This page is not here to impress you.
We actually downplay quite a few of the predictions in the following text, just so we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
Instead, this is a page to help hold ourselves accountable.
If we keep predicting things that don’t even end up close to happening – or end up being ‘duds’ down the line – then we’ll need to rethink our strategy and how we put these reports together.
That said, we are proud of what we’ve predicted so far, and that pride is one of the motivations in keeping this site going.
Gaps Readers Making Millions: The Original Big Prediction
At 15 years old, I put my first ever site on the internet: ViperChill.com.
(There’s nothing to see there — it only tells you to come here).
At ViperChill I primarily wrote about my passion for SEO, but also discussed building high-converting landing pages, attracting more email subscribers and more.
One article I wrote – which later turned into a three-part series – was about the success of a website called Viral Nova.
The site found a gap in Facebook’s algorithm whereby clickbait articles were getting shared heavily, and went all out on creating such content.
I documented their success, while warning readers the opportunity was time sensitive if they wanted to have a chance of succeeding with a similar approach.
The original report garnered a lot of comments (above) – as did the two follow-up posts – and even earned ViperChill a mention on Bloomberg.
What really stood out was that at least three people reached out to me months later to let me know they had made millions doing the same thing (with many more reporting 5 and 6-figure revenues), and credited having the idea thanks to our reporting.
While I can’t verify all the claims, I was given analytics access to quite a few, and even had many phone calls with one of the millionaires.
The success of this reporting is the main reason Gaps exists today. I have shared a lot more opportunities, and have a lot more I can’t wait to share going forward.
Predicting OnlyFans (Before You Knew What Only Fans Was)
If you have no idea what OnlyFans is then don’t go and search for it on your work computer (or if you’re not an adult).
I had actually forgotten about this 2016 prediction but was kindly reminded by Gaps-reader Kovid in one of his emails to me.
Kovid pointed out our Patreon earners article where I did indeed say,
And that’s why I think the next online millionaire is going to create a Patreon specifically for adult content and performers.
It’s the kind of content many people are interested in but not many want to be associated with, so if you’re fine with the association, you’re going to have less competition.
If I were to build an ‘Adult Patreon’ myself I would keep the branding more general than naughty, mostly for the countless “Youtube stars” that people are paying a lot of money to see photos of on the site.
To take some credit away from mysellf, OnlyFans was launched 7 months before my prediction, but I genuinely had no idea it existed back in 2016 (and neither did most of the world).
When I saw Patreon was getting stricter with adult content, despite the success of creators there, I knew there had to be someone to take their crown at one point.
To date, OnlyFans has paid out over $2bn to creators on its platform, with over $300m coming into the site in December of 2020 alone.
A Featured Local News Story Acquired in 2020
Another angle I’ve been bullish on with Gaps updates is that of local news.
In my original report, which went live when I originally shared Gaps.com with the world, I primarily covered the success of TexasMonthly being acquired for $25m, but also covered a site called The Charlotte Agenda quite prominently.
Two years after covering them for my story – and subsequent stories on how our readers could find ‘gaps in the market’ – the Charlotte Agenda was acquired by another media brand, Axios.
The deal was said to be worth around $5m dollars for The Charlotte Agenda, and I couldn’t be happier for the team behind the site.
Of course, I can’t really take credit for writing about one company who were later acquired, but I do like to see that the potential with building a local news focused brand is getting greater all the time.
When NiemanLab asked some top journalists for their predictions for 2021, for example, local news was a hot topic.
One journalist stated:
2021 will be a really good year for the business of local news.
Local news is one industry this pandemic did not disrupt. The pandemic shined a light on the need for local journalism and local news outlets will benefit from new relationships residents are building with their local news providers.John Garrett
I think we’re going to see even more success in this area in the coming years, and quite a few more acquisitions for those who carve out an audience with their local community.
Building Medium’s Next Product Three Months Before Them
Back when Gaps launched I shared the story of my own $100 startup.
The rules were simple: I had to build a profitable website, from scratch, while spending less than $100 and being unable to use my name or any connections I have.
I would love for you to check out the full article (all of the lessons still work now in 2021) but the short version of the story is that my startup turned articles on Medium into spoken audio.
Instead of having to read the best content on the site, you could listen to it.
Just three months after building the project, Medium launched that exact same thing:
While I guess it’s possible that I inspired Medium with my idea, I think it’s highly unlikely (I’m not that egotistical).
Still, the timing turned out to be pretty amazing.
Because we follow so many start-ups, we’ve since seen similar ideas get the support of investors.
One of our favourites is MeetCute, which offers 15 minute audio stories, specifically covering romanntic comedies.
I don’t know if the project will be a hit, but they’ve raised $9.25m (with the last round as recent as December 2020) from people who believe it can be.
Two and a Half Years and $12M
One again I won’t take credit just because I covered a site that was later acquired, but the story is such a perfect example of the Gaps philosophy that I couldn’t not include it here.
Especially because I headlined my entire article around their rapid success:
Just two and a half years later, those 100,000 subscribers I mentioned were now 1 million+ strong, and Jack sold a 60% stake in his business to TravelZoo for $12m.
I wanted to extend this screenshot just to say thanks to Benji, as with so much going on offline I never knew when (if ever) I would get back to writing here on Gaps again.
It’s really nice to be writing pages like this one with many more predictions on the way. (Subscribe? It’s free).
Predicting the SEO Tool Industry Was About to Have a Lot of Issues
I was technically right about this one, and very quickly, but I wasn’t happy about being so.
(And the rebound was fairly quick as well).
Running an SEO agency and a successful SEO course, it makes sense that Gaps had to have a deep-dive into the SEO industry.
Under an ‘Unpopular Opinion’ headline, I made the following prediction:
I have a hunch that Google will start to crack down on the most popular companies which profit from tracking their search results. I would be surprised if it happens in the next year or two, but I do think it will happen.
It’s not the most likely event, I admit. After all, Google have essentially been allowing companies to profit from scraping their data for a very long time.
It would also be incredibly ironic. They’re the biggest scraper on the web. And they ask you to opt-out before they start crawling your site, rather than opt-in.
Weeks later, some of the most popular sources of ranking data that big SaaS tools relied on suddenly became unavailable.
I will not mention any names (and a lot of what I heard was undoubtedly just rumours) but there was a lot of angry chatter in Facebook groups after companies had to delay their reporting or limit the ‘credits’ they gave to users.
What I didn’t expect was that companies would be able to bounce back so quickly with other sources of data, which was great for us (at least as SEOs).
I never wanted to be right about this one, and I’ll only give myself half a point (at most) because I have no interest in saying which companies were involved and bringing them negative attention.
I mostly just wanted to include this one as it’s an example of what you can “see” when you’re so involved in a space, which we will try to do for every industry and angle we cover here.
Predicting a ProductHunt Smash Hit, 12 Months in Advance
There’s no financial success in these ones – at least not that I know of – I just thought it was super cool to cover.
In my article on spending $20,000 on a domain name, I said:
Today’s Product Hunt homepage highlights projects we’re excited by right now, yet if you go back just two months on the Wayback machine, that exciting list of smart ideas transforms into a graveyard of abandoned web space.
With 170,000 new websites coming online every single day, surely there’s an opportunity to connect those with the creativity and consistency in ‘shipping’, with those who are able to focus on one thing at a time to see a project through.
Build the platform that helps creative side-projects get a new lease of life and I’ll be your first customer.
Since then, a number of side projects – some more popular than others – have popped up to help people purchase exactly this.
Of course, I won’t say that they were inspired by my prediction – my predictions are designed to “happen” whether someone reads them or not – but it was cool to see.
Exactly 12 months after my post went live, 1KProjects (now known as IndieMaker) was launched on ProductHunt. Quickly becoming the top product of the day, and number #3 for the week.
Even their slogan was pretty much exactly what I stated,
“Sell your abandoned side projects without the hassle.”
This entire page is a work in progress, but I hope for those of you who are new to the Gaps site that it was an interesting look down memory lane.
Here’s to the next predictions, of which we have a lot coming in 2021.