Before the western frontier of the United States filled up settlers could go west and stake a claim. They could find a small piece of land and make it their own simply by staking their claim and depending on the current laws, doing something useful with the land. Unfortunately, that frontier has come to a close and there is no more unclaimed physical land left. Luckily, there is a new frontier, the world of information and ideas. Unlike land, there is an infinite amount of territory available. The modern day way of staking a claim is to a) become an expert in a topic, b) create a sticky message around the topic to mark the territory as your own and c) spread the message to make the territory valuable and your “ownership” known.
The first step is to gain expertise in some area. Of course some so called “thought leaders” try to skip this step and call themselves a leader of something or put themselves in front of a movement with no real credentials. While this strategy can work, it is disingenuous and it is better to develop an expertise before trying to become known as an expert. After deciding what area you want to focus on, delve deep into that area, reading a ton of material on the subject, working in the field and talking with and developing a relationship with experts in the field. If there are events focused on the topic, attend them. If not, organize events around the subject.
As you gain expertise, share your thoughts with the world by blogging, creating videos, writing a book, writing guest articles and whatever else. Make sure to put time into developing great content and make the content in such a way so that it is easy to spread and will remain fresh (evergreen content). Coining terms and creating a whole new terminology can be a useful differentiator and can help you “own” this new area. Tim Ferriss wasn’t the first to write about starting your own business and traveling, but he presented a new twist and a great overall package. He created a number of new terms “join the new rich”, “4-hour workweek”, “lifestyle design” and “geoarbitrage” as part of his book. Tim really stepped it up from his old blog to his new one.
Of course it is much harder to stake a digital claim then it is to write about doing so. It takes a high level of commitment to become an expert in a field and then to create quality content around the subject matter. And you will have to keep with it even though it can take a long time to build an audience. There is an increasing amount of competition as more and more people are creating content in each niche. Though, with enough dedication and hustle, it is definitely possible.