Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Anna O’Brien has been bringing her self-confidence to social media for years, and to YouTube since 2016.
But YouTube’s TikTok competitor, Shorts, is now helping her spread her particular brand of fun fashion to a whole new audience.
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O’Brien, who’s from Cleveland, started her YouTube channel Glitterandlazers with a plan. She’d started social media on Instagram, and had never planned for her account to be the jumping-off point for an actual career as a content creator. At the time, she was a product manager, and though fashion was a longtime passion, she just intended to use her channel the way she’d been using her Instagram account: as a place to share her cool looks and cooler attitude.
Her early videos are a mix of clothing hauls (a staple of the well-populated fashion & beauty niche) and frank discussions about fat-shaming and the effects it can have on people. If you’ve been on the internet for more than five minutes, you know that a lot of content featuring fat people is met with less-than-savory or outright abusive comments.
O’Brien knows that too–and it’s part of why she builds her whole online presence around encouraging everyone to embrace themselves and their bodies.
Across Instagram, where she has nearly one million followers, TikTok, where she has 8.4 million followers, and YouTube, where she has 745K subscribers (and is gaining around 5,000 new ones each day), O’Brien’s self-given moniker is “the confidence queen.” And that doesn’t just mean body confidence. It means confidence in everything from her sense of style to following her instincts and trying out new kinds of content.
Like some of our previous Creators on the Rise featurees, O’Brien had a good feeling about making the leap to YouTube Shorts. Up till 2018, she made long-form content, with videos ranging from five minutes for short try-ons or clothing hauls up to 20 minutes or more for vlogs and personal updates. Since launching her TikTok account in 2018, she’s mixed short- and long-form content–and the blend is working for her, she says.
The numbers agree: Since O’Brien started uploading to YouTube Shorts in June 2021, her channel has grown by more than 500,000 subscribers, and she’s gone from < one million views per month to, in January 2022, nearly 100 million.
O’Brien says the views and subs pouring in from YouTube Shorts are affecting her overall channel, bringing new audiences to her long-form content.
That, in turn, is making her restrategize behind the scenes, looking for new ways to engage her growing viewership. All those hours add up to content creating being “more of a lifestyle than a job,” O’Brien says.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: First, tell us a little about you! Where did you grow up? What did you get up to before you started your YouTube channel?
Anna O’Brien: I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, and before creating content, I worked in technology as a product manager. Fun fact: That’s why my pup is called Data–because my job used to be working with and synthesizing lots of information.
Tubefilter: How did you become so interested in fashion? What made you decide to take that interest online? What social media platform did you join first, and why did you pick that one?
AO: I’ve always been interested in fashion, ever since I was a little kid. Fashion, for me, is about expressing and empowering yourself. A good outfit can be a confidence boost, add credibility and/or set the tone of your interactions. I started creating content on Instagram casually (I never set out to become a full-fledged influencer) because it was the easiest place to start. And, well, fate brought me here.
Tubefilter: Your self-description is “the confidence queen.” How did you decide to make that the center of your online presence? Why is encouraging self-confidence—in yourself and your audience–so important to you?
AO: I feel confidence isn’t about being fearless, it’s about sometimes being afraid and still standing up for yourself and your worth. Because you matter–even on the bad days–and knowing that is powerful. For me, confidence is an active word, something you literally have to fight daily for. Heck, I fight daily for it.
Tubefilter: Your YouTube channel has recently seen a big boost in number of views and subscribers. Do you know if there was one specific video that took off, or did numbers go up across a bunch of videos simultaneously?
AO: I would say Shorts has really helped my channel grow over the last few months. It’s bringing new viewers to my channel and giving me a new format to engage and inspire.
Tubefilter: How do you choose what kind of looks to put together? Do you ever take suggestions/questions (like “Can X color look good with X color?”) from your followers, or keep an eye on what other fashion bloggers/vloggers are wearing?
AO: When coming up with outfits, I get inspired by all sorts of things–fan suggestions, current trends, celebrity looks, and vintage. The key element in every look is fun. I really enjoy playing with fashion, and I think my audience can feel that from my videos.
Tubefilter: We see you’re doing a lot of Shorts content, but you also do longer videos, like try-ons and updates about what’s going on in your personal life. Is the short/long split working well for you? Do you notice any difference in audience reactions/interactions between the two?
AO: Creating a mix of long-form and short-form content is working really well for me. Shorts are introducing me to new audiences, and those audiences are staying around to watch longer-form content.
Tubefilter: What effect has Shorts had on your YouTube channel, and on your career overall? What about TikTok? Has the rise of short video helped you, changed anything for you…?
AO: I understand and appreciate short-form video. It definitely has helped me grow my channel and develop as a creator. I think both short- and long-form videos are needed, and right now I am learning how to make them work best together. It’s exciting!
Tubefilter: Is content creation your full-time job? What does the average day look like for you? How much time do you spend making videos?
AO: As a full-time content creator, every day brings a different challenge. I’m the one you see on camera, but I’m also the one in charge of all the planning, all the business matters, some editing, brand meetings, etcetera. I always joke that being a creator is more a lifestyle than a job. Even when I am technically not working, my brain is still going–thinking of concepts, being inspired, and writing down ideas.
Tubefilter: How long does the average short video take you to make? The average long video? Do you have anyone helping out behind the scenes? An assistant, editor…?
AO: Things like planning, researching trends, and editing all affect how long something will take to create–long-form or short. Sometimes the simplest video came out of a long planning process. So really, each video is kind of its own beast. I have a wonderful videographer who helps me brainstorm, film, and edit content. We’re always pushing ourselves to try new things.
Tubefilter: Has this recent engagement spike changed anything for you? Do you have any new plans or goals for your channel?
AO: I try to keep focused on my community and purpose.That’s what matters most. The engagement spikes are helping me better understand what my audience enjoys most, so we can create more joy for them. Right now, it feels like I am growing and adapting with my audience, and it’s invigorating.
Tubefilter: What do you hope people take away from your videos?
AO: I hope people find joy and a boost of confidence watching my videos. I want them to see all the amazing possibilities in their lives.
Tubefilter: What’s next in the immediate future for you? Where do you see yourself in five years?
AO: Right now, I am looking to just get more organized. Long-term, I am looking at some new ways to engage with and support my audience.
Jellysmack is the global creator company that powers multi-platform social media growth for individual video creators, media companies, brands, celebrities, and its own online communities. The company’s proprietary video optimization technology optimizes, distributes, and promotes video content across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube, resulting in meaningful audience growth and increased revenue in record time.
Jellysmack is currently partnered with over 500 of the world’s most talented creators including MrBeast, PewDiePie, Like Nastya, Nas Daily, Karina Garcia, Patrick Starrr, and Bailey Sarian, plus renowned media brands like Paramount Pictures, MGM, Fuse Media, and Combate Global. In addition to multi-platform syndication, Jellysmack offers catalog licensing deals that provide creators with upfront capital in exchange for licensing part of their YouTube back catalog. The company’s comprehensive social media solutions build upon its success in scaling its own original content channels in beauty (“Beauty Studio”), soccer (“Oh My Goal”), gaming (“Gamology”), and more. In total, Jellysmack-managed content boasts a cross-platform reach of 125 million unique U.S. users, making it the largest U.S. digital-first company in monthly social media viewers.
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