20 ways to get people to believe in your ideas and create a movement

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Ideas are powerful.

Their power lies not in the idea itself, but in getting others to believe and take action. In short, ideas can create a movement.

A movement is simply a group of people working together to advance similar ideas. A movement can be as simple as working with your boss on a project as complex as overthrowing a dictator or as crazy as a mosh pit at a rock concert. In short, creating a movement is about building a community of people that believe in your ideas.

Here at Passive Panda, I talk a lot about building a community of like–minded people because it’s the best way to earn more money.

It’s the best way to convince clients to pay more for your freelancing services. It’s the best way to get your boss to believe that you need a raise. It’s the best way to get your friends to take the small steps that lead to big change.

And while creating a movement certainly isn’t easy, it’s not as difficult as you might think. With that in mind, here are 20 ways that you can get people to believe in your ideas and start your own movement today.

Start with you

1. If you don’t believe in your idea how can you expect anyone else to believe in you?

Before you go out and try to spread your message make sure that your idea is something that is important to you.

Is this just a cool idea that you’re interested in or something that you’re willing to attach your entire reputation to?

Do you believe in your cause with passion? Does it inspire you and motivate you? Does it match up with your values as an individual?

If so, then move forward with confidence. Energy and confidence are naturally magnetic qualities. People believe in enthusiasm. They are attracted to passion. It’s easy to believe in someone who believes in themselves.

2. Know your principles and you can choose your methods.

What’s important to you? What are your values and ethics?

Know the principles that you want to stay true to and those principles will help guide your actions.

As your idea grows and becomes a movement, you’ll be faced with difficult decisions. Who do you partner with? When is it right to say yes to an opportunity? When do you say no?

When difficult decision points arise, it will be helpful to remember your principles and values. Those ideas and beliefs will help you recognize the types of opportunities you should pursue and the types of actions you should avoid.

3. Prepare for failure.

Every movement has failures and setbacks. Be ready for them.

You’ll tell someone about your idea and they will snap back that they didn’t want to hear about it. You’ll get people telling you that you’re doing it all wrong. You’ll try to be nice and people will get offended.

In short, you’ll do all sorts of things with good intentions and they’ll turn out the wrong way.

Don’t sweat it.

Failure is the price of admission. If you’re going to do anything significant, then you need to get used to the idea that you won’t always be right.

Of course, the alternative is that you could play it safe, avoid risk, and never build a movement. Your choice.

Laying the groundwork for success

4. Meet the desires that people already have.

Most people have an idea and make the mistake of telling themselves, “I think this is awesome and I have an exciting story, so people will care about this. I find this interesting, so other people will want to follow along and join my movement.”


This might not be what you want to hear, but people don’t care if you think your idea is cool or if you find a particular story or idea interesting. In fact, they don’t even really care about your movement … or any movement for that matter.

What they do care about is meeting their own desires.

There are desires within all of us and you will see many of them come up over and over again. These are things like the desire to be loved or appreciated or respected or rich and famous or to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Now, the good news is that you probably don’t need to start with a new idea. You just need to frame your idea in the right way.

It’s how your idea addresses a desire that gets people to show up, not the idea itself.

For example, how many “weight loss” or “fat burning” products have you seen? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably lost count.

Why is that?

It’s because the desire to lose weight is very strong.

When a new diet or exercise product comes out, they don’t try to create a new desire for people. They simply show how their product addresses the already existing desire to lose weight.

You can do the same with your movement.

What is the desire that your target audience has? Why will someone join your movement? What will they feel when they become a part of your community? Use those desires to tell people about your idea.

Facebook didn’t create the desire to meet and connect with people. It just addressed that desire in a new and exciting way.

5. Ignore the messages from your competitors.

I don’t mean ignore them completely, you can read them if you want — but don’t bother with imitating them.

Their message is already out there. They already have an audience and that audience doesn’t need another me–too leader. Ignore the messages of your competitors and create your own.

Now it can be similar, but you also want it to be unique. You want to be relevant, yet fresh.

I’ll give you an example.

I talk a lot about earning more money on Passive Panda, but so do many other sites. What makes Passive Panda different? Three things.

  1. We focus on the five pillars of earning: freelancing, entrepreneurship, employment, awards, and investing. And then we allow you to choose the earning strategies that best fit your situation.
  2. We think that getting others to believe in your ideas is the key to earning more money.
  3. We believe that you need to own the choices that you make and take responsibility for your earning power. We help you earn more, but it’s your responsibility to take action.

See how that positioning is different than what many other “make more money” sites talk about?

That unique positioning allows me to go to the other businesses and websites in the industry, speak to their audiences, and say, “Hey, I know you’re probably interested in this type of stuff… but here’s a different take on it. If you like that, then check out Passive Panda.”

Think about how you’re going to position your message because good positioning is very, very powerful.

Note: Some people refer to this as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Read this article by my buddy Corbett Barr to figure out how to find your unique selling proposition.

6. Get started.

No one has it all figured out when they start. (Most of us never have it all figured out.)

Just because it’s not the “perfect” time to start, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started.

You’re allowed to change your mind after the fact. Good business, organizations, and ideas will change over time. (How many times has Apple reinvented itself with a new product?)

Change is part of the game.

Get your idea out of your head and into the world. Get some feedback. Get started.

7. Develop a platform.

It can be a website. It can be a store. It can be a booth at the local fair. It can be a patch of grass on a hillside.

Choose what is best for you, but you need to have a place that you can call home.

Where does your movement start from? If one of your followers is talking about your idea, where do they send other people?

Regardless of what you choose as your platform, you need a place where people can go to find more information, to discover like–minded people, and to join the movement.

8. Develop methods of one–to–many communication.

There cannot be a movement without communication. It’s impossible gather a following and get them to act if you cannot reach them.

Moreover, it’s difficult, time–consuming, and risky to assume that your followers will check back consistently to see what you’re saying. People get busy with other parts of life and you need a way to broadcast your message, your events, your products, and your ideas to your community at a moment’s notice.

This includes things like a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and — most importantly — an email list. I’m not saying you need all of those things, but you do need a way to communicate with your following.

That said, if you have to pick one, then make it the email list.

Build it one at a time

9. Embrace that first follower.

Someone was the first patient for the award–winning surgeon. Someone was the first reader for the best–selling author. Someone was the first supporter of the President of the United States.

A movement is nothing without someone else rallying around the cause. Someone needs to take a chance on you. Don’t dismiss it when one person has the courage to believe in you!

Watch this excellent 3–minute video by Derek Sivers to get a sense of how important that first follower is…

10. When people ask me how I built Passive Panda’s audience up so quickly I tell them the truth, “I did it one person at a time.”

Even after being featured in mainstream outlets like US News and World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, Passive Panda has never enjoyed a game–changing influx of new visitors.

Instead, I just do my very best to connect with each reader on a personal level. I ask if I can help my followers on Twitter. I respond to every email I get. I put as much value as I can into articles like this one.

The result, I hope, is that every reader knows that I’m here to help them and that I truly want them to be a part of this community.

By the way, if you haven’t introduced yourself yet, please do! Say hello to me by using the contact form. I’ll get back as soon as I can. I’d love to hear from you.

How to spread the word

11. Reach out to a gatekeeper.

With the rare exception of the CEO’s son or daughter, we all start out in the same place: no money, no resources, and no contacts.

The good news? It’s far easier to connect with an influencer than it is to gain influence.

When you’re thinking about getting the word out about your movement, don’t be afraid to make friends with the A–listers in your space. In fact, you need to do that.

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but say hello to someone who has an audience. Then do it again.

Of course, there is one thing you need to remember…

12. Be helpful, not desperate.

Desperation is toxic. It’s the number one reason people are terrible at self–promotion.

When you go around begging and pleading for help, it sends the wrong signal. The thought that goes through each person’s mind is, “If their idea is really that great, how come they seem so desperate for support?”

Instead of worrying about how you can get the Top Dogs to help you, spend some time thinking about how you can help them.

Focus your energy on being valuable and helping others. It will all come back to you in return and your movement will grow as a result.

For more ideas on building relationships, check out this list of networking tips.

13. Go to an event with the purpose of meeting one person.

If you’re serious about getting the word out and building a movement, then you need to meet people in person. It’s simply more powerful than any other form of networking.

There are events, conferences, seminars, and meetups for every topic imaginable. Find out where the thought leaders and celebrities in your industry are going, and then join them.

Going to an event with the specific goal of meeting someone in person is a great way to build influential relationships.

14. Write a report and then send it to the right person.

This is a brilliant strategy that I got from Nick Reese. If you do it right, then this tip works like a charm.

Here’s how it works:

Write a report that is closely related to your idea, but that also ties in well with a larger industry or new trend.

For example, let’s say that you love cars and you know that there is a new type of headlight that is becoming popular. If you have a nifty automotive idea or project or business that you want to share, then you can use this new kind of headlight as your entrance point.

All you need to do is write up a short report on this new headlight style. Talk about the benefits of it and what makes it more popular than old headlights. Make sure to highlight why this is a new trend or how it’s the future of the industry. Then, create a graph or two that displays an interesting fact about this new headlight.

Compile all of that into a document. It doesn’t have to be long … maybe it’s just a page or two.

Then — and this is where the magic happens — just email that document to any relevant journalists that you can find and tell them that you’re available for interviews on the subject.

At the end of the interview you can mention your big idea or project. This is the perfect way to drop a story into a journalist’s lap and get some free press out of it.

This strategy can work for any industry and any topic. If you do it well and catch someone at the right time, you might even be able to featured in a large publication like The New York Times.

Getting it out to the masses

15. Make it easy for people to share your work.

Notice how I have those social media sharing buttons at the top and bottom of every post?

Those buttons are there because I want to make it easy for you to share the ideas on the site. That’s how good ideas spread.

How can you make it easy for your followers to spoon feed your information to others?

16. Pay attention to why people say “Yes”

The number of ways that you can promote your idea is almost overwhelming. Everything seems like an option — especially in the beginning.

This is why it’s critical to track things. What articles or webpages do people enjoy the most? What advertisements generate the most sales? What projects have you done a good job on in the past?

Basically, what have you done that people like? Do more of that.

17. Recognize the spectrum.

No two people are in the same situation when they first hear about your idea. Everyone comes from different experiences, different backgrounds, and different places.

What this means is that people are ready to take different actions based on where they come from.

You can think of this as a spectrum. On one end is your most passionate fan and on the other is someone who has never heard of you. Each person that shows up is somewhere on that spectrum.

Why is it important to realize this difference? Well, because …

18. You need to give people choices.

Your job is to give people choices so that they can take an action and continue to move along the spectrum.

I’ll give you an example of how I do this on Passive Panda.

When each person visits my site, I want them to join Passive Panda’s email newsletter. The people on my email list are the most passionate fans on the spectrum — and I treat them that way. I email them new articles first. I send them links to special webinars I run. I tell them about private presentations I’m doing with special guests. Basically, I provide them with as much value as possible.

But not everyone is ready to join the email list when they first show up. So how do I get a new visitor, who has never heard of the the Passive Panda movement, to move a little further along the spectrum? Well, I give them choices.

If you go to the homepage, then you’ll see what I mean.

I start by asking people to join the email newsletter. Not ready for that? No worries, scroll down and you can read the most recent article. Doesn’t strike your fancy? Well, look to the sidebar and you’ll see the free course, the popular articles, and links to our Facebook and Twitter pages. In other words, I gradually give people other options to engage with my ideas.

Maybe they show up the first time, read an article and decide to follow Passive Panda on Twitter. A few days later, then see an update on Twitter and click on another article. Maybe this happens two, three, or four times before they finally say, “You know what? I really like this content. I’ll join the email list.”

The point here is that you need to give people multiple ways to stay in touch with your message. Not everyone wants to be your best friend today … but if you keep giving them chances they might come to your party this weekend.

19. Experiment.

Try new ways of getting your message out. Sure, some experiments will fail, but you might be surprised by how a little risk can turn into a big reward.

For example, I put together a list of 50 free ebooks that will help you earn more money. Instead of giving that list out for free, however, I used a special “Share To Get” button that required people to share the article on Twitter or Facebook before they got access to the list.

When I posted that article I was worried that people wouldn’t read it at all because they had to share it.

What happened? Over 1500 tweets later that article is one of the most popular ones on the site.

I had no idea how people would respond because there was an extra step involved, but they loved it. In fact, I get emails every week from people thanking me for putting the list together.

Free ebooks for them. Free traffic for me. It was a win–win that only happened because I took a risk.

How can you experiment with getting your message out?

It’s on you.

20. Own your decisions.

It sounds simple, but it’s important to realize that your success or failure is the result of your choices.

If your following isn’t growing the way you want it to, then change what you’re doing. If you’re message doesn’t seem to be sticking, then alter it. If your movement isn’t successful, then you need to adjust.

You can make excuses all you want, but at the end of the day the decisions you make, make you.

Thank You. Yes, You.

Speaking of creating a movement, I want to thank you for being a part of Passive Panda’s movement. Thousands of people visit the site every day, but I’m particularly happy that you’re here. Thanks for being a part of the community.

If you’re looking for even more tips on earning more money by spreading your message, then join Passive Panda’s free newsletter. You’ll get access to private events, new articles, and much more. I’d love to see you on the inside.

43 Responses to 20 ways to get people to believe in your ideas and create a movement

  1. Chris Stott says:

    Hi James,

    This is a very comprehensive list. I love it. I’ve been working on my own movement recently and will put some of this in to action immediately (now I’ve found my USP which took ages).

    Enough about me.

    I’m loving seeing the Passive Panda community and movement evolve. It’s a fascinating case study and a perfect example that you rightly use in this post.


    • James Clear says:

      Thanks so much Chris!

      I’m glad you found your USP — that’s a big win for any business.

      And thanks for the kind words about Passive Panda. I’m happy to have you around as a reader.

  2. I think you’re spot on with #2. It’s amazing how frequently we’re asked to compromise what we believe in – even if it’s something as simple as accepting a few less dollars to pick up a new client or alter our mission statements slightly to suit a new partner.

    It isn’t easy (and I’m sure as hell not always a good example of doing this in my life), but if you’re going to push forward with a great idea, it’s crucial that you stick to your guns when it comes to your ideas and your plans.

    Prepare for opposition, then be ready with answers to overcome their objections :)

    • James Clear says:

      So true.

      And it can still be hard to walk the straight and narrow even when you do know your principles, but they act as good guideposts during those difficult decisions.

  3. James Clear says:

    Great to hear from you, Dawn! (And thanks for sharing that fun story too.)

    I agree with you. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but if you look around, you’ll see all sorts of successful people, organizations, and ideas that essentially do the opposite of what everyone else does.

  4. I bring up my training in improv a lot, but #19 “Experiment” is a perfect example of what improv can teach you…because there are no “wrong” choices in improv. There are choices that are most certainly better than others, but the medium allows for you to try, refine, and try again.

    Good stuff, per usual. :)

  5. Brian says:

    Really good stuff…I enjoyed the read.

    Maybe one day I will even join the mailing list! :P

  6. James, thank you so much for such great advice! This is truly a comprehensive list, I’ve just clipped it onto Evernote and will come back to it over and over. :)

  7. Wow James! That’s quite an exhaustive list! Derek Siver’s video is eye opening! I’m glad you included it. So often we’re SO focused on HOW we could possibly be THE leader, or connect with THE leader that we most certainly, and from my perspective, too frequently underestimate the power of that next person who tips the scale toward momentum. Cool!

    And #6 Get Started. Amen.

  8. Your work is excellent. Great content. I appreciate the simplicity and straightforward language.

    It’s funny how you talk about getting free press… Sending off a polished document is something I’ve been doing heavily.

    But I think I was missing one key ingredient:

    Telling people I’m open for interviews about the subject.

    …As they say, little hinges swing big doors. I think that hinge was missing up till now. We’ll see how big of doors I can start opening.

  9. As always, the mix of ideas in your list is inspiring and contains some powerful ideas for actually getting things done.

    I don’t know how many times I have read lists that sounded interesting, but turned out to be just a rehash of the obvious things that everyone does anyway – never the case with you, James.

    Keep them coming – I always read with interest.

  10. Anno John says:

    Very great and useful article! I will be practically using the ideas to implement my planned under-construction money making blog, and even my present freelance transportation service. You are making me stand stronger than before to stay with what I believe! Knowledge + Experience = POWERFUL!

  11. I love that video, if you didn’t share it I was going to, based off of your title alone.

    We can do the same thing with our individual blogs. When a new person comments on your blog, reach out to their blog. Comment back. Show them that what they are doing is great and you want to pay it forward.

    If they’re active in their niche they’ll recognize other bloggers that are commenting and soon you’ll have everyone partying on your blog as well.

    If you aren’t getting comments, start commenting on the blogs in your niche of those you see commenting actively. Start building that relationship and soon the lurkers will see it’s cool to post their thoughts.

    Any ways just my two cents.


  12. James, wow this is a monster post!

    Lately, #4 has really been important for me. Yes, I know things and yes, I love to do this and that – but what do others find most valuable? How can I best help others with their problems?

    In the end, it’s about providing as much value as possible.

    #20 is so crucial – without taking responsibility for our lives, we’ll not accomplish much.

    Thanks for a great article James, I’ve bookmarked it for future re-reading :)

  13. Ng Eng Hou says:

    This is a very inspirational article.

  14. Ken W. says:

    Another quality post and very inspirational. Thanks for taking your time to share all your insights.

    When conducting cold contacts, many people jump right into their sales pitch which I believe generates negative responses most of the time. Do you have any suggestions on how one could approach a cold contact with an even balance of providing choices and still informing?


  15. Chitta Brat says:

    Your article is really wonderful. And of-course it is very inspiring also. We do have many ideas, but as we dont concieve them in a proper way, with time it dies its death. Thanks again, for the inspiring arcticle.

  16. Manish says:

    Thanks a ton for such a comprehensive list… Would be a real help… Thanks again…

  17. sophie says:

    Thanks for such an inspiring list. I agree, ideas can be very powerful and this is a great list that can make your ideas even more influential.

  18. Aaron says:

    Thanks for a great article. Reading Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing this morning and now your great post and I feel I’ve been given both a boost forward in understanding how to be better and a good reminder of who I want to be as I work to help others and make a living online. Thanks so much. Keep up the great work.

    PS> Love the crazy dancing guy video. Will be using it as a call to action to my best followers.

  19. Ricci says:

    As a singer/songwriter/lyricist, I was born with a message to share, and reading this article has really got my mind moving on how I can gain a following. When it comes to music, people either listen to the lyrics, or the music. As a natural lyricist, it’s a weakness of mine to reach people through just the music, because many people don’t pay attention to the lyrics (ironically, I used to be one of them). Reaching them by other means will get them to not only listen to my music, but they’ll also get an idea of what I’m all about. I hope that makes sense.

    Thanks for the article!

  20. Joy Mo says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive list. They are all so true. I want to add one more if I may – be prepare to adjust or change your plan.
    What I’ve found over the years is that the most successful programs most likely are not the same as the original ideas.

  21. Cassie says:

    Thanks, this is great stuff. The one by one message is really powerful, and especially combined with the Derek Sivers video.

    I’ve really taken on board the message to embrace my followers, especially the first one, two, three, and build a following one at a time.

    On #4 the advice I’ve heard, which is quite powerful, is that you don’t have to be original, but you have to be unique.

    Thanks for a great article.

  22. Melinda says:


    This article brought me out of lurkdom to comment! I think this article is one of the best you have written. I’m taking notes & re-reading! Thanks, this is really helpful to me.

  23. Jennifer says:

    Hi James,

    I love this article, lots of great ideas. Keep em coming.

    Thanks for sharing,

  24. Tracy says:

    Another great article from Passive Panda. I will surely refer back to this as I work on my next big project.

  25. Jake says:


    Another great article indeed. #5 particularly resounded with me “Ignore the messages from your competitors.”

    I spend too much time trying to be better than my competition, rather than just being the best me!

    Thanks so much for the high quality list!

  26. Dexter says:

    Great list of helpful information! Thank you.

  27. Sheila says:

    I just recently signed up for your newsletter and love it. Not only do you give out great advice, but you keep me inspired to succeed. Thanks so much!

  28. Chris Udofia says:

    Your site is very resourceful and inspiring.

    Am so full of fresh Ideas after visiting your website.

    Thank you for your big heart, and commitment towards impacting others like me.

    Am glad I visited your site, its one of the site I can call home.

    Thank You.

  29. Mateen Khan says:

    Hi dear : Excellent article, enjoyed it to the last word. Noted down the important ideas in my personal dairy to read them again and again and make them the way of my life. Thanks again.

  30. Jomo says:

    AWESOME tips! This was SUPER applicable to my business and where I desire to move towards.

    Covered the FULL SPECTRUM…the broad perspectives and the intricate details of what it takes to run a long-lasting, sustainable business. Love how you’ve laid it all out there, showing what it takes to turn your business into a movement :)

    Just came across this site last night and I just wanna thank you for what you seem to have created with this site…

    Powerful insights…nothin but love and gratitude for sharing your experiences and wisdom!

    - Jomo -

  31. Yourmom says:

    Great Article, James I really wish I could email it to my friend (anonymously) because he is struggling with her non-profit and I don’t want to hurt his feelings by suggesting he try these ideas. I know it probably sounds silly but some people are sensitive that way.

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