Emilia Taneva, lovely Bulgarian import, has managed to organically amass 655K+ Instagram followers on her handle @bubbly. moment in just a year and a half! Her luxury lifestyle blog of the same name has also exploded, leading major corporate sponsors from Clinique and Olay, to Pantene, Macy’s, and FabFitFun to line up to work with her. Turning her passion for travel into her own cottage industry, Taneva has traveled the world in rare luxury, chronicling her adventures wrapped in the latest fashions and accessories. Even more impressive, he has managed to accomplish this alongside a thriving career as an orthodontist and dental geneticist.
Originally a successful dentist in her native Bulgaria, Taneva came to the United States on a student visa to earn an orthodontics degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Along the way, she fell deeply in love with her now husband, and his brand Bumpy Moments born out of the couple’s penchant for exploring the world romantically.
In this interview, Emilia Taneva shares her story and well-honed tips to accomplish superstar blogger status and social media.
Allison Kugel: When you get your student visa to come to the state to study dentistry, do you also set your site to be an entrepreneur and social media influencer, or after that?
Emilia Taneva: It happened later. I came here to study orthodontics. I’m already a dentist in my home country, Bulgaria. About three years ago, my husband and that I traveled a lot and that I had lots of content that I noticed I could use. Traveling has all the time been one of my passions. I watched other people create their blogs and realized I could turn them into a brand and make them a source of income. At that time I followed several bloggers specifically @nomadicmatt and @theblondeabroad. I focus on the website first and then Instagram.
AK: How did you bring the team together to build and optimize your blog, BubblyMoments.com?
ET: I have years of website design experience, so I can do everything myself. I’ve built other websites in the past, and that I love the technical part of working on my website. I studied, I googled and that I read lots of manuals about SEO. It’s a continually changing field, so I’m all the time up to date with the latest trends and methods.
AK: People want to understand how you managed to grow your Instagram following to over 650K followers in such a brief amount of time. What’s your secret?
ET: It’s important to have a niche when you first build a following. Find out what you like. Is it beauty, fashion, food, travel? Invest lots of time. I spend 4 or 5 hours per day just reviewing photos to be published on Instagram, and that I invest my own finances to build this brand. Just like any other brand or business, if you want to achieve success you must treat it like a business and put in the time. Once your followers grow, you can expand and begin posting pictures that reflect other parts of your life and other interests.
AK: Instagram appears to be your center stage. Is that true?
ET: Putting all of your eggs in one basket is not a good idea. Focus on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and your own website; not just instagram. Try publishing similar content across all your platforms. Pinterest is its own beast and that I spend lots of time on it too. Content published on Pinterest requires different image sizes and much of overlay text. I use Pinterest often enough to drive traffic to my website.
AK: How do you keep your engagement so high? Do you have a trade secret you’d like to share?
ET: Well, different images get different engagements; whether it is travel, fashion or food. The different times of day when people are more or less active make a difference too. You will must experiment with this formula. I try to re-engage with my followers as much as possible. I went to their profile, looked at their photos and replied to their comments. Pulling back is important.
AK: You have some impressive sponsors, including Clinique, Olay, Macy’s Jared Jewelry and others. How did you get your first corporate sponsor, and what do you consider your brand attracted them to you?
ET: My first sponsorship was just a giveaway product that came from a clothing line in the UK. There are so many platforms for social media influencers and bloggers connecting influencers with compatible brands. Brands want to ensure you will be a good representative for their product. I get my sponsorship either in person or through one of these influencer platforms. What brands tell me they like my pictures is the use of bright colours and the places I have been. They love the idea of their brand being related to this lovely and exotic location. They’ll ask where I’m going next and choose me to promote their service or product against the backdrop of that particular location.
AK: As well as your strong social media presence, you’re a successful orthodontist, which you also incorporate into your blog and social media posts. How do you see the two working together?
ET: Different days of the week are dedicated to one or the other. At one point the dental or orthodontic portion of the blog may become larger. People undergo different life stages, so when you are thinking about expanding your family and having kids, the orthodontics department possibly takes over far more because my journey has slowed down for some period of time.
AK: You have traveled to so many places all over the world. What is your favourite destination, and why?
ET: I like Hawaii. It’s one of my favourite destinations, and it is very easy to get from island to island. Each island has a different vibe, and nature is so lovely it is unbelievable. Maui is more calming and relaxing. Oahu is more densely populated. If you are trying to find more hustle and bustle, you can all the time skip Honolulu and Oahu. The better part is you do not leave the state, so the currency is the same, the phone network is the same. Exotic and comfy at the same time.
AK: People can now shop your lifestyle on your blog, Bumpy Moments. How do you choose the types of products to promote to your readers and followers?
ET: I must believe in the product. I’ll normally use something for at least a few weeks before making any recommendations. Now that summer is coming, I’m focusing on summer content: clothes, accessories, life jackets. I love a nice pool floaty! I’m all the time trying to find fun things to promote. And I do promote things that I personally like and use myself. For example, I’m currently obsessed with my Amazon fire stick, so I just share it on my IG story. So much of it’s totally organic and that I share what I liked at the time.