Fat Hippos & Mining for Content Holes: $9K/pm in 90 Days [Part 2]

Fat Hippos and Mining for Content Holes

In my last post I revealed the exact process I went through to choose a niche I cannot just compete in, but dominate.

Since I’m planning to drop a hippo in a paddling pool, choosing the right niche is only the first step. If you really want to blow the competition out of the water you’ve got to fatten the hippo up first.

Fattening up the hippo requires coming up with better content that is not just smarter, but also packs a much heftier punch.

Fattening Up the Hippo

Although I have heaps of experience in the niche I’ve chosen, I still don’t consider myself an expert, which is why after choosing the niche I ordered a ton of books from Amazon, powered up Evernote and meticulously combed through them, page by page, noting down each and every key point I can use to back up my arguments.

A Ton of Books to Read

Simply quoting from books in your blog posts will set you miles apart from the competition because you’ll sound more professional if you base arguments on literature rather than on just other people’s watered down blog content. You’ll also be able to use cool quotes in Tweets :)

Are You Crazy?

You might say dedicating so much precious time to reading is crazy and I’d be way better off starting to write content immediately, but what I learned at University is if you do it the other way round – write and research as you go along it will not only be a struggle, but also you’ll end up with very poor content.

I always got the best marks when I’d done a sh*t load of research first, planned meticulously and then when it actually came to writing I could churn out ideas fluidly because so much stuff was already bouncing around my head.

So, 14 days out of the 90 I’ve got to make a $9K/pm authority site have been spent reading. Now I’ve got over 30,000 words of notes in Evernote, am buzzing with article ideas and genuinely feel that the articles I produce will be fat enough to blast all my competitors out of the paddling pool.

Productive Reading Breaks

To avoid going completely insane and having a brain meltdown, I didn’t just spend the last couple of weeks reading, I had regular breaks to continue the game plan for the website.

If you read my previous post you’ll have seen I built an excel to track:

  • Who’s consistently ranking
  • How much fresh content there is in the niche
  • Which article title’s go more viral

This is what is looks like:

Researching the Competition

As you can see, I noted down the top 10 websites that were ranking for a bunch of target keywords so I could see if there was an opportunity in the niche.

After I realised the niche was insanely tappable, I didn’t just stop, relax and crack open a beer to celebrate. Nor did I consume the entirety this 5 litre carton of wine:

5 Litre Carton of Wine

NO!!! I continued foraging for keywords and didn’t stop until I’d listed all the stats of the top 10 articles for 180 keyword ideas. Yes, one hundred and eighty, that’s a grand total of 1800 articles to mine for content holes.

These were all painstakingly punched into an excel manually, so please don’t tell me if there’s an automatic way to do this, I’d rather not know :S

With all this data at my fingertips not only can I clearly see which kind of articles are going viral in the niche, or which keywords are the most easy to rank for, but it also revealed almost every single competitor and link prospect in the niche, cutting out the need to do that work separately ;)

In effect, I’ve been able to kill various birds with one stone as I now have a list of 491 sites I can build relationships with, market my content to and reach out for links. Sure, there are a lot of direct competitors in the excel and some sites that only occasionally write about the niche I’m attacking, but in the next post I’ll explain my process for dividing these up with tags on BuzzStream so you can easily identify the right people to reach out to with just a couple of clicks!

Content Mining

So with 180 potential keywords to go after (all with at least 200+ average searches per month), I was ready to select my target keywords to craft the first set of articles around for when the site goes live.

Since the new site is going to be divided into 5 core categories, for the sake of not making it appear sparse when we release it to the world I decided to settle on 18 initial keywords to write 18 kickass articles.

This means each category will house at least 3 juicy articles, so the site already looks busy on the day it goes live.

Here’s the process I went through to choose the right type of keywords for the initial launch:

Selecting Untapped Words

Because the site is going to appear out of nowhere, fresh off the block with no followers, subscribers or relationships to draw on for links and sharing, the keywords I selected for the first 18 articles are not my “Star” keywords.

I’ve decided to wait a few weeks before going after the “Star” keywords so that I’ve at least got a “happy-to-share” following and some solid contacts to reach out to when I really need articles to rank.

So, I’ve chosen severely untapped keywords that have medium to low search volume, (averaging at around 3,000 searches per month) so I can focus more on the viral impact and less about rank.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t care about ranking for these low search volume keywords. In fact, I rather do care, but the point is that I don’t need to put much effort into ranking them because they should rank effortlessly without any need for hands on link building.

Here’s an example of one of the untapped keywords I’ve chosen and why I’ll be able to rank for it:

Content Mining

Out of the top 10 results on Google, only #7 has the keyword in the title and none of the other results focus strictly on that subject. 

This is a content hole dying to be filled! – so if I simply create a more focussed resource, with the keyword in the title and make the article highly shareable, it should be able to rank in the top of the pack without me needing to build any links manually.

Even if it doesn’t rank, it’s not the end of the world for me because it’s not an important keyword.

Mine & Craft Viral

As you can see, creating viral, shareable content is at the forefront of my strategy to make my site come out of nowhere and blow everybody else out of the paddling pool. In order to know exactly what kind of content goes viral in the niche, I cherry picked the most viral articles from my list of 1800 articles and put them all together in a new excel.

The pattern that emerged was startling. Almost all the top performing articles are lists:

Mining and Crafting Viral Content

It’s no secret that lists perform well. The most popular article on clambr.com is, afterall, a list: “55 SEO Experts Reveal 3 Favourite Link Building Tools“.

But what makes these lists extra special in a niche dominated by lists (sorry the titles are hidden), is that these lists appeal to a wider audience than those just interested in the niche, which has caused people who wouldn’t usually share this sort of content to share it too.

Appealing to a Wider Audience

If you’re thinking about going into a niche about body building, for example, rather than making a post that’ll only appeal to people in the niche, e.g. “Best Workout Routine for Building Muscle Fast”, why not structure the post a little differently to appeal to everyone who loves movies?, e.g. “Bane VS Batman: Which is the Best Workout Routine?”

You could still write about the same subject – a workout routine that builds muscle fast, except you’ll be comparing two different techniques with very different results. People could even vote which routine is the best and might even ask girls’ opinion on which body they prefer, Batman or Bane. Who knows, but just by adding the movie touch to the post you’ll attract way more eyeballs to something that could have just been another un-shareable, dull workout routine.

So…my strategy for the first 18 articles is to make the majority of them epic lists that are not just shareable to those solely interested in the niche, but to anyone who sees then pop up on Facebook or Twitter.


Appealing to the wider audience is not about being too broad and losing track of your niche’s focus. It’s about crafting your content to reach more opportunities. If you’re building a new niche site like me, I’d recommend always having the question “would people share this” in mind for every single article you write.

With all the above research and planning done, I began writing the first of the 18 articles yesterday :)

In the next post I’m going to reveal how I’m preparing to reach out to the right people when the site goes live for each of the first 18 articles. I’m also going to reveal how I’ve chosen just three products to initially promote on my site and how I’m going to use a number of viral articles to funnel my target customers to one of the three highly converting products.


  1. Richard Marriott says

    Cheers Scott! Thanks a lot for your support! We’re writing articles like crazy these days :S Trying to get one a day in the bag. Have a fantastic weekend and see you again soon!

  2. Richard Marriott says

    Hey Andrei, so you’re a Cotes Du Rhone fan too eh? Yeah it’s lovely stuff and I can’t believe how cheap it is.

    So far 7 of the 18 articles are already in the bag so it’s going pretty well.

    We plan to launch the site before Nov 25 at the very latest.

    Have a cracking weekend mate!

  3. Jon says

    Hi Richard,

    Your project sounds great. I will be following closely from southern Spain.

    Sounds nice that Cotes Du Rhone. What do you mean with cheap?


  4. Richard Marriott says

    Hi Jon,

    Glad you’re enjoying it so far :)

    Yeah the Cotes Du Rhone is lovely. It’s only 13 Euros for 5 litres which I think is a bargain for such nice wine!

  5. Jon says

    Really sounds cheap! Will you get any work done with that around? :D

    BTW, it would be nice if you could summarise the expenses of the hideout. Meaning…should I consider something like this if I need a retreat or should I move some months to Chiang Mai?

    Just the basics. Food, shelter, internet.

    Because the place seems like a very good site to focus on a project.


    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Jon,

      The hideout I’m in is a little expensive because it’s in a ski resort, however, it is off season so rent is cheap.

      So far I’ve been able to survive on just 70 Euros for food each week. Internet is about 20 quid a month. I’m not sure how the electricity and water bills are stacking up but I’m sure they won’t be much.

      Let’s say including rent it’s costing about 1000 Euros a month.

      But a place like Chiang Mai would be a much more affordable place to hideout. Living costs in Thailand are very similar to China aren’t they? You could probably budget 500 quid a month to cover rent, bills and food easily. Even maybe go out and have a few drinks ;)

      When I first started working in China, I lived very well on only 500quid a month and that included all the necessities. I guess your main outlay will be the air fare, but once that’s paid for you’ll be good to go!

      • Jon says

        Hi Richard,

        Thanks for the information! Much appreciated!

        For Chiang Mai I made my numbers(in Euros) and 6000€/year seemed ok for my needs. So it would be a bit more cheaper than China given the exchange rates with Sterling. However, it all depends on the needs. I included scuba diving costs for instance. To become a teacher would be a nice side job :)

        Thanks again and speak to you soon.


  6. says

    Hi Richard,

    Only just got round to reading your latest post, even more intriguing, your approach is fantastic and I wish you all the best with your project, looking forward to your next update and how you go about using Buzz Stream as it is one of those tools I keep meaning to test but never get round to it.

    Best of luck


    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Aaron!

      Glad you’re enjoying it :) There’s a lot of nuts and bolts at the moment, but I’m going to move on to some crazy viral strategy soon which should be a lot more interesting. Looking forward to updating you soon!

      Cheers mate!


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