A smartphone is positioned horizontally on a tripod. On the screen of the phone is an image of a woman holding up a forkful of salad. The woman has her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail and is wearing a light blue workout crop top. The woman appears to be in a gym; behind her are several workout machines. In the background beyond the phone and tripod, out of focus, is the same woman on the screen, sitting on the floor of a gym with workout machines in the background.
Multi-channel networks (MCNs) can connect YouTube creators with other channels, providing opportunities for cross-promotion and audience growth. — Getty Images/thianchai sitthikongsak

A multi-channel network (MCN) is an organization that helps YouTube creators manage and grow their channels. If you’re considering building an MCN, here’s how it works and four steps to get started.

[Read more: 6 YouTube Features Your Business Could Be Using]

What is a multi-channel network?

According to YouTube, a multi-channel network (MCN) is a third-party organization that works with YouTube creators to help them grow and monetize their following. For example, an MCN may help creators optimize their channel and develop a content strategy. It may also offer guidance on improving their video quality and reaching a larger audience.

MCNs will also help YouTube creators find advertising and sponsorship opportunities. And MCNs can facilitate partnerships with other creators in their network so both parties can grow their following and reach larger audiences.

If you deeply understand the YouTube ecosystem and know the company’s policies inside and out, building an MCN may be the right choice for you. However, building a successful MCN takes time, so you’ll want to do your homework and seek legal advice before getting started.

[Read more: Understanding YouTube Ads and How to Monetize Content]

How to build a multi-channel network on YouTube

Here are four steps to building a multi-channel network on YouTube.

Create a business plan

You’ll start by creating a business plan outlining your goals for the MCN. Your plan should include a high-level summary of your vision for the network. You should also determine your company’s legal structure — for example, will you set it up as an LLC or a corporation?

Next, you’ll outline your target audience and the service you’ll provide them. Include a competitive analysis and explain how you’ll set your business apart from other MCNs in your industry.

Joining the YouTube partner program doesn’t automatically qualify you for MCN status, but it’s the first step.

Understand the legal requirements

Before starting an MCN, consult with an attorney who can advise you about the legal requirements. For example, you’ll want to know about any registration and licensing requirements in your state. You’ll also need detailed contracts for each YouTube creator you work with.

In addition, you’ll need procedures to ensure your MCN complies with all copyright laws. For example, you’ll need to obtain the correct licenses for any music and images used in videos. Sound legal guidance can help you avoid making costly mistakes in the future.

[Read more: How to Create and Grow a Successful YouTube Channel for Small Business]

Grow your client base

Many YouTube creators will be wary of joining an MCN. They’ve likely heard that joining one will strip them of creative control and possibly cause them to lose money in the long run.

And in some cases, these objections may be valid, so you need to show other creators why your MCN is different. Create a strong value proposition highlighting the benefits of working with your MCN.

You can connect with new creators by attending industry events and creating a large online presence. Ask for testimonials as you start working with new creators and forming successful partnerships. Showcasing positive testimonials will help you continue to grow your network and attract new clients.

Apply for MCN status from YouTube

Once you’ve begun building a client base, you can apply for MCN status from YouTube, and you’ll start by joining the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). To join the YPP, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Your channel complies with YouTube’s monetization guidelines.
  • You live in an area where the YPP is available.
  • You don’t have any Community Guideline strikes against your channel.
  • You have two-step verification turned on.
  • You have access to advanced YouTube features.
  • You have one active AdSense account.

Joining the YouTube partner program doesn’t automatically qualify you for MCN status, but it’s the first step. From there, you need to show YouTube that you have a respectable client base and a thorough understanding of the service you’re providing.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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