Gnome Basements

Originally sent via email as a Letter. Subscribe here or over to your right in the side bar.

You might have noticed a distinct lack of blog or email last week.

I was with the non-religious youth group I’m the director of, out in the rain and blistering sun building houses in South Eastern Ohio.

Our yearly workcamp is my favorite week of the year.

I not-so-secretly love grueling manual labor and am always amazed by how respectful, caring, and hard-working the students are.

This year the rain ruined our best-laid plans, and instead of working on a roofing project all week we ended up working on a newer build. 


The foundation walls had just been poured and our job was to install the sill plates, line the crawl space with 6ml plastic, tack up foam, build and place the beam, install the joists, and put on the subflooring.

Or as a student said...

We were building a basement for gnomes.

And guess what? You can do all of that in the rain…


Now, what do joists and beams and subflooring have to do with copywriting?

Easy - they are the bones that hold the rest of the house up.

As I was hammering in the joists with my students I realized all of this is not unlike the research I do for my projects.

It’s the most tedious and unsexy part of copywriting. It’s unseen and generally unappreciated. 

Building up the joists and subflooring doesn’t have the satisfying quality of seeing walls go up.

It’s flat and dirty and low to the ground.

When I’m diving into market research or on the phone with my client’s customers it’s hard to see progress. Progress lives in my notes and spreadsheets.

But without a strong beam, a dry crawl space, and joists that are level and straight, the house literally wouldn’t exist.

I write my website copy and brand messaging to withstand any type of weather.

Without any research, I have nothing to build upon. The structure would end more like a house of cards rather than a building built to last.

Sure, building gnome basements doesn't have the glitz and glam of putting up walls or working on a roof, but it's still mission critical.

What's the gnome basement in your business?