Birthday time – Blockwarts turns 4!

All true fans know that 31 July is Harry Potter’s birthday, a day he shares with his creator JK Rowling. But it is also the date I started Blockwarts, which means a day of celebration for me as well. Read on for the highlights of my fourth year running this blog and some thoughts of what’s coming next…

Today, it is exactly four years ago I posted the first story here – so Happy Birthday to me! It has been another great and inspiring year, providing LEGO Harry Potter related content to a growing number of followers around the world.

It is the second year of Blockwarts being a Recognised LEGO Fan Media (RLFM). Being an RLFM has allowed access to news and occasional review sets and has been a great experience. Sites supported through the RLFM program come in all sizes (Brickset and Brothers Brick are among the largest, with Blockwarts being in the very small end of the range).

Being recognised also mean you cannot share any leaked photos of upcoming sets or figures, which is why you won’t see leaks posted on this page. It suits me fine as 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 use the birthday as an opportunity to look back at the achievements in the past year. I see Blockwarts as having four pillars: the website blog, the Facebook page, the Instagram account and the physical displays. Let us see how each of those areas have been going:

  • Website blog: The first three years saw rapid growth in visitors year-on-year. This last year we’ve seen a much more modest growth in followers while the traffic itself is in line with last year’s. One reason is that I had some hugely successful posts a bit more than a year ago, which I haven’t been able to match this year. Excluding those, website traffic is up slightly. This traffic is still driven mainly by readers visiting the website directly rather than referrals from Facebook posts.
  • Facebook: The number of followers is growing at a slow, but steady pace. I’m happy with this – as I’ve scaled down the amount of cross-posting I do in other groups (which is the best way to promote the site). I do very much appreciate when people share posts they like. It is always better coming from a fan than from myself (also, I’m not keen on too much self-promotion).
  • Instagram: Okay, I’ve dropped the ball on this one. I only did a few posts during the entire year. Next year can only be better…
  • Physical displays: With COVID restrictions being removed, it has increasingly been possible to display LEGO again at various events. A highlight this year has been showing my newly completed model of King’s Cross station. And here in September, we’ll have our biggest event of the year, where the big Hogwarts setup will be on display for the first time since June last year.
From our 20th Anniversary of LEGO Harry Potter exhibition last year. In September this 96-baseplate setup with be on display again

Also today I’ve been displaying. The local Harry Potter merchandise shop was turning five today and had once against invited us to come and display our LEGO models at their magical birthday market. We displayed with handlers of real owls and snakes around us. What an experience – and a great way to celebrate a Blockwarts’ birthday.

Some stats

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

The number of posts now exceed 300 with about 2.5 average views per visitor this year so far. This is a bit under last year, but will increase as December is typically much higher.

So where do the visitors come from? This top 10 represents the visitors to the site since 1 January 2022. US is in the lead by far – but the UK has also many keen readers with a step down to Canada, Australia and Germany in the following positions.

US43%
UK15%
Canada6%
Australia6%
Germany6%
Netherlands3%
France2%
Spain1%
New Zealand1%
Italy1%
Top 10 countries in terms of visitors to http://www.blockwarts.org

New Zealand is new on the Top 10 while Denmark has just moved out of the list. In the following spots (11-20), you’ll find a few Asian countries (South Korea and Singapore) but otherwise more European countries.

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:

Top 5 posts from the last year:

  1. LEGO Harry Potter sets predicted to retire by the end of 2021 (August 2021 update)
  2. Back to Hogwarts Competition – And the winner is…
  3. 2022 LEGO Harry Potter sets revealed
  4. Hogwarts Magical Trunk: The first 2022 LEGO Harry Potter set has been revealed
  5. LEGO Harry Potter sets predicted to retire in 2022 (June update)

Looking at the top 5, the entries are broadly consistent with what I have seen the last couple of years. News about upcoming sets or what sets that will retire interest many. But I’m pleased to see my post about the winning entries of my “Back to Hogwarts” competition made it to the list as well.

None of them were close to the popularity of my post popular post, Collectable Wizard Tiles, which was posted just outside the 12 month window. Its popularity is reflecting that this is apparently a very common search term.

Another observation is that my Instructions page keep getting a solid amount of hits. I will endeavour to create even more in the coming year.

It is also interesting that none of my many reviews made the top 5 list. I guess it is hard to compete with news, so let’s have a look at the non-news posts.

Top 3 non-news:

The following three were my most read posts, based on content created by me – rather than referring to content from others:

  1. Display your Golden Anniversary LEGO Harry Potter minifigures
  2. 2021 LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar: House rules for game
  3. Building King’s Cross Station – Part 3

I’m pretty happy with that selection. One is for instructions (for a display stand), one is alternative rules for the game included in the Advent Calendar (though I think the popularity was just as much due to the fact that many readers were puzzled that there were no rules included with the game in the first instance) and one about a MOC that I’ve created.

My series of posts about building King’s Cross station was very popular

Top 3 reviews:

https://blockwarts.org/2022/05/03/building-kings-cross-station-part-3/

Top 3 reviews:

Non of my reviews made it on to the list above either, so here is a list of the most popular reviews posted in the last year:

  1. REVIEW: Hogwarts Icons – Collectors’ Edition
  2. REVIEW: Hogwarts Wizard’s Chess
  3. REVIEW: Advent Calendar 3 December 2021

I’m not surprised to see Hogwarts Icons topping the list. That was an amazing set, which I was lucky enough to get as early review copy. My advent calendar posts also tend to do very well, with many following us for the “countdown to Christmas” every day in December. I’m looking forward to do that again. The wizard’s chess review is the odd one on the list. It was posted rather late for a mid-year set, and I would have thought a November post would result in a lot less views. Sometimes you just get surprised I guess.

Bottom 3 posts:

This leaves me with the bottom end of the list, which I finds equally educational.

  1. Wizard chess playing maxi-figures
  2. Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition: Delayed availability in North America
  3. 300 post anniversary!

They all got about the same views. The second on the list was only relevant for readers in North America, and only for a short period of time. So I’m not surprised to see that one on the list. The anniversary post – like birthday posts (yes, including this one) – as expected wasn’t read by that many (I still enjoy writing them though). This leaves the Wizard Chess playing Maxi-figures post, where I combined two of the more interesting sets in last year’s line-up into one display idea. It is still seeing a small, but steady increase in views, so over time, I think it will perform pretty well.

I’m still hopeful, that the Wizard chess playing maxi-figures post will do well in the longer term

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 some good ideas for MOCs too – though not a lot of space to put them. In addition, I’ll try to come up with something different altogether as well, maybe getting back into memes, or doing something completely new.

An improved website layout is also high on the wish list. Apart from the visual experience, it includes improved navigation – with focus on something that also works well when viewing on smart phones. Looking at my spare time available – I’m not sure it can be progressed in the near term though.

As some might have noticed, we haven’t had a My Own Creation (MOC) competition for a while either, so I need to get one of those planned for the coming months.

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 for leaving comments/participating in discussions – the latter making this a lot more interactive than otherwiseWith this support behind me, I’m ready for another year ahead. I wonder what highlights I will present next year. Will it be another year of consolidation? Or has the rapid growth returned? Time will tell…

Till then, Build the Magic!

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

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