The Profitable Art and Science of Looking for an Information Gap

What do I mean by an information gap?

To draw from my own experience with creating websites, here are two websites and one blog I created when I saw a gap in the amount of quality information available online.

First, Back in 1999 I couldn’t find many sites offering quality information on the topic of online copywriting. So I created to fill that gap.

Second, In January 2006 I started writing this website because I found a quite different kind of gap. While there were tons of websites already online that focused on coffee, there weren’t any that provided quality information for beginners. That is to say, there weren’t any sites for people who were about to buy their first coffee maker.

Third, In September 2008 I was writing a program and looking for a “gap” to use as an example. I discovered that while there were plenty of sites in the U.K. and in Australia delivering quality information on headphones, there were barely any sites or blogs devoted to headphones in North America.

This is how I choose the subjects for my own money-making websites – I look for the gap.

Just looking at the three examples above, you can see at least three different ways in which to identify a gap:

1. An absence of quality information, now or in the near future.

In the case of I was an early arrival. There was just a big gap in quality information for people who wanted to learn how to write content and copy for the Web. So I jumped in to fill the void.

You can also think ahead and anticipate a gap. I own a domain name called Brain****.com. (Not really with asterisks. I’m just protecting the name for now.) Why? Because there is a lot of work going on currently to develop a new class of drugs that will help people remain alert for longer. The first market will likely be the military and pilots, etc. I’m guessing the second market will be students and business people. I keep an eye on this area. I don’t have the resources to be the first out there on this subject. But as soon as someone big steps in to do the heavy lifting regarding public awareness, I’ll ride the wave with Brain****.com.

2. A group of people not being served well.

This was the case with There was no apparent gap when looking at the topic of coffee. But by looking at the audience instead of the topic, I was able to identify the gap – people who were about to buy their first home brewer and buy ground coffee for the first time.

There are a ton of information gaps out there when you take this approach.

Consider a topic and then think of the people who might come to your site, in terms of advanced, intermediate, and beginner. While your basic topic may be quite well addressed online, it could be that one of those three groups is not being well looked after. There’s your gap.

3. A geographical gap.

What’s hot in other countries and likely to become hot in your country?

In the case of I noticed that a Google search for the word “headphones” came up with a lot of domains. That suggested to me that while the English were writing quality information sites and blogs about headphones, North Americans weren’t.

I might just as well have found that gap by thinking of a possible topic and then comparing the number of print magazines devoted to that subject in different countries. Is the topic well addressed in print elsewhere, but not in your country? Do you think it likely that interest will increase in your country? You may have found your gap.

Concluding thoughts …

When you choose a subject for a money-making website, you need to find an information gap. You don’t want to go head-to-head with a large number of established websites which are already delivering quality information.

The three approaches described above are just some of the ways you can go about finding a gap to work with.

Any one of them can lead you to a potential goldmine.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 15, 2009

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