(Written by William)
Several months ago, I wrote an article describing everything I did to prepare for my own LEGO Ideas project (see: Building & Submitting a LEGO Ideas Project). Now, with a bit of time passed and a few attempts to garner more support, I figured it was a good time to write an update on how things have been going with the project and what I’ve learned along the way.
For those of you who may have missed the original article, I submitted a project to LEGO Ideas called Ahoy’s Seafood Restaurant. Even then, I knew that the hard part was yet to come; raising the ten thousand votes to get my project considered for production.
To my surprise, it turned out to be the perfect time to run a project, as LEGO just released two updates to the platform. The first of these was statistical information about how your project is doing. (This update also included some verbiage on what intellectual properties would be allowed on the site.) The second major change came a couple of months later. This change allowed designers to update and overhaul their initial submission. So if you were like me, and made changes to your model, you could now reflect those clearly on your projects home page. Speaking of which, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what I have changed.
LEGO IDEAS PROJECT – MODEL UPDATES
I have created a short video covering some of the more important play-feature changes to the model, which you can watch below. Thanks to feedback, I punched up the decorative elements framing the large anchor out front. Additionally, I felt the sidewalk was a bit on the boring side, so I included its own nautical theme with life preservers and a fake dock just outside the front door.
One of the suggestions I received on the previous article was to add seagulls. So, now the place got a few birds. The other substantive change came from taking the model to a number of LEGO shows. Turns out, it was a little tricky trying to stage any minifigures on the top floor. It was also hard to see the aquarium inside due to all the odd angles. To remedy this, I made the entire netting section a removable component to the building. And as for the aquarium, I redesigned the wall opposite of the outdoor seating area to be completely removable. This preserved the look I had originally gone for while providing better visibility. Modifications aside, the real issue is getting those votes, so let’s dive into that aspect of having a LEGO Ideas project.
LEGO IDEAS PROJECT – REACHING MILESTONES
Some time back, the LEGO Ideas revised how long a project could stay around. This included certain number of votes one had to get to in order to gain more time. For instance, you have two months (approximately 60 days) to get 100 votes. Reaching this goal scores you a whole year of time to get to 1,000 votes. Other goals will give you six more months at 1,000 and 5,000. So, the process is a marathon.
So what did I do to get the votes the project currently has? For starters, my wife helped out by tapping into her network of board game friends on Twitter. This is a decent audience since those who go after board games can often relate to LEGO models. Next, I wrote the article that was published here. I followed this up by guest hosting on TheBricksKing Podcast talking about the project. In person, I attended three events with my local LEGO Users Group (LUG) to show off the model to the general public. At the shows, I even had a sign with a QR code that could take people directly to the project’s LEGO Ideas page.
The question then is; did any of these ideas for more publicity work? Well, I did see spikes in the initial tweets my wife sent out. I also had some activity when my first article went live, as well as when I did the podcast. The shows, on the other hand, weren’t as effective as I was hoping. You see, the shows we participated in were all train-related events. This means the general public was made up of an older crowd and their grandchildren. Needless to say, they weren’t the most tech-savvy of people.
All of this leads me to a number of observations about the whole LEGO Ideas submission process. I hope by sharing them you’ll not fall into the pitfalls I have had with Ahoy’s.
LEGO IDEAS PROJECT – OBSERVATIONS
The majority of the LEGO Ideas projects that succeed are connected to IPs. Sure, the person can be heavily involved in their LUG and maybe even have a web presence, but IPs seem to dominate. I personally chose not to use an IP so I could have complete freedom with the project. This may have backfired.
One of the ways to drive up the numbers on LEGO Ideas is to tap into a pre-existing fan base. This makes the project infinitely more sharable on the various social platforms. You even get non-LEGO fans sharing your link because they are so excited about the concept of having their favorite thing immortalized in LEGO.
This is not to discount the success of projects that have no connected IP’s. The #21305 LEGO Ideas Maze, the #21301 LEGO Ideas Birds, the #21318 LEGO Ideas Tree House, and the #21315 LEGO Ideas Pop-up Book are just some examples of what is possible. However, in these cases, the designer had to almost entirely depend on a LEGO-only fan base to be blown away by the creation. This automatically puts the bar much higher for those going the non-IP route. Again, not impossible, but you really need to create something either no one has seen before or never thought could exist.
I also found that by regularly going to the platform and supporting other LEGO Ideas projects by commenting and sharing can net you some support. It’s not fast by any means, but these are others who totally understand just how hard it is to get a project to the finish line.
And of course, all the rules apply when it comes to good social platform etiquette. Someone who goes in for the sole purpose of self-promotion will probably not get too far. The LEGO Ideas platform has been geared so that talent is prized above other qualities. However, knowing how to conduct yourself on social media platforms can go a long way. As it was, there was only one project’s page I even mentioned my seafood restaurant and that’s because it was a fishing boat. Still, I didn’t drop any links or ask for support while doing that, I really just wanted the boat to be successful to go along with my own creation.
LEGO IDEAS PROJECT – WHAT’S NEXT?
While my Ahoy’s Seafood Restaurant is running, I’ll promote it when the opportunities present themselves. I will, of course, write about any experience that stands out, but, given the slowdown, I may not be writing a whole lot more with this project. I’ll be examining my own advice and thinking about what I can do in the future. Also, if you have suggestions on either the model or the running of the project, I would love to hear it. And, of course, if you can share about Ahoy’s that would be very much appreciated too. Here is the link: LEGO IDEAS SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
I wish any of you planning to do a LEGO Ideas project all the best and I hope my own experiences will help you in your journey.
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
I absolutely love the upgrade fo the wall with the anchor! That was a good move! As far as what gets votes, I think for larger sets, people also think about how it would fit into their current setup. At least I know I do.
Good point about considering how it fits in a fan’s collection.
I try to do that, but my will is weak.
Hehe, I’m still finding the changes to behind the anchor are split. Your with me in that we like the changes!
Gathering 10k votes is not easy. You have to be very active on social media, in forums, etc. And even then the project may not appeal to everyone. But even if you don’t make it to 10k the experience is invaluable. You get feedback, meet people, get ideas. Your project already improved since you started, so that’s a win in itself.
Yeah, that’s how I’m viewing it.
I wanted to write about the experience and getting better at what I build is a definite plus.
But trying to hit that 10k is definitely a job in and of itself.
I have thought about starting an ideas project, but the task sounds dounting. Could you tell us more what tools and insights are available on the ideas platform for creators?
Surprisingly the tools are still rather basic.
There is a section they added that creates a graph so you can see how the project is trending.
Beyond that your tools are like most social media platforms. You have the ability to update with small blog like entries. This is where you can add new images and write in descriptions. You also have a comment section where you can interact with anyone leaving a comment.
There are your standard sharing features, and now if you are the creator you can update the initial image and description. However, this does require approval and you’ll have to wait 30 days before you can update the front landing page again.
Surprisingly, you don’t have much of a back end as a designer. It will look very similar to how it looks if you just visit someone elses project.
Thanks for explaining that. It all sounds interesting and daunting. Haha.
There are a bunch of LEGO facebook pages where you may be able to promote your project. If you could find a restaurant that looks similar in real life, they might promote it for you too. I know it’s tough, but you still have lots of time