Last night while traveling on the overnight bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An in Vietnam, I listened to the latest podcast from the iamfacingforeclosure site. I must admit that I am fascinated by Casey’s story and judging by the people calling in to the podcast, I am not the only one. I don’t want to get into whether what Casey did is right or wrong, but from the perspective of creating a blog or website that can generate a huge amount of traffic in a short amount of time it is an interesting case study.

I have been blogging here for over two years and haven’t received a fraction of the amount of attention as Casey’s blog has. I am also a real estate investor and have purchased a number of properties in Australia and New Zealand that are cash flow positive.

I also have a number of websites which I have built up over the past two years which have enabled me to quit my job in December 2006. So if I compare my blog to Casey’s why does his get so much traffic? Here are some of my thoughts, which hopefully some people will be able to use to get more traffic and generate more interest to their sites.

Entertainment value

Many people seem to read the foreclosure blog purely for entertainment value, despite Casey’s intention to create a site to help people to stop foreclosure. Perhaps people who have personal or financial problems in their own lives gain a sense of satisfaction from seeing someone in a situation worse off than their own.

Human Drama

Just as reality programs have become so popular on television, Casey’s blog is full of drama. His stories detailing his problems with creditors, agents, business partners and family have all of the elements of a reality television program. People just can’t wait to hear the next installment.

Baiting his audience

Casey has a number of so called “haters” which he occasionally baits, resulting in posts with over 300 comments. If people were so put off with what he is doing, you would think they stop reading the blog, but it tends to have the opposite affect, with people creating their own sites and blogs around Casey.

Personal details

Casey has revealed quite a few details about his finances and personal life, which many people would not be prepared to made public. Anything created on the internet, is likely to stay with you for the rest of your life. Even if Casey deleted his blog, sites like archive.org retain caches of the content. Employers and possibly lenders are increasingly heading to Google to undertake research on candidates/customers.

Admitting mistakes

I believe Casey has been pretty honest with his blog, except for a couple of baiting posts. Most people are unprepared to admit their mistakes, let alone making them public on the internet.

Real estate advice

By Casey revealing the mistakes he made with real estate, people can learn what not to do when buying property, such as buying properties without actually seeing them, dealing with building contractors and providing misleading information to lenders. Most so called gurus, usually only reveal their successes. Many people seem to think that the site offers no value to property investors, but I believe people can learn a great deal of how not to invest in property.

Newsworthiness

Casey’s story has been featured in a number of publications and television programs. Each mention in the media has brought in huge amounts of traffic to the site.

Setting challenges

Casey has currently set a challenge where he has to make $1000 a week otherwise he will have to close down his popular blog. Setting a challenge which you need to complete a difficult task within a fixed period keeps people coming back to your site to check your progress.

In summary

If you are prepared to put your life into the limelight and want to have a very popular website like the iamfacing foreclosure site, you would need to:

– Have a story that provides shock value and is newsworthy
– Reveal personal details about your story and how it is affecting your personal life
– Occasionally bait your audience
– Freely admit your mistakes
– Have a dramatic story that slowly unfolds, where people are just itching to find out what happens next
– Create personal challenges with fixed deadlines