CHICAGO — There she is, honeymooning with her husband in Thailand and visiting the magnificent 14th-century Buddhist temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, where the sunsets are sublime and one may observe the temple monks at their evening prayer. There she is again, this time languidly posing by the harbor at Marsaxlokk, a charming fishing village on the Mediterranean island of Malta where the turquoise waters are filled with brightly painted boats that sparkle in the sunshine. Should you decide to visit Malta one day you will know to also visit Mdina, to see St. Paul’s Cathedral and Museum and its exhibits of church vestments and Roman antiquities.
The lovely lady in the photos and author of the handy travel tips is Dr. Emilia Taneva, travel blogger, creator of the travel and lifestyle site Bubbly Moments and board-certified orthodontist who maintains a practice in Chicago. Taneva is living the dream. Let’s peek behind the curtain and see how she does it.
Taneva was born in Veliko Tărnovo, Bulgaria, 220 kilometers and a three-hour drive from the nation’s capital, Sofia. Veliko Tărnovo is the old capital of Bulgaria, picture postcard pretty and known for its history and charm. Both her mother and older sister are dentists. “I was programmed,” she confesses.
She began her studies in Bulgaria and while in dental school there, joined a dental students association because traveling around Europe was a featured group activity. “Dentistry is my first passion and traveling is my second passion,” Taneva says. She was already an English speaker — she also speaks Bulgarian, German and Serbian — when she left Bulgaria at age 27 to complete her dental studies at University of Illinois Chicago.
At first, she snapped photos like every vacationing tourist and because she’s a computer geek, too, she built a website and posted her photos. Taneva recalls, “I got my first computer in the 1990s, when I was 16 or 17, and started building websites and learning Photoshop.” Eventually, she began to post photos on social media as well. With the help of blogger friends, some of her photos went viral, so she invested in professional grade photography equipment and got serious.
Bubbly Moments was launched in 2018 and in less than two years, her Instagram account exceeded 650, 000 followers. Taneva is now one of Chicago’s top social media influencers, sharing information on luxury hotels, exclusive beaches and cultural experiences as she is photographed at exotic locales in one of the 40 plus countries on five continents that she’s visited so far. Her life is indeed fabulous, but Taneva wants us to know that behind the bubbles, there is discipline and hard work.
Here are a few things she does to consistenly build her Instagram following:
- “I approach Bubbly Moments as a business. Every day, I put in four or five hours, or even more,” Taneva says.
- She insists upon high production values for Bubbly Moments photos and careful attention is paid to their composition and lighting.
- Themes are planned a few weeks in advance.
- Her husband takes most of the photographs and sometimes her mother and sister will join her at a destination to help set up shots and take photos. Assistants help to develop blog content.
Her strong work ethic has paid off. Taneva’s first sponsorship offer was made by a U.K. company and additional offers quickly followed. Her roster of corporate sponsorships now exceeds 30 and includes prestige brands such as Pantene, Showtime and Clinique.
Emilia advises those who seek to maintain a prominent online presence that, “Your website is the backbone. Social media sites can change rules and they own the content on their site. You own your website and you have control.”