Happy birthday! Blockwarts turns 3…

31 July is Harry Potter’s birthday, a day he shares with his creator JK Rowling. But today is also exactly three years ago I started Blockwarts. In this post, I’ll reflect on the year that went, and on what I hope to achieve in the coming year…

Today, it is exactly three years ago I posted my first post here – so Happy Birthday to me! It continues to be an amazing journey, providing LEGO Harry Potter related content to a growing number of followers around the world.

It is also the first year of Blockwarts being a Recognised LEGO Fan Media (RLFM), which we announced this time last year. RLFM is a relatively new program offered by LEGO to support sites that contribute to the LEGO fan community. These come in all sizes (Brickset and Brothers Brick are among the largest, with Blockwarts being in the very small end of the range). Being an RLFM has allowed be access to news and occasional review sets and has been a great experience.

Being recognised also mean you cannot share any leaked photos of upcoming sets or figures, though I have never done that anyway. I prefer getting surprised by an awesome looking set appearing out of the blue myself and won’t spoil it for others either.

How did the year go?

As usual, I’ll take this opportunity to provide a stock take on progress and achievements. I normally see Blockwarts having three pillars: the website blog, the Facebook page and my Instagram account. Let us see how each of those areas have been going:

  • Website blog: The number of monthly views of blog posts and pages has increased a lot, interestingly driven mainly by website traffic rather than referrals from Facebook posts. December – with the advent calendar review – topped my wildest expectations with more than 50,000 views. The direct website traffic meant that I wasn’t affected much by the blocking of all Australian news sites by Facebook that happened during the year. I did however spend some time on search engine performance and setting up the site in Google Media in response to the Facebook block.
  • Facebook: The number of followers is growing at a slower pace than previously, but I haven’t done too much to promote the site either. In particular, I’ve scaled down the amount of cross-posting I do in other groups – but I do appreciate when people share posts the like. It is always better coming from a fan than from myself.
  • Instagram: Life has been busy – and Instagram has suffered in response. I haven’t shared much, but have still grown the number of followers quite a bit. I will need to think about what I want to use this channel for – to complement what is provided in the blog and on Facebook.

But beyond those three pillars, I realise there is another important element. The physical displays of my MOCs. Obviously, displaying has been very limited in the last year, but with the world opening up again (slowly) – Russell and I were able to display our large Hogwarts display and a number of my smaller models in a 20th Anniversary of LEGO Harry Potter exhibition.

From our 20th Anniversary of LEGO Harry Potter exhibition

And today, I’ve been out again. The local Harry Potter shop was turning four today and had organised a market day, which I joined with some of my displays. What a great way to celebrate a Harry Potter birthday.

Some stats

I thought it would be interesting to go through a few numbers for the blog itself.

The number of posts has now reached 225. As more and more information, average views per visitor has increased as well. In 2018-19, average views per visitor was just over 2, while it has climbed to just under three now (with December typically much higher).

So where do the readers come from? This top 10 represents the visitors to the site since 1 January. US is in the lead by far – but UK, Australia and Germany are also keen readers (Germany was third till recently).

Top 10 countries in terms of visitors to http://www.blockwarts.org

In the following spots (11-20), you’ll find New Zealand, a few Asian countries (China, South Korea) and otherwise more European countries.

Did I deliver?

Last year, I flagged several ideas to progress. This included adding more instructions, as they seemed to be popular. In the last few months, I have got around to make some, which are all now available on the Instructions page:

An area that didn’t get progressed was improvements to the website layout. I would still very much like to freshen up the look and feel of the website and improve the navigation. Hopefully, I’ll get time to progress that in the coming year.

Finally, I did as intended run two My Own Creation (MOC) competitions, one was for small vignettes for Harry Potter themed minifigures, the other was my 20th Anniversary of LEGO Harry Potter MOC competition. Organising these takes a bit of practice I have realised, but they have been great for engagement with the talented builders out there.

What posts have been the most popular?

The five posts (published in the last year – sometimes older posts make it onto the top 5, but I’ll disregard those) that saw the most views in the last 12 months were:

The main observation is consistent with what I learned last year, that news and rumours perform best. I’m however pleased to see my post about how to upgrade the 4 Privet Drive set (adding a garage mainly) also made it to the top five list. And I must say that I’m surprised to see the attention the wizard card tiles have got. My various posts covering them have consistently been among the best performing ones in the last two months.

Another observation is that my Instructions page keep getting a solid amount of hits. So while I have added more instructions this this, I will endeavour to create even more in the coming year.

It is interesting that none of my many reviews made the top 5 list – and that the review that got the most views was from the previous year (REVIEW: Room of Requirements) while the following places generally being from my daily reviews of the 2020 Advent Calendar builds, with 12 December being the most viewed of those (most likely because many couldn’t find out what it was supposed to be). If we look at reviews of actual sets, the review of Chamber of Secrets leads, with Hogsmeade Village Visit being just behind.

…and which were the least popular posts?

The five posts written in the last 12 months that have had the fewest views were:

As much as it is interesting to see what is performing well, I often find it equally interesting to see what didn’t catch as much attention. There is not too much to conclude in this case – other than timeliness is important. Reviews that are done soon after a release gets a lot more attention than a review done months after.

But I also like to do other stuff, like revisiting old sets and write about very different things than just news, rumours and other things that perform well. It is part of the idea behind the site, providing a wide range of posts, not just what is most popular.

What’s coming up?

So, what about next year? I’ll keep what worked well – with focus on news, reviews and modifications of sets – ideally with instructions provided. I have plenty ideas for MOCs too – with a few I’m really happy about to be revealed soon. And then all the other weird ideas I may get – maybe more memes, or something completely new.

As mentioned, an improved website layout is also high on the wish list. Apart from the visual experience, it will also include improved navigation – with focus on something that also works well when viewing on smart phones.

And I will continue with having semi-regular My Own Creation (MOC) competitions, with the next one to be announced in a few days, so stay tuned!

Anything else you would like to see? Please let me know in a comment how I can make this blog even better.

Thank you!

Finally, I will say a big thank to you all for following this blog, the many likes (encouraging me to keep going), and leaving comments/participating in discussions – the latter making this a lot more interactive than otherwise. With this support behind me, I’m ready for another year ahead. I wonder what highlights to present next year. Time will tell…

Till then, Build the Magic!

My Birthday photo from 2019. Instructions are available on the Instructions page.

2 thoughts on “Happy birthday! Blockwarts turns 3…

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