By Michael Varrati
There’s no denying that in the pantheon of YouTube superstars, Joey Graceffa is part of a small group that sets the gold standard. With a voracious viewership and an almost daily output of frenetically fun videos, Graceffa has risen through the ranks of content creators to become one of the most identifiable faces on the internet.
As if to drive this point home, on the very day we sit down to discuss his work, it’s announced that the prolific young artist has hit 3 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. Though, despite the overwhelming number of viewers consuming his daily video content, for his part, Graceffa remains humble. In fact, the idea that 3 million individuals are out there watching what he does is as staggering to him as it is to anyone else.
“It’s really crazy,” Joey tells me, with a slight hint of reverence, “it still hasn’t really hit me that it’s THREE million. I guess what I’ve really noticed is that when I go to events, I see the amount of viewers who are in line to meet me, that’s when I really get that I’m reaching a large audience. Still, I never imagined I’d ever hit three million.”
Despite his humility, it’s been a landmark year for Graceffa. In addition to fostering an extremely popular channel, Joey, with the aid of friend and writer Whitney Milam, launched a supernatural web series called “Storytellers,” which was met with instant acclaim. The series, which allowed Graceffa to explore a more dramatic side of his persona, served as a major advancement in his career that certainly helped increase his visibility amongst an already celebratory YouTube audience.
While some may feel a certain pressure to meet the demands of an expanding audience, the ever gracious Graceffa instead acknowledges that it has been the greatest gift he could possibly receive in pursuing his goals.
“Now that I have a larger audience,” he tells me. “I feel that I have the opportunity to make higher quality content and grow as a person and video creator. I’m always changing up my style and making it better quality. That’s why I created ‘Storytellers,’ because I wanted to bring something to my channel that was more than just my vlogs. Now that I have a larger audience, I have the ability to do that.”
Another aspect of Graceffa’s growth in the past year is his recent partnership with StyleHaul. The MCN, which is primarily known for creating content for a female demographic, reached out to content creators like Graceffa to widen the scope of their output.
“Joey has his fingers in a lot of different pies,” a representative from StyleHaul said of the partnership, who also admitted that by looking to push their boundaries they had found an ideal partner in Graceffa. “He’s a great content creator. He understands the collaborative side of it, which is something we really embrace. The importance of collaborating and working with other YouTubers, it all comes to him in a very organic way.”
For regular viewers of Joey’s channel, this assessment likely comes as no surprise. Graceffa routinely plays host to a cavalcade of some of YouTube’s biggest names. And by sharing exploits with fellow content creators, Joey is able to display what has come to be known as YouTube’s greatest strength — its sense of community.
More so, Joey dispels any notion that the aforementioned community exists solely for those who appear on camera. Graceffa emphatically credits his fans for making each and every one of his successes on YouTube possible.
In fact, in talking about the success of “Storytellers,” he said it wouldn’t have happened without his fans.
“I think my audience supports me and everything I do, and they knew I really wanted to get into acting,” he muses. “They were so supportive of the fact that I was doing something different. The fact that it was a drama, and not the comedy they know me for, made me nervous that it wouldn’t connect well with my regular audience. I knew maybe it wouldn’t get the same amount of views as some of my regular videos, but it ended up surpassing them. The show ended up getting more views than my regular videos normally would get, so it was an amazing response.”
The response to “Storytellers” is certainly more than warranted. The show, which boasts killer production values and a storyline to rival similar fare on The CW, is the product of extremely hard work. Furthermore, it showcases the power of YouTube, and what the synergy between content creator and audience can achieve.
“I’ve always had a passion for acting,” Joey tells me, “it’s something I’ve always wanted to do on my channel. It just felt like the right time and the right fit for me to go after a web series — and I’m into supernatural dramas. I figured why not make my own, rather than try and find a show to audition for that fit that criteria? Why not just make my own and be in control of it all?”
…and by activating his audience to help him chase the dream via a rigorous crowdfunding campaign, Joey was able to raise more than $140,000, surpassing his initial goal by $40,000.
Because of this fondness and relationship he has with his audience, it makes sense that many look to Joey and his success for inspiration for digital dreams of their own. When I ask him what advice he would give up-and-coming creators, he takes a moment to consider the question. Then, with no small amount of that trademark flair, he beams the answer with the energy one would expect from him:
“You have to be passionate about what you do. If you’re not having fun, people aren’t going to get onboard with your channel. Be passionate, be fun, be interesting…and be consistent. Don’t just post once a month, because people will forget about you.”
Luckily for Joey Graceffa, one of YouTube’s most consistently fun, passionate, and interesting artists, being forgotten anytime soon is a story we won’t be telling.