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LEGO Blogging

Postby Bruce N H » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:28 pm

Hey all,

We've recently had a couple of new blog announcements here, and a lot of us are active or former bloggers. These blogs can cover the range from a general blog covering all things LEGO, to a niche blog focusing on a particular theme, to a more personal blog focusing on one's own MOCs or experience. There are also people with their own personal blogs that occasionally foray into LEGO-themes. I wanted to start a thread about blogging in general, both for those involved to share their experience and to give others the chance to ask questions.

If you have a LEGO-related blog (either your own or as part of a group blog), answer these questions:
1) What is your blog?
2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
3) Why did you start or join this blog?
4) How do you go about blogging?
5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?

If you don't have a LEGO-related blog, please add any questions that you would like to have answered.

Bruce
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Bruce N H » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:55 pm

Okay, I'll start the ball rolling by answering these myself. I actually have four separate blogs (I know, I'm nuts, I'll cover that below), so I'll answer the questions for each blog individually, starting with:

1) What is your blog?
VignetteBricks
2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
This blog is narrowly focused on vignettes. When I started the blog I stayed exclusively with 6x6 or 8x8 vigs, but later expanded to larger (e.g. 16x16) scenes that someone dubbed 'bignettes'. I try not to go larger than that, because you could get to the point where you just said anything with a fig in it was a vig, and that doesn't really fit what I'm trying to do. I post on people's MOCs and relevant news such as contests with vig categories.
I actually have multiple blogs, as I will get into below, because I strongly believe in niche blogs. I really like it when a blog has a particular character. Not that I don't love what Andrew and company have done with the Brothers Brick, but to me having a lot of different blogs all trying to cover the latest cool MOCs across themes would end up with too much duplication. When a blog has a particular focus, they can delve more deeply and have their own individual charm. E.g., look at Lego Diem - yes, they often get into some of the same really cool MOCs we see elsewhere, but their focus is more on LEGO as a lifestyle, so they'll do things like the LEGO themed birthday cake, or some kid proudly displaying their DUPLO MOC, etc. With niche blogs you can follow someone if you are into a particular theme, or not. For instance, I don't really check the various NXT blogs, as I'm not into that. There is also the chance that non-AFOLs might get into a blog because they like that theme, even if they aren't into LEGO itself. For instance, there are a lot of non-AFOLs who are into programming and robotics that get excited about the aforementioned NXT stuff. Or, for instance, there is a great opportunity for someone to start a LEGO Railroading blog that would excite both AFOLs because of the LEGO aspect, and model railroaders because of the theme, whereas these same model railroaders may not read the Brothers-Brick, even though there is the occasional great train MOC.
Oh, one other blog philosophy. While I'm in an adult community and have no personal problem with curse words or bawdy themes for MOCs, I've always tried to keep my blogs family friendly. So occasionally there are really great MOCs that I leave aside.
3) Why did you start or join this blog?
At the time, early 2005, there was no central home for vignettes. They really got started in the English-speaking AFOL world in fall 2004 and had become popular, with people posting on various forums and on Brickshelf. Yes, there was a new group on Lugnet, but at the time Lugnet was starting to die off. I wanted to gather together and put some focus on vigs, which would otherwise be scattered across multiple themes and therefore posted on different places like CC, FBTB, CSF etc.
4) How do you go about blogging?
Poorly. Every day I go through recent MOCs on Brickshelf and Flickr (by the way, I use Picishare as a way to search Flickr - you can search recent postings by any key word, so you can quickly go through everything posted in the last day that has LEGO anywhere in the title/tags/description) and I bookmark things for my blogs. Unfortunately I'm really bad about getting around to blogging them. Life (wife, kids, work) take up the bulk of my time, and when it comes to online LEGO, my first order of business is CC. Eventually I'll get around to posting things. With Blogger you have the ability to schedule posts, so I'll often schedule a week or so in advance to have something appear every day or every other day, so the blogs look more active than they actually are. I still have long gaps in posting though. Ideally I'd have something new on each of my four blogs at least a couple of times a week, more for vigs and microscale as there are many more relevant MOCs for those themes.
5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
Time. Also, I try not to just duplicate the other blogs, so if the same thing has shown up on the BB, Fascinating LEGO Model of the Day, LEGO Diem, Klocki etc, I go back and forth on whether I should also post it on my own blog. On the one hand I don't want to simply be derivative, but on the other I want, say, MicroBricks, to be the definitive site on microscale, etc.
6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
As I noted above, I'm a big fan of niche blogs. Find a gap in the current array of blogs and come up with your own. For instance, I mentioned above that there is not (I don't think there is, at least) a blog devoted to LEGO trains. Seems like a great opportunity for someone in that theme. Or they don't have to be related to an official theme. For instance, I think a great blog would be devoted to comic book heroes in LEGO. Yes, there have been the official Spider-Man and Batman themes (and other stuff like video games), but also lots of great MOCs on things like the X-Men etc. If I didn't already have a bunch of blogs, I'd consider something like that. Or a million different things - Harry Potter, customization, sculpture, LEGO animals, Star Wars (hmm, there's got to be a good SW LEGO blog out there), history, science, art, etc etc etc. Find something that excites you and that connects with LEGO.
My other piece of advice is to stick with it. I know, I know, I've had long dry spells with my blogs, but it's frustrating when someone starts up a blog that seems like a great new idea, and after three posts their blog sits idle.

1) What is your blog?
MicroBricks
2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
Again, this is a niche blog. The focus is on all topics related to microscale - MOCs, contests, reviews of official sets, community news like the collaborative micropolis display, etc.
3) Why did you start or join this blog?
As with vigs, micro building goes across normal theme barriers, so someone might post a micro castle to CC while a micro spaceship goes to CSF. There is a micro forum on Lugnet, but by late 2006 that felt like an even less viable forum to me. I didn't want to dilute the theme of VignetteBricks, so I started a second blog.
4) How do you go about blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.
5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.
6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.

1) What is your blog?
MinilandBricks
2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
Another niche blog, this one focused on building at or near the miniland scale. Here we mostly see characters, since building a full building at this scale is a massive undertaking, though we've had some of those. I also put in news about the Legoland parks or official store displays, since this is an important scale there.
3) Why did you start or join this blog?
As I noted in my welcome message, really cool MOCs can sometimes be overlooked in less popular building styles, like miniland. Within a few days of eachother, in April 2008, Steve Bishop posted a bunch of Futurama characters, Nathan Proudlove posted his Mystery Machine and Lino Martins posted the Batmobile. I commented in a post on the Brothers-Brick that someone should really start a Miniland scale blog. Well, no one else jumped up, so I started one. By this point I realized that I was over my limit, so I called for a co-blogger. Later I called for co-bloggers for VignetteBricks and MicroBricks as well.
4) How do you go about blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.
5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks. Also, there just aren't as many MOCs at this scale as the others, so this blog was always intended to be less active than those.
6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.

1) What is your blog?
GodBricks
2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
I tag this as 'blogging at the intersection between LEGO and religion'. As a religious person, I'm interested in how people's faith touches every aspect of their life. As I note in my welcome message, religion has been the inspiration for art for thousands of years, and I see LEGO as another medium for creation.
3) Why did you start or join this blog?
I've always been interested in LEGO and religion. Perhaps the most obvious case of this was Brendan Powell Smith's Brick Testament project. If you look back to Brendan's posts on the BT as long ago as 2002 you'll see I gave extended responses and got involved in discussion with him and others about using LEGO for religious themes. Last year I found a group devoted to Christians and LEGO and I was initially excited about the idea - I was hoping this would be further discussion about the intersection of religious themes and LEGO building. Instead it was (mostly) a series of debates on evolution etc with no connection at all to themes of religion/God etc. There so much good stuff out there, like the BT, or like some of the great cathedral MOCs we've seen, that I wanted there to be a site devoted to this topic. And so was born my fourth blog. At this point I did make a more concerted effort to recruit others to help continue my other blogs so I could let them go on autopilot and focus more on this blog.
One of my real hopes for this blog is that the audience would move beyond the AFOL community to also include anyone interested in religious themes. Back when I started VB I made a real effort to explain terms like MOC and AFOL, but I kind of gave that up as it seemed that 99% of my readers were already in the community. GodBricks did get a mention in the New York Times, which was really cool, and probably got more viewers that way.
4) How do you go about blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.
5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks. Also, most AFOLs are in the western world, where the culture is dominated by Christianity. Therefore, most of the relevant MOCs are related to Christianity. I want to include more from other faiths, but there are just fewer MOCs out there relevant to Hinduism, or Islam, etc. Another issue with this blog is that I try to have more of a discussion of what the MOC is about rather than just saying "Here is X by Y" and showing the picture, but that does take a lot more time - especially when the MOC is on a Buddhist theme or something else where I have no personal experience and have to do a little bit of online research to learn more about that theme.
6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
See my answer above under VignetteBricks.

Bruce
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby eilonwy77 » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:20 am

I'm rather interested in this topic, since I've been a very avid journaller/blogger myself. My personal blog devolved into a telling of my children's lives in detail that only a mother could love. Sometimes I think about writing other things though, too. But thinking about a LEGO blog makes me think of the following question: How do you determine that you're in a knowledgeable enough position that you could adequately fill a niche? That you have the expertise to be a good judge of LEGO construction and could pick out good MOCs and then present them well? Do you just decide that you have what it takes and go for it? Do you just not care what others might think of your judgment? And then, if you do decide to start one, how do you get the word out?

8) Katie 8)
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Jul 13, 2010 6:23 pm

Hey Katie,

Great question. I would say the key is not expertise but passion. If you're excited about a topic, go for it. Sure, there are always going to be people out there who are better builders in a given theme, or have been collecting sets for 20 years and can tell you each little detail, or whatever. But if you love a particular topic, that will come across in the blog.

Bruce
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Tedward » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:52 pm

1) What is your blog?
BrickScouts News

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
Scouting-themed creations including general camping and RVing. It is a very irregular blog - updated every couple of months.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?
I wanted to combine my love of Scouting and LEGO. I had been including a BrickScout troop in layouts for shows and wanted a place to show them off and to collect good ideas for building camping equipment.

4) How do you go about blogging?
Usually I notice something on Flickr and use the "Blog this" function I set up on my Flickr. Often I find little gems while perusing albums from large displays that tuck away a campground or Scouts in a corner.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
It is a small niche so there are times when I don't add anything for months. This makes the blog more of a reference than a news source. If someone thinks they want to make a scouting or camping MOC they will hopefully find some useful information or inspiration via the blog. It also reduces the feedback that makes blogging fun. Without comments and people sending in items it can be a bit lonely and frustrating.

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
Ask yourself why? No one is interested in another general blog about LEGO. We have BB and Brickset which cover the general world pretty well. That said there is always room for a well-written, intelligent commentary on
the community and LEGO building and the company itself.

Oh and please don't tell us about your brand new blog until you have a half-dozen interesting entries. You will find out pretty quickly if you are really interested in doing it on a regular basis and a sample of your entries will give people a chance to see if they want to subscribe.


I did also start What's New on BrickWiki? but with the problems of keeping the site running over the last couple of years it went nowhere. I still hope to see BW come back some day soon and maybe things will get going again with a new server and admin team.
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Brickd » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:38 pm

1) What is your blog?
http://www.brickd.com it just launched yesterday!

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
i want to showcase the best designs from the Lego MOC community in a simple site that appeals not only to Lego fans, but also to people in the creative space.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?
i read many design blogs like http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/, and saw an opportunity to build a new blog in that vein to help show people the amazing creations being built with Lego.

4) How do you go about blogging?
i use Tumblr as my engine, and assembled a large number of feeds that go into Google Reader to help me discover content. i also read blogs (like this) and scour other sites, as well as take recommendations.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
finding really high quality content can be challenging. i want to balance frequency of updates with making sure the content is great. i actually just launched yesterday, so right now i'm working hard to build a following. also, i spent a long time working on the site design. i wanted to keep it incredibly simple so the focus could be on the photos.

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
find a voice for your blog. with any web venture, you need to be sure to create a personality that people can build a relationship with.
my Lego design blog: http://www.brickd.com | my twitter: http://www.twitter.com/brickd
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby DanLMOTD » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:39 am

(just joined Classic-Castle to join in here...)

As a quick sidenote - I'll be hosting a roundtable-style discussion on exactly this topic at BrickFair this year. I'll cover a few FAQs about blogging there before opening it up to a discussion like this one (but perhaps more open-ended).

I'm currently active with 3 LEGO related blogs: LMOTD, Brick Town Talk, and NCLUG.us. A fourth blog currently stands as a more personal projects blog, but I actually intend to remove my LEGO MOCs from there to another site in the future.

LMOTD
1) What is your blog?
LEGO Model of the Day: http://lmotd.blogspot.com/

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?

LMOTD is the biggest of the non-theme-specific all ages blogs. I intentionally try to feature a wide variety of MOCs, and I'll try to avoid featuring the same stuff as everyone else when I can. I also try to include a substantial amount of background information about kits, building techniques, or the model's inspiration so that I can provide some sort of educational value to my readers. Currently, most of my audience (that I've heard from) isn't AFOLs so much as parents looking for LEGO inspiration with their kids.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?

I wanted to "write what you know", and it happens that I know LEGO fairly well. I was also interested in doing something of an "outsider" blog that assumed readers didn't know much about the topic, the idea being that I would help people in the general public to have a better sense of what's possible with LEGO and to understand more about both building and the fan community. The "created by" link on every one of my posts was motivated by an interest in making non-LEGO bloggers who wanted to share things I'd featured realize that they need to credit the builder. I also saw a bit of a financial opportunity in being the most mainstream LEGO blog at a time when LEGO blogging hadn't taken off yet.

On those last two points, I've clearly been beaten by the Brothers Brick, but I'm grateful that the task of teaching the "big boys" at Boing Boing, Gizmodo, etc (obviously there are many sites that had the not-crediting-builders issue before, those two just came to mind) how to cover LEGO news respectfully has been accomplished. Where money is concerned, the decision ultimately was to try to give back to the community with the small amount of income the blog generated. Look for a round of giveways "from LMOTD" at this year's BrickFair. This is another thing that TBB has handled well - they use their larger slice of the pie to subsidize flickr pro for their favorite builders.

4) How do you go about blogging?

First, I look at more lousy MOCs than I really care to. I star items in Google Reader as things that can be blogged later, and frequently revisit older posts and the websites of my favorite builders to try to keep a wide variety in what I actually blog. I'll frequently used pre-scheduled posting to make posts show up in a reasonable time frame, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone not crazy enough to put "of the day" in their blog's title. I prioritize variety over newness (unusual amongst bloggers), so I'll often feature something older that some people haven't seen before but should.

Another thing I try to keep in mind is that I'm building a MOC library, in a way. I'll frequently try to google a technique to see how it was done and then find that only LMOTD went on about the MOC long enough for a text-based search to be meaningful. My interest in having a meaningful archive means that I try to focus on photos that aren't likely to be taken down, and I'll try to be long-winded enough that someone interested in the topic can definitely find a post about it. Even if a model was blogged in many places, since few people write text about techniques in depth, I'm frequently the best result on Google. Try searching for "lego stained glass", for example - I know that the MOC I posted in that first result was featured here at Classic Castle and at The Brothers Brick, but my description of the technique makes it easier to find for a novice builder who wants to see how it's done.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?

Timing - since I committed to doing an "of the day" blog, I feel I need to actually update it every day. 2010 is currently on track to be the first year that this plan actually works.

Finding MOCs that meet my self-imposed rules on variety can be a bit of a chore. I intentionally don't feature minifig-based MOCs two days in a row if I can avoid it, for example. If it weren't for being able to lazily re-cover things from MicroBricks and MinilandBricks when I'm really desperate to see something in a different scale, this whole thing would probably fall apart.

Finally, I run out of intelligent things to say. There are only so many positive adjectives you can use to describe what you like about a model. Since we do have plenty of occasional readers and families, I do let myself repeat tips and techniques from time to time. Sometimes a thesaurus can't give you enough different ways to say "awesome LEGO model". You can get really self-conscious about your vocabulary doing this.

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?

Stick with a small theme - there's too much out there to try to do everything. Don't insist on a strict timetable. Some of the cliches about blogging are fairly accurate: "always add value", "you're only as good as your last 5 posts". Don't do it for money - there's not enough of it there and AFOLs are already trying to support TBB, Peeron, Brickset, etc through sponsored links. Don't be afraid to blog your own MOCs as if they're as great as everything else you feature (seriously, we all do it).

Brick Town Talk
1) What is your blog?
Brick Town Talk: http://bricktowntalk.blogspot.com/

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?

We are a cult that worhips the ground Jamie Berard walks on. More generally, we blog Cafe Corner-inspired MOCs.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?

I joined BTT because I love the Cafe Corner style of building and my existing blogging habits/neurosis meant that I was already keeping an eye on the relevant MOCs and news anyway. Although I've built less in that style myself recently, it remains my favorite building standard.

4) How do you go about blogging?

My blogging privileges aren't tied to my main Google account, so I usually wait until I have a few of these MOCs ready to go before I switch accounts and get my blogging done. I try to post every decent CC-style model I see as soon as possible, but stuff flows through the cracks. Between the people who always build in this style well and the flickr group, I actually ignore a few things to avoid constantly blogging the same things over and over again.

The format at BTT is very different from LMOTD - we credit the photographer instead of the builder. My preference is crediting builders, but since many great town builders aren't online but do participate in group layouts, we have to cut corners there. We'll credit the Brickshelf/Flickr/whatever else user we found the top photo through, and give a link to that source page.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?

There are issues with what qualifies as being "Cafe Corner" enough, or should be considered a different type of town model instead. To me, a classic town MOC should be a different scale from Cafe Corner entirely. Part of the CC standard is the idea of roughly 10 bricks' height per floor. Medieval wall heights of close to 7 bricks seems appropriate in scale, but on a modern building that's not going to fit well. I frequently find that the Classic Town website overreaches into the Cafe Corner scale, and we have difficulty drawing the line of what's too far away from CC to count as well. If a model is as detailed as one of Jamie's kits, but is 8 bricks tall with an open back, should it count? Or is it something to leave to Classic Town?

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?

BTT is a good example of a group blog actually working. Generally speaking, it's hard to keep people engaged and focused on the same priorities that you have. BTT succeeded because it was the right idea at the right time - sometimes you just need to find a trend when it starts, and be there blogging the whole thing so the community can be built around you. If there weren't so many CC fans out there reading it already, Richard would never have been able to find the help to keep BTT vibrant. Now it's self-sustaining enough that if one or more of us doesn't blog for weeks at a time, we still don't miss much.


NCLUG
1) What is your blog?
North Carolina LEGO Users Group: http://www.nclug.us/

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?

We try to capture all the local news we can for LEGO fans in North Carolina. We're one of the more family friendly LUGs out there (we don't have age requirements for joining, and we're very informal), so we try to cover some kids' events as well as our shows and meetings. We've occasionally tried covering news and MOCs as well, with mixed success.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?

I was appalled at how long it took me to find a meeting. I had assumed our local LUG was defunct, only to find about a year after moving to NC that the website and larger community ties (LUGNET delisted our website at one point) were being neglected while some of the members still met regularly. During a fit of nagging to see if I could get our (then only) show mentioned on our site, I was given author privileges to keep things moving. Since then, I've handled all of the meeting announcements, most of the news posts, and most of the event coverage for the site. This has mostly been a way of keeping our site going even though our LUG's founder (and the owner of everything for the website) is no longer particularly active in the hobby.

4) How do you go about blogging?

To be honest, it's a constant experiment. When trying to provide a local resource, you want to focus on what's going on, but avoid retreading the same material constantly. I've switched blog posts to permanent pages (and vice versa) in attempts to make it the best resource for local LEGO fans, but we still have some shortcomings with basic info. The addition of more events this year has picked up the pace a bit, and I'm still interested in blogging local MOCs LUGPol style sometime. Determining the best way to represent a LUG is not simple, and due to time this ends up being a low priority.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?

Communication with the group. I don't think people realize how much a website serves as a public face of a LUG. It's intimidating trying to manage a site for a group that's not very active in the hobby. It gets awkward when you're announcing a one-man LEGO show in one post and a LUG meeteing on the same day in the next post.

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?

With a LUG blog, you have to think about how you want the community to view your group, and try to get the easy questions out of the way first. Some of the better features I've added to the site are the LEGO store listings and regular meeting announcements.

Kids and parents who attend shows love to hear "I posted a link to instruction on our website", so if you can make something nifty but simple to share once in a while, you should. Actually, that's just good building advice in general - challenge yourself to build something new using only one or two current sets once in a while. Being able to convince kids that they really could try building "awesome stuff" like AFOLs do goes a long way in keeping the hobby active. For a local LUG, replenishing the community of people actually building is more important than most people realize - and kids who build can often get their parents building as well. Our train club (which also has a blog) became dormant due to lack of interest, but we're still growing our LUG.
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Bruce N H » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:08 pm

Hey,

Very cool blog, Brickd. I like the sleek look of your layout. Welcome to CC.

Katie, I didn't respond to your question on advertising. I mostly got the word out on my blogs via involvement in forums like this. I announced them when they started, and also include links in my sig line. Also, when you see a great MOC, either in a forum or on Flickr or MOCpages, leave a comment saying that you blogged it, linking back to your blog post. For one the original builder will appreciate that their work is getting attention, and others will see the link back to your blog. Another thing, when you see something via another person's blog, always include a link back to them. Most people will reciprocate the favor and, when they post on a MOC they first saw on your blog, will link back to you.* Also, if you have a list of links to others' LEGO blogs on your site, many of them will return the favor and link back to you.**
*I have the personal policy of linking to someone if I first saw the MOC on their blog. It often happens that I see a really cool MOC when I log on to Brickshelf or Flickr and bookmark it to blog later. By the time I get around to blogging it, it may have already been posted on the Brothers-Brick, LMOTD, or another of the more active blogs. In that case I do not post a link back to them, as I had seen it on my own already.
**I know, I know, my blog roll is sadly out of date. New blogs are created (and abandoned) every day, and several people have asked me to add theirs to my list. I really will get to it soon, including the newer blogs posted in this thread.

Dan, welcome to CC! I've been a long time reader of LMOTD.

Bruce
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Elephant Knight » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:21 pm

1) What is your blog?
Color it Blacktronhttp://www.color-it-blacktron.blogspot.com/

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
In case it wasn't obvious, Blacktron, and anykind of it

3) Why did you start or join this blog?
I was really into a Blacktron kick, and at this time, the Neo-classic Space blog (http://www.neoclassicspace.com/) was still blogging, but a bit irregularly, and many people seemed to be building Blacktron, so I started my blog.

4) How do you go about blogging?
Whenever I see a new Blacktron creation (Or even an old one) I'll blog it. I usually find it on Flickr, but sometimes I'll find one on Brickshelf, CSF, or even TBB.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
Computer problems, where Flickr is unaccesable, and time. I may have lots of it, but I can be a bit of a lazy person. Also, there isn't a new Blacktron creation everyday, for it isn't a huge niche.

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
You have to be into it, and don't do it on a whim. Stick with it. I really hate seeing intesting blogs die out.

EKnight
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Brickd » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:27 pm

Bruce N H wrote:Also, when you see a great MOC, either in a forum or on Flickr or MOCpages, leave a comment saying that you blogged it, linking back to your blog post. For one the original builder will appreciate that their work is getting attention, and others will see the link back to your blog.

Bruce


this is definitely a great idea!
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby JoshWedin » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:13 pm

Hey All!

1) What is your blog?
The Brothers Brick

2) What is the general theme of your blog, or do you have a general philosophy that drives your blogging?
TBB is a general Lego blog. We highlight whatever MOCs capture our fancy and feature any news items that we feel are interesting. I think something that a lot of people don't realize is that the AFOL community is not our primary audience. Our main focus in on readers that are not familiar with adult community. We look at ourselves as the casual fan's gateway to the adult fan community.

3) Why did you start or join this blog?
I officially joined on May 22, 2006. At the time TBB was still called Dunechaser's Blocklog. Andrew was wanting to take the blog to a higher level. In an apparent attempt to shoot those efforts in the foot, he asked me to come on board. Soon after I joined, we held a contest to rename the blog, as the old name was out of date. Btw, the winning name was submitted by Peppermint Pig, a member here.

4) How do you go about blogging?
I used to pull nearly all of my material from Brickshelf, but that has changed. I monitor Flickr the most, first in the general Lego group, then in my contacts, followed by Lego tags, and lastly other Lego-related groups. I still check out Brickshelf periodically. I occasionally go to MOCpages, but I get frustrated with the format there, so I don't go there as much as I should. I also keep an eye out for Lego references in the media.

5) What is your biggest challenge with regards to blogging?
The biggest challenge to keep fresh while not changing too much and alienating our long-term readership. It also gets discouraging to hear the variety of complaints. TBB gets a LOT of complaints. However, they all seem to cancel each other out, so I guess we are doing something right. For instance, we hear constantly that we feature too much Mecha, not enough Mecha, not enough Castle, too much Castle, too much Space, not enough Space (see a pattern?), aren't cutting edge, are too edgey, feature the same builders, feature builders who don't deserve to be on there (huh?), are too adult-oriented, cater to the kiddies too much, don't tackle the tough issues, stir up heated debates, and are obsessed with Zombies. There are more, but I'll leave it there. :)

6) Do you have any advice for others who are considering starting a LEGO themed blog?
Find a niche you love, that isn't already being filled, and go for it. Also look at your motivation for doing it. If it is for fame and fortune, quit now. If it for your own enjoyment and the hope that some others may get a kick out of it...go for it. Blogging is hard work. If you don't enjoy it, you won't last long. So blog what you like, when you like, and don't listen to the nay-sayers.

I've enjoyed reading what everyone else has said. Excellent thread, Bruce!

Josh
AFOL and his money are easily parted.

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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Brickd » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:51 pm

as a long-time blogger, long time Lego fan, but new Lego blogger, this is definitely interesting.

for the other blogs. what other technique have you used to get the word out to the Lego community to build traffic?
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Dunechaser » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:36 am

Josh has us covered, so I'll answer Brickd's question.
Brickd wrote:for the other blogs. what other technique have you used to get the word out to the Lego community to build traffic?

If you're doing it for traffic, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. And if you're building traffic to generate ad revenue, you're doing it for the wrong reasons.

Today, TBB gets about a million page views a month, and it's more of a headache than anything else (moderating comments, managing a server, ensuring long-term fiscal viability to pay for said server, and so on). The value in having a substantial readership is in the community that they create on your site among themselves. Commenters on low-traffic blogs are communicating feedback one way, mainly just to the blogger. Commenters on blogs lucky enough to have high traffic are often talking to each other -- you just start the conversation.

How to build traffic? Hmmm...

First, link out liberally and generously. Outbound links earn inbound links. SEO "link-juice" be damned. Maintain a blogroll of permanent outbound links to like-minded blogs. Use the "via" method to credit other blogs where you first encountered what you're highlighting yourself. (Side note: Dan, you've stated in the past explicitly that you choose not to do this. Bad form, dude, bad form. Seriously.)

Second but more importantly, engage in the broader community so you earn respect and credibility. Do so by participating in non-blog community activities like forums (as you're doing here), photo sites like Flickr, and in-person events like LUGs and cons. The LEGO fan community may be warm and embracing, but we're also a suspicious bunch who've been burned more than a few times by interlopers seeking fame or profit from what we do. I can't stress enough how important it is to earn credibility and respect.

Finally, stick with it. I've stopped linking to new blogs in our blogroll until they've been at it for at least a month or two. It's just not worth the hassle of maintaining a blogroll full of links to blogs with a week of posts.
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby eilonwy77 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:10 am

Thanks for all the great info and replies to my questions. Now here's another question: What on earth is "SEO 'link-juice'"? :?
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Re: LEGO Blogging

Postby Dunechaser » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:28 am

eilonwy77 wrote:What on earth is "SEO 'link-juice'"? :?

Ha ha ha! An excellent question. :D (I'm so used to talking about these kinds of things at work -- my real job, not TBB -- that I sometimes forget about jargon like that.)

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization -- making sure that people can find the content that you post on your website. Most search engines determine the relevance of a page based on the number of other pages that are linking to it. The number of outbound links on a page dilutes the "value" (which some people call "link juice") that search engines assign to those links, thereby reducing the value of links from that page to other pages within your site.

Some website admins who are obsessed with nothing but SEO will avoid linking out at all to ensure that their link juice flows only to their own pages. It's actually pretty self-defeating.
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