Saturday 21 April 2018 / London, UK

Should I Join a YouTube Network? | My Experience with an MCN

Should I Join a YouTube Network? | My Experience with an MCN

If you're a small YouTuber who has just started out and you maybe haven't got that many followers, you may be wondering about YouTube Networks (also known as Multi-Channel Networks or MCNs) or you have already been approached by one looking to partner up with you. Before you make a decision, it's important to do lots of research.

There are good and not-so-good YouTube networks to join. Some YouTubers have great experiences with networks like StyleHaul, The Game Station, Omnia Media, etc. But I've found that these are more exclusive and harder to gain access to. I joined Broadband TV, which has tens of thousands of partners, and here is my experience:

Being Approched by a YouTube Network

I was approached by BroadbandTV, or BBTV, two years ago. At this point, I had less than 1000 followers on YouTube (that didn't really matter to me, and still doesn't. I make YouTube videos because I love sharing my fashion and beauty advice on different platforms alongside my blog).

A really friendly representative emailed me talking about a business opportunity, which sounded great, and wanted to chat to me via phone. Me being very careful, I researched both the representative and the company to check that they were legit, before entering into any form of verbal contact.

We had a long chat where I asked her questions about what BBTV could do to improve my channel. She told me that BBTV could:

- help me collaborate with different YouTubers

- give me a free subscription to royalty free music

- access additional information on my analytics

- provide expert customer service to help with my channel

- send me a useful bi-weekly newsletter featuring YouTube tips and tricks

- and do a whole load of extras which weren't really relevant to me at the time (provide social media management tools, help me create merchandise, etc.)

All of this was new to me, but it sounded really cool. I told her that I was interested, so she sent over a contract for me to look through. Luckily, I personally know a solicitor, so I gave the contract to them to look through and tell me if there were any major no-no's that I should be aware of. There weren't, so I signed it and went ahead.

BBTV asked for 40% of my earnings in exchange for all of the above. For me this was fine, as I didn't make much money from YouTube, so it seemed like I was getting the better end of that deal. They also stated that the contract lasts a year, after which I could leave if I wanted to.

My Experience of Being Part of a YouTube Network

Over the next year, I gained just under 900 new subscribers which, for me as a small YouTuber, seemed like a lot. HOWEVER, I wholeheartedly feel that being part of BBTV played no part in this.

In fact, after the onboarding process, there was no personalised contact from BBTV for the entire length of the partnership (apart from one which I will mention further down) - which says a lot for their 'expert customer service'. There were no YouTuber collaborations; the royalty free music subscription was pointless as YouTube has their own music library anyway; I found the additional analytical information to be unhelpful; and there were no newsletters full of tips and tricks (I even sent them an email asking to be signed up as I hadn't received anything, and they said they didn't offer one...).

Basically, I was giving the MCN 40% of my income, without getting any personalised help in return.

I reached out to BBTV with my concerns, and they sent me back a copied-and-pasted response in which they (again) did not offer any personalised help - instead, they listed their 'tools' and told me to make use of them. How do I know this response was copied-and-pasted? Because I saw the same exact response on this blogger's post.

I responded by saying that I was unhappy with their service, but that I would like to give them another chance if they gave me a shoutout on their social media. They said that they could try, but couldn't guarantee anything.

About a week later, one of my videos got a shoutout on their Twitter page, which gained me about a dozen views despite their 69.7k strong following. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Ending my relationship with BBTV

For some reason, possibly because I couldn't be bothered to actively terminate my contract with BBTV, I stayed with them for two years. This February, just after YouTube changed the requirements for its partnership program, I received an email from them saying that they were 'repositioning their services and partner network' and releasing me from their contract.

Since leaving them, I have seen my views and subscribers go up significantly quicker than it did when I was part of their program. I'm not sure if this is because I've created better content in the past few months, but nevertheless I've taken note. My videos are still monetised on YouTube, and I am now pocketing that (albeit small) 40% that BBTV were taking.

On the whole, I feel like I haven't lost anything whilst being a part of BBTV's YouTube Network - potential income aside - but I didn't gain anything either. Perhaps I needed to actively contact BBTV more often to get them to help me out (although when I did, they were just really cagey and I do wonder if pestering them for help would produce better results). The relationship was completely one-sided, and I personally will not be entering into a partnership program with an MCN again, unless I am guaranteed drastic improvements.

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