the postal address … My friend.

      1. fas says:

        That I will give John when he emails me after he has packed them up :p

  18. I think I’d like that ZR1 you blogged about a while ago. Please send it to me.

    1. John now we are keeping our eyes on everything about which you posted here.

  19. Logo guru says:

    nice stuff, I like this, if you dont act in real life you get nothing. If you dont ask, you dont get what you would want either! Really something that i can note.
    Thank’s again

  20. Dave Drew says:

    If you don’t ask, you can’t have. That’s always been my motto.

    It’s also a numbers game too. You’re only going to get so many yeses, but you have to keep getting up to bat to get em. Perseverance.

    I have to think that being in your position, you probably get a lot more yeses than the average person. Oh, you’re John Chow! Sure, here, take one. It’s on me.

    That’s gotta be a good feeling.

  21. Make Money says:

    I always try to be a littler assertive when I want something but in a manner that doesn’t come off as disrespectful. It has gotten me a lot further in life and has enabled me to make some pretty large deals in the past that have made me very happy!

  22. Hi John!
    About a year or so ago, I really wanted to promote a certain product, but couldn’t justify spending the money for it since we were on a “spending moratorium” here at the house… 🙂 Anyway, I got up the guts to email the owner of the product, and asked if I could have access to the product – even if only for about a week so that I could write with complete confidence and credibility about it – and to my amazement he said YES!

    I was so psyched, and to make things better, he gave me FULL access to 3 separate products! I was really proud of myself for having the guts to ask.

    Of course, I have also been turned down, but I’m definitely not afraid to ask now. I think part of it is my own integrity and the feeling that I want to be as credible and transparent as possible when I discuss something.

    By the way – I never knew that this was YOU when I see your “Tweets!” I actually read more about you just recently on an interview, so I really psyched to finally “meet” you here at your blog.

    Thank you for all the great info you put out there.
    🙂 Kath

  23. Great post. I completely agree with it because this kind of attitude has worked for me for a long time. People take you more seriously & see you as someone who isn’t afraid to ask for what they want. Even if they say no, they’ll appreciate the fact that you had the balls to ask them straight up.

  24. Kirk Taylor says:

    Great post! I’ve got a smile on my face right now, and am going to work….

    I’ve always thought you were extra bold, especially at conferences, now I know I’m too passive but not anymore….


  25. If you take no risks you get no rewards.

  26. Fusiondiary says:

    Asking for something is more difficult than giving away something, it will be interesting to read a post analyzing the reason for this (I mean much beyond the ‘confidence’ factor)

  27. excellent post John. valuable lessons learned from those 2 emails.

  28. Everyone feels guilt to ask something from others meanwhile if dn’t ask the things cannot be done

  29. Logo guru says:

    I agree! Really great post. These tips are very actionable, thanks John!
    Also Please notify me again when you write this kind of post to your blog.
    Thank you

  30. Sergio Felix says:

    Damn, I should’ve read this first before asking for the MacBook Air in the second post because I did not assumed I was going to get it. LOL

    Anyway, this is great info John, posture and control… will try to remember that!

  31. I always ask for free stuff I know I’m not the biggest blogger or affiliate out there but hey I won an Ipad & several other contests wordpress themes plugins etc. Ask for what you want and you will most likely get it. Great post John,

  32. Hi John,
    I remember that Market Leverage dinner after BlogWorld Expo 2008. I may be the poster child for giving because when Jim Kukral called my name, I said, “give the dinner with the Super Bloggers to someone else”. Jim was shocked at my response and after I realized what I had done I called Dave Cynkin and thankfully was able to restore my invitation. If I had not asked I would not have had the opportunity to meet you there.

    Respectfully, Nicholas Chase – future Super Affiliate

  33. says:

    “ASK and RECEIVE” – secret of life…
    great post John
    Thank you

  34. rick says:

    “If you wanted to be treated like a somebody, then you have act like a somebody.” Great quote. Many people don’t realize that they can control how other people perceive them.

  35. Henry says:

    This is a very creative piece. And many should learn from it.
    Thumbs up John and keep it coming

  36. Michael lee says:

    Hi John, great post, very valuable to many forms of blogs and websites. Im just 16 but ive set up and ive already recieved my first free product. Nothing too great, only £20 worth of products but its a start. Would be great to do a review on the macbook air if thats something that interests you.

    Ive got a growing traffic base, 1400 twitter folllowers and have just recieved 1000+ youtube subscribers as my friends channel went down. So i will do a video review as a plus and link back to your website.

    Have a nice day!

  37. ary says:

    This article is correct, many times I managed and succeed meeting top management in Oil and Gas Service Company to Vice President/Director, because I sent strong email yet friendly, not much boasting or giving doubtful posture, just be myself, at that time I was only a Sales Engineer, in Oil and Gas Industry business, the way you speak and approach makes a lot of difference, since this community is very exclusive.

  38. Matthew Loop says:

    So true, JC… Confidence is key and always assume the sale. No sense in going through the trouble of pre-framing any prospect if you’re not going to effectively close them.

  39. Abhik says:

    Over $100K in freebies? Man, that’s awesome.

  40. MustBuyDeal says:

    John, that’s a great article. It just goes to show you, even people with all the money in the world, still love to easily get stuff for free! Confidence and self-esteem can easily help you get lots of free things in this world.

  41. Posture & Control.

    I don’t know anyone who had weak posture or control.

    I don’t ask for permission to do a lot of things, and I shock
    myself when I get a lot of the things most people assume
    is impossible to get.

    I’ve asked for dates, money, sales, advice from wealthy ppl
    in different businesses…and if I don’t get it for FREE I get it
    at a huge discount.

    It takes confidence to not be afraid of getting shut down, and
    I found that even if someone says “No” the first time, they
    respect a person who had the guts to ask “anyway”. Those
    are the WINNERS in life.

    The only thing I hate about this blog John is that it’s “short” &
    I would have loved to read more examples and go in-depth
    not only on this blog post, but the second one you did…but it’s
    good either way.

  42. Bran says:

    Good point and well proven (by you, 100k). There was that research, Langer et al 1978, when you ask for something always add a “because X” to increase your chances. X can be anything.
    Can I have that seat, because its a lovely day”

  43. Hi! John,

    You’re absolutely right! Being confident and having backbone while asking for something you want is crucial. It just keeps doors open for you

    Great article!

  44. daisiping says:

    Hi! John Chow.
    This is first reply on your blog.
    This is a good question. I like it.
    This question will show up that person mind set is in positive or negative thinking.
    The success person have positive thinking.
    Even i know this answer, but myself almost time in negative thinking.
    thanks to refresh my thinking.

  45. toyo says:

    hi…it a useful article…thankyou for sharing. i will be back john

  46. No doubt this is a creative piece and there are impressive rules…

  47. Raylanding says:

    Outstanding post, Genius.. John Chow you are the Man of many talents,i am on your mailing list keep the great information coming.Your the Mentor to follow.Thank You!! P.S will be connecting back soon.

  48. Marcie says:

    This post was right on time for me. I realize that I am not generating the business I want because I don’t ask for it. Forget confidence, I just wasn’t asking. After reading this, I’m moving forward on a mission.

  49. Good thinking and i believe we should think first before we act.
    Thank you

  50. Great post John. A great insite into human nature. I’ll have to get out of my shell and start asking more. 🙂

  51. Forex News says:

    With a press pass you can get in anywhere even tourist spots etc
    i have used them in the past but they have a expiry date

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