The digital age we live in today has created countless jobs, but one that seems to have emerged as both distinguished and alluring is that of an influencer. Everyone knows the likes of the Kardashian’s, famous for their show of course, but also their iconic Instagram accounts. This has set up the pathway for many other talented individuals to pave their way via social media, connecting with their audience and working tirelessly to build their followers and brand relationships.
Anja Ellam knows this well. Over the years, she went from a regular teenager posting on social media to a brand in herself, with almost 40,000 followers on Instagram alone always eagerly anticipating her next post. She has long standing brand partnerships with KO Watches, Sunny Bunny Swim, and Stop Smoking Start Living, a cause that’s important to the Canadian native. On top of this, she also frequently works with many other brands on a shorter basis, building both her brand and supporting the sales of many others.
“I’ve always loved social media and I think I really started getting into it when I started making new friends online because it’s a great way to connect with people all around the world. I never pursued a career as an influencer, I just liked sharing photos of my life and interacting with my friends so becoming an influencer was kind of something that just happened as my following grew,” she said.
The now Los Angeles based influencer credits her writing talent in helping build her career as an influencer, as she is also a professional writer. Throughout her writing career, she has worked on several different web-based projects where she pitches and creates shows and also contributes to the content. She writes everything from storylines to pages of dialogue and even seasons of shows. She has written branded episodes for Spotify, Schick, Hollister Co., Victoria Secret PINK, and TARTE Sugar Rush.
“I’ve always been a creative person, but I didn’t really know what art form was for me until I found writing. There are so many ways to tell the same story with writing and that’s honestly the thing I love the most about it, that a change in a line or two can take the story in a different direction,” said Ellam.
Ellam’s longest standing job as a writer has been with YouTubes AwesomenessTV. The popular YouTube channel has almost 7.8 million subscribers, with millions of views on their videos. As a Story Creator on the channel’s hit Malibu Surf, as well as the spin-off City Girls, Ellam is a driving force on the show’s writing team and a key part of its continued success.
The show follows Rio, who has moved from Maui to Malibu to pursue her artistic dreams. However, drama ensues when she meets a group of fellow surfers and their friends.
“I like the love triangles and I think the audience does too. The relationship drama really revolves around love triangles and the mess that can come from them. I also like that this show doesn’t promote anything negative so teens and kids of all ages can watch it and find positive role models in the cast. I think the show is a lot of fun and a show I would have watched in high school and even now too,” said Ellam.
Ellam actually began her work with the show starring in its first season, which is an influencer-based cast. The more time she spent on the show, the more she was interested in the story and the direction it was headed, participating creatively whenever she saw a chance. By the second half of the second season, she was a lead writer on the show’s creative team.
During the show’s third season, Ellam took over as Head Story Creator for the show, responsible for all of the creative aspects involved. It was an exciting and terrifying challenge for the 26-year-old influencer, as she did not want to disappoint the fans. On top of this, Ellam still is a regular cast member on the show.
“I like writing for a teen audience because I think I can relate to them and therefore create relevant storylines for them. I love that I have a job where I’m able to be creative and voice all my ideas. I also get to work with my roommate and best friend Rio Sage, who is the main talent on the show, which couldn’t make for a more fun shooting experience,” said Ellam. “It’s also great to see the growth of the cast and crew in the past several years of filming and I think they’d say the same about me. What I also love about the web series is the fast turn over. Just a few weeks after filming the show is already coming out!”
Web writing also adds another aspect of writing for Ellam, as they often need to incorporate brand scenes into the writing to make up for the lack of commercials/breaks like network television. During this time, Ellam’s experience as an influencer is her greatest asset. She knows how to sell a brand naturally and make it work for the storyline.
“I bring the added benefit of being an influencer to my creative work on the show. Malibu Surf does a lot of brand deals, and since I do my own branded content, I think I help make the collaborations organic,” said Ellam. “It feels great every time I hear that AwesomenessTV wants another season. I’m glad the fans still love the show all these seasons later. It feels great working on a show that so many people love and engage with.”
The fifth season of Malibu Surf premiered on Feb. 2nd, 2020, so binge watch it here.