Why buying LEGO through the LEGO fan sites you visit is so important [Editorial]

Andrew and his many hatsJosh, Caylin, and I attended our local LEGO Users Group meeting yesterday, and someone asked us why Brothers-Brick.com was so slow, and if there was anything he — as a programmer — could do to help. My answer was, “Buy more LEGO. No, seriously!” Readers ask us this question frequently enough that I thought it was important to share our answer with all of you out there on the Web. Read on to learn why.

Over 150,000 of you visit The Brothers Brick every month, loading pages on the site over one million times. Running a website that generates this much traffic costs several thousand dollars a year.

The Brothers Brick relies on you, our readers, to help cover these expenses by clicking through to one of our advertisers when you buy your LEGO. The site then gets a very small percentage back (3%-6%), which in turn we use to pay for servers, bandwidth, software, and other technical expenses. We’re aware that The Brothers Brick isn’t the fastest site on the web, but we just don’t have that extra level of revenue to enable us to upgrade our servers and reliably pay for the increased performance.

Nevertheless, after basic hosting expenses have been covered, we turn everything else back to the community, whether through prizes and giveaways for contests, helping to cover travel and accommodation for LEGO fans attending conventions, or the occasional gift of a Flickr Pro account to talented builders whose work might otherwise disappear when they hit their upload limit.

Realistically, we know that many of us will continue buying LEGO from brick-and-mortar stores — our local independent toy store, Toys R Us, the LEGO Store in the mall, or wherever. But it’s also important that everyone understand how much high-traffic LEGO fans sites like The Brothers Brick, FBTB, and Brickset rely on our readers to pay the bills. Helping to secure some level of financial stability is one way to make sure these community resources don’t go away.

So, if you want a faster TBB experience, if you want to make sure Brickset is always available as a reference, or if you want to ensure FBTB continues to have awesome contests, please consider buying at least some of your LEGO online by clicking through from the LEGO fan sites you visit.

23 comments on “Why buying LEGO through the LEGO fan sites you visit is so important [Editorial]

  1. Alan

    This is why LEGO needs a VIP-like program online.

    When I’m at home I can either go to the lego store that is less than 10 minutes away, or buy things online and have them shipped. Not only does shipping take a lot longer, I don’t get the rewards I do from the VIP program. When I spend $150 on lego, I’m much happier when I get $10 back than when I have to pay $10 shipping even if that second option supports a website I love.

    I do support TBB when I buy online, because it really is important and I understand the financial needs, but I really think LEGO needs to (as I’ve said in every single survey) have some customer rewards for online shopping as well…

  2. ILikePi

    Thanks for notifying us of this. If tomorrow’s LEGO Star Wars promotion has something good, I’ll buy something through TBB or Brickset. :)

  3. evilspoons

    Throw some Toys’r’us Canada links up there and you might get some click-throughs :)

  4. Rob F

    I will remember this. Expect some click-thrus from me tomorrow. And Thanks for everything!!

  5. worker201

    I tried to do this last time I placed an online order, but I have no idea if it worked right. There’s so many places that click-tracking info can be lost between here and checkout. But yeah, if I’m getting big sets, I’m going to the store, because that VIP card is quite nice.

  6. Jimmythefly

    Is the Amazon click-through for any product, or just Lego?

    A bicycling enthusiast blog I follow says that ANY Amazon purchases made after clicking through their site count for them, and last year all of my online Christmas shopping (which I would have done anyway) helped out that blog.

    @Alan, not sure if this is exactly what you were getting at, but until LEGO does VIP online you can still sort of get the best of both worlds. I went to the Lego store to order power functions stuff in person, which gets me both VIP points and the items are still shipped to my home address. I have no idea if this works for all items or just stuff like Power functions parts which are only available on S@H (talking about individual motors, etc, not the PF set).

    S@H has some sort of automatic deal when you put several PF parts in your basket there is an automatic discount of a few % that ends up covering the shipping charge(sorry don’t recall the exact number or % off the top of my head)

  7. Starwars4J

    I have some great news for both Alan and Jimmythefly. According to the reps from my local LEGO store, very VERY soon you’ll be able to use your LEGO VIP member number to earn reward points from S@H orders, so you can order online and still earn the bonuses. In addition, most LEGO stores will honor your S@H purchases for point redemption online until this is instituted (which I believe will be in a matter of weeks).

  8. Brendan Powell Smith

    I don’t mean to be at all disrespectful, and I love brothers-brick.com, but… thousands of dollars a year for web hosting for a blog? Really?

    If I look at the traffic comparison on Alexa.com, it looks like my website (The Brick Testament) has received roughly similar amounts of traffic over the past two years. I pay about $115 per year for web hosting.

    Is there something I’m missing?

  9. erik smit

    I wonder how this works internationally – if I buy from Amazon, I will buy from Amazon.de (free shipping to Holland), and if I buy from Lego I will need the Dutch, not the American site. Does clicking through from Brothers Brick make any sense then? Not for amazon.com I suppose (because Amazon.de is a different site) but how about Lego.com?

  10. sam

    Be careful – I notice you have google adwords on your blog. I once posted a blog entry similar to yours in the past and google pulled their ads and kept my commision as apparently saying that you want people to click the ads is breaking their terms and conditions. There is no appeal if they decide to ban you, even removing the post does not help.

  11. Huw

    I’m not representing TBB, but

    > Is the Amazon click-through for any product, or just Lego?

    Yes, absolutely anything. Someone even bought a $4000 Cartier watch via Brickset at Amazon just before Christmas!

    Huw @ Brickset

  12. Daedalus

    I also want to trumpet the Amazon link. You can get just about anything from Amazon, the prices are good, and a lot of the time you can get free shipping.

    I admit that I buy all my Lego from brick’n’mortars for a variety of reasons, but I try to make all of my Amazon purchases through here. Especially when buying those pricey text books (hinty hint hint).

  13. Wayne Kunert

    Thanks for answering the “does anything bought at amazon count” question. I’ve clicked through BB before (when I remember to) and not always just for Lego, and I’ve wondered if I was doing any good.

  14. JimmytheJ

    Hopefully you’ll be getting whatever percent of the £62.24 I just spent on Track (points, straits and curves x 2), Space police (Raid VPR and Smash ‘n Grab) and Star wars magnets (needed an AT-ST pilot to go with the other one)

    Whoo free shipping, Whoo free stickers, Whoo parcels that will brighten up my day in a week or so, Whoo product availability and Whoo blog!

  15. legomason

    Yeah, if all of the pictures are hosted by Flickr, the hosting can’t be that much if anything…

  16. Andrew Post author

    @The Rev & legomason: Yes, most images are hosted externally. It’s not about the bandwidth, it’s about the processing (our plan has infinite bandwidth). Even with caching enabled, we’re serving up a dynamic site, and that requires a fair amount of CPU and memory usage.

  17. Marc

    I would recommend pulling this editorial. Not because I disagree with anything you say, but because it is a violation of Google’s terms.

  18. Andrew Post author

    The editorial has nothing to do with the Google ads. It’s about how the affiliate advertising (thus “buying LEGO” in the title) on all the LEGO fan sites on the ‘net — not just this one — are an important source of survival for these community resources.

    We’re well aware of Google’s terms of service regarding encouraging users to click ads — thus zero mention of Google in the editorial.

  19. Ari

    I did not see a “donate” button anywhere on the front page… If it was there, I’m sure some kind souls would help out. :)

  20. Marc

    Andrew says: “We’re well aware of Google’s terms of service regarding encouraging users to click ads — thus zero mention of Google in the editorial.”

    How can you reconcile that with this statement from the editorial: The Brothers Brick relies on you, our readers, to help cover these expenses by clicking through to one of our advertisers when you buy your LEGO.”

    You have a Google ad on this page, and you tell people that you rely on them to click through on one of your ads. You say that you are well aware of Google’s terms, but it does not seem that way at all.

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