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All access granted with Chronic Illness Champion Pippa Stacey

All access granted with Chronic Illness Champion Pippa Stacey

Pippa Stacey is a writer, blogger and fundraiser from Yorkshire.

Previously a pre-professional ballet dancer, she became ill with a debilitating neurological condition during her teenage years. Although rife with challenges, adapting to life with a long-term illness has allowed Pippa to rediscover a love for writing. She now works in digital marketing and as a freelance writer, creating content for various purposes including charity campaigns and her own blog, Life Of Pippa.

If you could share with us who you are and what’s your mission, what would you say?

Oh hey! My name is Pippa, and I’m a disability, culture and lifestyle blogger from Yorkshire. Halfway through my undergraduate degree, I acquired a debilitating chronic illness: it completely changed my sporty, active way of life and it took a huge amount of time and effort to really find my feet and begin to feel like ‘myself’ again.

However, when things started to feel a little less like the end of the world, I started to engage with media opportunities and doing so has changed my life.

From founding my social enterprise Spoonie Survival Kits to pursuing a career in freelance writing and blogging, it’s safe to say I haven’t looked back since. I now balance writing for a living alongside digital marketing and content creation in the charity sector. In my free time, I enjoy theatre, books and fundraising, and can often be found in my natural habitat: wearing pyjamas and drinking tea – which you can see on Instagram.

Would you consider yourself more of a blogger or an Instagrammer?

Even though I was an Instagrammer long before I was a blogger, or before I even really understood the concept of blogging or being an ‘influencer’, I can no longer imagine life without my blog. However, the beauty of having both is that you can accommodate fluctuating health conditions: even when I’m not well enough to blog as much as I’d like to, posting on Instagram can still offer a somewhat more accessible platform for sharing what I’d like to say.

How do you choose the content that goes into your accounts?

I’d say that the things I share online are mostly intuitive. My blog and social media are an extension of me, so if there’s a topic or issue that I know will resonate with others, the chances are that I’m going to share it. My personal goals relate to starting important conversations and providing information and resources that genuinely help people, so I’d say that has a big influence on the content I create.

What is the process behind each post you produce?

Thanks to an overactive brain that tends to produce its best ideas when I’m supposed to be resting, I have an ongoing list of ideas for blog posts that I’m constantly adding to. When the time is right, I’ll pluck an idea off the list and brainstorm a rough plan. I then tend to write the majority of the first draft in one sitting, returning back to it after I’ve rested and recuperated to refine the language and make sure my own personal voice and writing style is coming through. Sometimes I’ll have a search around for potential sponsors or collaborations, other times I’ll get straight on with formatting: adding links and images and preparing social media posts.

Then bam: off it goes out into the world, and I’ll most likely head back to bed for a restorative nap. The joys of chronic illness!

What has been a career highlight so far?

I just may have to be cheeky and give you a top three here! Releasing my charity book, Dear Chronic Illness, was an absolute dream come true: books are so special to me and to know there’s one out there on bookshelves with my name on it still feels completely surreal. Yorkshire Women of Achievement 2017 was another highlight: being a finalist for the Jane Tomlinson Woman Of Courage Award was an amazing experience, and just being nominated for something with Jane Tomlinson’s name on it was incredibly humbling.

I think my absolute top highlight so far has to be being named a #BeInspired Champion at the 2018 Olivier Awards for my work in accessible, inclusive theatre.

Nothing will ever top the day that Catherine Tate talked about my blog on the telly and I nearly dropped my cup of tea in shock…

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Take it from me, please don’t be swayed into being taken advantage of. I was, and still am to an extent, so easily hooked by hard-sell ‘opportunities’ that came my way. When I was starting out, I was so honoured just to be asked to get involved with campaigns and events that I didn’t immediately realise they weren’t mutually beneficial relationships. Instead, my time, energy and skills were being taken advantage of whilst I was getting nothing out of it, all the while believing it was still an amazing opportunity.

I think people should know their worth: something I’m still working on myself. If you have something to say or something you can offer to the world, don’t let anybody try to take advantage of that. Be resilient and a hard-worker, and altruistic enough to use your skills to help others, but don’t let people use that for their own gain at your expense. You’re worth more than that.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the content you are creating helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Above all else, I want people to know that you don’t have to ‘defy’ or ‘overcome’ your disability or illness in order to be successful. The media will try and tell you that life should progress along a set path, particularly when you’re disabled. People love to hear a motivational story of somebody struggling with a long-term illness, then rising up in defeat, performing a miracle recovery, and living happily ever after. In reality, the path is rarely this linear, particularly when you’re dealing with a fluctuating condition.

I hope to be able to provide practical advice, as well as insight and always a touch of humour, to show that regardless of your situation, setbacks aren’t the same as failure. It may have taken me a little while to realise it myself, but people need to know that there’s nobody’s path to follow but your own.

What is the biggest misconception about social media? What was the practice that has helped you with your strategy?

It took a while for me to realise that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing in order to be successful. In the beginning, I was observing how popular influencers used social media and trying to apply that to my own content and online presence, and it’s obvious now that it simply wasn’t logical to expect results that way. It wasn’t authentic.

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Instead, I’ve stopped trying to mimic what others have done, even turning my back on a strategy to an extent, and instead just focus on using social media and interacting with others however I feel like it. I look forward to posting the stuff I feel like sharing and chatting with like-minded people, instead of getting caught up in stats and numbers. And somewhat ironically, doing so has actually had a much more positive impact on my organic reach and online presence than doing what the experts say you’re ‘supposed’ to do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Without my best friend Izzy, I wouldn’t physically be able to pursue half of the amazing things I get to do. There’s still a long way to go in ensuring blogger events and campaigns are accessible for all: too often, accessibility and reasonable adjustments are simply an after-thought, and it can leave you questioning your worth and feeling completely disheartened.

Enter Izzy: simultaneously my best friend, carer, therapist and general badass b*tch rolled into one.

She gets me where I need to be, be that manoeuvring a wheelchair around the streets of London or physically keeping me upright on a red carpet (true story: the carpet had steps because clearly disabled people never win awards, right? /sarcasm), and for that, I’m eternally grateful. She means the world to me and I’m so lucky to have her.

What do you think is the most important thing about working on collaborations with other influencers and brands?

Above all else, keeping your integrity is key. It can be easy to be swayed at the moment by amazing offers and collaborations (believe me – I’ve been there!) but being more selective with what you pursue will ensure your reputability. And having an audience who trusts you, because of this integrity, will pay off so much more in the long-run too. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

Who is your ideal collaboration with?

I had to really think about this one! All things considered, I’d love to venture into the accessible travel industry one day. A conversation we frequently have in the disability community is the ongoing lack of diversity in bloggers invited to bigger, more visible press trips: the day we see a disabled influencer, any disabled influencer, in such a circumstance will mark a big day forward for all of us. But more than anything, it’d be genuinely helpful to have more disabled travellers out reviewing trips and experiences and creating content: travelling with additional requirements can be incredibly difficult, and there’s so much to be gained from increased influencer marketing in this area.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the industry now?

Find your niche and what makes you different. As I mentioned before, for a time I was attempting to translate what I saw other people doing and mimic it within my own content, wrongly believing that this was the ‘right’ approach to take.

It was only when I found my own rhythm and started doing things my own way that we really started getting somewhere: there’s no ‘right’ way to do anything in this industry, and that’s what makes it so wonderful.

So with that in mind, take some time to think about what makes you different from everybody else. Why does your voice need to be heard? Give it some careful thought, and then share it with the world. Find what makes you unique and run with it. And most importantly, enjoy the process too.

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