Travel enthusiast Suzanne Bruch started on Instagram in 2012 and in the span of six short years has amassed a dedicated following of over 15 million across four accounts. Her most followed account @wonderful_places is an amalgamation of the world’s most stunning destinations, ranging from Krabi, Thailand to the Swiss Alps. Bruch sets herself apart from the web’s countless travel influencers by curating images and videos from some of the best travel photographers around.
We sat down with Bruch to discuss her social media career to date, the elements necessary for building a viral travel account, and her approach to sponsored content. Read on to hear from the influencer herself in an exclusive interview.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself/your story, how you developed an interest in traveling, and why you decided to launch travel-focused Instagram accounts?
My name is Suzanne Bruch. I currently live in the Las Vegas area with my husband and two dogs. I was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, so I’ve spent most of life living in a warm, tropical country. As a child my family was always traveling to nearby places, such as Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and smaller lesser known islands in Indonesia.
My husband and I have always been avid travelers, even before Instagram, so when I started on Instagram back in 2012, I was thinking outside of the box, trying to make it different from my Facebook page. I made the decision to focus on travel because I wanted to inspire people by the beauty of our world, and it caught on and started growing.
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I’ve been very humbled by the success that the accounts have achieved and the large number of people that I hear from that are impacted positively every day. I like to think that their [the accounts] growth and popularity are due to my talent as a curator and content maker, as I view thousands of photos every day from the top content makers on the platform.
I hope to inspire my audience to travel to some of these incredible places or at least to show them places they may not know, or in ways that they haven’t seen them before.
3. When and how did you realize you could make a living on Instagram?
I created my accounts without any thought that one day something like that would be possible, it was just something fun and exciting to do at the time. In 2014, I had my first collaboration with a luxury beach resort in Turkey that had reached out to me over direct message. They were ahead of the curve on Instagram and it was very eye-opening to think that something bigger might be possible. My husband and I started working towards that goal and then it became a reality for us 🙂
4. How have both accounts changed since you started? Any specific turning points?
As far as the content on the accounts, they have changed very little since they were created. I’m trying to find the most dazzling imagery and locations. I used to post more with inspirational captions, but now I mostly just try to make the captions, quick, informative, and engaging.
As far as the turning points for the accounts, Instagram is always changing and adding new features that impact the ways people enjoy using the app. We’re always checking updates to find out the newest features.
5. When choosing whether or not to work with a brand, how do you decide? How do you ensure that sponsored content fits in seamlessly with your feed?
That’s a great question! We frequently receive invitations to work with brands and other accounts in different capacities. So when we receive an inquiry to collaborate, the first thing that’s important is our initial reaction to the proposal, whether it feels like it would be a good fit for our accounts.
My audience looks to my accounts for visually stunning travel photography. I take my responsibility and commitment to my audience very seriously and don’t feel comfortable putting just any content on my channels. When working with brand partners on sponsored content, communication is the key to a successful collaboration. We know the types of content that will most engage our audience, so we appreciate when we have input in these types of decisions. It’s also great when sponsored content is made specifically for the collaboration and isn’t just reused, recycled, repurposed, or reposted from something else.
6. In what single way has social media most changed your life?
Social media has had such a large impact on my life. Due to the success of my accounts, I’ve had opportunities to travel all over the world, to visit some of the most incredible places, and meet great people along the way, some that have become close friends.
7. What two pieces of advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own travel Instagram account?
One — Try to find your own original voice. There are many people with travel accounts. Try to find a new angle or point of view to make you stand out from the crowd.
Two — Be persistent. It takes years to grow a large following, so try not to get discouraged if it takes longer than expected to grow an account.
8. Lightning round:
Your top two travel tips of all time?
One — Bring an extension cord so that you only need one adapter and can charge many things at once.
Two — I’ve been using the travel cubes to separate my clothes inside a suitcase. They really help a lot 🙂
Worst food you’ve ever tried?
Not really the worst but I’m not a fan of raw fish, so I didn’t enjoy the food in French Polynesia that much.
Favorite city you’ve ever visited?
Instagram or Snapchat Stories?
IG stories. I haven’t done a lot with Snapchat yet, but I use Instagram Stories a lot.
9. Any exciting projects or plans in store for 2018 that your followers should get excited for?
Lots of excitement ahead for 2018. We are leading small photo tours to a few of our favorite locations, so this year we’ll be leading a few small groups to Northern Italy, Balkans, and the Swiss Alps. We’re launching a Wonderful Places app to provide our audience a more complete “Wonderful Places” experience.
10. Anything else to add?
In addition to @wonderful_places and @beaches_n_resorts I’m also the creator of two other large travel accounts: @bestplaces_togo and my personal account @_letstravel_. The combined audience across these four accounts is nearly 15 million people, so a very big thank you to everyone that follows my accounts and enjoys engaging with my posts.
This interview has been edited for clarity.