Autoimmune Strong:
How one solopreneur outsourced her writing and retained her voice

Erin Long

Andrea Wool is an inspiration to me.

Diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, she accepted the reality of chronic illness – but not the prognosis that it would prevent her from living a full life.

When she didn’t find the resources to learn how to rebuild her strength with chronic illness, she retrained as a nutritionist and personal trainer so she could design her own exercise programme. One that worked with her body, not against it.

Then, she turned the programme she designed for herself into a business supporting hundreds of other women with autoimmune illness to exercise effectively, build strength, and thrive in their everyday lives.

The challenge

As Andrea’s business grew, she began to grow a team to run the day-to-day operations and free her up to keep focusing on building her business, as well as continuing to care for her own health. But as hard as she tried, she couldn’t find a good writer.

‘I worked with so many people,’ Andrea told me. ‘I even paid an agency to find me a writer.

‘But everyone I worked with had the same problem – they just couldn’t write in my voice! They produced good content, but it didn’t sound like me.’

Anything else wasn’t good enough – for one very good reason.

In the exercise world, getting people to pay for a course or a subscription is only the first hurdle.

The second is bigger: getting people to actually show up and do the exercise, consistently. (That’s why most gyms get super busy in January, and then empty out again in February.)

And that challenge is massively increased when you’re dealing with an audience who are legitimately afraid to start. For people living with autoimmune illness, the wrong kind of exercise can trigger nasty symptom flares that can last weeks, months or even years.

Andrea needed to build slow, careful trust with her audience. A disconnected, variable voice could severely undermine that – so finding a writer who could sound like her was non-negotiable.

The solution

I got to know Andrea because I was using her programme myself. It was the first programme I’d found that truly started from the ground up. It didn’t rely on an existing level of fitness to begin.

Living with my own chronic illness, I’d experienced the benefits of exercising in the way she teaches, and I had a deep appreciation of the measurable difference her work is making.

By the time I reached out to Andrea with some ideas for her writing process, I’d watched many of her videos, and fallen in love with her warm, supportive tone, her wisdom and realism, and her hopefulness.

It was the perfect match.

Over the course of 18 months, we worked together on several projects:

  • A year’s worth of newsletters for her external and internal mailing lists, which doubled as a content bank to be used for social media and across future campaigns
  • New, high-touch email sequences supporting existing and new customers to complete a 14-day exercise challenge, and gently easing them into the longer-term commitment of a regular exercise routine
  • Regularly updated versions of the existing, high-performing email sales sequences that Andrea had created herself – helping them to stay fresh, prevent a drop off in engagement and be even more effective
  • Reworked cancellation and resubscription processes, to celebrate people leaving the programme because they had completed it, and support people who were taking a break for their health or finances

For each project, we kicked off with a video call for Andrea to share her ideas and goals for the project and for me to share suggestions. This gave her the chance to set the direction for each piece of writing and benefit from my input, so that she felt confident to hand over the work.

The outcome

For the first time, Andrea could hand over writing weekly emails, creating new space in her calendar and her business – and all the while, seamlessly continue to nurture and support the people relying on her guidance as they navigate exercising with chronic illness.

Sample newsletter: Are you an under-exerciser or an over-exerciser?

Dear [firstname],

There are 2 main ways we respond to the additional challenge of exercising with an autoimmune disease:

  1. Do it anyway. We know we need to exercise to be strong, and we don’t want to give up on the things we loved to do in the past. So, we push through the pain, with an attitude of ‘I don’t care what this costs – I want to do it, so I will’
  2. Avoid exercising completely. Because exercise leads to pain and symptom flares, we can grow afraid of movement or even just frustrated, till eventually we just stop trying. That sounds something more like: ‘Sure, I’d like to exercise – but it’s just not worth it’.

The trouble with both these responses is, they ignore what our bodies actually need. In the first instance, by pushing through regardless, you learn to ignore your body’s signals, until you don’t know how to stop when you need to anymore.

In the second case, by cutting out exercise altogether, your body doesn’t get the exercise that it needs, and over time, loses strength (as well as the negative impacts on digestion, pain and stiffness).

(Actually, many of us fluctuate between these two responses, often getting the worst of both worlds!)

Thankfully, there is a middle ground! But, fair warning: it is HARD to stay in that middle ground.

It means relearning to listen to your body – being disciplined about not overdoing it when you’re feeling great – and courage to move when your body is tired and sore.

…getting the intensity, frequency and length of your exercises right for your body’s current needs.

…paying careful attention, to learn the cues of when your body is ready for more exercise, and when it needs a break.

…choosing the RIGHT exercises – the ones that will help your body to build resilience, without pushing it too hard before it’s ready.

The secret to finding, and staying in, that middle ground is this:

Scroll back to such a low level of exercise that you can complete it even on a bad day.

That’s what enables you to exercise CONSISTENTLY – the same amount each day.

That consistency builds lasting strength – so that over time, you can slowly increase the amount you’re doing.

The Autoimmune Strong program supports you to grow strength at the pace that is healthy for you right now – starting with your deepest core muscles (which support all your other movements), and just a few minutes of movement and activation each day.

You can sign up here.

With strength + love,

Andrea

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