Stone and Tile Stories on Patreon

You’ve probably seen Venn diagrams like this before. Ideally, people should land right in the middle, in the space where all three circles meet. You love what you do. You’re good at it. You’re able to earn a living doing it. Life is good.

Unfortunately, capitalism. Greed. Corruption. Life circumstances.

Many of us land off-center or even on the edges of this diagram. I tend to roam in and out of center, depending on what’s going on, how desperate I am to stay afloat, and how capable I feel with ongoing health issues.

There's got to be a better way.

Stone and Tile Stories, as of this writing, has been unpaid work. I’m passionate about it. I’m good at it. But I would go broke if I made Stone and Tile Stories my top priority. 

I spend my time chasing paid work, doing paid work, continuing my industry education, and attending events so that I can continue to stay in the loop and create relevant, accurate content for my paying clients. 

Every now and then, I’m able to pull a story off the shelf, dust it off, and launch it out into cyberspace.

Schluter Innovation Workshop: Part 2

My strategy in a nutshell has been:

1. Paid work must take priority over everything else until/unless my business is profitable.
2. Unpaid work (free content) should result in more paid work. Unpaid work that does not result in more paid work must be kept to a minimum if I am struggling to accomplish number 1.

I would like to do better than that.

That’s why I created a Patreon for Stone and Tile Stories.

Patreon, in its own words, “lets creators sell digital products directly to you, their most valuable fans. You can shop, buy, and consume digital products in one space.”

For visitors to Stone and Tile Stories, the content, or digital product, is completely free.

There is no paid login or subscriber fee, which is great for visitors, but not so good for me.

How You Can Help

If you have enjoyed reading and watching videos on Stone and Tile Stories and would like to support what I’m doing on this platform, here’s how:
  1. Like Top Floor Writer on Facebook.
  2. Follow Top Floor Writer on Facebook.
  3. Read/view, like, comment on, and share Top Floor Writer posts, especially the ones from Stone and Tile Stories.
  4. Purchase highly customized content (articles, videos, case studies, etc.) for your website from Top Floor Writer. Recommend Top Floor Writer to others in the industry. Visit Top Floor Writer, especially the Services page, to learn more about what kind of content can help make a big difference in how well your business is seen, heard, and understood by clients and prospects.
  5. Subscribe to Top Floor Writer on YouTube.
  6. View, like, comment on, and share the videos.
  7. Support Stone and Tile Stories through Patreon with a monthly contribution, starting at $5. Discounts on Top Floor Writer services are available via Patreon, as well.
  8. Purchase sponsored pieces for Stone and Tile Stories. Think advertorial (the kind of advertisement people actually want to read/view).
The less time I spend chasing paid work, the more time I’ll have to build up this blog so that perhaps, one day, it can become a full-blown industry publication. 

Although I welcome sponsored pieces for Stone and Tile Stories, I don’t think I ever want to have Stone and Tile Stories itself sponsored. As an unsponsored platform, no manufacturer or organization can dictate what content can or cannot be published here, which could potentially be beneficial for the industry as a whole. 

As it is, not everyone has a seat at the table. Some people don’t have a voice. Sometimes, important stories may not be shared because people’s hands are tied. This could be for a number of reasons, from the marketing policies of a corporation to the bylaws of an organization. I feel like the industry needs a platform with no strings attached. 

Clearing Away a Misconception

I was having a conversation with a very well-known tile industry figure, and I was very surprised when I realized that they thought the way I earn a living is writing for industry publications. 

Here are a few recent examples:

Fred Hueston Interviews Foster Lyons on Moisture Discoloration
A Great Combo: CTI and ACT at MUD6
MUD6: The Industry Event for Tile Installers

Although I do write for industry publications, that is only a small part of what I do. Here is a sampling of some other types of content, from my very first retainer client, Copher Tile & Stone. Adam Copher allows me to use the content I’ve created for him as a portfolio, since I am unable to share the content I’ve created over the last decade doing agency work.

This article, Gorgeous New Lighting Possibilities for Tile Installations, is one of many such articles on his site. 

Here’s how Adam is getting a lot of mileage from this article:
  • The fresh, keyword-rich content helps his website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • The article provides numerous organic link-building opportunities, which also helps improve site’s user experience (UX) and improves search engine optimization (SEO).
  • This article informs and educates site visitors and invites them to keep exploring the site. Studies show the more time someone spends on a website, the more likely they are to become paying clients. Search engines favor sites where people do not leave right away or visit more than one page.
  • Adam’s office sent the article to his email list. This both helps with brand awareness and opens opportunities for repeat business and referrals. He has a high rate of opened emails.
  • Adam shares the article with homeowners and designers to upsell on new projects.
  • An abbreviated version of the article is posted to social media, giving clients who have liked and followed the Copher Tile & Stone something of interest to read besides “Hey, contact us to install your tile.” The link to the full article helps drive traffic from social media to the website, where the buying funnel is set up. 
  • Adam uses content like this to demonstrate how he is well-connected in the industry and with other tradespeople locally. For example, the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Bill Jones / Illuminche, and a local electrician are all name-dropped in this highly customized article.

Case studies provide the same benefits as an article but expand on organic keyword opportunities.

Here’s an example of a case study that includes a video case study.

Ideally, a tile installer’s website will include a unique, indexed web page for every type of service, every type of surface, and every service area. Each case study has a unique combination of these. Building a case study gallery eventually results in almost every possible combination service/surface/area. Adam only recently started adding case studies to his site, about one per month. At this rate, it will only take a couple of years to build a very robust case study gallery and hit many of the keyword combinations people searching for tile installation will use.

I create Adam’s email campaigns, as well. Both articles and case studies, as well as FAQs and other site content are utilized for this purpose. Without great content, one can expect unopened emails and unsubscribes.

Examples of other types of content:

Articles help drive traffic to the Floor Academy Podcast website. Current listeners can access information at a glance that had been covered in previous podcast episodes. Podcast guests can share the articles on social media to help build their reputation in the industry.

I’m not able to name many of the clients I have been working with, but I recently finished editing a book, and I’m currently editing another book.

I am about to overhaul template content on a tile installer’s site to improve the user experience and make the site more appealing to the Google gods, who prioritize unique content over template content. This contractor is on a $500-per-month budget, so it will take a while, but something is better than nothing.

A tile installer who extended his services to include failed shower inspections recently asked me to add an Inspections page to his Services menu.

I created a slip-resistance case study and an article for an inspector. The case study linked to the article and vice-versa.

I still do create some white-label content for industry marketing agencies.

All of this makes me seem like a very busy person, which I am, but I do spend more time chasing work than I actually do working and earning a living. That time would be better spent on Stone and Tile Stories. Visit the Patreon for Stone and Tile Stories and consider being a “friend” or investing more for deeper discounts on compelling content from Top Floor Writer

Back to the Venn Diagram

Do you love what you do? Are you good at it? Are you able to earn a living doing it?  What personal and/or professional challenges did you have to overcome? I’d love to hear the story of how you found your way into the center of that diagram.

By Alice Dean, Writer, Video Editor, and Content Manager

I help tile installers and other trades contractors to be seen, heard, and understood by creating marketing content that attracts and educates target audiences and sells services.