When Meghan and Dominic Loneragan aren’t enjoying the laid-back lifestyle of the New South Wales Central Coast they’re usually Citizens Of The World. The dynamic creators of the award-winning travel blog are normally winging it to exotic locations where Dom snaps the insta-envy images and Megs crafts the copy, all while juggling jetlag and an energetic toddler.
So how are they coping with the whole Covid thing? Does their life just feel like one never-ending stopover where the mini bar is empty?
Sure, international borders being closed is a pretty major bummer for them, but they’re far from lazing about pointing fingers at pangolins. Instead, they’ve pivoted to create their first podcast series: Content Crusaders. Their mission? To help turn unsuspecting ‘ugly’ small businesses into beautiful ones by giving them an instant Instagram facelift.
We catch up with Meghan Loneragan to learn if you really can combine business with pleasure, discuss the eco upside to a world where planes are grounded and pick her brain on the best way to do business on Instagram.
What’s it like working with your husband Dom? Do you have clearly defined roles?
We didn’t at first and if there’s one thing I would say to any couple embarking on a business together it’d be to clearly define roles at the outset.
It’s been 7 years now, so I think by and large we’ve done well. But we definitely had a period where we needed an outside expert to help us learn to speak to each other in a constructive way when we had disagreements, so business didn’t spill over to personal life. Best money we ever spent. Ha!
The challenge is you have to unify two individual creative visions, as well as creating a ‘product’ that the greater public would be interested in as well.
The rewards though are immense. One of our favourites things to do is work together and so being able to do that every day and reap the rewards of that minimises any of the harder stuff.
How do you balance running your business and raising a toddler?
I’m so grateful for our little boy for giving us a sense of proper perspective – not that you don’t have perspective if you don’t have kids, not at all. But personally, since having him, we don’t get as caught up in the world of social media and it’s not earth shattering if a post we think should ‘go-off’ just doesn’t for outside reasons. Before that I would care so very much.
Has becoming a mum made you care more about the planet? Have you made any changes to reduce your waste or become more sustainable?
Absolutely! We were always mindful, but we made some positive changes since having Lachie. We recently started composting and eating less meat – switching from 4-5 times a week to once per week. I know it’s not full vegetarian, but we try. We also vote with our wallets by buying ethical meat. It’s more expensive, but it kind of evens out.
Travelling the world and seeing so many beautiful natural environments. Does it make you more passionate about saving the planet?
There’s a level of guilt that comes with travel – especially long distance travel. The carbon footprint from flights is massive and something that plays on our minds a lot. With this in mind we are finding more and more hotels and resorts that have an element of sustainability built into them. Such as Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, which serves both as a resort but also a custodian for the Baa Atoll it surrounds. Visitors become active participants in the care of the island. I think this kind of travel, with a sense of purpose, is going to be a big thing over the next decade – and we are HERE for it!
How do you reduce your waste while travelling?
By making responsible choices when we dine. We love to eat at local places but always dine in over takeaway to cut out single-use plastic. It’s not a perfect system but every little bit helps.
Tell us about your new podcast Content Crusaders. Who’s it for?
We’re friends with a lot of people in the social media and marketing industry and when you’re in a bit of a bubble you can forget that there are people out there who don’t know the ins and outs, and basics, of social media – or how to think laterally to make content for their accounts.
One of the things we just hate to see is a brilliant business that someone has been toiling over for years not executing beautifully on social media: sharing photos of their breakfast when they’re a building company… Just things that don’t serve them or endear them to their audience. So we invented Content Crusaders. We pick a random business off Instagram that looks like they’re struggling and hack how to help them improve their social game in around 20 minutes.
On one level it’s for those kinds of businesses, but on another level it’s for anyone in marketing or who uses social media. We’ve all seen someone’s account and thought “WTF? Why did they share that?!”
The most important thing is we do it in a constructive and positive way. The world is negative enough.
How does storytelling via podcast compare to blogging? What do you enjoy most about the new format?
It’s very freeing to work in a medium that’s less about how you look and all about the information you’re sharing. It’s made us both lift our game, because we want to do a good job for the people tuning in.
Not to say we don’t have random episodes where we feel like we’ve gone ‘off-piste’ a little. But by and large it’s all about service and helping. And that feels good and rewarding.
What could small businesses do better when it comes to their Instagram?
Something we always talk about is the content ‘Pillars’. Once you identify the tent-pole topics your business ‘speaks’ about on social then the whole game gets a lot easier. You just have to spend the time to plan what you DO speak about and what you DON’T. So, if you’re a lawyer, you might say you share 3 things: (1) Interesting stats, (2) tips on handling a case, and, (3) maybe write interesting legal scenarios and give the audience multiple choice questions to see how THEY would respond if they were a lawyer. The pillars would be stats, tips and questions. And you might steer clear of political posts or any details on real-world cases.
How are you guys surviving the New Normal? Is not being able to travel overseas bugging you?
I’m an information addict and I basically made myself sick reading every piece of news I could when Covid-19 first appeared. I was trying to get every single side I could, so I’d have this routine where I’d start with Australian news, then US news, then British news and then Hong Kong (where my parents live). Not a recipe for great mental health. I’ve since learned to really manage how much news I consume for my own mental health. It’s a fine line between being well informed but also self-caring by focusing on your family.
If you could be in Lockdown anywhere in the world, where would you be?
I thank God I’m in Australia! I’m grateful I have family and friends that are safe. That’s all that matters. Truly.
Before Covid-19, we, like many people who work in social media, were definitely focused on superficial worries. I think the most important thing is no matter where people are locked down you’ve seen this overwhelming outpouring of community support. Covid has changed who we are at a core level and we no longer want to share any content that would make someone feel ‘less-than’.
We aren’t opposed to people saving up and treating themselves to something, but pre-Covid we felt like Instagram was becoming such a competition on who has the best life. We aren’t about that anymore. How could we do that when people are just out there trying to survive? Show me someone in a normal messy house any day!
What are you looking forward to when things get back to some kind of normal?
I think we’ll go back to travelling, but around Australia more than anywhere else.
Here and New Zealand – which is bittersweet, obviously, because there are plenty of countries that rely heavily on international tourism to bolster their economy and put food on the table. On the other hand, we have a beautiful country that many of us Aussies don’t explore because it might’ve been considered cheaper to just fly overseas. So there’s a good and bad side to everything. Our job is to focus on the good and positive as much as possible.