How to foster an upskilling culture for improved cybersecurity

VP of cyber at Immersive Labs, Max Vetter argues for continuous learning to ensure cybersecurity teams are as dynamic as the threats they face.

As cyberthreats continue to evolve at breakneck speed, security professionals are expected to keep up and defend their organisations. Despite this, many organisations report feeling ill-prepared to face future cyberattacks.

A report by Immersive Labs unveils a surprising trend – junior cybersecurity staff are engaging with more challenging content than their seasoned counterparts, shining a light on a critical gap in skill development among industry veterans. This discrepancy may well be a contributing factor to the perceived vulnerability of organisations.

Identifying training gaps

There can sometimes be a complacency issue among seasoned professionals when it comes to training, which means they are falling behind junior colleagues. Our research shows that junior cybersecurity personnel are proactively engaging with content that is, on average, 5pc more challenging than the material tackled by their more experienced colleagues.

The underlying issue may be related to the cyber team culture, which often emphasises systems and processes over individual capability enhancement. Seasoned staff, possibly anchored by past successes, might not pursue new learning opportunities as vigorously, partly due to a workplace culture that views ongoing education as redundant for them.

‘Staying abreast of the latest trends and threats is crucial’

This environment inadvertently fosters a training gap, as it encourages junior staff to seek out more challenging content to establish their competence, leaving a void in the collective knowledge and preparedness of the team.

So, it’s not just an issue of complacency, the commitment to continuous skill enhancement has been forgotten. Organisations are not fully recognising the vital role continuous learning plays in effective cyberthreat response. Such findings are an urgent wake-up call to all organisations about the importance of encouraging and developing the skills of their entire workforce.

Are you prepared for a cyberattack?

Staying abreast of the latest trends and threats is crucial. While this might seem obvious to some, there’s an observed tendency for some senior professionals to lag in keeping up to date with new challenges. This undermines the effectiveness of an organisation’s response to security incidents and casts doubt on its overall cyber resilience.

The key to building cyber resilience is to build the human edge. Despite pouring funds into cutting-edge security solutions, a staggering 80pc of cyber leaders remain plagued by doubt about their team’s capability to confront future cyberthreats. Moreover, 82pc concede that more robust preparation could have drastically reduced the fallout from previous cyber incidents.

So, what’s the bottom line? It’s clear that investing in technology, while essential, is insufficient without equally investing in the workforce. Cybersecurity isn’t just about having the latest tools; it’s about having a team that’s adept at using them. If the people aren’t prepared for a cyberattack, then, frankly, the business isn’t either. Organisations need to shift their focus on ensuring that their teams are as resilient and dynamic as the threats they face.

‘The key to building cyber resilience is to build the human edge’

This mindset needs to be applied throughout the organisation. To enhance cyber resilience effectively, it is important that all team members, irrespective of their tenure, engage in continuous learning and adapt to the evolving cyberthreat landscape.

Getting prepared

To better prepare for cyberattacks, organisations must recognise and act on the critical importance of the ‘people’ aspect in cybersecurity. With the workforce’s behaviour being the root cause of 74pc of breaches in 2023, it’s clear that cybercriminals are exploiting individual vulnerabilities, often through phishing attacks, social engineering and increasingly sophisticated AI-driven threats such as deepfakes. This reality underscores the need for a robust culture of awareness and developing a resilient workforce capable of identifying and mitigating such threats.

Training and educating employees at all levels become indispensable in building this culture. Organisations should focus on integrating cyber resilience as a strategic priority, transforming cybersecurity from merely a defensive posture to a proactive, strategic focus. This approach not only strengthens an organisation’s defences against immediate threats but also contributes to a significant reduction in risk exposure over time.

Here are some steps that organisations can take to foster an environment where ongoing education and vigilance are paramount.

Strategically reinforce cybersecurity defences

Organisations need to craft an all-encompassing training approach that transcends the boundaries of IT, embedding it deeply within the corporate governance framework. Elevate cybersecurity to a pivotal strategic concern that captures the board and C-Suite executives’ focus.

Cultivate a robust cybersecurity culture

Foster an environment where every employee is acutely aware of their role in protecting the organisation. Encourage vigilance and a collective sense of responsibility, creating a security-first mindset across all levels.

Challenge complacency

Address the hazards of overconfidence, especially prevalent among senior staff. Implement a continuous learning paradigm, driven by key performance indicators (KPIs), to remain aligned with the ever-changing cybersecurity threat landscape.

Ensure consistent and practical training

Shift away from sporadic training sessions to a structured regimen of realistic, simulation-driven exercises. Regular drills are essential to identify skill gaps, assess response protocols and maintain operational readiness.

Embrace proactive and reactive preparedness

A well-rounded training programme should cover all aspects of the cyberattack life cycle, from prevention to recovery. This prepares the team for diverse cyber scenarios and fortifies the organisation’s resilience, equipping it to tackle and thrive amidst the complexities.

By embracing a comprehensive and strategic approach to cybersecurity training, organisations can ensure that their defences remain robust, adaptive and capable of confronting the complexities of the cyberthreat landscape, thereby securing their digital assets and the trust of those they serve.

By Max Vetter

Max Vetter is VP of cyber at Immersive Labs, a cybersecurity platform that focuses on building cyber skills. He has 20 years’ cybersecurity experience in the public and private sectors across a range of online threats including hacking, cyber-stalking and fraud. He has expertise in ethical hacking, open-source intelligence (OSINT) and internet investigations specialising in darknets and cryptocurrencies.

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

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#foster #upskilling #culture #improved #cybersecurity

PlayDoge raises 350k in 2 days – New mobile P2E project

Meme coins were one of the biggest gainers of the year, and traders are constantly on the lookout for new projects in hopes of earning generational wealth overnight.

Well, a new project, PlayDoge ($PLAY), just released its presale yesterday and it seems that it could be one of those hidden gem coins that explodes 100X.

It’s got everything that a successful meme coin needs to have for it to reach the moon; funny narrative is there, gaming is also incorporated, and most importantly, it already has a strong community backing. For more information on new and promising cryptocurrency, visit

Community is so strong in fact, that it managed to raise over $350,000 in less than 48 hours since the ICO start.

Let’s snoop around more.

>>>Buy PlayDoge Now<<<

PlayDoge enables you to earn crypto while raising a virtual dog

So, why is are investors pouring money hand over fist into this unknown crypto project?

Well, it combines raising a virtual pet with earning cryptocurrency rewards. Think Tamagotchi, but meme-inspired and powered by blockchain tech.

Through the app on your phone, you’ll adopt an 8-bit pixel art Doge puppy. Your job is to take care of it – feed it, play with it, keep it happy and healthy. Just like you would a real dog, but digital. Building that nurturing bond is the whole point.

Here’s the cool part though – the better you care for your Doge, the more chances you get to earn $PLAY crypto tokens. 

You’ll team up to play mini-games, and those tokens are your rewards. They’re legit crypto too, not just in-game currency. You can cash them out or spend them within PlayDoge’s economy.

Essentially, just by being an awesome virtual pet parent, you steadily rake in real cryptocurrency payouts over time. Fair warning though – neglect your digital doggo, and it may just run away for good.  

This gamification of pet nurturing tied to crypto rewards is an innovative way to get users engaged and keep them coming back to the PlayDoge app. 

Who wouldn’t want to get paid in crypto for raising an adorable meme pup? 

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PlayDoge arrives at the perfect time to capitalise on P2E growth

The timing for PlayDoge’s launch couldn’t be better. 

According to industry experts, the overall video game market is poised for explosive growth, with projections suggesting it will skyrocket from around $250 billion in 2023 to a staggering $665 billion by 2028

These are stratospheric growth estimates that underscore the immense potential within this space.

Yet, the Play-to-Earn (P2E) sector itself is already experiencing exponential adoption and soaring interest levels. 

At the time of writing, data from CoinMarketCap reveals that the P2E sector boasts a valuation exceeding $14 billion. 

Evidently, cryptocurrencies that seamlessly blend entertaining gameplay with the potential for rewards are becoming increasingly popular.

The best example of this trend is Floki Inu. The FLOKI token has surged over 720% in the past year alone, and the project currently has its own P2E game, Valhalla, in the testnet phase. 

The immense promise of Valhalla has fueled a skyrocketing demand for FLOKI, as the token is an integral component of the game’s ecosystem.

If PlayDoge can take a page from FLOKI’s playbook and learn from its success, we could potentially witness similar levels of excitement and hype surrounding the PLAY token. 

After all, the timing for a well-executed P2E project like PlayDoge to make a splash couldn’t be better.

>>>Buy PlayDoge Now<<<

PlayDoge offers real utility unlike other meme coins – Raises over $350k in two days

As the fervor surrounding meme-inspired cryptocurrencies refuses to die down, all indicators point to rapidly intensifying demand for $PLAY as awareness of its presale offering spreads far and wide.

Any lingering skepticism regarding the widespread and sustained appeal of meme coins has been emphatically put to rest by the recent astronomical rises of tokens like $PEPE and $BONK. 

In just the last three months, $PEPE has skyrocketed 400% while $BONK surged over 110%. 

This illustrates that meme coins, even those lacking inherent utility and relying purely on characteristics like humor and novelty value, still wield immense power to captivate investors.

However, $PLAY represents a distinct breed – a meme coin possessing viral memetic traits coupled with actual real-world utility baked in. 

This powerful combination positions $PLAY to blaze a trail of monumental gains eclipsing any previous meme coin phenomenon. 

With its unique fusion of memetic culture and tangible blockchain use cases, it’s no wonder why $PLAY managed to raise over $350K in less than 48 hours.

PlayDoge’s token design and staking boost long-term prospects

Adding to the bullish outlook surrounding PlayDoge, the project’s developers have showcased remarkable acumen in their approach to token economics and cultivating long-term value.

The token distribution is structured as follows: 30% allocated to the presale, 20% for community incentives, 11.5% for liquidity provision, 20% for marketing initiatives, 12.5% for funding ongoing development, and 6% reserved for staking rewards.

On the staking front, token holders who lock up their $PLAY in the project’s staking contract can currently earn a staggering 814% annualized yield. 

However, this generous rate is set to gradually taper off as the presale progresses, incentivizing early investors to secure their positions quickly to maximize rewards.

PlayDoge’s compelling use case, straddling two red-hot sectors, combined with this thoughtfully designed tokenomic model, demonstrates that an experienced and legitimate team is at the helm. Rumors even suggest potential ties to the Binance ecosystem.

These strengths have caught the attention of crypto industry analysts. Influential YouTube channel 99Bitcoins is saying that it could easily be a next 10X coin or even higher.

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The conclusion

As you could see, PlayDoge has a lot of factors going for it. Which is the reason behind such a large and strong community backing.

Investors are practically rushing over each other to get in on the PlayDoge wagon.

In less than 2 days, $PLAY’s price will jump from $0.005 to $0.0055. So, what are you waiting for, get your first batch of tokens today and maximize your profits!

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored content and is not financial advice. CryptoNewsZ does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the content. Readers should verify information independently and exercise caution when dealing with any mentioned company. Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky, and seeking advice from a qualified professional is recommended.


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Iga Swiatek comes back to beat Naomi Osaka at French Open

Poland’s Iga Swiatek clenches her fist after scoring a point against Japan’s Naomi Osaka during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

PARIS — Iga Swiatek played like the current No. 1 and the two-time defending champion at the French Open. No surprise there. That Naomi Osaka looked like the former No. 1 that she is — and on clay, no less — amounted to an announcement that she is still quite capable of elite tennis.

Surging down the stretch as Osaka faded, Swiatek saved a match point and grabbed the last five games to sneak her way to a 7-6 (1), 1-6, 7-5 victory in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday night in a thrill-a-minute contest befitting two women who both own four Grand Slam titles.

“For sure, this match was really intense. Much more intense for the second round than I ever expected. For sure, I’ll be more ready next time,” Swiatek said. “Naomi played amazing tennis. … I’m happy that she’s back and she’s playing well.”

READ: Naomi Osaka ‘really excited to face’ Iga Swiatek at French Open

For Swiatek, this extended her Roland Garros winning streak to 16 matches as she pursues a third consecutive trophy at the clay-court major. For Osaka, who cried when she left the court after letting a 5-2 lead in the concluding set slip away, this amounted to a return to her big-hitting best.

They went back-and-forth for nearly three hours as rain loudly pelted the outside of the closed roof at Court Philippe Chatrier — showers forced the postponements of 23 singles matches until Thursday — and a riveted, if hardly full, crowd alternated their support between the two players. Sometimes, spectators called out before a point was done, prompting admonishment from chair umpire Aurélie Tourte during the match. And from Swiatek afterward.

“Sometimes, under a lot of pressure, when you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s really, really hard to be focused,” Swiatek said. “The stakes are big and there is a lot of money here to win. So losing a few points may change a lot. So please, guys, if you can support us between the rallies but not during, that would be really, really amazing.”

READ: Naomi Osaka looking at ‘bigger picture’ on her tennis comeback

Osaka served for the victory at 5-3 in the final set, and was a point away from winning, but she put a backhand into the net. Soon, when Osaka missed another backhand, this one long, Swiatek finally converted a break point on her 10th chance of that set, and they played on.

Maybe the lack of high-level matches caught up to Osaka, because her mistakes continued to mount, including a double-fault that put Swiatek in control 6-5. Swiatek, who has led the WTA rankings for nearly every week since April 2022, then held serve one last time.

“I don’t necessarily feel like I regret anything,” Osaka said.

French Open Iga Swiatek Naomi Osaka Roland Garros

Japan’s Naomi Osaka, right, congratulates Poland’s Iga Swiatek with winning her second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Still, this was, without a doubt, Osaka’s top performance since she returned to the tour in January after 15 months away while becoming a mother. (Her daughter, who is 10 months old now, accompanied Osaka to Paris and recently started walking.)

“I was watching Iga win this tournament last year, and I was pregnant. It was just my dream to be able to play her,” Osaka said. “When I kind of think of it like that, I think I’m doing pretty well. And I’m also just trying not to be too hard on myself. I feel like I played her on her better surface. I’m a hard-court kid, so I would love to play her on my surface and see what happens.”

Because of the weather, only nine matches were completed Wednesday, and winners included Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, Sofia Kenin, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

It’s been a few years since Osaka played this capably and confidently, hammering big serves at up to 122 mph (197 kph) and imposing groundstrokes. Her quick-strike capabilities were on full display: Osaka won 82 of the 139 points (59%) that lasted four strokes or fewer, and she finished with a 54-37 advantage in total winners.

All of those familiar mannerisms were back, too. She turned her back to Swiatek to reset between points, hopped in place, tugged at her pink visor’s brim and slapped her palm on her thigh. Osaka celebrated points by shaking a clenched fist and shouting “Come on!”

She grabbed nine of 10 games to dominate the second set and lead 3-0 in the third. Then 4-1. Then 5-2.

As one ball or another would fly past Swiatek, zipped near a corner or right at a line, she turned toward her guest box and shot a look of confusion or concern in the direction of her coach and her sports psychologist.

“I felt for most of the match that I wasn’t really (in the) here and now,” Swiatek said. “My mind was, like, playing around sometimes.”

She’s not used to this sort of one-way traffic coming head-on in her direction. Normally, it’s Swiatek who is delivering lopsided sets at a foe’s expense, especially on clay. She now has won her last 14 matches this month, with titles on the surface at Madrid and Rome — a clay double no woman had done since Serena Williams in 2013.

But this marked a sudden return to the Osaka everyone came to expect, match in and match out, back when she was at the height of her powers, climbing atop the rankings and gathering two trophies apiece at the U.S. Open and Australian Open from late 2018 to early 2021.

It was in May 2021 that Osaka withdrew from the French Open before her second-round match, explaining that she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealing she had dealt with depression. She took time away from the tour for a mental health break, then opted for another hiatus after her title defense at the U.S. Open a few months later ended with a third-round loss.

She helped usher in a change in the way athletes, sports fans and society at large understood the importance of mental health — and prompted those in charge of various sports, including tennis, to take the issue seriously and try to accommodate and protect them better.

Osaka entered with an 0-4 record on the red stuff against opponents ranked in the top 10 and never has been past the third round at Roland Garros. This also would have been her first win anywhere against a top-10 opponent since January 2020.

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Instead, though, it is Swiatek who moves on and continues her bid to become the first woman with three championships in a row in Paris since Justine Henin in 2007-09.

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#Iga #Swiatek #beat #Naomi #Osaka #French #Open

Land, Fish, Fear: Probe Agency On How Shahjahan Built Sandeshkhali Empire

Sheikh Shahjahan was arrested in February after he was on the run for over a month

New Delhi:

Sandeshkhali strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, the man at the centre of allegations that evolved into the biggest talking point in West Bengal this election, allegedly used an intricate web of dummy traders, numerous properties and multiple bank accounts to turn black money into white, the probe by Enforcement Directorate has found.

The central agency has filed a prosecution complaint before a special court in Kolkata under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. “ED initiated investigation on the basis of 13 FIRs registered by West Bengal Police under various sections of IPC Act, 1860 and Arms Act, 1959 against Sahajhan Sheikh and others on the allegations that they have created an atmosphere of terror by indulging in organized crime of giving threats of injury, murder, attempt to murder, extortion etc. and also grabbed land of general public and obtained illegal monetary gains/benefits,” ED has said in a statement.

Shahjahan’s Empire

The agency has said that its probe found that Shahjahan “created a criminal empire revolving around land grabbing, illegal fish farming/trading, grabbing brick fields, cartelization of contracts, collection of illegal taxes/levies, commission on land deals etc”.

According to ED sources, the former Trinamool leader used political influence and armed goons to conduct his illegal businesses on the nondescript island in North 24 Parganas district. Four people have been arrested in the case — Shahjahan, his brother Alamgir and the strongman’s aides Shib Prasad Hazra and Didar Boksh Molla. Statements of 100-odd witnesses have been recorded; these include local farmers, tribals, fish traders, landowners and contractors working in the area.

The ED had earlier attached assets worth Rs 27 crore allegedly belonging to Shahjahan and others. Three SUVs belonging to the strongman — Mahindra Thar, Jeep Compass and Mahindra Scorpio — have been seized. “Out of the proceeds of crime of value Rs.261.41 Crore derived and obtained by said persons from criminal activities, as revealed during the course of investigation conducted under PMLA, 2002,” the agency has said.

ED sources said the proceeds of crime include the strongman’s earnings from fish depots, rent from ‘Shahjahan market’ and brick kilns. They also include government tenders received by Alamgir and Hazra due to Shahjahan’s political influence.

A Strongman’s Rise

ED sources also explained how the strongman, who was expelled by Trinamool soon after the allegations came to the fore, cleaned the black money made through illegal means. The agency has said in its chargesheet that back in 2009-2010, Shahjahan, then a CPM leader, grabbed fisheries of 60-70 bighas land and started business in the name of Sk Sabina Fisheries. He joined the Trinamool Congress in 2013 and become sub-pradhan in Agarhati gram panchayat on an invitation from then local Trinamool MP Haji Nurul Islam and with the backing of then minister Jyotipriya Mallick, the chargesheet says.

“On one hand, Sk Sahajhan helped people by offering a few free medical services, financial aid, and essential provisions. However, on the other hand, Sk Sahajhan employed over 100 goons who remained close to him and his residence. These goons would intimidate and extort individuals, compelling them to comply with Sk Sahajhan’s orders. Those who resisted faced physical violence and threats of severe consequences,” it says, adding, “these individuals were known to carry illegal firearms and were not hesitant to use excessive force”. In the aftermath of his arrest by the ED in February, the Trinamool Congress suspended him for six years.

The Money Trail

Explaining how the money trail worked, the chargesheet says Shahjahan was harvesting fish on grabbed land. Also, all fish vendors in the area had been threatened that they will do business through Shahjahan’s firm.

“Sk Sahajhan utilised his terror to obtain huge chunks of lands on lease from farmers/villagers in the name of his associates like Shib Prasad Hazra, Satyajyoti Sanyal etc. Further, the lease amount was paid by Sk Sahajhan from the Proceeds of Crime generated by him through grabbed land, threats, extortion etc. The fishes harvested on such grabbed and leased lands were disguised as supply of fish by said dummy traders, dummy arots to SK Sabina Fish Supplier. SK Sabina fish Suppliers supplied these fish to exporters and accordingly, funds were received in the accounts of SK Sabina Fish Supplier. These funds were then transferred by SK Sabina Fish Supplier to these dummy traders,” the chargesheet says.

The money coming in was then withdrawn in cash and handed over back to Shahjahan, ED sources explained. The proceeds of crime were invested in buying more agricultural land and commercial buildings. These properties were often registered in the name of Shahjahan’s aides or Sekh Sumaiya Hafiziya Trust, run by his brother. “Lands have been grabbed by Sk Sahajhan on nominal rates using threats and coercion and the same have been transferred in the name of Sk Sumaiya Hafiziya Trust,” the chargesheet says.

A Cut In Every Deal

The chargesheet adds that Shahjahan collected on the purchase of every piece of land in the area and also used his influence to control government tenders in the area. It says Shahjahan and his aides, with the help of terror and political clout, “made a syndication in government tenders in Sandeshkhali and nearby areas”.

“Most of the government tenders at Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad level in Sandeshkhali and nearby areas were applied and allotted to their syndicate and no other contractor was allowed to apply for tender without their consent,” the chargesheet says.

“Sk Sahajhan with strong political backing and an army of goons employed various means to establish a reign of terror and illicitly acquired proceeds of crime by commission of schedule offences ie. threats, attempt to murder, murder, extortion, land grabbing etc,” it adds.

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#Land #Fish #Fear #Probe #Agency #Shahjahan #Built #Sandeshkhali #Empire

How to Make $10K a Month Online: 20 Simple Ideas for Beginners

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Katie

Looking for ideas on how to make $10K a month online? You’re not alone. Today, achieving a substantial monthly income from the comfort of your own home has never been more feasible.

Whether you’re a beginner starting from scratch or someone looking to expand their income streams, there are a plethora of ways to make money when you have none that can be started with little experience, which I’ll detail in this article.

Some ideas I have tried and made great money with myself and others I have researched and found great success stories so I have added them to the list.

Just remember – while making #10K a month online is definitely possible, it might take a little time and effort to reach this goal.

So, don’t give up in the first month – keep working on your new business or side hustle until you get where you want to be!

Let’s dive in!



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How to Make $10K a Month Online: Remote Jobs

how to make $10K a month online

When searching how to make $10,000 a month online a good place to start is looking at remote jobs.

Skilled work from home careers can often pay big salaries and you can also enjoy the benefit of having consistent work and a secure job.

Each role will have different skill and educational requirements so take a look at the remote jobs detailed below to see if any fit your needs.


1. Proofreader

A proofreader reviews written content for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

You can find work on freelance websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and FlexJobs.

Experienced proofreaders can earn between $25 to $50 per hour, with top professionals making more.

Skills and Educational Requirements:

  • Strong command of the English language
  • Attention to detail
  • Familiarity with style guides like APA, MLA, or Chicago
  • A degree in English, Journalism, or related field (optional but preferred)

Learn more in this guide on how to become a proofreader with no experience.


2. Website Developer

Website developers build and maintain websites for clients and if you’re looking for how to make $10K a month online, this is a great option.

Opportunities for remote work are abundant on platforms like GitHub, Remote OK, and Stack Overflow Jobs.

Salaries for website developers can range from $50,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending on experience.

Skills and Educational Requirements:

  • Proficiency in HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Knowledge of frameworks like React or Angular
  • Experience with backend technologies (Node.js, PHP, Ruby on Rails)
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or related field (optional)


3. Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create visual content for branding, advertising, and web design.

You can find remote graphic design roles on sites like 99designs, Dribbble, and Behance.

Rates for designers vary, but experienced designers can make $30 to $80 per hour.

Skills and Educational Requirements:

  • Proficiency in tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Strong portfolio showcasing previous work
  • Creativity and attention to detail
  • Degree in Graphic Design or related field (optional)

Learn more in this guide on how to get paid to color.


4. SEO Consultant

SEO consultants help businesses improve their online visibility through search optimization strategies.

Potential clients can be found through LinkedIn, Indeed, and specialized SEO job boards.

Earnings for skilled SEO consultants range from $50 to $200 per hour, making this a great option for those learning how to make $10K a month online.

Skills and Educational Requirements:

  • In-depth understanding of search engine algorithms
  • Experience with SEO tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs
  • Analytical skills to interpret data and performance metrics
  • Certifications in SEO or Digital Marketing (optional)


5. Tech Support Specialist

Tech support specialists provide assistance and troubleshooting for software or hardware issues.

Remote positions are available on websites like, We Work Remotely, and Tech Support Job Board.

Pay typically ranges from $40,000 to $70,000 per year and you can earn even more for specialist freelance roles that many others have experience with.

Skills and Educational Requirements:

  • Strong technical problem-solving skills
  • Familiarity with common software and hardware systems
  • Good communication skills for assisting non-technical users
  • Certifications in relevant technologies or IT fields (optional)


How to Make $10K a Month Online: Freelancing

happy freelancer

Freelancing is another option for how to make $10K a month online.

This type of work structure allows  you to set your own ratesand allows you to have freedom over your work schedule.

However, because freelance work is not always consistent, you need to ensure you always have enough freelance clients to cover the bills as some will come and go.


6. Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, you have the potential to earn a significant income by creating content for blogs, websites, and publications.

This role is ideal for individuals with strong writing skills and a passion for research.

You’ll find paid opportunities on platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Content Marketing Agencies.

The average pay varies widely, typically ranging from $0.10 to $1 per word, depending on your experience and niche.

Skills needed:

  • Excellent writing and grammar
  • Research abilities
  • Time management
  • Adaptability to different writing styles
  • SEO knowledge

Learn more in this guide on how to become a freelance writer with no experience.


7. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants provide administrative support to businesses and entrepreneurs from a remote location.

This role is perfect for those who are organized, detail-oriented, and good at multitasking.

You can find virtual assistant jobs on websites like Belay, Fancy Hands, and Virtual Assistant Jobs.

The average pay for virtual assistants typically ranges from $15 to $30 per hour, depending on the complexity of the tasks and experience level.

However, you can earn significantly more by offering specialized skills such as website development, SEO and marketing.

Skills needed:

  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Technical proficiency with tools like Microsoft Office and Google Suite
  • Time management
  • Customer service

Check out these virtual assistant jobs hiring today.


8. Translator/Interpreter

As a translator or interpreter, you convert written or spoken content from one language to another.

This profession is well-suited for bilingual or multilingual individuals with a high proficiency in at least two languages.

Translation opportunities can be found on platforms such as ProZ, TranslatorsCafe, and freelance job boards.

The average pay can range from $20 to $50 per hour, depending on language pair and specialization.

Skills needed:

  • Proficiency in multiple languages
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong linguistic skills
  • Cultural knowledge
  • Confidentiality and discretion

Learn more in this guide on how to become a freelance translator.


9. Event Planner

Freelance event planners organize and coordinate various events, including corporate functions, weddings, and conferences.

This role is ideal for individuals with strong organizational and interpersonal skills.

You can find event planning gigs through networking, social media, and websites like

The average pay for a freelance event planner ranges from $25 to $75 per hour, depending on the event type and scale.

Skills needed:

  • Organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong communication
  • Budget management
  • Problem-solving

Learn more in this guide on how to start an event planning business from home.


10. Voice Over Artist

Voice-over artists provide the narration for commercials, audiobooks, animations, and more.

This job is ideal for those with a good vocal range, clear diction, and the ability to convey emotion through voice.

Opportunities for voice-over work can be found on sites like, Voice123, and through talent agencies.

The average pay varies, typically ranging from $100 to $500 per finished hour of recording.

Skills needed:

  • Clear and expressive voice
  • Good diction
  • Acting skills
  • Audio editing knowledge
  • Professional recording equipment

Check details in this guide on how to start a voice over career with no experience.


How to Make $10K a Month Online: Passive Income Ideas

how to make $10K a month online

Various passive income dreams could help you on your search for how to make $10K a month online.

One thing to note is that passive income requires effort, in the beginning, to set it up before the money comes in passively.

But, over time, you can enjoy passive income flowing into your bank account with minimal continued work.


11. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services and earning a commission for every sale made through your referral link.

It’s an excellent way to monetize a blog, website, or social media following.


Setting it up:

    • Choose a niche
    • Join affiliate programs like Amazon Associates or ShareASale
    • Promote products through content creation (blog posts, social media, videos)


What you need:

    • A platform (blog, website, social media profiles)
    • Consistent traffic
    • High-quality content


Who it’s right for:

    • Content creators
    • Bloggers
    • Social media influencers


Profit potential:

    • Varies by niche and traffic, but can exceed $10K/month with successful campaigns


Check these affiliate marketing guides for inspiration:


12. Create and Sell Online Courses

Creating and selling online courses allow experts to share their knowledge with a broad audience.

You can generate significant passive income selling courses once it is up and running that will flow into your bank account every month.

And, some courses will earn you revenue for years to come without you doing much more work, except maybe updating a few bits in the course for relevancy.


Setting it up:

    • Choose a topic and outline the course
    • Create video lessons and materials
    • Host the course on platforms like Udemy or Teachable


What you need:

    • Expertise in a subject
    • Video recording equipment
    • Course hosting platform


Who it’s right for:

    • Professionals
    • Educators
    • Subject matter experts


Profit potential:

    • High, depending on the course’s popularity and pricing, potentially reaching $10K/month


13. Sell Simple eBooks

Selling eBooks is a straightforward way to make money from home by sharing knowledge or stories.

Once you learn how to write eBooks for passive income, they can become a consistent revenue stream for years to come.

To build up to earning $10K a month target one subject and become an expert in that field.

Promote your books on social media and create new books each month. Once you gain a following your eBook monthly earnings will grow significantly.


Setting it up:

    • Write an eBook on a relevant topic
    • Format and design the eBook
    • Publish on platforms like Amazon Kindle or your website


What you need:

    • Writing skills
    • EBook formatting software
    • Marketing plan


Who it’s right for:

    • Writers
    • Subject experts
    • Hobbyists


Profit potential:

    • Moderate to high; dependent on sales volume and marketing efforts


14. Blog Advertising

Blog advertising involves placing ads on your website and earning revenue based on clicks or impressions.

It’s a reliable source of passive income if you have steady traffic and while there is a learning curve, having your own piece of digital real estate is worth the effort!

I have 2 blogs now that make me a steady stream of passive income every day which I am very grateful for.


Setting it up:

    • Choose a profitable niche
    • Create quality content to attract traffic
    • Apply for ad networks like Google AdSense or Mediavine
    • Place ads strategically on your site


What you need:

    • Blog with significant traffic
    • Ad network approval
    • Consistent content updates


Who it’s right for:

    • Bloggers with existing traffic
    • Niche content creators
    • Anyone who will put in the effort to build blog traffic


Profit potential:

    • Medium to high, depending on your traffic and ad placements


15. Investing

When searching how to make $10K a month online, investing is a strategy worth looking into.

Investing in stocks, bonds, or real estate can generate passive income through dividends, interest, or rental income.

Long-term investment strategies can yield substantial returns, but it’s important to note that investing comes with some risk and it can take some time to receive significant returns.


Setting it up:

    • Research investment options
    • Open an investment account
    • Diversify portfolio among stocks, bonds, real estate


What you need:

    • Initial capital
    • Knowledge of investment principles
    • Time to learn about investment strategies


  • Who it’s right for:
    • Individuals with extra capital
    • Long-term investors
    • Risk-tolerant individuals


  • Profit potential:
    • High, with potential to exceed $10K/month based on investment choices


How to Make $10K a Month Online: Business Ideas

business plan

There are many business ideas for how to make $10K a month online for people with different skill sets, passions and needs.

However, while a new online business can be started quickly today with the internet, there is no guarantee of success and you need to make sure you research your audience and competitors to validate your idea.

Each business has its own startup costs, market strategies, and profit potential which I have detailed below.


16. Build an Etsy Shop

If you’re crafty or create unique items, learning how to start an Etsy shop could be a lucrative path.

It’s ideal for individuals who enjoy handmade crafts, vintage items, or custom-designed products as these sell well on Etsy.

Other ideas for what to sell on Etsy include:

Digital downloads such as planners are ideal to sell as you just have to make them once and they can be downloaded repeatedly for passive income.


Making Sales and Profit:

List your products with detailed descriptions and high-quality photos.

Participate in Etsy promotions and utilize Etsy shop marketing strategies to seriously boost your sales.

Also, be sure to learn about how to improve Etsy shop SEO to dominate the seller rankings.

With an average product price of $50 and selling over 200 items monthly, you can reach the $10K target.


17. Vlogging on YouTube

Vlogging on YouTube is perfect for those comfortable on camera and keen on creating engaging content.

It suits a variety of interests, from travel and lifestyle to tech reviews and tutorials.


What You Need:

  • Great camera or smartphone camera
  • An idea to create videos around eg: travel, cooking, fitness, gaming, and beauty tutorials
  • Time each week to film, edit and upload videos


Making Sales and Profit:

Start creating and uploading videos to your channel each week.

When your channel reaches 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours you can apply to the YouTube partner program and make advertising revenue from your content.

Other ways to make money with YouTube include promoting products as an affiliate and selling your own apparel such as t-shirts with your own branding.

With the average 100K YouTuber earning $12,000 per sponsored video, you can see its entirely possible to earn $10,000 a month with dedication!


18. Gaming Business

With the global games market predicted to be worth $205.7 billion in 2026, there’s never been a better time to research gaming business ideas to start.

You will need a love of gaming and some skill in playing games to succeed in this line of business.


A few ideas for profitable gaming business ideas include:

  • Video game tester
  • Game development
  • Video game rental services
  • Create mobile gaming apps
  • Start a gaming blog
  • Create gaming tutorials on YouTube


Making Sales and Profit:

Once you decide on what type of gaming business idea you want to start, it’ll pay if you research the industry and competitors.

Look at what is working and what you could do better and think about how you could create something similar that fills in a gap.

If you’re tech savvy game development and mobile game creation are the way to go as these are extremely profitable and could get you near to your $10K a month goal quickly.

If you lack tech skills check out these remote game tester jobs or work on creating a blog or YouTube channel that can be monetized with ads and affiliate partnerships.


19. Online Travel Consultant

Do you have a love of travel and extensive knowledge of fun and interesting places to visit around the world?

If so, working as a home based travel consultant could answer the question – how to make $10K a month online for you.


What You Need:

  • Passion for travel
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Knowledge of destinations
  • Sales and marketing acumen
  • Ability to network and build relationships


Making Sales and Profit:

Take the time to set up your online travel consultancy business so you look professional and approachable.

Create social media accounts, including a LinkedIn profile detailing your experience and what you can do for people.

If you choose to work as a travel agent for a company you will typically earn commissions from bookings.

While this is a good place to start to get experience, to hit your $10K a month goal income, it’s best to break away and eventually start your own travel consultancy business.


20. Sell Low Content Books on Amazon

While it might take a little time and effort to hit the $10K earnings mark, selling low content books on Amazon is still a legit way to make money from home.

Low content books are those with repetitive pages that have little to no words.

Examples include:

  • Coloring books
  • Notebooks
  • Gratitude journals
  • Meal planners
  • Wedding planners
  • Sketchbooks


What You Need:

  • Canva account to design pages
  • Amazon KDP account to list your low content books
  • Time each week to create new books


Making Sales and Profit:

These books can be made easily and quickly on Canva, even with a free account or you can purchase the inner pages on sites like Creative Fabrica.

Once you have your book ready you need to sign up for an Amazon KDP account and follow the instructions to upload your book cover and pages.

Set your pricing and hit publish and every time you get a sale, you earn a percentage of profit from the book and Amazon takes the rest for printing and delivery services.


How to Make $10K a Month – Frequently Asked Questions

lady make money online

Even though you know how to make $10K a month online, you might have a few questions.

Below, we address some of the most common questions from real-world examples.


Is $10K a month realistic?

Yes, making $10,000 a month online is realistic, though it requires dedication, strategy, and the right opportunities.

Many individuals achieve this through freelancing, blogging, e-commerce, and other online platforms. Consistency and honing your skills are crucial.


How to make $10K a month on OnlyFans?

To make $10,000 a month on OnlyFans, focus on building a loyal subscriber base by posting high-quality and engaging content regularly.

Promote your profile on social media platforms, collaborate with other creators, and offer exclusive content or personalized experiences to your top subscribers.

Check this guide on how to make money on OnlyFans without showing your face.


How can a student realistically make $10,000 a month online?

As a student, opportunities include freelancing, running an e-commerce store, or engaging in affiliate marketing.

Developing a time management plan is vital to balance studies and income-generating activities. Online tutoring and dropshipping are also viable options.


What are the quickest ways to make $10K a month?

Some of the quickest ways to reach this income level include high-ticket freelancing or consulting, selling digital products or courses, and leveraging affiliate marketing.

Identifying and entering profitable niches where demand is high and competition is manageable can explode earnings.


How to Make $10K a Month Online: Final Thoughts

Those are the best ways on how to make $10K a month online.

To succeed, it’s important to remain realistic and remember that it’s not a quick fix but a goal that can be attained with persistence and hard work.

To sum up:

Choose the Right Path: Find a method that suits your skills and interests. Whether it’s freelancing, e-commerce, or virtual assistance, pick something you enjoy and can excel in.

Invest in Learning: Equip yourself with the necessary skills. Online courses, tutorials, and hands-on practice will sharpen your abilities and increase your earning potential.

Be Consistent and Patient: Success won’t come overnight. Stay consistent in your efforts. Regularly work on your chosen method, and be prepared to face challenges along the way.

Optimize Your Strategy: Analyze what works and what doesn’t. Adjust your approach based on performance data and feedback to optimize your income streams.

Network and Market Yourself: Building a network of contacts and marketing your services or products effectively is crucial. Social media, professional networks, and online communities can be valuable in expanding your reach.



*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.


how to make $10K online: 20 Simple Ways

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In-Depth Analysis Of Google Algorithm Leak And What It Means For Business | GrowTraffic

The SEO industry is currently in a state of shock as approximately 2,500 internal Google documents detailing their ranking algorithm have been leaked and are now publicly available. I haven’t managed to go through everything myself, but I’ve done a lot of reading and listening to various experts and here’s where I’m at so far.

One of the positives is that many of the hints and tips for different ranking factors overlap with each other. This means we won’t need to learn a whole new set of skills. However, there are quite a few new bits of terminology to get our heads around. This will likely signal the end of some of the old placeholder words we’ve been using for decades.

What Exactly Happened?

How Did the Leak Occur?

On March 13, an automated bot named yoshi-code-bot accidentally released thousands of internal Google documents on GitHub. This was not a deliberate leak but rather a result of an error in Google’s automated tooling process. The bot, which typically handles routine commits and updates, inadvertently tagged these sensitive documents with an Apache 2.0 open-source license, making them publicly accessible. These documents provided an unprecedented glimpse into the intricate workings of Google’s ranking algorithm, revealing details that had been closely guarded by the tech giant.

Initially, the release went unnoticed amidst the vast sea of GitHub repositories. However, the magnitude of this oversight was soon realised when SEO experts began to take notice. The documents, containing data that Google tracks and possibly uses in its ranking algorithm, are a goldmine for the SEO and digital marketing industries. They offered a rare peek behind the curtain at one of the most consequential systems shaping the internet today. SEO consultants like me, all over the world, are taking some very deep dives to learn what we can from this.

Who Discovered the Leak?

The credit for discovering this treasure trove of information goes to SEO specialist Erfan Azimi of EA Digital Eagle. During a routine check of GitHub repositories, Azimi stumbled upon the inadvertent commit made by the automated bot. Recognising the significance of the documents, he quickly shared his findings with prominent figures in the SEO community.

Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro and Mike King, CEO of iPullRank, were among the first to dive deep into the content of these documents. Fishkin and King meticulously analyzed the information, publishing their insights and sharing the revelations with the wider SEO community. Their analyses highlighted the contradictions between Google’s public statements and the internal workings revealed by the documents, sparking widespread discussion and further investigation into Google’s search ranking processes.

This discovery has led to a whirlwind of revelations about Google’s secretive processes, offering valuable insights that could reshape SEO strategies and improve understanding of how Google’s search algorithm functions.

Why Should Businesses Care?

Impact on SEO Strategies

For businesses, understanding Google’s ranking algorithm is like finding the Holy Grail of SEO. This leak offers unprecedented insights that can help refine SEO strategies, improve search rankings and ultimately drive more traffic to your website. It’s a game-changer for anyone involved in digital marketing.

Relevance to Online Marketing

The leaked documents provide clarity on several key factors that influence rankings. From link importance to content freshness, these insights can help businesses tailor their online marketing efforts to align more closely with Google’s ranking criteria. In a world where online visibility can make or break a business, this information is invaluable.

What Are the Key Findings From the Leak?

Ranking Features and Attributes

The documents reveal that Google’s ranking algorithm comprises 2,596 modules with 14,014 attributes. whilst the exact weighting of these features remains unspecified, their existence alone provides a treasure trove of data for SEO professionals like us to dissect and utilise.

The Role of Twiddlers and Demotions

Twiddlers are re-ranking functions that adjust the information retrieval score or change the ranking of a document. Content can be demoted for various reasons, including mismatched links, user dissatisfaction and more. Understanding these factors can help businesses avoid common pitfalls.

Demotion Factors Explained

Google can demote content for several reasons. If a link doesn’t match the target site or if SERP signals indicate user dissatisfaction, your content could be pushed down in rankings. Other demotion factors include the quality of product reviews, relevance to location, the presence of exact match domains and even inappropriate content.

How Important Are Links According to the Leak?

Link Diversity and Relevance

Despite ongoing debates in the SEO community, the leaked documents confirm that link diversity and relevance are still critical ranking factors. Link diversity refers to having backlinks from a variety of sources. It’s not enough to have numerous links; they need to come from different domains, each with their own authority. Imagine each backlink as a vote of confidence. When these votes come from diverse and reputable sources, it signals to Google that your content is trustworthy and authoritative.

Relevance is another crucial factor. Links should come from websites related to your industry or content topic. For instance, a backlink from a respected tech blog is far more valuable for a technology company than a link from an unrelated food blog. This contextual relevance helps Google understand the nature of your content and its value within a specific niche.

PageRank’s Continued Importance

PageRank, despite being an older concept, is still very much alive within Google’s ranking algorithm. PageRank, a fundamental component of Google’s algorithm since its inception and it’s basically what made Google different from all the other search engines. I remember the demise of the PageRank Toolbar and Google’s insistence that it’s not important. However, it appears to be particularly important for a website’s homepage, which acts as the central hub of your site’s link equity. Ensuring your homepage attracts high-quality backlinks can significantly boost your entire site’s SEO performance.

Actionable Insights for Businesses

Given these revelations, businesses should adopt a strategic approach to link-building. Here are some practical tips:

  • Prioritise quality over quantity by focusing on obtaining links from high-authority sites rather than merely increasing the number of backlinks. A single link from a reputable source can be more beneficial than multiple links from low-authority sites.
  • Foster relationships by building relationships with industry influencers, bloggers and journalists. This can lead to natural backlinks from authoritative sites within your niche.
  • Create link-worthy content by developing content that others want to link to. This could include in-depth guides, original research, infographics and high-quality videos. The more valuable and unique your content, the more likely it is to attract backlinks.
  • Diversify your link profile by ensuring that your backlinks come from a variety of domains. This diversity signals to Google that your content is valued across different contexts and audiences.
  • Regularly monitor your backlink profile using tools like Google Search Console and third-party SEO tools. Identify and disavow any low-quality or spammy links that could harm your rankings.

The Link Correlation Debate

It’s fair to say that as an SEO industry, we’ve always suspected the importance of links. However, doubts creep in when we’re constantly told that links aren’t as crucial anymore. The leaked documents provide a sense of validation. They confirm that the correlations we observe between links and rankings are not just coincidences; there is a causative relationship.

whilst it’s true that Google has evolved and now considers numerous other factors, links remain a foundational element of its ranking algorithm. This means that even as you focus on other aspects of SEO, such as content quality, user experience and technical optimisation, you should not neglect the importance of a strong, diverse and relevant backlink profile.

Click Metrics and Their Significance

Ever wondered how those little clicks on your website impact your Google rankings? Well, successful clicks are more important than you might think. Google’s algorithm is like a detective, constantly scrutinising user interactions to rank content. It uses various click metrics to determine the quality and relevance of your content. Let’s dive into the world of clicks and uncover their significance.


First, let’s talk about badClicks. These are the interactions where users click on your site but quickly realise it’s not what they were looking for. Imagine a user searching for “best coffee shops” and landing on a page about gardening tools. They’ll likely hit the back button in a heartbeat. This quick exit tells Google that your page didn’t meet the user’s expectations. Too many badClicks can signal that your content isn’t relevant or engaging, which can hurt your rankings.


On the flip side, we have goodClicks. These are the golden nuggets of user interaction. When someone clicks on your site, finds it useful and sticks around, it’s a goodClick. Maybe they read through your article, click on a few internal links, or even make a purchase. GoodClicks indicate that your content is valuable and relevant to the user’s query. The more goodClicks you get, the better it is for your SEO, as Google sees this as a positive signal.


Then there’s lastLongestClicks. Think of these as the conversations at a party that hold your attention the longest. When a user’s last interaction with your site before leaving is a lengthy one, it’s considered a lastLongestClick. This metric is powerful because it shows that your content kept the user engaged for an extended period. Google values these long interactions as they suggest that your content is highly engaging and valuable.


Lastly, let’s discuss unsquashedClicks. These are the raw, unfiltered clicks that haven’t been adjusted or normalised in any way. They give a real-time snapshot of user engagement without any smoothing or adjustments. Google looks at unsquashedClicks to get an unvarnished view of how users are interacting with your content. It’s like getting the raw footage of a film before any editing – you see the real story of user behaviour.

Why Are These Metrics Important?

So, why should you, as a business owner or marketer, care about these metrics? Because they directly influence your search rankings. High-quality, engaging content that keeps users clicking around signals to Google that your site is worth promoting. On the flip side, if users are bouncing off your page faster than a rubber ball, it might be time to rethink your content strategy.

Making the Most of Click Metrics

Here are a few tips to make the most of these click metrics:

  • Create engaging content by keeping your content relevant, interesting and valuable. Answer questions, solve problems and keep it engaging.
  • Improve user experience by ensuring your site is easy to navigate. A user-friendly design can keep visitors clicking.
  • Use tools like Google Analytics to track user behaviour. See what’s working and what’s not and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Encourage interactions by adding elements that encourage users to stay longer. This could be related articles, videos, or interactive elements like quizzes.

By focusing on reducing badClicks, increasing goodClicks and encouraging lastLongestClicks, whilst keeping an eye on unsquashedClicks, you can enhance your SEO efforts and boost your search rankings. So, keep those clicks coming and watch your site climb the search rankings!

What Does the Leak Reveal About Brand Importance?

Ever wondered why some brands always seem to top search results, no matter the query? The leaked documents shine a light on the importance of brand recognition in Google’s algorithm. It turns out, that building a recognisable brand isn’t just good for business – it’s crucial for SEO. Let’s break down why brand recognition is your golden ticket to higher search rankings.

Building a Recognisable Brand

First off, let’s talk about why brand recognition is so important. Picture your brand as a celebrity at a red carpet-event. The more well-known and liked they are, the more cameras (or in this case, search engines) will flock to them. The documents reveal that Google values brands that are popular and recognisable. This means if people know your brand and trust it, Google is more likely to push your content to the top of search results.

So, how do you build a brand that’s the talk of the town? It’s all about consistency and visibility. Here are some actionable tips:

  • Regularly publish high-quality content that resonates with your audience. Whether it’s blog posts, videos, or infographics, ensure your content reflects your brand’s voice and values.
  • Don’t just post – engage. Reply to comments, join conversations and use social media to build relationships with your audience. Think of it as hosting a continuous digital networking event.
  • Partner with influencers who align with your brand. Their endorsement can introduce your brand to a wider audience and build credibility. It’s like getting a celebrity to endorse your product – instant trust!
  • Share your brand’s story. People connect with stories more than products. Highlight your journey, values and what makes you unique. Think of your brand as the protagonist in a captivating story.
  • Ensure your brand’s message and aesthetics are consistent across all platforms. Your website, social media and offline presence should all sing the same tune. It’s like wearing a perfectly coordinated outfit – it just makes sense.
  • Participate in local events, sponsor community activities, or support local causes. Building a strong local presence can significantly enhance your brand recognition.

Impact on Search Rankings

Now, let’s dive into how a strong brand impacts your search rankings. When Google sees that users frequently search for your brand, click on your site and engage with your content, it takes this as a sign that your site is trustworthy and authoritative. It’s like getting a stamp of approval from your audience.

A strong brand sends a clear signal to Google: “Hey, people love us!” This not only boosts your search rankings but also increases your site’s visibility. Imagine your website as a shop on a busy high street. The more people recognise your brand, the more foot traffic you get and the higher your sales. Similarly, higher search rankings mean more visitors to your site, which can ultimately boost your bottom line.

Brand Building Activities

Investing in brand-building activities is essential. Think of your brand as a garden. You need to nurture it, water it regularly and ensure it gets enough sunlight to grow. 

Here are some more actionable tips:

  • Create content that is not only high-quality but also optimised for search engines. Use relevant keywords naturally within your content to improve visibility.
  • Develop interactive content like quizzes, polls and webinars. This not only engages your audience but also encourages them to spend more time on your site, signalling to Google that your content is valuable.
  • Use email campaigns to keep your audience engaged. Share updates, exclusive content and personalised offers. An engaged email list can drive consistent traffic to your site.
  • Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. These not only build trust but also influence local SEO. Think of reviews as word-of-mouth recommendations in the digital age.
  • Focus on getting backlinks from reputable sites. Guest blogging, partnerships and high-quality content can attract these valuable links. It’s like having respected individuals vouch for you.

By implementing these strategies, you’re not just building a brand; you’re constructing a digital fortress that stands strong in the ever-competitive world of search rankings. In the end, it’s all about making your brand the go-to choice for your audience – and Google.

How Are Entities and Author Information Used?

Let’s dive into the juicy details of how Google uses entities and author information. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion, but without the tears—just pure, actionable insights.

The Role of Site Authority

First up, site authority. Google has long denied using a specific “siteAuthority” score, but the leaked documents beg to differ. Turns out, Google does keep tabs on site authority. Think of it as your site’s reputation score. The higher it is, the more Google trusts your site, just like how you trust your favourite café to get your coffee order right every morning.

So, how do you boost this elusive score? It’s all about building a robust, authoritative site. Here are some tips:

  • Consistently produce high-quality, original content that provides real value to your audience. No one likes reading fluff, not even Google.
  • Earn backlinks from reputable sites. Think of these as votes of confidence. The more you have from high-authority sites, the better your reputation.
  • Encourage user interaction through comments, shares and likes. The more engaged your audience, the more authoritative your site appears.
  • Keep your content fresh. Regular updates signal to Google that your site is active and relevant.

The Importance of Authorship

Next, let’s talk about authorship. Google doesn’t just stop at evaluating your site; it goes deeper by looking at the authors behind the content. Imagine a library where each book is judged not only by its cover but also by who wrote it. That’s what Google does with author information.

Here’s how you can leverage authorship to boost your rankings:

  • Highlight your authors’ credentials and expertise. Especially for Your Money Your Life (YMYL) content like health or finance, demonstrating author expertise is crucial. It’s like having a PhD write your medical advice—instant credibility.
  • Include detailed author bios on your site. Make sure to list qualifications, experience and links to other reputable works. This not only builds trust with your readers but also with Google.
  • Create dedicated author pages. These should link to all the articles written by the author, showcasing their contributions and expertise. Think of it as a portfolio for your writers.
  • Google uses entity recognition to associate content with its authors. Make sure your author information is consistent and structured. Use schema markup to help Google understand who your authors are and why they’re credible.
  • Encourage guest posts from well-known figures in your industry. This can elevate your site’s authority by association. It’s like having a celebrity endorsement for your brand.

By focusing on site authority and authorship, you’re not just playing by Google’s rules—you’re acing the game. Think of your site as a well-oiled machine, where every part, from content to authorship, works together to create a seamless, authoritative presence online. And remember, in the world of SEO, trust and credibility are your best friends. So, get out there and start building!

What About Chrome Data?

Google’s ranking algorithm has always been shrouded in mystery, much like the secret recipe for Coca-Cola. But the recent document leak has pulled back the curtain a bit, revealing some intriguing details, especially about Chrome data. So, how does Google use data from its popular browser and what does this mean for privacy?

How Google Utilises Chrome Data

The leaked documents show that Google doesn’t just rely on its search engine data; it taps into the vast reservoir of information gathered from the Chrome browser. Imagine Chrome as a diligent note-taker, recording your every interaction with websites. This data is then fed into Google’s ranking algorithm. One of the standout modules mentioned is “ChromeInTotal.” This module indicates that user interactions on Chrome significantly influence search rankings.

Think about it: every click, scroll and time spent on a page provides Google with insights into user behaviour. If users frequently visit and spend a lot of time on a particular page, Google might infer that the content is valuable, thus boosting its ranking. It’s like a popularity contest where the cool kids get to sit at the top of the search results.

But why does this matter? Well, for one, it highlights the importance of creating engaging, user-friendly content. If your site can captivate visitors, you’re more likely to climb the search rankings. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. This deep dive into user data raises some serious privacy concerns.

Implications for Privacy and Data Use

Using Chrome data to fine-tune search rankings certainly makes the algorithm smarter, but it also nudges us into a grey area of privacy. With great power comes great responsibility and Google needs to tread carefully here. The idea that every action taken on Chrome can affect search rankings means that vast amounts of personal data are being harvested and analysed.

For businesses, this means being extra cautious about how you handle user data. Transparency is key. Let your users know what data you’re collecting and why. It’s not just about ticking a compliance box; it’s about building trust. People are more likely to engage with your site if they feel their privacy is respected.

Additionally, staying updated with privacy regulations is crucial. Laws like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California are stringent about data usage and user consent. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines and a tarnished reputation. So, make sure your data practices are squeaky clean.

Are There Any Surprises in the Freshness Factor?

Freshness in Google’s ranking algorithm is like the secret ingredient in a Michelin-starred recipe – it makes all the difference. Understanding the intricacies of how freshness impacts rankings can give businesses a significant edge. Let’s dive deeper into what this really means for your SEO strategy.

Evaluating Content Freshness

When we talk about content freshness, we’re not just talking about a recent publish date. Google employs a sophisticated approach to determine the freshness of content. It evaluates three key elements: bylines, URLs and on-page content. Google checks the publication date in the bylines to see if the article was recently published or updated. URLs with dates can also signal freshness. For instance, a URL containing “2024” can indicate that the content is recent. However, on-page content is perhaps the most critical factor. Google analyses the content itself to determine if the information presented is up-to-date. This includes checking for recent statistics, current events and any changes or updates made to the content.

Imagine Google as a diligent historian, cross-referencing dates, verifying facts and ensuring that the content is still relevant in the current context. Regular updates to your content can send strong signals to Google that your site is active and continuously providing current information.

Impact Of Freshness On Rankings

Historically, Google’s emphasis on freshness can be traced back to the Caffeine update in 2010, which enabled Google to index content faster. This was followed by the Freshness update in 2011, which aimed to provide more relevant results by prioritising fresh content. Another key concept here is QDF, or Query Deserves Freshness. Introduced by Google, QDF determines whether certain queries demand fresh content. For instance, if there’s a sudden spike in searches for “new iPhone release,” Google will prioritise the most recent and relevant information about the iPhone.

But why does this matter so much? Let’s consider a few examples. A blog post about “SEO trends” written in 2018 might still be relevant, but an article updated in 2024 will likely contain more current strategies, reflecting the latest algorithm changes and industry practices. Google wants to serve its users the most recent and relevant information, which means newer content often gets a ranking boost.

To leverage freshness effectively, update old content regularly. Don’t let your evergreen content gather dust. Revisit your top-performing articles and refresh them with new data, updated insights and recent examples. This not only improves their relevance but also signals to Google that the content is still valuable. Adding timely content is also crucial. Create content that responds to recent events or trends in your industry. For example, an article on the latest Google algorithm update can attract significant traffic and engagement.

Using a content calendar can help you plan regular updates for your content. This could involve setting quarterly reviews for key articles to ensure they remain current. Additionally, leveraging structured data can help Google understand the date and relevancy of your content better. Use schema markup to indicate when an article was published and last updated.

Think of your website as a dynamic library. If the books (content) are never updated, they become outdated and less useful. Regularly revisiting and refreshing your content is like adding new editions to those books, keeping your library (website) relevant and valuable. By maintaining a commitment to content freshness, businesses can enhance their SEO efforts, ensure higher user engagement and sustain their rankings in the ever-evolving landscape of Google search. Remember, in the race for search engine dominance, freshness is not just a factor – it’s a necessity.

How Do Small Sites Fare in the Algorithm?

Navigating the digital landscape as a small site can feel like trying to shout over the roar of a crowd. But guess what? Even the smallest voices can be heard if they’re saying something worth listening to. Google’s algorithm doesn’t just favour the big players; there’s room for everyone at the table, provided you know the rules of the game.

Special Considerations for Small Sites

Here’s the scoop: Google has a soft spot for small personal sites. According to the leaked documents, there’s a feature specifically for these underdogs. This feature, potentially adjusted by something whimsically called Twiddlers, means small sites can indeed hold their ground against the giants. But how? It’s all about focusing on quality and relevance. Think of it like David versus Goliath, where a well-aimed stone (quality content) can make a big impact.

Potential Boosts and Demotions

Small sites might receive a leg up or a slap down based on various factors. It’s like being on a seesaw, where the balance can tip either way. For instance, Google might boost a small site if it’s providing unique, high-quality content that’s particularly relevant to user queries. On the flip side, if the content is thin or lacks relevance, those Twiddlers might just twiddle your site down a notch or two.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial. Imagine running a cosy bookshop. If you stock your shelves with rare, sought-after titles (quality content), people will come to you, even if you’re not a big chain. But if your shelves are filled with outdated or irrelevant books, customers will head elsewhere. Google operates on a similar principle.

What Should Businesses Do Now?

So, what’s the game plan? Adaptation is key. First off, small businesses should focus on building a diverse link profile. Think of links as votes of confidence. A variety of high-quality links can signal to Google that your site is trustworthy and valuable.

Next, double down on high-quality content. Quality content is your golden ticket. It’s not just about churning out posts but providing real value. Share your unique insights, tell compelling stories and offer solutions to your audience’s problems. This is your chance to shine and show Google that your site deserves to be up there with the best.

User experience shouldn’t be an afterthought either. Make sure your site is user-friendly. Fast loading times, intuitive navigation and mobile optimisation are all part of a stellar user experience. If visitors enjoy their time on your site, Google takes note.

Leveraging Key Insights for Better Rankings

Armed with these insights, it’s time to refine your SEO efforts. Prioritise brand-building. A recognisable, trusted brand can significantly boost your rankings. Think of it as building a reputation in your community – the better your reputation, the more people trust and visit you.

Keep your content fresh. Regular updates signal to Google that your site is active and up-to-date. This is like regularly redecorating your shop window to attract passers-by.

Lastly, leverage Author expertise. Show off the credentials of your content creators, especially for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) content. Google loves content that’s backed by experts, much like a bookshop gaining credibility by having renowned authors endorse it.


I’ve got to say, after two decades in this industry, I am blown away, excited and a little bit overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that I’m having to learn a new language to describe a lot of things I knew were happening and existed, but also some things that I didn’t know and only suspected.

This is a fantastic time to be an SEO. Google has confirmed this is a genuine leak and I can’t help wondering why this has happened now. Could it be related to AI advancements? Could it be intentional to help improve the SEO industry? Or is it just a genuine mistake? These are intriguing questions that add another layer of complexity to this revelation.

One caveat should be placed on all this analysis, of course: it’s out of date. Who knows what has changed since these documents were written or what’s around the corner? The SEO landscape is constantly evolving and staying ahead of the curve requires continual adaptation and learning.

However, the leaked Google documents provide invaluable insights into the factors influencing search rankings. By understanding and implementing these insights, businesses can enhance their SEO strategies, achieve better search rankings and ultimately drive more traffic to their websites.

So, stay adaptable, keep learning and continue to refine your approach in the ever-evolving world of SEO. This leak, whether a blessing in disguise or a mere oversight, offers a golden opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see the mechanisms driving the search engine giant. Embrace it, use it and let it propel your SEO efforts to new heights.

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How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency

Social media marketing rules the world of the internet. As a result, many entrepreneurs and freelance marketers want to dive into this colorful sector. However, starting a social media marketing agency has its benefits and challenges just like every other small business.

Starting a social media marketing agency is not hard if you work hard enough. There are some essential steps to take if you want to enter the list of the best social media agencies for startups and big companies. Here, we provide you with a guide that will enhance your entrepreneurship skills and help you understand how to start a SMMA, in the most successful way.

What Is a Social Media Marketing Agency?

A social media marketing agency is the go-to for making a business shine on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, and TikTok. These agencies are great at making engaging content, running ads, working with influencers, and checking out the numbers to boost the brand’s visibility, grab people’s attention, and get more visitors to the clients’ websites. 

Using smart tools and clear insights, these agencies find out what kind of posts work best and when to post them to get the most likes and shares. They also team up with influencers to get your brand in front of more eyes and build trust. (Speaking of influencers, if you are considering starting an influencer marketing agency, check out our detailed blog post covering every key point you should know about!)

The big goal is to get the brand noticed more, make real connections with customers, and boost sales. A social media management agency helps brands build a strong online presence that not only draws people in but also keeps them coming back. 

Understanding the social media agency pricing models is also crucial for clients to see the value of the services offered, as transparency immediately helps build clear expectations right from the start.

Starting a Social Media Marketing Agency Crashed in 6 Tactics

Whether you’re aiming to cater to startups or big companies, these steps will lay the groundwork for a thriving SMMA. 

Let’s get started and transform that entrepreneurial spirit, guiding you on the path to starting a social media marketing agency, into action!

1.Keep Yourself Up-To-Date

This is the most essential step towards success. Educating yourself enough to know about digital marketing is something you need during every single process of your business. Keeping yourself up-to-date requires dedicating time, energy, and money.

To be a successful marketer, you need to follow the sector very closely. You should have a holistic approach to digital marketing to grasp the dynamics of the basics such as PPC (pay-per-click marketing), SEO, e-mail marketing, online marketing, content marketing, and graphic design. Once you know the basics well, it is easier to follow novel trends.

2.Determine Your Niche

To prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by harsh competition when you start your social media agency, it is quite wise to take small steps at the beginning. So, before starting a social media marketing agency, you need to pick an industry that will be interested in what your agency is doing. This will help you move quickly. 

Focusing on only one industry or a few others is not the only way to choose your niche for your social media agency. There are various ways to do that. For example, you can initially focus on a single social media platform instead of many. Remember that all platforms have different requirements and different users. You can start on Instagram instead of X until you get used to the sector you chose. Then you can always branch out to other platforms.

3.Make a Business Plan

Deciding on your business structure will help you develop a solid foundation for your business. The first concern is choosing which type of business you will legally initiate. You can consider a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company according to the number of founders and the scale of your business.

Choosing a suitable name is another vital aspect that will determine your first impression. Your name should be unique and easy to pronounce. Before developing your business name, you should also consider a domain name for your website. If the domain name is taken, you can consider other name options since your website should be easily accessible.

The next task is to check your county’s laws and arrange the legal complications, including registrations and taxes. You should also open a separate bank account for your business to manage your finances and increase your purchasing power and legitimacy.

Another important task to do is to get the right social media management tools that suit the specific needs of your business. The types of these tools are scheduling tools and image makers. Scheduling tools allow you to set your social media posts in advance. Image makers help you create catchy graphics and banners.

In the beginning, it is enough to utilize the essential tools according to the scale of your business. However, you will probably need more advanced tools as your agency grows. The examples above are just the essentials for starting SMMA.

4.Create Your Portfolio

As you know, the actual point of starting a digital marketing agency is to provide your customers with useful products and services. Firstly, you should think about the questions of what and why you are selling and at what cost they will all come to you.

While you are planning your products, you can consider the following aspects: high-quality and original content, audience acquisition through gaining followers and increasing influence, and lead generation. You do not have to focus on them all at once. Especially in terms of cost, you should keep your products at scale and take incremental steps.

Once you are done designing your products or services and putting them to use, it is time to prepare your portfolio, including in-depth case studies, client testimonials, and upcoming goals for your specific clients. After all, you will need to get excellent reviews from your customers to attract potential ones. As a beginner, make sure that your portfolio is simple and honest; as you grow, you can expand your portfolio to include other pieces of work.

starting social media marketing agency

5.Present Yourself on the Internet

It is quite normal that you do not have much experience in the initial phase of your business. Yet, you can make a difference from the very beginning by establishing your online presence with care and attention. After arranging a domain name and hosting service, you can launch your website. You should be very attentive to its design since the website is quite important in your customers’ decisions.

As a social media agency, you want to be successfully invisible on social media as well. The most important social media platforms are completely free to use, you should definitely give them a try. By creating a social media presence, you can benefit from organic lead generation, engage with customers and potential customers, and carry your business to a professional level.

To be convincing enough, you need to show that you know social media marketing well. You can use your platform and industry niche to ensure that you can reach your target audience. For example, if you are comfortable with using Instagram and your industry niche is tourism, you can focus on presenting your business as a tourism figure on Instagram. Furthermore, once you have established your internet presence, you can be a part of the Digital Agency Network to attract new customers.

6.Track Your Progress and Generate Leads

Now you have your niche, business plan, portfolio, website, and social media accounts. Your excellent team is working for you. Your name is slowly being heard in the sector. Increasing your reputation and keeping it up is your final and vital task.

Starting a social media agency requires constantly increasing the quality of your content with the help of new targets. You should have relevant targets for your business and carefully keep track of your progress. You should monitor your progress using the necessary tools. We are back to the first step: keeping yourself up-to-date. If you closely follow the developments in your sector, you can easily create a plan for your future, considering what your competitors are doing.

Lead generation is the backbone that will keep your business standing successfully. For lead generation, you need to satisfy your existing customers to get impressive feedback from them. You need to demonstrate that hiring you was a good choice for your customers. Remember that new customers will reach out to you according to your previous work.

To increase your number of customers, you should follow LinkedIn closely to add new connections. You can also prepare a list of local businesses that you want to target and send e-mails to their decision-makers. Successful social media campaigns will help you grow your customer base.

5 Key Tips for Running a Social Media Agency

To help you master the art and stand out from the crowd, we’d like to share 5 tips to keep your agency on top of its game and your clients happy. 

1.Develop a Robust Client Onboarding Process

A smooth and efficient marketing agency onboarding process sets the tone for a successful partnership. When you onboard new clients effectively, you create a strong foundation of trust and clear communication from the start.

You should start by making a detailed onboarding checklist that covers all the important steps. This might include initial meetings, setting goals, and gathering all the necessary information about the client’s business, target audience, and current social media strategies.

During the onboarding process, you can give clients a welcome packet that includes key information about your agency, contact details, and an overview of what they can expect in the coming weeks. This packet should also outline your processes, timelines, and any tools or platforms you’ll be using to manage the campaigns.

In addition, you should schedule a kickoff meeting to discuss the client’s goals, expectations, and any concerns they may have. You can use this time to align your strategies with their goals and to clarify the scope of your services. This meeting is also a chance to introduce your team and explain each member’s role in the client’s project.

Regular communication is crucial during the onboarding phase. You can keep clients updated with frequent check-ins and progress reports. Make sure they understand how to use any tools or platforms you’ve introduced. Providing training sessions or tutorials can help get them up to speed.

Moreover, you should set clear milestones and deliverables for the first few weeks. This helps clients see the progress being made and builds confidence in your agency’s abilities. Be sure to celebrate early successes and address any issues quickly to maintain a positive relationship.

2.Stay Updated with Industry Trends

The digital world changes fast, so you’ve got to keep up. It’s significant to follow industry blogs, join webinars, and attend conferences to stay current with the latest trends.

For example, when social platforms update their algorithms, you’ll know how to adjust your strategies to maintain effectiveness. Staying informed not only keeps your tactics fresh but also positions you as an expert in the field, building credibility with your clients.

Always being up-to-date ensures that you can quickly adapt to changes and leverage new opportunities, keeping your agency ahead of the competition.

3. Leverage Automation and AI Tools

Automation and AI tools can transform your social media marketing by making your work more efficient and improving the quality of your services. Using these technologies can save time and open up space for creativity while giving you valuable insights.

AI tools can analyze large amounts of data to give you useful insights. You can benefit from HubSpot or Socialbakers utilizing AI to track engagement, audience behavior, and content performance. Additionally, AI-driven chatbots can handle customer service interactions, giving instant responses to common questions and freeing up your team to focus on more complex issues. With these AI chatbots, you can improve customer satisfaction by ensuring timely and consistent communication.

4.Focus on Client Retention

Attracting new clients is exciting, but retaining your existing ones is crucial for long-term success. And keep in mind that it’s always more efficient to keep the current content and not spend money to get digital marketing clients. Build solid relationships with your current clients by consistently delivering high-quality work. This way, you can easily build trust and reliability, making clients more likely to stay.

Keeping clients informed with regular updates and check-ins is another key point. With such transparency, you can foster a sense of partnership and show that you value their input. So, don’t forget to actively seek their feedback through surveys or direct conversations, which helps improve your services and makes clients feel appreciated.

You can also offer some extras, like custom reports, industry insights, or tailored advice to add value and demonstrate your commitment to their success. 

Also, show appreciation for long-term clients with loyalty programs, discounts, or exclusive offers. Recognize their loyalty to foster a deeper connection. Monitor their campaigns closely and address potential issues proactively, showing your dedication to their success.

Last but not least, always celebrate your clients’ achievements, whether it’s a successful campaign or reaching a milestone. Sharing in their success strengthens your bond and shows you’re invested in their journey. When clients feel valued and see the benefits of working with you, they are more likely to stay, refer you to others, and help your agency grow.

5. Invest in Continuous Learning and Development

To stay on top of the social media marketing world, you should evolve as the field evolves, which requires continuous learning and development. So, invest in your team’s skills and knowledge. This way, you can ensure that your agency remains competitive and innovative.

You can and should encourage your team to regularly follow industry blogs, listen to podcasts, and read relevant books. Subscribing to industry newsletters can also keep everyone updated on the latest trends, tools, and best practices.

Participating in workshops, webinars, and conferences provides valuable insights and networking opportunities. These events are great for learning from industry leaders and discovering new techniques that can be applied to your client’s campaigns. 

Additionally, you can invest in certifications and courses for your team to greatly enhance their expertise. Platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and HubSpot offer a wide range of courses on social media marketing, SEO, content creation, and more. Certified professionals add credibility to your agency and ensure you’re offering the best services.

Building a Good Team When Starting a Social Media Marketing Agency

Why don’t you start by figuring out the key roles you need to fill? 

You should decide if you need content creators, social media managers, graphic designers, and data analysts. Each role is important, from making great content to analyzing how well your posts are doing.

When conducting social media interviews, we suggest looking for people who are not only skilled but also share your passion for social media marketing and, of course, your agency’s values. It’s important to find team members who are excited about the industry and eager to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. Passionate employees are more likely to bring new ideas and work hard to make your agency succeed!

Creating a collaborative work environment is one of the crucial points to focus on. So, you should always encourage open communication and idea-sharing among team members to build a sense of teamwork and collective problem-solving. This way, you’ll enhance creativity and ensure that everyone feels valued and heard. Regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions can help maintain this collaborative spirit.

Regular training and development opportunities are also vital to keeping your team updated with the latest industry trends and tools. Invest in workshops, online courses, and industry conferences to ensure your team’s skills remain current. 

Encouraging a culture of continuous learning within your agency is one of the most important steps to take. So, organize internal training sessions where team members share their knowledge and skills. 

Moreover, recognizing and rewarding your team’s hard work is crucial to making sure that everything goes smoothly when starting a social media marketing agency. Regular feedback and acknowledgment of achievements give you the key to boosting morale and motivating your employees to maintain high performance. You can consider implementing a recognition program to celebrate both individual and team successes.

By investing in a competent and motivated team, you can also ensure that your agency delivers high-quality services and stays competitive in the dynamic world of social media marketing. A strong team will not only meet your client’s needs but also help your agency grow and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. 

Ultimately, the success of your social media agency depends on the talent and dedication of the people behind it. And you should prioritize building and nurturing a team that is as passionate about social media marketing as you are!

We tried to provide a roadmap to dive into the competitive world of social media agencies. If you can maintain novelty and productivity in your social media agency, and keep your customers engaged, you can eventually have an unrivaled place in the marketplace.

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8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Whatever you want to achieve by blogging – money, a fully-fledged business, recognition in your field, a creative outlet, or sharing your message with the world – you need to write.

There’s no way around it. Blogging is writing. Your platform, your means of communication, involves putting words onto a screen for people to read.

And that can be terrifying.

Lots of would-be bloggers get stopped in their tracks because putting their words out into the world feels so daunting. These fears are so normal … so if you’re struggling, please don’t feel alone. 

As a blogger and writer myself, with a blog, newsletter, and online community for writers, I hear from a lot of people who are held back by a lack of confidence in their writing.

Their worries might be:

  • “I might make a glaring error in my post for the whole world to see.”
  • “Readers could leave nasty comments, disagreeing with my ideas – or attacking me as a person.”
  • “My writing just isn’t good enough.”
  • “No one will want to read what I’ve got to say.”

As a writer myself, it’s heart-breaking to see how anxious some would-be bloggers feel about writing. But I can completely understand why bloggers often feel unconfident or uncomfortable.

What’s Knocked Your Writing Confidence?

Some bloggers have never really identified as “writers”, so it’s tough for them to step into that role. Others are – quite understandably – daunted by doing something new.

But in some cases, bloggers lack writing confidence because of something specific that’s happened. That could be:

  • Struggling with writing essays at school or university, perhaps receiving low grades or negative feedback from teachers.
  • People in your life being unsupportive or even mocking you about your ambitions to make money blogging.
  • Seeing other bloggers get torn down or criticised because of something they published.

You might find it helps to reflect on anything in your own experience that’s made you feel uncertain or worried about publishing your writing. 

Even if something was true of you then, is it still true now? Even if you weren’t good at one kind of writing (such as academic writing), does that really mean you can’t write well in another, very different, context (such as blogging)?

I believe we can all write well. Yes, there are things you can do to improve bad writing … but there are lots of different ways your writing can be good. If you can hold a conversation or write a coherent email, you can put words together perfectly well enough to write a blog post.

It might also help to know that even highly experienced writers often feel a lot of self-doubt. My free ebook The Courageous Writer begins with quotes from some writers who I regard as extremely successful. As I researched that ebook, I was surprised to read about how they, too, had massive struggles with a lack of confidence in their writing.

What NOT to Do If You’re Struggling to Feel Confident About Writing

I’ve seen bloggers turn to all sorts of different coping mechanisms and tools to try to get around a lack of confidence in writing. Some of these can be a “quick fix” … but I don’t believe they help you (or your blog) in the long run.

There are three really common things that bloggers do to try to get around a lack of confidence that I want you to steer clear of.

#1: Don’t Stop Blogging Altogether, Hoping You’ll Feel More Confident Later

I completely understand why some bloggers write a few posts then give up on their blog, or perhaps even fail to get to the point where they’ve launched their blog.

Maybe, if you’re not feeling confident enough yet, you hope that you’ll somehow be ready in six months or a year to launch your blog.

But unless you’re actively writing for an audience, you’re not going to suddenly start feeling confident. You’ll just make “writing” feel like a bigger, scarier, tougher activity.

#2: Don’t Use AI for All Your Content

Lots of bloggers are turning to AI tools to help with the content creation process. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that (and let’s face it, AI is definitely here to stay). But using AI to write everything for you won’t help you become any more confident … and it could seriously harm your blog.

Google wants high-quality content, and frankly, an unedited draft written by AI simply isn’t going to be good enough. I promise, you can write better than an AI, with unique insights from your own life … and with examples and quotes that aren’t “hallucinated”. 

Google also states that “Using automation—including AI—to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.” That means that you need to be really careful about using AI-generated content for SEO purposes (e.g. to target high-volume keywords in your niche).

If you want to, it’s fine to use AI to help you brainstorm, to create an outline for your content, or even to do some rough drafting. But you need to be confident in your own writing abilities so you can heavily edit what the AI produces.

#3: Don’t Take Endless Classes and Courses on Writing

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with signing up for a writing class or course, if that’s something you’d enjoy. I did a whole MA in Creative Writing in my early twenties, and I have no regrets.

Some bloggers (and writers more generally) get stuck at the “learning” stage, however. They want to take just one more course or join just one more class because they’re convinced that, this way, they can master all the techniques they need.

Writing isn’t something you can learn just from reading a blog, studying a book, listening to a lecture, or even turning in assignments. It’s something you do for an audience. You’ll learn how to write better, stronger blog posts by actually writing and publishing them.

8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Eight Practical Steps to Grow Your Writing Confidence – and Grow Your Blog

So what can you do to become a more confident writer and blogger? I’m going to take you through some practical steps to try. I’ll explain why each of these steps will help build your confidence – and I’ll give you ways to put it into practice, even if you only have a little bit of time.

Step #1: Build a Regular Writing Habit

One great foundation of feeling confident about your writing is … actually writing!

It’s hard to call yourself a writer or blogger if you’ve not written a new post for months. Get into the habit of writing regularly, and you’ll begin to feel less resistance to sitting down and putting words on the page. Just like building any other habit (like exercising, reading, or eating more veggies), the more you do it, the more natural it’ll feel.

You don’t have to write daily, though some writers find that helpful. I’d suggest aiming to write at least a couple of times per week, otherwise you’ll struggle to have a sense of momentum.

Keep track of how much you write in each session (and how long the session was). Before long, you’ll have a good idea of how long 100 words takes you.

Short On Time?

However busy you are, I bet you can find five minutes a day to write. You could use a blog post or journaling prompt, or simply write about whatever’s on your mind. Set a five minute timer and write without stopping … you might be surprised how much you get down onto the page.

Got More Time?

If you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, how about blocking out some hour-long writing slots each week? If you find it hard to stick to your planned writing times, you might use an app like Focusmate or join a group that runs regular group writing sessions (for instance, my Writers’ Cafe has writing hours three times a week).

Step #2: Break Down the Writing Process into Separate Stages

If I told you to sit down in front of a blank screen and write a blog post on the spot, you’d likely freeze and struggle to even know where to begin. 

I’ve never come across a blogger who could simply pull up a new document, instantly pluck an idea from the ether, and start typing a flawless draft.

Blogging, like any kind of writing, involves a specific process. You might not be used to thinking of it this way, but you could break down the process of creating a blog post like this:

  • Selecting an idea for your post
  • Outlining your post
  • Drafting your post (this is what most of us think of as “writing”)
  • Editing your post
  • Publishing your post

You don’t need to do all these stages at once. In fact, I think it’s helpful to tackle each one separately – and to break it down further where possible.

In the next steps, we’ll look at specific tips for building your confidence during each part of the process.

Short On Time? 

The process might look time-consuming written out, but each step doesn’t need to take long. And the great thing about breaking it down is that you can easily use little bits of time. You might have 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas, 5 minutes to very quickly plan a post, then a 10 minute slot where you can draft the first key point – knowing that your outline will keep you on track, even if you can’t come back to your draft for a day or two.

Got More Time?

One fantastic way to use bigger blocks of time effectively (and to really boost your confidence in your ability to stay consistent with blogging) is to batch together different writing tasks. For instance, if you have two hours, you could first list a whole bunch of ideas, then you could pick from those ideas and fill out your whole content calendar for the next three months.

8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Step #3: Select an Idea You’re Excited to Write About

Brainstorming blog post ideas can be a great low-pressure activity if the idea of writing a whole post feels daunting. I like to come up with a whole bunch of ideas at once. At this point, I don’t self-censor my ideas: even if something sounds silly or too tricky to write, I jot it down.

Then, I go through my list and figure out which ideas might work best with my audience. This is the point where I also think about keyword research and finding the best way to frame my idea to match up with what people are searching for.

Even if you feel that it’s tricky for you to come up with ideas, you’ll find that as you begin writing them down, more ideas come to you. One not-quite-right idea could spark a new train of thought … leading to several really strong ideas. You can also use AI to brainstorm blog post ideas: this could be a great starting point and may lead you down paths you’d not considered before.

When you choose an idea to write about, choose one that you feel excited about or truly engaged with. You want to share something truly useful, heart-felt, or thought-provoking with the world.

Short on Time?

Coming up with ideas doesn’t need to take long … and in fact, you may well find that you’re more creative when time is short. Having a time constraint can push you to start throwing ideas down on the page, making connections, and developing thoughts. Set aside 10 minutes and challenge yourself to brainstorm as many ideas as you can.

Got More Time?

When you’ve got a bit longer to spend, look for twists on interesting ideas that you’ve already got. The right angle or connection could make your post much more engaging for the reader … and much easier to write. There are some great tips here for coming up with fresh takes on well-worn ideas.

Step #4: Outline Your Post to Remove Your Fear of the Blank Page

One fantastic way to make writing seem a lot less daunting is to create an outline for your post, in advance of writing it. You don’t need to spend ages on this – even a quick list of bullet points, covering the key things you want to say, is far better than only having a blank page.

Spending time planning ahead will also help you create a stronger post, with a good, solid structure. You’ll find it easier to stick to your topic or idea when writing, and you’ll know that you’ve not missed anything obvious.

AI tools can be useful at the outlining stage. I’d suggest coming up with your own outline first, before asking AI for an outline, which you can then compare to yours. This is a good opportunity to check for any ideas you might have missed and that you want to include.

Short on Time?

Come up with 3–7 main points you want to cover in your post and write them down as bullet points. This might be enough outlining for a short blog post. If you’re writing long form content, come back to your outline when you have another 5 or 10 minutes, and expand each point.

Got More Time?

Develop a set of blog post templates that you can use again and again when outlining: this can save you a whole lot of time and effort, and helps you create high-quality posts time after time. You might have a template for a “how to” post, a list post, a review post, an “A vs B” post and so on.

Step #5: Draft Your Post, One Section at a Time

When you have an outline in place, drafting won’t seem nearly so difficult. After all, you already know what you’re going to cover … it’s just a case of putting that into words.

Lots of bloggers find writing an introduction tough. One big advantage of using an outline is that you can simply skip straight to your first point. After you’ve drafted the post, it’ll be easier to create an introduction that fits well.

It’s really normal to find it hard to focus when you’re drafting. You’re likely writing at a computer, connected to wifi, with a world of distractions at your fingertips … and drafting new material is hard work, so it’s no surprise that you find yourself flicking over to social media or checking your emails instead.

I use timers in a range of different ways to help me stay focused when I’m writing. If you’re struggling to concentrate, I recommend that you pick a section of your blog post, set a 10-15 minute timer, and see if you can get that whole section drafted. Then, repeat for the next one.

Short On Time?

You don’t need a whole afternoon free to start drafting a post. Just 10 minutes is enough. Begin with your first key section, and write as much as you can in the time you have. Add a little more later, or the next day. Before you know it, you’ll have a full draft.

Got More Time?

I like to split longer drafting sessions into more manageable chunks – it’s really tough to focus on writing fresh content for an hour or more at a time. Try 20–30 minutes of writing, then take a quick break. You might want to give the Pomodoro technique a go.

8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Step #6: Edit Your Post to Remove Any Rough Patches

Once you’ve finished your draft, it’s time to … pause.

I don’t recommend jumping straight into editing your post. For one thing, drafting is tiring! After reaching the end of your post, the last thing you want to do is more work. Plus, you’ll find it easier to spot mistakes and things you want to change when you come back to your post with fresh eyes.

So take a break. If you can, let your post “rest” for a day or two before you come back to edit it. Then, it’s a good idea to split editing into its two separate components:

  • Rewriting: Look for any big-picture changes you want to make with your post. Perhaps one of your points didn’t quite flow, or you want to move around some material. (If you had a really detailed outline, you may find you don’t need to make any major changes … that’s fine too.) You might also need to expand your blog post if it came out a little short.
  • Editing: Read through your post carefully, line by line, looking out for any grammatical mistakes, typos, or clunky-sounding sentences. Proofreading your own work can be surprisingly tricky, and this is another place where AI can be helpful – I use Grammarly to double-check my posts (but make sure you read it all with your own eyes too). 

Editing is where your writing gets the chance to really shine. If you’ve ever marvelled at the amazing way an author uses words – their clever turn of phrase or their ability to draw you in without a single misstep or clunky sentence – then keep in mind that their first draft may have looked quite different.

You don’t have to do anything fancy with your writing, of course. A straightforward, conversational style is best for most blogs. If you’re struggling to know how to phrase something, imagine writing an email to a reader (or a friend who’s interested in your niche) and simply write it like that.

Short On Time?

Read through your whole post and only fix anything that’s objectively wrong (like a misspelling). Don’t worry about perfecting every sentence. You can always come back and update your posts in the future, if you want to add more details or expand on a particular point.

Got More Time?

If you can, get someone else involved at this stage of the process (see Step 8). Ask for their insights and suggestions about your post, and take this feedback on board during your editing. You don’t need to adopt everything they suggest, but you may find that they have a useful perspective or fresh insights to offer.

Step #7: Publish Your Post and Get Used to Putting Your Words Out There

The final stage of the writing process is publishing your post. (If you’ve written a piece for someone else’s blog, like a guest post, then this step is sending it off to the editor.)

When you’re not feeling confident, hitting the “publish” button can feel really scary! You might find it helps to have a pre-publication checklist, to remind you to do things like:

  • Double-check all links within the post are working
  • Include your featured image at the start of the post
  • Set the category for your post
  • Add important SEO (search engine optimization) elements like a meta title and description (I use Ryan Robinson’s SEO checklist to help me stay on track, which he goes through at the 12:00 mark in his video here).

With your checklist to hand, you don’t need to worry about missing something important or accidentally publishing a post that’s not quite finished.

Short On Time?

When you feel pressed for time, you might end up holding off publishing your post altogether. I’d encourage you to get it out there – even if you wanted a bit longer. Some parts of the publishing process (like tweaking your post for SEO purposes) could easily be done at a later stage. 

Got More Time?

Add marketing elements to your publishing process. For instance, you might share your blog post with a custom-written message on social media (more effective than just sharing the title and link), or you may want to email out the link to a couple of blogging friends who you think would be particularly interested.

8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Step #8: Ask for Feedback on Your Draft Posts

I won’t pretend this step is easy, because I know it can be really daunting to ask people to tell you what they think of your blog post. But direct, specific feedback on your writing from other writers and bloggers is one of the very best ways to improve.

Do you have a friend who enjoys writing (or who’s a good fit for your target audience) and who could look over a draft post for you?

Maybe you belong to a blogging group on Facebook or a local network of bloggers? Or perhaps you’re part of a writers’ group of some kind? Within my Writers’ Cafe, we have members sharing blog posts in our dedicated “Feedback” space for helpful comments and suggestions.

Wherever you turn for feedback, you might like to let people know what sort of feedback would be most useful to you. For instance, you might ask one or more of these questions:

  • Could you let me know if you felt lost or bored at any point during the post?
  • Did the structure work or did the post seem confusing?
  • Were there any typos or mistakes in the post?
  • Is there anything you feel I should add to make the post even better?

If possible, it’s lovely to return the favour! When someone gives you feedback, ask if they’d like you to review one of their posts in return. 

Getting feedback can help you recognise your own strengths as a writer. Perhaps you’ll hear that you’ve explained a complicated concept really clearly, or that someone laughed out loud at the anecdote you told about your travels. 

You can then lean into these strengths with future posts. Maybe you want to have a whole series of posts where you break down complicated ideas in your niche and make them accessible to beginners. Or perhaps you’ll weave in more travel anecdotes to give readers a sense of your personality.

Short On Time?

If you’re struggling to find time to look for bloggers or writers who can help you, put out a quick appeal to your social media followers or email list. Hopefully, someone will be keen to get an exclusive first look at your next post!

Got More Time?

You might want to find a few bloggers at a similar stage as you, in niches with some overlap, so you can all offer feedback on one another’s posts. If several people are giving feedback on one draft, an easy way to handle this is using Google Docs, where multiple people can comment on (or make suggestions on) the same version of your post.


It can be really tough to feel confident as a blogger. What matters isn’t that you feel totally fearless (I doubt any blogger does!) … but that you keep moving forward.

 Step by step, build up your courage and confidence so you can keep publishing new content, keep stretching yourself (e.g. by submitting guest posts), and keep reaching new readers. That way, you’ll make a true impact on the world.

If you’d like some more encouragement and ideas, check out my free mini-ebook The Courageous Writer: How to Grow in Confidence and Nurture Your Creativity. It’s packed with ideas for all kinds of writers and includes lots of simple, practical exercises to help you gradually become more confident and creative.


Bio: Ali Luke has been blogging since 2008, and has written for ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Smart Blogger, The Write Life, and more. She blogs about making the most of your writing time on her own site, Aliventures. You can download her new mini-ebook The Courageous Writer: How to Grow in Confidence and Nurture Your Creativity for free: it’s full of ways to become more confident in your blogging (or any kind of writing).

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DC thrilled with planned return of pandas to zoo

Mike Beglinger, deputy director of planning and program management at Smithsonian’s Office of Planning , Design and Construction, introduces an artist’s rendering of the new pair of giant pandas near the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat at the National Zoo on Wednesday. Zhao Huanxin/China Daily

In 1972, when then-U.S. first lady Patricia Nixon welcomed the first pair of giant pandas to Washington’s National Zoo, Jill Biden was a 20-year-old college student.

In a video posted on Wednesday, Mrs. Biden, the current U.S. first lady, got her chance to welcome the arrival of a pair of pandas. As she enthusiastically clutched a toy panda that someone threw to her, the first lady exclaimed: “We can’t wait to celebrate this historic moment here in our nation’s capital. Join us. It’s official! The pandas are coming back to DC!”

Joining the first lady in the video were National Zoo Director Brandie Smith and Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III. They announced the arrival of the new giant pandas for later this year and joked about preparing for two special guests at the White House.

“We are excited for children near and far to once again enjoy the giant pandas’ adorable and joyful adventures at our @NationalZoo,” Biden said in a social media post, six months after the U.S. capital bid an emotional farewell to the last three giant pandas, including a pair that arrived 23 years ago, which left for China in November.

“We’re thrilled to announce the next chapter of our breeding and conservation partnership begins by welcoming two new bears, including a descendant of our beloved panda family, to Washington, DC,” Smith said at the Zoo.

Early in the morning, workers put up signs on the flagpole at the entrance to the zoo, stating: “The Pandas Are Coming”. There are also fresh displays of panda-themed merchandise such as shirts and shopping bags in the gift shops inside the zoo.

The newcomers are two 2-year-old pandas, Bao Li and Qing Bao, who will arrive at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute by the end of the year, in partnership with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.

The mother of the male bear, Bao Li, whose name means “treasure” and “energetic” in Chinese, was born at the zoo in 2013, and his grandparents lived there from 2000 to 2023.

The female, Qing Bao, whose name was voted by Chinese netizens, literally means “a treasure in green mountains”.

“This historic moment is proof positive our collaboration with Chinese colleagues has made an irrefutable impact,” Smith said.

A cooperative research and breeding agreement signed by Smith and Wu Minglu, secretary-general of the China Wildlife Conservation Association, is effective through April 2034, according to a press release from the zoo.

The zoo will pay a $1 million annual fee to the association to support research and conservation efforts in China.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Chinese association said it believed the new round of China-U.S. cooperation on giant panda conservation will yield more results in the prevention and control of major giant panda diseases, bolster scientific and technological exchanges, and contribute to global biodiversity conservation while enhancing the friendship between the two peoples.

Wednesday’s announcement builds upon a half-century of fruitful collaboration between the United States and China to save the giant panda from extinction.

“I’m so proud to say that this long-standing program and this collaboration with our Chinese colleagues is one of the reasons why the giant pandas are no longer listed as endangered but rather only vulnerable on the global list of species at risk of extinction,” Smith said.

“Giant pandas truly represent how great partnerships and great outcomes can be achieved through when we work together and then with public support,” she added.

Smith also said that in the new phase of partnership, the program will be different in terms of what the zoo has studied with earlier pandas there, when one of the focuses was on reproduction.

“But we’ve solved a lot of those problems, and so with these new pandas, our focus is actually a little bit more on giant pandas in the wild — understanding bamboo forests, wildlife diseases, different things like that,” Smith told China Daily.

Smithsonian scientists and Chinese partners plan to expand research across disciplines to ensure panda health and welfare in human care as well as the continuation of critical work for wild populations, the zoo said in a statement.

To gain an appreciation of how Americans have been fascinated by the furry black-and-white icons, Theodore H Reed, Smith’s predecessor, wrote in a National Geographic magazine story in December 1972: “Whenever I look at our young giant pandas, I think I can explain the animals’ universal appeal. The trouble is, everyone else seems to be looking too, instead of listening.”

Over the past five decades, giant pandas have held a special place in the childhood memories of numerous Americans, noted Xie Feng, Chinese ambassador to the U.S., who said he received messages asking for new giant pandas to be sent to Washington when the last three went back to China.

“Two little panda fans from California wrote me several cute letters, proposing giving China grizzly bears to get pandas,” Xie said at the zoo. “The love for pandas stays unabated.”

The ambassador announced that with the latest round of giant panda conservation cooperation in a year that marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-U.S. diplomatic ties, Americans will get to see pandas more often, as apart from Bao Li and Qing Bao, another pair, Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, will head to the San Diego Zoo.

“‘Panda-huggers’ should not be stigmatized. If there should be any protectionism, then let’s protect biodiversity, protect the only home for the entire humanity, protect a stable, sound and sustainable China-U.S. relationship, and protect a better future for the younger generations,” Xie said.

“I encourage everyone to care for China-U.S. relations just as you care for pandas, and jointly usher in a peaceful and prosperous future,” he added.

Melissa Songer, a conservation ecologist with the zoo, said she was in China in recent months and got to see new giant pandas.

“They look fantastic. They are beautiful pandas, very healthy, and especially Bao Li was out playing and having a great time,” she said.

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Hong Kong democracy leaders convicted in most significant verdicts since Beijing’s national security crackdown – Egypt Independent

Hong Kong CNN  — 

More than a dozen of Hong Kong’s leading democracy figures were found guilty Thursday on subversion charges, following the largest national security trial since Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on the once free-wheeling city.

The 14 activists and politicians were convicted of “conspiracy to commit subversion” for their roles in holding an unofficial primary election in 2020 to decide who should contest city lawmaker elections.

They were among 47 defendants in what became known as the trial of the “Hong Kong 47” – a closely watched, landmark prosecution under a national security law Beijing imposed on the city in the wake of mass anti-government protests the previous year.

Those on trial represented a broad swathe of Hong Kong’s now dismantled democracy movement and most pleaded guilty during the prosecution process.

But 16 activists and politicians decided to fight the charges, opting for a full trial which lasted for more than a year. Two were acquitted on Thursday and walked free from the court. The remaining 45 now await sentencing at a later date and could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Thursday’s verdict offers one of the clearest windows into how the national security law has rewritten the city’s political landscape, with a once-permitted pro-democracy opposition now decimated and dissent all but erased.

The Hong Kong and Beijing governments have repeatedly denied the national security law is suppressing freedoms, arguing it has ended chaos and “restored stability” to the city.

In an executive summary outlining the convictions, a panel of judges ruled the prosecution had proved the defendants were engaged in a conspiracy to disrupt the government’s “duties and functions … with a view to subverting the state power.”

Supporters of those convicted maintain they were simply taking part in the kind of oppositional politics that was once allowed to flourish in Hong Kong, and Thursday’s verdict signals China’s control of the once-outspoken city is all but complete.

Since the national security law came into effect in 2020, civil groups have disbanded, and independent media outlets have been shut down. The city’s legislature now comprises only of pro-Beijing loyalists, while most pro-democracy figures are either in jail or in exile overseas.

The 47 defendants were first arrested in dawn raids on January 6, 2021 – 1,240 days ago – and most have been held in detention for more than three years.

They include seasoned politicians, elected lawmakers and young protest leaders, as well as academics, unionists, journalists and medical workers. They hail from multiple generations and a wide political spectrum – from moderate democrats to those who advocate for Hong Kong’s self-determination.

Among those who pleaded not guilty and were convicted on Thursday were former journalist Gwyneth Ho, 33, who famously live-streamed an attack on pro-democracy demonstrators inside a subway station, and former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, 68, known by the nickname “Long Hair,” a left-wing activist who began his long political career campaigning against British colonial rule.

Following the verdicts, some family members cried openly in the courtroom and waved to the defendants. Some defendants smiled and waved back, others looked resigned.

The two acquitted were former district councilors Lawrence Lau and Lee Yu-shun, who took part in the unofficial primary held by democrats in 2020.

“Today, I shouldn’t be the focus of attention. I hope everyone will continue to pay attention to other friends in the case,” Lau, a barrister, said after he walked free from the court. “Thank you very much for the concern over all the defendants of this case, please, please carry on your concern and give them love.”

Lee, sporting a golden chain and a tiger print shirt, said he could not say much even after being acquitted.

“Because the Department of Justice has indicated that it may appeal, I cannot make any comments or give any opinions on the ruling or this case at this stage.” he said. “So I can only tell you that I feel very calm and thank you for your concern. Now I want to go have dimsum with my family because I haven’t been able to see them yet.”

Hours later, the prosecutors confirmed in court they would appeal against the acquittals.

Human Rights Watch condemned the convictions, arguing the democracy leaders were prosecuted for “peaceful activism” and that the verdict showed “utter contempt for both democratic political processes and the rule of law.”

The case of the “Hong Kong 47” arose from an unofficial primary election held by the pro-democracy opposition in July 2020 for the city’s legislature. The goal was to narrow down their best chances for candidates to try and win a majority, much like similar polls found in other democracies around the world.

But Hong Kong authorities said the primary vote was a “vicious plot” intended to “paralyze the government and undermine state power” and accused those who took part of intending to use their mandate to block legislation indiscriminately.

The Legislative Council election – which the defendants had hoped to win by holding the primary vote – was postponed to 2021 due to Covid health concerns cited by the authorities during the pandemic.

During the postponement, Beijing and Hong Kong authorities rewrote the city’s electoral rules, putting in place a stricter screening system to weed out candidates deemed “unpatriotic.”

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council currently has no pro-democracy lawmakers, and the upcoming district council elections, to be held in December, also do not feature any pro-democracy candidates.

In the face of a trial without jury, 31 defendants pleaded guilty, a move that in Hong Kong usually leads to a reduced sentence. But that strategy is now in doubt after another local national security law enacted earlier this year curtailed access to reduced sentences for guilty pleas.

Those who pleaded guilty included Joshua Wong, 27, who gained international fame as the face of Hong Kong’s years of student-led democracy protests and was labeled an “extremist” by China’s state media, Benny Tai, 59, a former law professor and co-founder of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, and Claudia Mo, 67, a former journalist-turned-reform minded legislator.

Hong Kong’s democracy activists are no strangers to courtrooms. Many served time for their activism. But the trial of the “Hong Kong 47” showed how the legal system has changed under the national security law, which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers and carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Its wording, as well as its application, is more in keeping with laws in mainland China, where courts are tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party and have a conviction rate above 99.9%. In contrast, Hong Kong follows a common law system that had been kept intact after the former British colony was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997.

Nearly 300 people, aged between 15 and 90, have been arrested under the Beijing-imposed national security law since it was enacted, according to police.

Like all national security cases so far, the trial of the Hong Kong 47 was heard without a jury, deviating from the common law tradition, a power granted by the Beijing-imposed law. It was also presided over by a bench of three High Court Judges designated by the city’s Chief Executive to handle national security cases.

The law also places a higher threshold for bail. Thirty-two defendants have been denied bail and have been in detention since 2021 – a highly unusual practice for cases that do not involve murder. Only 15 were granted bail, but two of them had their application revoked later for breaching bail conditions.

The trial brought the imposition of mainland legal concepts, mainland law into the common law system into sharp relief, said John Burns, emeritus professor at the University of Hong Kong.

“It’s absolutely clear that the national security law reduced the independence and the autonomy of the judiciary. No juries, much more difficult to get bail – those are all things that previously were determined by the judges.”

Legal scholars and Western governments have lamented how the national security law has dealt a blow to the city’s judicial independence, but authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have warned foreign parties against interfering in the city’s internal affairs and judicial system.

Before the trial began in February, the Hong Kong government called criticism on the trial “scandalizing of the criminal justice process” and “a blatant act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong.”

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