Return to site

30 Ways to Find Your First 100 Customers

Gigi Rodgers

· ecommerce,Marketing,Entrepreneurship

30 Ways to Find Your First 100 Customers

You did it. You finally f***ing did it!

You’ve come up with your business idea and now you’re going to execute, damnit.

You’ve gotten over the doubts and the procrastination!
You launched no matter what your friends, your family, your dog, thought, and now it’s time.

So you built your website (using Strikingly’s platform, naturally), posted some pictures, spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME tweaking your “About Us” page, and you hit “Publish”.

Then you wait for the droves of people to come to your website, and just throw money at you!

I’m here people!
I know you’ve been waiting for this for so long, and now it’s here! Come on and get yours!
Don’t be shy!

An hour passes…then 2 hours…you hit refresh a few times…go to sleep and check FIRST thing in the morning…you text your friend to make a purchase, which you’ll pay them back for, to make sure the cart is running okay. It is…okay. Refresh…

And this cycle continues for a few days.

After about a week, you realize no one’s coming.


So you jump on Google and do a quick search and see that YOU are supposed to go to YOUR customers. Not vice versa – especially in the beginning.


But how do I find my customers?

And THAT’S what we’re going to talk about in this post. Use these stories as a guide to inspire you to take action.

We reached out to 31 successful entrepreneurs that range from Christopher Walken impersonators on Fiverr to full fledged organizations that are making 5-6 figures monthly, and asked them: “How Did You Find Your First 100 Customers”?


Matt Lombardi
Founder of Slate Wood Club

(Instagram/Twitter: @Slatewoodclub)

“To get our first hundred customers, it came down to understanding what my strengths and weaknesses were as a founder. I had very little background with digital marketing, list building, or PPC. What I was good at, however, was talking in person with people. So I decided to find the places where my target customer and influencers of my target customers were hanging out, and tried to meet them face-to-face.
That led me to find conferences (specifically smaller ones) that were laser focused on the niche of customers who might be interested in my services. I didn’t have the money to buy a booth so I just took a pocket full of business cards and a whole lot of passion and talked to anyone who seemed remotely friendly.

I quickly learned that the key for a startup was to stop pitching my product and start listening to what my customers were looking for. The insights I received from these relationships would have taken months of A/B testing to get, and still would have lacked the dynamic insights of ten or fifteen human conversations. You’d be shocked at how far a sincere smile and a good idea can get you.


Digital Typographer of The Guy Behind the Letters

(Instagram: @YourNameHereOrWhat)

In the beginning I was giving away free logos and names, but just for personal use, or personal accounts. I was sending the FREE logos via Instagram’s direct message function, so the images would be just big enough for Instagram’s [platform]. Though the users knew that they shouldn’t print them or use them commercially.

At one point I was getting so many requests on Instagram, that I had to stop giving away free logos because I wasn’t doing anything else the whole day. My reach, and following, increased exponentially on Instagram – buuuuut it didn’t make me any money.

[Many] of the personal accounts posted my [work]. Brands and companies would see [it] and [approached me] for cooperations and/or logos. [Then] I created my Strikingly website and created a shop (thanks for that plug) where people [could] order logos from me.


Josh Nielsen
The Founder of

(Twitter: @zencastr)

I got my first few hundred users by searching twitter for people complaining about the problem I am solving, and letting them know about my solution [via DM]. My service helps podcasters record their VoIP guests. So I searched for people complaining about podcast recording with Skype. From that point, it has all been organic growth.

People love to complain on Twitter. [They use Twitter] as a way to publicly call out companies, so it’s a great way to find pain points. I would likely never start a company again if I couldn’t find people on Twitter complaining about [their] problem, on the regular.


Daniel Kingsley
Founder of Inbound Ascension

(Twitter: @InboundAscend)

I now run a boutique marketing service and teach advanced dynamic behavior retargeting and sales psychology…BUT when I first got started I actually built a clothing company, which lead into the agency.

I was a UK guy living in New Zealand and wanted to get a visa but was too old, so applied for an Entrepreneurship visa (yup, that’s a thing. we googled it).

So, I set up a clothing company overnight by finding a gap in the market I could dive into and fulfill. I watched 3 photoshop training videos and spent around 8 hours making a few t-shirt designs.

I [posted] those designs on Facebook and told people why I was starting the company. I set up a quick ecommerce website and left them a link to check out the [tees]. I woke up to 5 sales overnight.

I went to a printer and figured out how to print them, as I had no idea. I had them printed and sold them at a loss. But I knew there was demand, so I printed a bulk run.

I started selling, but the market stalled by Week 3. I knew I needed to get into retail stores for legitimacy and to automate some of my efforts.

“So, I started running paid Facebook ads to local targets in specific areas about the brand, and told them to go ask their local store for our products (even though the tees weren’t in ANY stores at the time)”.

[The stores] got so many requests, the stores CAME TO US and asked if they could stock our product, which then gave us better bargaining and sales prices.

And that’s how I got my first 100 customers.


Chris Schmidt
Owner of
Geofilter Studio

(Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat: @geofilterstudio)

"We were the world’s first Snapchat geofilter design agency and are currently the largest. Our very first client was for a local wedding social. We found a listing, on Kijiji, for a silent auction. We called them up and asked if they would like a Snapchat geofilter. Having never heard of it, they were intrigued and placed an order. Our next order was for a fraternity party taking place in a red barn in Alabama.

We had two approaches to acquiring business: First, paid advertising using Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Second, a direct advertising approach. On Facebook we would search for events all over North America and the UK. We would post (in a non-spammy way) on the event page or directly message event coordinators. We also bought Skype dollars and were making phone calls to clubs and event planners all over the world. The time zones worked out well because we would spend the morning reaching out to people in the UK (Our morning is their early evening, bars and clubs are just opening) and in the afternoon we reached out to people in North America.


Chris “Jersey” Ferretti
Celebrity Impersonations & Prank Call Master on

(Twitter/Instagram: @jerseyferretti)

I’ve always had a knack for doing impersonations…especially Christopher Walken. So as a joke I put up a gig saying I would call whoever you want and say whatever you wanted as Christopher Walken for $5. I sent the link out to my friends saying if they wanted to hear my Walken from now on it was going to cost them $5. It was a joke, so I didn’t think anything of it. Then, out of the blue, I started getting orders. I felt obligated to do the prank because the money was already in my account. So I opened up my Fiverr order and this guy wanted me to call his roommate as Christopher Walken and yell at him for eating all his coco-puffs the other day. So I did the prank and after a 5 minute completely ad-libbed phone call, the guy loved it.

I have never done any advertising. Everything has been through word of mouth. This all started off as a joke. I never thought I could turn this into a business until orders slowly started coming in. I’ve done everything from:

— Having a guy hire me to see if he can win back his lady

— Having a husband hire me to call his wife to see if I can smooth things over after a big fight

— Breaking the news to a family that a new baby is on the way

— Even a wedding proposal (yes…someone actually hired me in the voice of Christopher Walken to propose to his lady…which of course, after laughing and crying simultaneously, she said YES!)

— Corporate roasts where I’ll call into a company and they’ll put me on speakerphone and I’ll literally go around the room roasting each person in the boardroom.

And last but not least, my all time favorites, “the pick me ups.” The calls to the downtrodden and unsung heroes who seem to have been forgotten by the world (who hasn’t been there at least once in their life?). They [desperately] need a laugh, and I love giving em’ one. But through the laughs, I also love giving them a combo of kind words and a motivating kick in the ass to get up and make it happen.

(Just recently I got a message from someone on Fiverr and they told me:

“I just wanted to write you and tell you the call you did to my friend recently, he hasn’t stopped smiling since. And that’s great but he’s been so depressed for so long…I’ve tried everything to make him smile for so long. And after that prank, I’ve noticed such a change in his attitude. Thank you for what you do.”

And when I get messages like that, or when people tell me beyond the laughs that they’re in a better place because of my comedy…to me that trumps everything.

Once these happened a few times, people asked me, “hey could you call on an exact day?” Or “could you send me a recording of the prank.”

So I added a feature that people could pay extra for an EXACT DATE or MP3 recording of the prank. So, as time went on the MP3 option was nice because on top of word of mouth people could say “hear listen to this hilarious prank I hired this guy on Fiverr to do for me.” And it would further generate interest and bring in more business. And as more business came, I would add more and more of my impersonations and characters. Soon more orders started pouring in and I started adding more celebrity impersonations. And after that it wasn’t long before I got my 100.


Ryan Heenan
Animator/Voiceover Actor/Ukulele Jingle Writer

(Twitter: @ryanheenan)

When [I] first started out [I needed] to find enough clients to build up both a good portfolio and solid reviews. [My thinking was], this not only leads to new buyers, but also repeat buyers. I found that going after people who needed work done quickly was the ideal way to land those first 100 clients and create a snowball effect with landing other clients.

So I got my foot in the door in certain industries like the dental and real estate industry. They became a GREAT referral source! I really focused on fast turnaround times, keeping the customer happy, [and turned] projects around in 24 hours or less.


A Digital Vector Artist on Fiverr

(Twitter: @chrisdata)

I provided my vector portrait services in 2011 for $5, when Fiverr was still new. There was far less competition back then.

(It pays to go all-in, and hyper focus on building that leverage on a new social media platform)

Within 1 month of joining Fiverr, I got my Level 1 Sellers Badge. Within 6 months I got my Level 2 badge (>200 happy 5 stars rated customers). And in 2015 I got my TRS badge (Top Rated Seller’s Badge) and Fiverr featured me on their Facebook page. Delivering the best original work, having fast turnaround, staying reasonably priced, and making a gargantuan effort in communicating with my customers were the keys to my [first 100].


Robert Goldsmith
VIP Bachelor[ette] Party Coordinator of

(Instagram: @bachweekend)

We did our first party planning for a friend for free, and everyone that attended told a couple of friends. [On top of that], we got a great blog article written about us in a local business journal. And that lead to the first 100 customers. It was a combination of word of mouth [from the free party] and great PR.

10. A COOL BRIBE Adam & Emma

The Founders of Spoonhunt

(Twitter: @Spoonhunt)

When we started Spoonhunt and had our WeChat account ready for people to test, we went to the nearest University (Fudan University in Yangpu) on a really hot summer day. There was an international students food festival going on to welcome new international students to the school for the semester. Since Spoonhunt is designed for people that are new to China we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk to people about our idea. We bought hundreds of popsicles and went to the event with our WeChat QR code posted on the box. We gave out popsicles to any international student that scanned our QR code and followed us. We got a chance to ask people about our idea because we found a fun way to attract attention to ourselves. We got over 100 users on that first day. People really wanted popsicles.


Laura Axelson
Dinner Belle Nashville – Wholesome Food Delivery Service

Instagram: @dinnerbellenashville

I started my Instagram account before my business launched as a way to have something for folks to follow after I did promotional events. It was such an encouragement to post something that people really responded to and it [gave me] a gauge of what interests folks. Plus, you can’t beat a free way of promoting yourself.

(By the way, one of the most useful tips I’ve learned so far about using Instagram is to save all the hashtags you use often in the Notes app on your phone and then you can copy and paste them into the comments section immediately after every post. It’s a huge timesaver!)

I use Mail Chimp and send an email when I post a new menu and again 2 days before the deadline. Most of my customers have come from word of mouth or Instagram.

The word of mouth started around my community of friends, through some of the farmers, and also through the charity that I donate meals to, The Hope Clinic. One of the farmers wives is one of my biggest advocates.


Sam Smith
Director of

(Twitter: @samsmith453)

When I first started out I was embarrassed to tell my friends about my business projects, worried that they wouldn’t take me seriously. However, when I finally told a few of my friends about my project they were nothing but supportive and (good for the ego) impressed. My friends [have] been amazing at giving me endless feedback, support, and helping with promotion.

I used my social connections to give my product a jumpstart – even giving it away for free, if necessary.

“I made sure to make them feel involved with this project – which gave them a sense of ownership”.

This in turn made them want to help more – without asking. In fact, when I launched my new website – kicking off a new eBook – my friends helped me proofread, design and promote the book, so that it eventually became a bestseller – just through word of mouth.

Once [they] read the book, I simply asked them to leave an Amazon review. [After], I announced the release of my book, I did a ‘Post of Gratitude’. I thanked each person, publicly [on social], who downloaded the book and left a review. And without any kind of nudge on my end, everyone I thanked shared the post.


Danilo Jovanovic
Voice Acting Impersonator on Fiverr

(Twitter: @thedanjovanovic)

Because I go for that “wow” factor and look to impress the client (going above and beyond every time) that helped me get my first 100 clients.

I was nervous when I got my first order for $5. I was just excited that someone actually wanted my service as a gift to share with someone. I was asked to do a Tony Soprano impersonation and tell a story about a person running for local politics in NJ. It wasn’t about the money, I wasn’t even thinking of that. I just wanted to impress the client.

So I spent a lot of time on this piece, more than $5 worth of work. I crafted it out, recorded it multiple times, and kept re-editing it (over 50 times), until I was in love with it. I wanted to make sure I over delivered the final product to the client.

After I sent it to the client, an hour later I received a private message from them. He and his wife had listened to the recording over 12 times and they couldn’t stop laughing.

He then gave me a 5 star review. My first client, my first 5 star review.

This gave me more confidence, and through word of mouth, I began to get more orders.

No ads, no cold emails, just word of mouth. And because of that I wanted to always make sure that I over delivered the final product to the client. In fact, I even started to give people options – expanding on their ideas and scripts, and giving it to them as a bonus option. It’s always appreciated.


Christine C. Renee
Professional Personal Finance Writer

(Twitter: @christinecrenee)

When I started on my freelancing journey over a year ago, I kept reading about the importance of marketing yourself. So, I started leaving positive comments on my favorite articles and worked at maintaining consistency on my social profiles.

Since I’m a one-woman show, I picked two social platforms to concentrate on, that way I didn’t spread myself too thin. I would post and re-tweet only helpful articles and respond to people who interacted with me as soon as I could. And the third thing that has proven to help me nab clients is making sure my website was ranking for the right keywords. This took a little time for me to learn but once I made the changes, I started getting emails every day, instead of once every month or so. Since doing these things, I’ve increased my clientele to the point where I’m booked out for two months.


Clement Lim
Freelance B2B Copywriter

(Twitter: @limwrites)

The first thing I did, after creating my copywriting website, was to define my brand. I have a background in economics and law, and I’m comfortable with constructing a persuasive argument woven around facts and figures. Ergo, I work mostly with B2B brands with complex products and services.

I incorporated [my] branding on all my online profiles. Where appropriate, I also added that I had previously worked both as a lawyer and a freelance journalist. This helped me stand out as someone who was more than “just” a copywriter.

To showcase my expertise I wrote detailed, informative blog posts aimed at my target audience of B2B marketers. I [wrote] posts designed to build authority and generate leads for my brand.

It’s one thing creating great content, it’s another thing to get people to read it. So I raised my profile by actively building relationships with key influencers in my niche. This was done initially through social media posting and blog commenting. The relationships I built drew traffic to my website. They also led to opportunities to publish my articles on some of the biggest blogs in the digital marketing niche, like Search Engine Journal, Kissmetrics and Jeff Bullas.

As my profile grew, the clients started to come.

I tend to work with a select few customers on a long-term basis. To tell the truth, I haven’t got to 100 customers yet. Hopefully, I’ll never need to.


Mark Norman
Owner of Just Saiyan Apparel

(Twitter/Instagram: @Justsaiyan_gear)

I had this concept in my head of what I wanted, and [after not finding what I needed online], I reached out to my buddy Javier, who is a great artist and designer.

The inspired clothing, of Goku and Vegeta, had all been for me, for my birthday. Then a friend suggested that these t-designs should be posted on DBZ Reddit, to get some feedback.

I posted “I stole Trunk’s Time Machine. Look what I came back with – not your usual” on Reddit. I wasn’t expecting THAT MUCH feedback so quickly. I had nothing. No website, no social media, no shipping – NOTHING. Over the next couple of hours I built a website using Strikingly to capture demand and questions (we didn’t pay him to say that). Within 30 minutes of launching my website I had hundreds of pre orders.


Co-Founder of Klear

(Twitter: @yuvmaoz)

Back in the early days of Klear, when we were known as Twtrland, we were fortunate to have loads of users. The thing is, they were using the service for free. Our thousands of active users were paying NOTHING and getting a full-service social analytics for free.

What seems like a bad bargain for us was quite the opposite, because in return, we got invaluable feedback from our users. Our [Super Users] were sharing their thoughts with us on a regular basis. We knew EXACTLY what the users from digital agencies and enterprises needed and what they were willing to pay for. And then, after a few months of building our social analytics platform, we added a green button – “Go Pro”.

This green button converted us from a Free service to a Premium service. The users that told us what they needed as a premium service had finally received a quick option to get it. And they did.


Marcelo Acosta
Owner of Cuatro Corners

My first 100 was a result of dozens of personalized private messages to people. I was starting a new business in a new country – where I wasn’t even living in, hence I couldn’t start with friends nor family.

[Though] the process was simple: I just figured out who my “ideal customer” was, found lots of them on Facebook, and [private messaged] a picture of my product (a kind of bracelet) and asked if they would be interested to know when it was going to be available.

I made a manual list, created a very targeted FB page and went from there. I didn’t really have anything more than a picture before having a small crowd waiting for it.

The first dozen sales were manual, then I moved to a FB shopping cart app. Once inventory management was starting to become a pain I switched to Shopify (it’s cool. We still like him).


Tim Brown
Owner of Tim B. Designs

(Twitter: @timbdesignmpls)

I got my first 100 customers by first publicizing the fact that I was now offering services all over social media and getting some people I know [to help spread the word]. I then collaborated with a local magazine and traded my services for advertising.

From there, I started building up my website as an asset to attract clients.

I focused on referrals, positive testimonials and each new recent project to build up a client base.

I was very aggressive with getting links through guest posting to my website, and by providing really in-depth content. I attracted natural links from outside sources to give me a leg up with search traffic.


Jonathan Levi
Founder of Lucid Path Consulting & Top Udemy Instructor

(Twitter: @entreprenewer)

Our first 100 clients/students came from mostly friends, family, and former colleagues (school and work). I made sure that I promoted it well to my social networks, getting them to enroll (with a discount – but not free), leave reviews, and actively take the course. I tweeted, posted on Facebook a lot, tagged friends, did a massive group message, and went around the web posting on sites like Quora.

From there, Udemy’s ranking algorithm saw that our course was performing, and they put it up on the front page in a matter of days. From there, it was easy to get 1,000, 10,000, and even 50,000 new clients.


Brittany Berger
Professional Blogger

(Twitter: @bberg1010)

My background is in content marketing, so for almost a year while I was planning and creating my first product, I was also publishing and distributing content about the same topic – building a hyper-targeted audience. I mostly distributed my content in community-based social media. Two of my most effective channels have been Facebook groups and Pinterest group boards.

Guest posts weren’t even a priority yet.

I put a ton of time into creating content that would attract the right people, and continue to attract them long after I promoted the post. I made sure each piece of content identifies a problem my audience faced, explained why they needed to fix it, and provided a complete solution.

The posts were pretty long. In the 9 or so months I was doing this, I only published 10-12 posts. Though between the amount of info packed in there, combined with strategic promotion (links inside the posts that lead back to my website and a downloadable), it was worth it.

And because I had built trust within my audience over time, I was able to do a small, low-key launch to my existing audience which lead to my first 100 customers.


The Creator and Director of Broke2Dope

(Twitter: @Broke2dope)

Through my website, broke2dope, I offer a platform for independent artists. When I first began blogging in 2012, I wanted to feature entrepreneurs and college business owners to highlight that journey of going from “broke” to “dope”. I featured my first musician, who was a friend, and everything changed.

Other artists wanted to be featured on my site and started to email me their music. (there’s the pivot)

Through word of mouth and networking many people in the independent hip hop community grew to know about

I attended events weekly and met new artists everyday. I started to receive maybe two to three emails a day. Then I started to receive over 100!

I’m the only one who sorts through the emails and posts content on the site. [Needless to say], it started to become too much.

I found Fiverr through a friend when I was actually in search of a new logo. Voila! I could charge $5 for an expedited review. I hated the idea of charging for a post, but this allowed artist the chance to get a head of the crowd of emails.

The traffic to Fiverr grew with social media. The twitter page of has over 15k followers, many of them being artists, so I often tweeted about the Fiverr page to draw more attention to it.

I also included an auto-response, with the email submissions, that included a link to Fiverr so that artists [have the option to] go thru Fiverr if they’d like. Now, I offer a range of services including social media promotion, CD duplication, and advertising through Fiverr as well.

[Because of my] fast response and positive reviews, my customer base in Fiverr grew. Now, I have on average, 10 new orders a week.


Rahil Jain
The Creator and Founder of Hook(not the movie)

(Twitter: @gethookio)

We posted about Hook on a deal listings outlet, that we had long participated in, called Slick Deals. Our product didn’t exist until then and people went nuts over it! Our community upvoted us and gave us awesome feedback on our product! It lead to us getting featured on the front page of Slick Deals. Our deal had received over 74K views and over 130 comments in just a few days. We got over 200 pre-orders that day.


Maelle Chassard
Founder and Director of Lunii

(Twitter: @luniimagianire)

We got our first 100 customers by testing the prototype with our audience. People loved why we were pursuing this project. They tested it and they started to follow us on social media. We also won a few contests (The Family Award, Innovation and Public Award @ Futur en Seine in 2014 and 2016).

Then we decided to run a crowdfunding campaign on the french platform Ulule. We got 450 pre-orders and then 200 more on our website after the campaign ended.

Then just through word of mouth and the attention we got from the crowdfunding campaign, a lot of people were waiting for the product when we commercialized it on August 2016. We’ve already sold 10k products (2k which are already in children’s hands and 8k in local and online shops).


Thee Fiverr Cat

(Instagram: @elvisinstacute)

For us the question never was ”How to get the first 100 customers?”, [but] instead it was ”How to get the first customer?”.

Our first try with Elvis was a bit of dumb luck. We wanted to try something new with him – he already had a small following on Instagram so we thought he could be a popular cat model. We simply wrote a message on a piece of paper and tried different ways for him to interact with it.

We figured, all cats love boxes. So we put him in a box, taped the paper above the box and he poked his head through. That’s it.

We started printing out logos on the piece of paper and had Elvis do the same thing. [People saw this on Instagram], and through word of mouth, we started recording videos for people’s companies, birthdays, brands, and more.

And that’s how we got our first 100 customers.


Gary Sheng
Co-Founder of The Dancing Pineapple

(Twitter: @dancing_pina)

Our first 100 customers were a collection of our superfans who took the step to buy tickets to our first live concert this past June – which amazingly sold out.

We promoted ourselves heavily on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Instagram – creating mixes and playlists. We really dove into the industry, made connections, and went
all-in on whatever live events we were apart of.


Amy Peloso
Owner of The Queen Bee NYC

(Twitter: @queenbeesbuzz)

I found my first 100 by going to conferences and meetups to continue my education, and find like minded people – and not just directly related to coaching. I walked up to individuals and made sure I talked to them about who I am and what I do, naturally, and in conversation. Once I did that a few times, my confidence built up and I started to make even more connections. Next thing you know, word of mouth through my circles caught wind and I had my first 100 clients.


Mike Mak
The Creator of Bookniture

(Instagram: @bookniture)

I believe word of mouth is essential in building a business. I treat my customers like my friends.

I remember my first 100 customers were majorly my friends! I always remind myself to design something that is suitable for friends and close to my living style.


Margaret Calvert
Margaret Lynn Health Coach

(Twitter: @Mar_Mar421)

I joined a SkillShare challenge group, that was promoted through my Facebook page and Instagram accounts. The challenge group was the biggest help. The community of people helped each other out by joining each other’s classes. [Boom. First 100].


Chris Strode
Founder of Invoice2Go

(Twitter: @Invoice2go)

Back when I first launched Invoice2go in 2002, it was nothing more than a simple Windows application that could be locally downloaded onto desktop. I took advantage of the shareware technology at that time to release my first version, and made my first sale on day one.

For me, the first 100 customers was all about taking my time, listening closely to what each customer needed, and iterating the product.

And that’s it.
31 entrepreneurs who gave you a CORNUCOPIA (you like that word don’t you?) of ideas to execute on.

Want to go all-in on a social media platform – Instagram? Twitter? YouTube?
Do it.

Don’t fear rejection – so cold calls, cold emails, or hand-to-hand combat is your handle?

Ready to get your friends to work?
Get them in formation.

Pick your flavor, get pumped, and go run through a brick wall!

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly