The new rules of building a business online with GraceFitUK
Meet Grace Beverley, the full-time Oxford University student with over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube, her own online business and several more in the pipeline for 2019.
Like many content creators, Grace has found a voice and built up an incredibly engaged community of followers on YouTube. Well known among YouTube subscribers for sharing step-by-step workouts, advice and her best-selling product, the GraceFitGuide, Grace is a member of a generation redefining the rules when it comes to building a business and making a living online.
Speaking with Tomos Grace, YouTube Head of Sport for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, he said “YouTube has quickly become the go-to destination for people searching for motivational content including new work-out routines, techniques and advice. Creators are such a vital part of YouTube’s sport and fitness experience, with many having built and nurtured dedicated online communities that tune in for each fresh workout.
“It’s inspiring to see Grace using YouTube to encourage and help hundreds of thousands of subscribers get fit and stay motivated.”
How has Grace done all this while simultaneously studying at Oxford University? We spent some time with her to find out.
MAINTAIN AN OUNCE OF ‘REAL-NESS’
YouTube is one of Grace’s biggest platforms and resonates which her audience because, as she says, “it enables me to show who I am, rather than just a photo on Instagram. It’s a fantastic platform for helping to maintain ‘real-ness’ because you get to see more of what people actually look like and how they are, rather than perfectly curated pictures and captions.”
DON’T SHY AWAY FROM DIFFICULT TOPICS
Unlike many online content creators, Grace doesn’t shy away from conversations around sex, break-ups and love on her YouTube channel with this proving time and time again to be her most viewed. Asked whether this has helped or hindered the growth of her businesses, Grace said “I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t helped – I think people like seeing candid and honest chats because it helps to normalise taboo subjects.
I think the videos have been especially helpful to people who find it harder to talk about such intimate subjects in real life, and helps to discuss issues that might otherwise make people feel alone.”
CREATE PRODUCTS SO GOOD THEY SELL THEMSELVES
Following the success of the GraceFitGuide, a series of easy-to-follow workout guides, Grace released a collection of resistance bands, straps and pads that have sold out time after time. How? Grace says, “I have released a variety of different merchandise over the past few years, but by far the most successful has been my resistance bands. They are good quality and a really fair price point and whilst my platform has definitely had an impact, I think they have sold themselves because of the customer testimonials.”
STRIKE A BALANCE
Influencer marketing has come under fire recently with the likes of BBC Panorama ‘exposing’ influencers and the not so black and white world of #ad vs organic.
Speaking to Grace about where she draws the line on her YouTube channel, she said, “I can see why people don’t like adverts on YouTube but I also think it’s really important to support creators and hope for success for everyone. I think social media is the one job where people are shamed for being successful and wanting to make money from their hours of work.
I don’t really do that much outright advertising of my own merchandise, in fact, I do about 1/10th as many product hauls of my own merchandise as I do of other brands. When I’m using my own products in my videos it’s because I’m legitimately using them – I use them during almost every workout, whether filmed or not.”
PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT YOU SHARE ONLINE
Though social media allows us to share our innermost thoughts and feelings, sometimes things are better left
unsaid unshared. Grace transitioned to a vegan diet in 2018 but, she says, “(I) was wary of showing my transition to veganism online at first, as it can be quite intimidating, so I actually went vegan for the first two months without saying anything online which definitely made it easier by taking off the pressure. From that point onwards, it’s actually allowed me to explore more vegan recipes and brands.”
Building a personal brand online opens you up to a world of criticism that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter offline. Grace is keen to differentiate between constructive criticism and trolling, however. “In terms of trolling, the people who go out of their way to spread abuse are usually hoping to get a reaction. Feel sorry for them and move on. In terms of criticism, I think it’s important to listen to your audience and what they want. This doesn’t mean that you always need to cater to everyone because that’s impossible, but you can definitely take opinions into account.”