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My First 100 Fans: How Did I Do It?

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by David Garland in David's Blog

This past week I spoke at this really cool event called Start St. Louis and one of the audience members asked me an interesting question:

“David, how did you get your first fans for The Rise To The Top?”

And what a FANTASTIC question that is. Sometimes we all get so hung up on the big numbers (like 250,000 viewers, 10,000 Facebook likes, 30,000,000 Twitter followers…whatever metrics we use) that we forget that most folks start with 0 (including me).

I didn’t come from some kind of special background with a built-in fan base (i.e., I wasn’t a famous author or TV host or doing something cool offline where folks knew me). When I started The Rise To The Top in 2008, I had ZERO fans (well, two…my parents).

In today’s DSG TV, I share with you the story of how I went from 0-100 fans (the first 100 is always critical).

And definitely let me know in the comments if you like this sort of “behind-the-scenes David chronicles” where I share with you guys VERY personal stories like this. I’ve got a TON more that I bet you will find interesting and learn something from (successes and failures).


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I use RISE partner LeadPlayer for DSG TV, which helps me build my list with video. Check ’em out here.


  1. David, great episode. Love hearing stories on how you got started. I think it’s really important for people to hear the beginning stages, so they know what you have now is really obtainable. Thanks for always posting great content!

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Absolutely. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Terry Lin says:

    A great way to hack your first 100 fans is to join a mastermind group or private forum. Most people are quite supportive if you find the right community of like-minded people and they can serve as your early catalysts, fans, guests, or people to potentially partner up with down the road.

  3. Are you kidding? Would I like more of this? Um, HELL’S YEAH!!!! I love watching all your stuff, but bringing it down to earth and breaking down how you first began is really invaluable (for me). Feels like someone is holding my hand through the process and I really appreciate it. Thank you. 🙂

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Awesome, Melissa. You got it 🙂 More to come!

  4. Steven Johnson says:

    I like the personal stories. Even though the numbers are smaller (100 fans vs 100,000) I think they are more inspirational. I think to myself, I can get to 100 Fans and the goal feels more attainable.

    I am coming from creating product review videos to creating video interviews. I have one channel that now has 60,000 views and 80 subscribers. Looking forward to building an audience around interviews.

    Great Episode! — Steven

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Awesome to hear that Steven. Much more to come!

  5. Katherine Carini says:

    I would like to see more of your “behind-the-scenes David chronicles”.
    Your experiences, good and bad are great teaching tools! Thanks for sharing.

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Absolutely more to come!

  6. Rick Henry says:

    I love this style of video. It is quick to the point, infomative and consice.

    1. David Siteman Garland says:


  7. Yes, love these five minutish segments.

  8. Viditrainer says:

    David, this is great information. I’ve struggled to get to that magical 100 fans mark. Funnily enough, I also bribed my friends and family to become fans. Things are picking up now. It’s great to see how things can start from nowhere into something great

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      LOL bribing friends. Nice.

  9. Kyle Zaylor says:

    Great story David (awesome talk at the
    Start-Louis event too)!

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Thanks buddy!

  10. James says:

    Yes David, this stuff is much more valuable. Thank you

  11. Rosieteapot says:

    Looks like a mini-earthquake around the 4:40 mark with the slight camera shake action, haha 😉 Love it, thanks David!

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      haha mini-earthquake. Don’t worry all is well 🙂

  12. Yeah definitely helpful, keep it coming! Your advice has been huge in getting my show put together and launched, check it out if you ever get a minute Thanks a ton for everything man, really appreciate it.

  13. meg @ says:

    Definitely like these kinds of videos. It seems totally actionable and attainable. thanks.

  14. Hi David, I love these “behind the scenes” stories…so please continue sharing them! So, so cool that you’re willing to be so transparent so that all of us can learn. Thanks!

    1. David Siteman Garland says:

      Absolutely, Rach. More to come!

  15. I like these types of videos because I think some folks could get discouraged or otherwise compare. They forget that you’ve been doing this since 2008, which is crazy. Took a while, but you worked your butt off.

    I’ve been swamped working with clients, got several projects, etc. You were 100% right about a few major things that already helped me see results. I’ve only posted my show since January, but will be branding a SXSW event for 2014.

    Your advice that helped me:

    1) If we have a show, the website MUST be 100% top notch.

    2) VIDEO knocks it out of the park. Although a lot of people will listen to audio, they like seeing my video interviews when they come to the site. It helps them get to know me and they also get to see my interview style. The SXSW event organizer specifically liked my interviews, so wanted me to perform them onsite next year.

    3) There’s a lot of folks talking about branding, but having a web interview SHOW sets me apart. If I called it a blog or podcast, no one would have paid attention to me, but ears perk up when people hear that I have a show. I have some other stuff in the works and am getting pretty busy with opportunities.

  16. Carol Dodsley says:

    Love when you said – you never know who is going to become a fan and share you content…. soo true and so often people forget that and don’t share with “some” people because they think “oh they wont be interested” … Keep em coming David 🙂

  17. yay! Of course David!!! I really underestimated the amount of work that has to be put in creating a business. So I really appreciate it when you break it down into pieces.
    Everybody struggles with getting first viewers and clients. We need to know that to keep going.

  18. I use your tips and inspiration to create my own show. I now have a LIVE 1 hour weekly radio show. Its been a dream that has finally come true. Who knew a 47 year old lady could change her stars. I took your advice to heart, but above it all was your passion and drive. I have my first show under my belt and am excited every day as I prepare for that weeks show. Give me a listen if you find the time- I also have a podcast if you miss the live show. Thank you so much for all you do. #myinspiration

    1. ps. please hit refresh as much as you can!

  19. Steve Rice says:

    David…love to hear personal stories…especially because online there is the tendency to see “find” someone and think that it just happens overnight. I enjoyed that you mentioned 2008 several times. I’ve found this with other “big” names…it’s often like any venture…3-5 years of slogging it out produces “overnight” success. Thanks for sharing your story. Please do continue to do so.

  20. Mike says:

    Great description of your process! Extremely helpful, David. Thank you.

  21. lhoenigsberg says:

    This was great David. I love your humbleness and authenticity. You make us feel as if you really care about us as individual audience members…and I truly believe that you do. Keep it comin’!

  22. Good Stuff David – came to you by way of a search for Wistia info, saw your interview with Chris Savage (Wistia founder for those who don’t know), heard the DSG TV / blog mentioned – then saw this video. Good stuff, down to earth, smart and to the point. I am a video editor looking to continue to extend my reach and share the knowledge I have accumulated over my 17+ years in the biz ( So one avenue I am looking into is a quick tips / training site with bonus interviews of colleagues / industry experts. Hearing how you got your show going is a great resource. Love to hear / learn more about the early days and your growth! Would love to hear more about what worked and what didn’t. Keep it coming…

  23. John Shea says:

    Hey David, This is great! Since I’m starting my own interview show and have only done 3 episodes I’ve been thinking about where I’m going to get those first fans and subscribers. You should for sure post more videos and content similar to this! Looking forward to it.

  24. Mari-Liis says:

    I loved it and I thank you for taking the time – everyone focus bigger numbers, but I have exactly 8 likes on my page (I haven’t quite tell anyone :D) and I really don’t know where to start. If anyone got curious then my page is So I subscribed and I’m glad I found you 🙂

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8 Steps to Turning What You Already Know into a Successful Online Course

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