Here at LEGO Ideas, we’re trying something new; guest blog posts by invited members! To kick this off, we’ve invited Brent Waller to share some of his thoughts and tricks for creating and promoting projects. Aside from his Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary project, which reached 10,000 supporters, passed the LEGO Review, and was released as 21108 Ghostbusters Ecto-1, he’s also the creator of a number of other projects which either didn’t reach 10,000 supporters and expired, or didn’t pass the LEGO Review.
The article below was written by Brent, and any opinions expressed are not the opinions of LEGO Ideas or The LEGO Group.
Guest Post: Brent Waller of Ghostbusters
I’m Brent Waller, Sara from the LEGO® Group has asked me to summarize some tips and tricks to help people on their own projects. I’ve broken down some of the more important things I’ve learned from my successes and failures on LEGO Ideas in the hope that it helps out the next batch of up and coming projects to reach their full potential.
Probably the most important element of your project outside of your actual creation itself is the main image. Like a movie poster or a book cover, you have to try and encapsulate everything that’s awesome about your project in one single image.
In my opinion, the most important part of the main image is the thumbnail. The thumbnail is the small version of your main image that is displayed when people browse through LEGO ideas. Unlike the main image on your project page, which can be any combination or height and width, the thumbnail is always a specific width and height ratio (roughly 4:3). What this means is that unless you create your main image for the project page in the same ratio, you will lose some of your main image when it’s presented as a thumbnail, either from the sides or top depending on the ratio of your original image.
Example A: As you can see this image crops well to 4:3 (top right), no useful information is lost, but the background is distracting and takes away from the creation.
Example B: This taller image contains more of the final project but when seen as a thumbnail (top right) the image becomes really noisy and it's difficult to focus on one element of the project.
Example C: This is the final image I used for the Ghostbusters project, no useful image is lost from the side when viewed as a thumbnail ( (top right) and the "idea" of the project is clear, although you can't make out all the details it's enough to attract a LEGO member user to click the thumbnail and find out more.
You can’t stop at just the cover image, however, any supplemental images should serve a purpose. We just need key shots from the important angles and showing off the key details. I’d personally aim for around 6 to 8 including the main image.
Revise before you submit
With your photos and text in place, check over your project yourself a few times, check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, check your photos to make sure they’re the best you can make them. You only get one chance to make your main project page so don’t leave anything out. Once it’s submitted there’s no more editing, while you can add updates, for the most part your project is locked down.
If you’re not happy with it when you launch your project, it’s very unlikely other people will be impressed by it either. Leave no doubt in your mind that your project is the best it could possibly be!
This is where most of your support will come from, in my opinion. There’s people who are regular visitors to LEGO Ideas who comes to browse and find the latest projects, and just by putting it on Ideas you’ve already done all you can to reach those people.
With that in mind you need to reach out to new audiences, but you can’t just spam your project on any old website, forum or social media. Sure you can post it on your own Facebook or twitter account a few times, but after the 5th time, you’re just annoying the friends and followers you do have!
What you need to do is think, “what kind of person would like my project?” If it’s based off a TV show, film or existing real world thing, then fans of those would be the first place to share your project. For instance, my Ghostbusters project I shared the link on Ghostbusters fan websites, forums. If your project is say, a recreation of a classic car, then finding car enthusiast sites and forums for that car is the best place to go. If you’ve made an awesome project and presented it well, those people will help share your project and spread the word on your behalf and you’ll go (for the lack of a better word)...viral! Creating videos to promote your project are a great way to achieve this if you have the know-how.
On top of direct, targeted sharing like that, there’s a ton of LEGO related fan-sites, forums and social media groups you can share your project on. But be respectful of the communities and don’t spam. Once is enough up front and then perhaps again as you reach important milestones like when you’ve reached 1,000 votes, 5,000 and then again towards the end as a final push towards 10,000 votes.
It’s all on you.
Everything is in your hands, first of all it’s up to you to create an awesome project, and then you have to “sell it”. If you do everything right your project should sell itself by people spreading the word for you.
When I was about 7 or 8 a salesman for LEGO Education sets came to my school to show off the new kits our school had just purchased. Being the huge LEGO fan I was, as he was leaving I vividly remember tugging on his shirt, when he turned around I asked him, "What do I have to do to become a LEGO designer?" He replied, "You need a degree in engineering." I had no idea what that even was at the time, nor did I know if that was actually true or not, but it felt beyond my reach and abilities at the time. There's a lot of work to do to create your LEGO Ideas project and promote it to reach 10,000 votes but nothing beats the fulfilling a life-long dream of having a LEGO set on the shelves you were responsible for getting created, all without having to study engineering for years on end
Have questions for Brent? Ask them in the comments below. Also, stay tuned for more guest posts from selected LEGO Ideas members.
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