Ask David: What should I do first? Build a community/list or create a product?



These are the EXACT same steps I used to go from $0 to over $1,000,000 in online course sales in less than 24 months (and used by over 2,500+ of my students)

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by David Garland in David's Blog

Chicken. Egg. Chicken. Egg. Chicken. Egg. What comes first?! Do you bust out amazing content, build a list/community, and then come up with a great product? Or the other way around? Ahh, the age old question answered for you in this quick vid. Enjoy!

What is your take? Let me know below in the comments!



  • I totally agree with you, David. I am following a similar strategy – building community first and then launching products. As for monetizing while building a community, my strategy was to offer services (specifically coaching), which didn’t require a lot of setup time (just a quick landing page) and allowed me to make a little money while I built a product and learned from what ideal customers wanted/needed.

    Keep up the great work, loving the interviews and passion!

    • David Siteman Garland

       Very cool, that is right. on. the. money. 🙂

  • Totally agree and I’m on the same path as Jeff G.  The major thing that’s helping right now is that I’m so busy getting the working on the show and marketing it, that I can’t focus too much on products.  Thanks again for all you do! 

    • David Siteman Garland

       Ahhh yes, SB. Make sure not to fall in that trap long term. Work your butt off to build the community but remember to PAY ATTENTION as people start asking you things, etc. and that will be where the product is.

  • I have chosen an approach where I am working really hard to do both. From day-one, I’ve made my product available for pre-order and then, ever since (today is day #21) I’ve been working really hard to build community. The majority of my effort thus far has gone into guest posting (which will start to go live this week). From there, I am working to identify and connect with the folks that are interested in the community and products I am offering. The key for me here is a sense of intuition and that the first product I’m offering is what the community will want. We’ll see how accurate that intuition is.

    • That is probably the best route just don’t give up. Would love to hear of your great results.

      • It is challenging, for sure! I am highly confident in the value and quality of my material – the challenge is going from someone that very few people know exists to gaining enough traction and credibility to get the pre-orders. I gave myself an aggressive 30-day goal which, at this point, seems out of reach. I’ve got 2 days left, though, and, whether I reach my goal or not, I am going to keep pressing on. The key so far is momentum. Oh, and the time lapse between finishing a guest post and it going live is often longer than you’d expect. 

    • David Siteman Garland

       Very cool. Lets see how it goes! Following intuition = usually a good thing, unless you are a dumb-dumb which you definitely are not 🙂

  • I think this is an arguable answer to that question and I do not at all disagree with your answer to the question however I can say that when it comes to list building you can create products, offer them free in return for a name and email address and then go for a much larger product launch. While you are doing this you are building a large list to promote that larger launch.

    When I first started I was facing the question on how to grow a list. I started a blog and had a small list but I then started creating what I call mini reports with valuable information in them and giving them away in exchange for the name and email of the person who downloaded that product. I grew my list to 5k + in weeks by doing this. It happened pretty fast too. I would launch about 2 or 3 a week on WarriorForum as well as my blog.

    In conclusion you can go about it either way and both ways stand to give great results but one is faster than the other depending on how well you go about it.

    Jonathan Smith

    • David Siteman Garland

       JS – I feel ya, man. All depends, right? Email as currency is a great thing (meaning opting in for something free), but it does take a level of trust to enter that email, know what I’m saying?

      How did the launch go?

  • My favorite line: THIS + THIS = THE BLING BLING 😉

    • David Siteman Garland

       If I can get the words “bling bling” into every video I do, I would be very happy.

  • Ali

    Great David,
    This is just the affirmation I need since I’m a total newbie in the online world. I was trying to make a product but I had no idea if it would fly since I don’t even have a list. Building a list and relationships is now my first goal once I launch my site in a few weeks.

    Thanks again,

    • David Siteman Garland

      Ali – Awesome! I love newbies. You know why? Because we were ALL there once. I would definitely focus on building your list, honing your expertise and build that relationship with the list. Go get ’em!

  • Elise McDowell

    Gosh David you are awesome! I was literally asking myself this question the other day and I was sure that you build the community first.

    Thank you for clarifying that for me and the community!x

    • David Siteman Garland

      No big deal, I was hiding in the bushes outside your house when you asked yourself that 🙂

  • Thomas Pichon

    This is an awesome video David! Thanks for the personal example you share.

    I wrote about this topic a few days ago: “Startups: The 3 Main Reasons You Should Build Your Community From Day 1”. These 3 reasons were:
    1) understand your potential customers with accuracy (who are your earlyvangelists, what is exactly their main problem, how do they solve it today, how much do they spend today to solve it…)
    2) run better experiments (get feedback about a features, run A/B test, schedule a call with a potential clients in order to validate one of your assumptions…)
    3) scale with more efficiency the day you have reach Product / Market fit.

    I would also add it is a way to bootstrap your product, which means getting enough early revenues to avoid looking for investors. I have even seen many times startups succeeding in selling their product BEFORE building it.

    You also rise the odds of succeeding a crowdfunding campaign if needed.

  • Wistia link is dead.



These are the EXACT same steps I used to go from $0 to over $1,000,000 in online course sales in less than 24 months (and used by over 2,500+ of my students)

it's free!
100% privacy guaranteed, no messin' around!