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The Lever #037 - Digital Homesteading




Attention on social media is a modern-day land grab.


It's time to stake your claim.

 

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Times were tough out east back in the late 1800's.


With the industrial revolution in full swing regular people began moving into cities for the first time. The economy was shifting from being driven by agriculture to be driven by industry. If you wanted to feed your family you had to work.


The big city factories is where you went to find it.


The influx of former famers and families lead to overcrowding, poverty, and disease. Indoor plumbing wasn't really a thing yet and the cramped living conditions weren't very nice. Competition for work was high and the gap between rich and poor was increasing rapidly.


Something had to give.

The Call of the West

People wanted a better life, and Abraham Lincoln tried to give it to them.


In 1862 Lincoln passed The Homesteading Act which provided an opportunity for that better life.


It allowed individuals and families to stake their claim on 160 acres of public land, which they could settle and cultivate. The Act helped facilitate the development of the West, stimulate agricultural productivity, and promote land ownership among ordinary citizens.


Railroads (owned by the richest people in the world) also took massive benefit from the Act and this surge to the West.


It opened up vast areas of land for homesteading, offering a chance for people to escape poverty, overcrowded cities, and unfavorable economic conditions. The Act provided a pathway for settlers to establish farms and homes and to foster growth of communities.


While the trip wasn't always easy, the Act helped contribute to the economic and social development of the United States as you know it today.

Homesteading

Homesteading means to claim ownership of a space, then turn it into something of value through your effort.


The modern definition has morphed slightly, with concepts like "urban homesteading" taking hold. The core idea here is one of self-sufficiency and a lack of dependency on a third party (like the power company, or government) to provide your basic needs.


This brings people full circle back into an agrarian lifestyle, as farming your own food becomes a necessity for total independence.

Analogue Vs Digital

Today there is a new kind of land grab taking place. And for most people its happening right under their noses.


The online world is a massive land grab for space and attention. It provides immense opportunities for those who can capture it, and many will fail, leaving their wagon broken down on the side of the trail.


The parallels to the push West are obvious:

  • Centralized wealth

  • A massive economic shift

  • Overcrowding in the space

  • High competition for work

In traditional homesteading, individuals stake a claim on a piece of land and invest time, effort, and resources to make it livable and productive.


In digital homesteading, individuals stake their claim on a specific niche, topic, or audience online. They invest time and effort in building a website, creating content, and engaging with their online community to establish their digital presence.


Traditional homesteaders rely on physical resources like land, water, and natural materials, while digital homesteaders leverage digital resources such as internet connectivity, web hosting, and software platforms.


Both require specialized skills to be successful. Skills that are largely free to acquire.

The Digital Homestead

If digital homesteading means staking a claim online its important to think about what space you are claiming.


The bloggers had it right.


In the earlier days of online platform building the personal blog was king. You published your content there, the engagement happened in the comments, and your audience stayed with you on your land.


You could make a living sowing your digital soil.


These days, much like the railroads eventually dominated the push west, most people are working as digital sharecroppers for someone else. Their efforts are focused on making someone else rich, while maybe scraping out a small profit for themselves.

But once the land is barren and stripped of resources, the barons will move on and leave you with nothing.


Remember MySpace?


Protect yourself by staking your own claim.

Stake Your Claim

Staking your claim online is actually two things.


First, you need LAND.

This means digital property that nobody can take from you. A website and email list.


If Twitter shut down tomorrow would it be a bump in the road? Or would it be the rock that breaks your wagon's axle, leaving you in the dirt?


The first step towards protecting yourself is a personal website. Try to grab your name as a domain. Mine is SeanHogue.com.


Second, you need an IDEA.

Think of this like the seeds you sow, or the crop you farm. It’s the content you create, or the business you build.


What you plant can change over time but its important to allow each crop to grow for a season. You wouldn't tear up half your field to plant something when the seeds are just starting to sprout.


If you are going to become self sufficient online its important that you become known for a thing. This brand recognition is what will bring people to your home, and hopefully stay for dinner.


Optional - Setup outposts.

The first two steps are enough for some people. Derrick Sivers for example. ALL of his online work is posted at Sivers.org (his digital homestead). And because of his books, story, and life philosophy that is enough.


But for most of us its not. If your homestead is in the middle of nowhere, how will people even know how to find it?


You need to setup outposts on other peoples property so you can spread the word.

At its core this simply means that when a new website pops up, you go and claim your username. You don't even have to use it. But by staking your claim to it you COULD if so needed.


I've got accounts everywhere, from mySpace, to Pinterest, to t2.social. I claimed my username at Threads on day 2.


Outposts are like the Pony Express for reach. They help you get the message out further and faster. Just don't expect to live there permanently.

Own Your Land

Digital homesteading is the new land grab.


Do you want to pay rent for the rest of your life? Or would you rather own an IDEA, plus the homebase that you spread your message from?


Start by buying your domain. Then go claim your username everywhere.


The land is free for the taking.


Time to head west.

 

When you are ready, here are a few ways I can help:


1. Subscribe to The Lever (if you haven't already)


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