To build a loyal YouTube fanbase and grow a broad media presence, Grace Helbig used four key strategies: authenticity, consistency, engagement and fearlessness. As a result, she drew 2.1M subscribers to her channel, proving unrehearsed and relatable can mean massive success on YouTube and beyond.
Grace Helbig began creating daily comedic vlogs in 2008 for MyDamnChannel.com on the channel /DailyGrace. Seven years later, Grace is the host of her own independent channel /ItsGrace, internet best friend to over 2M YouTube fans, a New York Times bestselling author and a late-night television show host. Grace's masterful combination of authenticity, consistency and audience interaction has fostered a community of loyal, active fans ready to support all of her creative endeavours.
Grace uses four key strategies to charm the internet and build her fanbase:
1. Be authentic and embrace quirkiness
In her seven years on YouTube, Grace has been known primarily for her funny, honest and authentic vlogs. In these direct-address videos, shot primarily in bedrooms, cars, hotel rooms or wherever Grace might find herself, she shares a little bit of everything with her audience.
Her token style is unrehearsed, goofy and relatable. She'll stumble on her words, make weird faces, mutter obscenities, make endless puns and mock her own silliness – her channel banner describes her as "a charming idiot". Grace makes audiences feel like they're hanging out with their fun, awkward older sister rather than watching an internet celebrity.
Even Grace's thumbnails evoke her quirky, effortless tone. She favours images that capture unintentionally goofy expressions over carefully manicured and polished pictures of her face. Most importantly, Grace understands the importance of creating custom thumbnails, as they're often the first and best way to get people to click and watch a video.
2. Upload consistently to keep viewers watching
Since 2008, Grace Helbig has uploaded over a thousand videos, averaging three to five videos every week for seven years. While her video style makes her feel like a friend, Grace's commitment to uploading on a regular basis makes her a friend fans can count on. The regular stream of video content gives fans a reason to keep coming back. As a result, over 60% of Grace's viewership comes from subscribers who eagerly watch each new video.
3. Foster an active fan community with interaction
Whether she's replying to fan comments on YouTube or other social media platforms, or creating "Q&A" videos in which she directly acknowledges and responds to questions from her fans, Grace has always fostered her community by directly engaging with it.
Often Grace will use calls to action to encourage fans to comment on something specific. For example, Grace recently turned to Tumblr to ask her fans: "I haven't asked you this in a while, but what kind of videos do you guys want to see? How are you? What are your hobbies these days?" She addressed their requests in her very next upload.
Grace's commitment to community building has driven incredible fan engagement on and off YouTube. On average, Grace's videos generate 54 likes per thousand views and 3.7 comments for every thousand views, both of which are several times greater than other top YouTubers. Additionally, Grace has amassed nearly a million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
The real outcome of this audience interaction, though, isn't likes, comments, shares or followers; it's fan loyalty. The combination of Grace's personable tone and two-way communication with her audience means that fans aren't just passive viewers but active, engaged members of a community.
4. Take a risk, try new things and trust your fans to follow
All the groundwork that Grace laid to develop a strong and loyal fanbase has empowered her to try new things. In 2014, after six years of creating videos for /DailyGrace, Grace decided to take a big, unprecedented risk. She left her 2M subscriber-strong channel, which she had created with MyDamnChannel.com, to launch /ItsGrace, her very own, independent channel on YouTube. Grace uploaded a teaser to her new channel on 6 January 2014, and before posting a full vlog, she'd already attracted 275,000 subscribers. Thanks to the help of her fans, as well as other YouTube creators who helped drive people to her channel, 1.6M people or 70% of Grace's existing fan base, had subscribed to the new channel within two months of the channel launch.
In addition to launching a new YouTube channel, last year Grace also broadened her creative scope in other media. In February 2014, Grace partnered with fellow YouTubers to create Camp Takota, a feature-length film. In August 2014, she launched a full-length podcast, Not Too Deep, in which she interviews and performs games and challenges with other YouTubers and celebs. Within a month, the podcast was no. 1 on the iTunes charts. In October 2014, Grace published the book Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up, which quickly became a no. 1 New York Times bestseller. Most recently, in April 2015, Grace debuted her late-night talk show, The Grace Helbig Show, on E! Beyond these accomplishments, Grace has numerous other ongoing and upcoming projects including international sell-out tours (#NoFilterShow) and collaborative web series (Hey USA!, Electra Woman and Dyna Gir).
Fans have not only supported Grace by watching, listening to and reading her new projects, they've also rewarded her with overwhelming amounts of congratulations and praise across all social media. Fans reach out not just to tell Grace that they enjoy her new projects, but to tell her, as a friend would, how proud they are of all her accomplishments.
Fan comments in response to E! show launch:
Turning viewers into fans
Grace Helbig has built a following on YouTube by creating videos in a goofy, genuine style that allows her charming personality to shine through. Her prolific and consistent upload schedule ensures that viewers are always entertained, and Grace's regular Q&As, calls to action and interaction on social networks turn casual viewers into loyal, engaged fans willing and eager to support her across channels, platforms and media. Grace's success shows that a YouTube fan community is a powerful asset – one that creators and advertisers alike should embrace.