In this insightful article, delve into the captivating journey of Emily Zeck, a multi-talented 27-year-old surfer and musician from Florida, who embraced social media in its early days to share her love for music and surfing. While navigating the influencer world, Emily stays authentic to her passions, hosting the “Hang Ten” podcast, organizing community events, and finding fulfillment in genuine connections.
Join Emily as she reflects on her triumphs, challenges, and the exciting projects on the horizon that celebrate her unique identity as an influencer.
Emily Zeck and Her Inspiration in Creating Content
Emily Zeck, a 27-year-old surfer and musician from Florida, started her influencer journey in 2014. Reflecting on those early days, she fondly recalls, “It was a really exciting time to be on social media, and I grew a really organic and cool audience.”
Her primary focus has always been on music and surfing. Emily explains, “I’m primarily a music artist and a surfer. So for me, that’s what’s most important.”
Creating content allows her to pursue her passions full-time and also design swimsuits, which she showcases online. She sees content creation as a means to support her creative pursuits. “For me, everything content-wise is purely a job unless I’m sharing the art that I’m making. Everything is maintenance,” she states.
Emily feels fortunate to make a living doing something untraditional, thanks to the global connectivity of the internet.
Her motivation as an influencer is to share her music, surfing, and creations with a wider audience. Social media has allowed her to pursue her dreams and thrive in her chosen artistic endeavors.
On Hosting Hang Ten
Emily is more than an influencer; she hosts the “Hang Ten” podcast, the first surf podcast capturing diverse conversations on and off the waves. She shares, “The whole idea came about while my friends and I were surfing. How fun would it be to bring a camera out here, get good audio, and talk to people?”
The podcast goes beyond surfing as Emily and her guests discuss various topics like life updates, work, family, and current events. She brings intriguing conversations from the surfing lineup to the audience’s ears.
Filming in the water presents challenges, as Emily points out, “You’re going into it blindly. You set everything up on the beach and hope it works out in the water.” Nevertheless, the podcast remains an exciting and adventurous endeavor for Emily and her team.
How have your previous professional experiences or educational background contributed to your success as an influencer?
Emily attributes her success as an influencer to her educational background in Organizational Communications, with a focus on social media, public relations, and marketing. She recognizes the significance of social media in today’s world, stating, “If every company is on social media, that’s becoming traditional marketing.”
Her college education gave her valuable insights into the importance of social media for businesses in the digital age and the value of having a supportive community, both online and locally. Despite the challenges of living in Los Angeles, Emily appreciates her college experience and its grounding effect on her life.
Balancing her entertainment and social media endeavors with her college experience was vital for Emily, allowing her to connect with like-minded individuals and pursue traditional career paths alongside her online ventures.
Are there any particular skills or lessons you learned from your early days as an influencer that still resonates with you today?
During her early days as an influencer, Emily learned valuable lessons and skills that still resonate with her today. One crucial lesson was developing a thick skin to navigate the harsh and critical nature of the internet. She acknowledges, “The internet is the wild, wild west. People will get on there purely to get a rise out of anybody.”
Emily has learned not to dwell on individual negative comments and instead focuses on overall feedback, especially when promoting products. Selling products helped her realize the importance of genuine support from her audience. She shares, “When I started selling products, it became clear to me who actually mattered in my audience.” The opinions of those who appreciated and engaged with her creations were the ones that truly mattered to her.
Emily values the support of her loyal fans and no longer lets negative comments bother her on her journey as an influencer.
How would you describe your content creation style, and what sets you apart from other influencers?
Emily describes the type of content she creates as a unique combination of country music and surfing. She believes this combination sets her apart from other influencers, stating, “I don’t know very many people that make country music and surf online.” However, she acknowledges that in today’s interconnected world, true originality is challenging to achieve. Instead, Emily focuses on drawing inspiration from various sources and reinterpreting it in her own way.
She shares, “I draw my inspiration from the beach boys with music and old country artists,” but the key for her is to make it her own by adding a fun twist or unique element. Emily emphasizes the importance of interpreting inspirations in a way that resonates with her, stating, “That’s been a really important thing for me to remember in this process of trying to be unique and new.”
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an influencer?
The most rewarding aspect of being an influencer for Emily is the ability to bring people together in her hometown and community. Despite the challenges of dealing with online hate and negativity, Emily finds fulfillment in making a difference locally. She shares, “There are so many aspects of online culture that are honestly completely unfulfilling… nothing feels fulfilling about that.”
Her passion lies in organizing events for her community, such as beach cleanups and opening a surf shop. Emily plans to use the surf shop as a platform to teach girls how to shape surfboards, showcase local artists, and support small businesses. Her goal is to foster a strong in-person community where support and camaraderie flourish.
For Emily, making a positive impact in her local environment and supporting those around her is more meaningful than simply seeking to change the world without tending to the needs of her neighbors. Building genuine connections and creating a close-knit community is what she values most in her journey as an influencer.
Could you share a significant milestone or achievement in your journey as an influencer that you are particularly proud of?
Emily reflects on a significant milestone in her journey as an influencer that fills her with immense pride – the opening of her surf shop. She shares, “Going online and having this virtual presence felt incomplete. Something was missing. Being able to save up and purchase this location for a surf shop, where I can bring people together, feels fantastic for me.”
She emphasizes that while the digital world offers incredible connectivity, tangible interactions and building a local community are what truly fulfill her. Emily believes that having a physical space to connect with people and create meaningful experiences surpasses any numerical achievements.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as an influencer, and how did you overcome them?
Emily opens up about the challenges she faced as an influencer and how she managed to overcome them. She stresses the importance of staying true to oneself and not getting caught up in chasing trends. Emily explains, “Finding what makes you, you, and being authentic to that regardless of how the trends are moving” is crucial.
While the online space constantly changes and new trends emerge, she advises against trying to keep up with everyone else all the time. Instead, she encourages creating content that one genuinely loves and staying authentic. That, according to Emily, is the key to overcoming challenges in the influencer world.
How do you stay motivated and inspired to consistently create content?
Emily shares her approach to staying motivated and inspired in content creation. She mentions a saying that resonates with her, “Just because you’re not creating art today doesn’t make you a bad artist.” Emily highlights the importance of being authentic and not getting overwhelmed by chasing trends.
To stay inspired, Emily believes in taking breaks from social media, music, and the internet. She advises against constantly comparing oneself to others and trying to mimic their content. Instead, she finds inspiration by doing things she enjoys and taking time to recharge. For her, creativity ebbs and flows, and she allows herself the freedom to create when she feels genuinely inspired.
Emily also acknowledges the privilege of being able to take breaks from content creation, knowing that she can still sustain herself financially. Ultimately, she finds that stepping away from the online world and engaging in real-life experiences helps her find the inspiration needed for her creative work.
How do you balance maintaining authenticity while collaborating with brands and creating sponsored content?
Emily discusses how she balances authenticity while collaborating with brands. She says, “A good brand will let you create content around their product in a way that’s organic for your audience. For me, that’s often centered around surfing, the beach, or something related, and it always fits in seamlessly and does really well.”
She emphasizes the importance of being authentic in brand work and explains, “I try to be authentic in my brand deals, and I turn quite a few down if I’m not into the product or if I don’t believe in it. I never want to promote something that sounds scammy or doesn’t resonate with me.”
Despite financial pressures, Emily remains true to her values. She admits, “In today’s world, with the economy going, sometimes you just take a brand deal because it’s money. But I always test out what I get, and if I genuinely enjoy it, I tell people about it.”
By prioritizing products she genuinely enjoys and believes in, Emily maintains her authenticity and ensures her brand collaborations resonate with her audience. She adds, “I always want to enjoy the things I’m telling people that I enjoy, so it’s not just about the paycheck; it’s about providing value to my audience.”
How do you approach building and nurturing relationships within the influencer community?
Emily shares that she doesn’t actively seek out collaborations within the influencer community. She feels that the influencer space can be toxic and prefers to focus on her passions, such as music and surfing, rather than socializing with online personalities. She acknowledges that her approach may be different from others, but it works for her.
However, Emily expresses her interest in collaborating with people from other spaces, such as athletes or music artists, who have gained influence through their expertise and passion. She admires individuals like Kelly Slater and Caroline Marks, who are great at what they do and have garnered significant followings as a result.
Have there been any notable changes or trends in the influencer marketing industry that have impacted your approach or content?
Emily discusses the notable changes and trends in the influencer marketing space that have impacted her approach and content. She mentions the significant impact of TikTok, which exploded in popularity in 2020, becoming a global app that people were on all day, every day. She states, “It was no longer the kids’ app, the dancing app. It was just this all-time massive opportunity to connect with people in a different way.” Emily also anticipates the possibility of new apps emerging in the future that could have a similar influence on the online space.
Can you share any advice or insights you would give to your younger self when you were starting out as an influencer?
Emily advises her younger self and others just starting out to stay true to themselves and pursue what they genuinely love. She emphasizes that although it might be a longer and slower journey, sticking to one’s passions will attract an audience that shares the same interests and leads to a happier and more fulfilling experience in the long run.
As someone who has been a part of the influencer marketing space for a while, how do you perceive its current state? Are there any trends or changes you’ve observed recently that have caught your attention?
Emily shares her thoughts on the current state of the influencer marketing space, stating, “The influencer marketing space is kinda volatile right now.” She points out a trend where people are shifting away from quick consumption and seeking authenticity, saying, “People aren’t wanting to consume as quickly as they used to.”
Emily emphasizes the growing importance of honesty and trust, suggesting that smaller influencers with genuine reviews are becoming more credible than those with massive followings promoting paid products, stating, “That’s more trustworthy than somebody with 20 million followers telling you to click a link in their bio for a product that they got paid a hundred thousand dollars to promote.” She believes this will lead to a shift towards more authentic and long-term content, true to the values of the creators, adding, “Consuming is going to start taking a turn from product pushing to maybe something with more longevity that’s really true to whoever’s promoting it or selling it.”
Looking back on your journey so far, what are you most proud of?
Emily expresses that what she’s most proud of is staying true to herself and not straying far from her roots, even in the face of online exposure and millions of followers. She acknowledges that everyone has moments of making mistakes or saying things they don’t mean, but she’s grateful that she never engaged in such behavior online, avoiding potential consequences that come with being a public figure.
She highlights the importance of authenticity and keeping a good head on her shoulders throughout her journey, stating, “I think that’s what I’m most proud of.” Emily values the ability to maintain her genuine self and avoid creating a mess that would need cleaning up later.
What advice would you give to aspiring influencers who are just starting their journey?
Emily’s advice to aspiring influencers starting their journey is to stay true to themselves. She emphasizes the importance of not creating a persona that doesn’t resonate with their real values or interests. Emily believes that building a career based on a false persona is not sustainable and won’t lead to fulfillment. She encourages influencers to focus on what truly makes them happy and to create content that aligns with their authentic selves.
While some people may advise “fake it till you make it,” Emily cautions against creating a persona solely for the sake of gaining views or following trends. Instead, she suggests aspiring influencers focus on creating a life that they genuinely desire and enjoy, even if it means stepping out of their current circumstances. The key is to be authentic and not compromise one’s values or identity to chase popularity or success.
Finally, what’s next for you? Are there any exciting projects or plans on the horizon that you’d like to share with your audience?
Emily shares that she is currently maturing in the online space and refocusing on her true passions, such as building a community and creating her art, which involves designing swimsuits. She is eager to bring people together through music and surfing, the reasons that originally led her to start her social media journey.
Emily also expresses her excitement about pivoting in the influencer space to create a brand that truly reflects her authenticity. She acknowledges that this change will bring about new opportunities and adventures, making her excited to share more about her shop and future endeavors.