Hello, I’m Candice Batista, an Environmental Journalist based in Toronto, Canada. Currently, I work for CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show, where I am the resident eco expert. Part of my role is to help people make more informed decisions each day.
I also run Canada’s #1 Resource for Green Living, The Eco Hub, which covers a wide range of topics that range from zero waste living, ethical fashion, green beauty, and natural cleaning.
My ultimate goal in both jobs is to empower people to live green and have fun while doing it.
I earn about 6k per month and my blog has about 40k monthly visitors and is growing fast.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been an environmentalist since I was a kid. I was always drawn to the natural world. I was born and raised in Africa and got to spend a lot of time on Safari. It’s truly a wondrous thing to see animals in their natural habits. I was so blessed that this was part of my childhood. I also really loved journalism. Not what it has become today, but what it really means: standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and exposing the truth.
I got a degree in Environmental Studies and a postgraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism. My first job was as a weather anchor at The Weather Network 20 years ago. I fell in love with the weather (like most Canadians do) and was reporting on global warming and climate change daily. It was here that my love for media and green living blossomed. I left my job and created the first Local, eco-themed TV show 17 years ago called A Greener Toronto.
That show looked at how local Torontonians were fostering and facilitating environmental stewardship. I did 10 seasons on the show and covered hundreds of stories related to sustainable living. I even won an award for it from the City Of Toronto.
After that show, I hosted and produced a 13-part documentary series called Global Footprint. Each episode focused on one issue, like fast fashion, and some of the innovative solutions.
After that, I landed at CTV and now I run my blog. My blog is my life's work. It’s an incredible resource for anyone who's already living sustainably or just starting.
I’ve been doing this now for 20 years and it was born out of my love for the planet and doing everything necessary to save it.
It has not been an easy journey; green living was not hot 20 years ago and I have had to fight to get anything on the air relating to it. Today, it's become more mainstream and I am happy about that. But I still think much more action is needed.
A lot of people told me 20 years ago that what I was doing was silly and no one would care. They were wrong! Always listen to your gut, that’s the moral of the story.
I’ve taken my years of experience and my education and married them to create The Eco Hub.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Designing a blog starts with figuring out your why. For me, that answer was simple. I want to help people and at the same time heal the planet. Then I came up with the name, registered the business, and started to think about the aesthetic. Once I had that I hired someone to help create the overall look. My blog has evolved substantially over the last 5 years.
When creating a website, you need to think about startup costs. You have to buy the domain name, you have to host it somewhere (like Bluehost), have a logo created, and account for the cost of designing the site. I saved some cash and used it to start my blog. As it has grown, so have I. You have to have patience; success does not happen overnight.
I also wanted to give my readers a place where they can shop for ethical items and don’t have to worry about being greenwashed because I have done all the work for you. If a brand is on my website, it means it's been vetted and checked and double-checked. This is super important to me. Trust is everything.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I was lucky to be able to chat about my website on National TV and for years I was the only go-to eco expert in Canada. So I have a lot of experience and credibility behind me. That certainly has helped with the success of The Eco Hub.
I had a very engaged audience right off the bat. I think because I work in mainstream media, I know what people are looking for and what it takes to keep them tuned in, and I took that experience into my blog. For a long time, I was the only person chatting about sustainability and now, well, it's almost becoming a bit saturated.
You do not need to go into debt to create a successful blog. You need to make sure you are helping people to solve a problem and consistently posting articles that relate to your niche.
One of the biggest lessons I can share is to learn about SEO. This is the most important thing you can do for your blog.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Trust, reliability, and consistency. I write at least three new blogs per week, sometimes more. It’s important to communicate with your readers, which I do through my email list. People don’t have time to do all the research on their own, so I want to make sure that they know when they come to me I am going to cover all angles of that topic and help them make more informed decisions.
I spend way more time on my blog than I do on social media. 90% of my readers are coming to me from a Google Search. It’s also important to note that you don’t own anything on social media. If Instagram gets shut down tomorrow, what would you do if that was the only way you are connecting with your community?
You have way more power and ownership on your own blog. I make money on my blog in three ways: ad revenue, affiliate links, and sponsored posts. I have very good relationships with brands and use my platform to collaborate and let people know about them. It’s all about collaboration in this business, so if I love a brand, I will feature them for free. It’s a give and takes all the time.
My main source of marketing is through broadcast TV, and I am lucky in that sense. But I do have a small marketing budget I tap into once in a while if I want to promote something specific.
It’s good to build your email list, which you can do by offering up something free that readers can get when they sign up. All these people are potential customers. When I first began blogging, a lot of people told me not to add affiliate links right from the start. I didn't listen and I am glad I did not. Start right off the bat, learn SEO and write as much as possible.
There is no right time to do it. Find what works for you.
And as soon as you are in a position to hire help, do it. This might mean writers, brand managers, etc. It will help you focus on creating content instead of worrying about all the administrative stuff, which can really eat up your time.
For posts, write what’s timely. You wouldn’t post about camping in the winter and winter coats in the summer. So keep that in mind. Watch TV and read books to keep up with the latest.
You also want to give your readers variety. It's not just about 7 places to find ethical dresses; it’s about what ethical fashion is. Not only do I give people tons of alternatives for daily products, but I also want them to understand things like, what is zero waste really? What is greenwashing? etc.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
This year my blog is growing well. I’ve implemented SEO strategies and I have a publishing calendar. This helps me keep things on track.
You need to trust your gut and stick to it!
Short-term goals are to get to 100k readers by the end of the year. Long-term goals are to be the go-to place for anything related to green living in Canada.
On average I have 40k monthly readers and 70k pageviews. I hope to double that this year.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I think my biggest advantage is how long I have been in this space. 20 years is a long time to be talking about one thing. My biggest challenge is trying to keep up with all the demands of a blog. You have to take photos, write blogs over 2000 words, you have to research, and make sure you are using reputable sources. You also have to be very active on social media, Pinterest, FB, IG, Tik Tok, etc. It’s a great deal of work; it's a real hustle and you have to have tough skin. It never stops and if you are wanting to get into blogging you need to understand that. It’s very competitive because everyone is going after the same keywords, so you have to find ways to stand apart. For me, it's my longevity and the trust I have developed over the years.
You need to trust your gut and stick to it!
I’ve made lots of mistakes. I used a bad Wordpress theme when I first started and had to change halfway through, which ended up costing me money and traffic. Do your research and understand what you are getting into too!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I use Wordpress for my website and I would not recommend anything else. Your website needs to comply with a lot of Google rules and Wordpress is by far the best.
For email subscribers, I use Send In Blue. I used to use Mailchimp but found it way overpriced. When you are first starting it's good though because it’s free up to 2500 subscribers.
I use Paypal to bill brand partners.
Once you get to 50k sessions, consider signing up for Mediavine. It’s a great way to earn ad revenue on your site and they are amazing to work with. Get familiar with affiliate networks like ShareASale and Skimlinks.
I have used Tailwind for Pinterest in the past but found it did not really increase ROI. If you have a blog though, you need to use Pinterest. Aside from Google, it drives a lot of traffic to my site.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- Fashion Revolution’s Zine How to Be a Fashion Revolutionary
- Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan
- Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
- Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes by Andrew Brooks
- Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change by Kate Fletcher
- Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
- Sea Sick by Alanna Stewart
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Just go for it! If you want to start a blog, find out your why and do it! There is no perfect time. Learn to say NO because a lot of brands will ask you to work for free in exchange for products. This is okay and can be truly mutually beneficial at the beginning. But once you start to grow and start making money, you will have expenses that you will need to pay. Stick with it. SEO is a long game.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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