Beyond Blogging: Transform your Skills into a Bartering Powerhouse!

You know, with all this talk about making money online, it had me thinking – what happened to the good ol’ bartering system? There’s something about being able to trade and item or service for another; the thrill of the haggle. I started thinking recently: what if I used my existing blogging skills to get myself free rent – and what if I took it a step further to create an entire business around it!

I’ve was apartment shopping lately – spent a couple hours looking around to see what everyone had to offer. One thing I saw right away is that a lot of the bigger apartment businesses listed their vacancies online – but one thing I noticed, as well, were that few smaller ‘mom & pop’ apartments weren’t represented.

After searching a few hours, I landed on a smaller apartment that offered everything that I was looking for and had the bonus that the Realtor ran his own small business – it’s a mom and pop operation; perfect!

Never underestimate the power of your skills

hell yeh!

We, as bloggers, take a lot for granted. When I was talking to Dino Dogan recently, he mentioned that we often assume that just because we know something that others do as well.

Think about it for a second – you understand how to setup a website/blog, write content, generate traffic and everything else that goes on behind the scenes. You know who doesn’t? A shitload of people.

Take that idea and zoom out for a second; what does every business owner want but can’t seem to get enough of? Leads! Well, more specifically, money. But leads!

By setting up small websites for business owners, you can effectively haggle with them – you have the leverage because you have the skills. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every aspect of their business because all you need to do is show results – and this is easy because you’ve done it time and time again. See what I’m saying?

Get Free Rent, Create a Business and More

Preword: Much of the post will be from my perspective as I did my research and development – just replace I with you and you’re good to go!

After doing a bit of additional research, I found that nearly 90% of all listings on Craigslist within local apartment searches were for companies that operate apartments across the state. The mom and pop joints weren’t being represented (as I’ve said) and that if someone were to just offer the same service to them, it could greatly benefit both parties – that person, is me. That person, could be you.

The idea, in theory, is to create a small niche website within the town to showcase apartments, drive leads to the business and for each tenant that signs up through my referral – it will drive down my overall cost of my rent – maybe even earn me money once I go past it!

Additionally, as you’ve heard me mention before about repurposing content – after I get done filling up the apartment complex, I can take the website (which I’m going to tell you about) and start doing the same for other apartments in my area – I could charge for leads! How’s that for thinking outside the box, eh?

Allow me to explain this the best that I can (feel free to replicate this as well in your area).

Step 1: Create a niche website around my [town] + [apartments]

The location of my apartment is within Leesburg, FL. It’s a quite little town and is only about five minutes from my friends and 15 from my work. Businesses in my area generally don’t have websites and if they do; they look dog-awful and aren’t very effective.

The plan is to first buy up the domain LeesburgApartments.com or something akin to it (.net, .biz, etc).

Besides the general keywords which I’ll be focusing on – through research – I’m going to be using the Estate Theme by Elegant Themes – I already have a subscription there and have used a few of the themes on other sites of mine.

(Btw, I would highly recommend Elegant Themes for niche blogs – the themes are great, there’s a ton of them, I haven’t been let down yet – if you buy through my affiliate link, I’ll love you log time).

Once the site is up and running, I’ll create content and build backlinks like you would any other site; a bit slow at first but then step it up and dominate the competition – which, btw, is going to be a breeze since other sites aren’t very optimized and barely have backlinks.

Step 2: Establish the site first and then levarge the hell out of it

I like to have swagger; I like to go into situations where I know I have the upper-hand – not in a dickish way but because I like to have proof of my work before trying to pitch an idea to someone.

Once I’ve established the website, I’m going to present it to the owner of the apartment complex and tell them my plan: essentially it will be that for every one person that begins renting, I get $100 – $200 knocked off my lease.

I know what you’re thinking – how in the hell would they agree upon that! Well, let’s think about this for a second:

  • If (1) rental = $700 a month, than that means within a 1 year lease they will be paying $7000.

As a business owner, would you trade $200 a month to have someone pay $700? That’s a $500 profit you didn’t have before – of course you would! You’d be stupid not to.

  • If I step it up to 5 new rentals – I’d be earning them $35,000 a year which they didn’t have before.

Would you trade $700 a month for $3,500? You bet your ass you would. And that’s the idea.

Additionally, once I effectively hit my target of free rent – I could leverage my skills to continue filling up the apartment complex which, if we work out a great deal, would effectively pay me!

Step 3: Make once; use over and over again

Let’s say that I fill up the entire apartment complex – that’s good and all but what happens with the website? There wouldn’t be a purpose for it because there would be no reason to send any more leads to the business.

Ah, but wait, let’s get crafty here.

Doing a quick search, I notice at least 20 other apartments areas within the general area within Leesburg. Taking a look, I see that many of them are mom & pop (one of them owned by my friends’ parents as well – I love networking).

So, you then contacting these businesses and ask if they’d like to set up a similar deal. Because you can show that you’ve used the site to drive leads to the previous business, you can easily snatch a new client – social proof baby!

Now you’ve become the authority in driving leads to apartments in your area. If you’ve set up a deal where you get paid for the referrals (which most apartment places do) – than you’ve just created an amazing business for yourself.

Taking the ‘online landlord’ idea a step further

I was talking about just ONE town in my area – there are five others surrounding it. Go 20 minutes in any direction and now you’re talking about dozens more. You see where I’m going with this?

Create niche websites specific to your town; then rent them to local businesses or use them to drive leads in exchange for a commission.

Sounds a lot like affiliate marketing doesn’t it? You know why it’s better? Because these are real businesses that people NEED – not some ebook that someone would LIKE to buy.

If someone needed a plumber and went online, you bet your ass that they’d be in a buying-mode; especially if their toilet is spewing shit all over the place.

Start looking around your own area and think: [town] + [business]

Just looking at my area; I could do (for example):

  • LeesburgPlumber.com
  • LeesburgLawnCare.com
  • LeesburgDentist.com
  • etc, etc, etc

It’s not a new concept but it’s a niche opportunity that I think a lot of people are missing out on. The best part? There are thousands upon thousands of small businesses in the country and there are thousands of towns & cities.

Even if you only did your general area, you could create an UBER business – you’d solidify yourself as “that website guy/gal”, the “one that drives tons of leads to my business”.

One more thing: Every site that you create becomes another piece of your portfolio – it builds upon itself. You’ll get to the point where people will literally won’t stop calling because they want you to do the same for your business.

The idea is to ‘own your backyard’ - you don’t have to create sites that compete on a global competition and you don’t need to go after areas all over the world; just focusing on your area is enough to create an UBER amount of passive income.

But this isn’t about theory and bullshitting

I want you to do this right now – as your homework.

Type in: [your town] + [an 'in demand' business]

Look at the competition there – it’s probably just aggregator sites that try to cover every town in the world – they don’t have backlinks, they’re often generic, could you do better? Yes, yes you can.

You already have the skills to put together these small lead generation websites; all you need to do is take action.

Who knows? Maybe you can get your own rent for free, make a few extra bucks, haggle with other business owners for products/services.

Remember, you have the leverage here. There probably aren’t a lot of people with the same skill set in your area and if there are – than they’re not doing this type of niche.

I don’t know about you but I think this is a fuckin’ awesome idea. What do you think about this in general, is it something you’d be willing to try?

38 Responses to “Beyond Blogging: Transform your Skills into a Bartering Powerhouse!”

  1. Peggy Baron
    February 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Murray, that is indeed an awesome idea!

    Go forth and do it, and turn your experience into a How To info product for others and sell it on the WF where they will froth at the mouth at this offline marketing scheme with a twist!

    Love it. :D Keep me updated, will ya?

    Peggy

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      I’ve thought about WF sometimes Peggy; I’m sure I could make a splash but I also have some conflicts because I’ve always found it annoying when people don’t take action even after buying products, ya know? And it happens all the time. Maybe I can change the game and set a new level for WF offers; throw out the “get rich quick” stuff that often shows up on the board and give people a real blueprint for getting things done.

  2. Adam Paudyal
    February 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    Murray awesome idea bro!

    I really like the concept you have here. The idea of creating your own backyard to make passive income sounds like a plan.

    The apartment idea sounds cool man. Just did a Google search on ‘Grand Prairie apartments’ – 374,000 pages and not a prominent site in sight.

    I like it!

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      Very cool Adam – glad you found something already :P

      The ‘owning your backyard’ idea is so ace because everyone that works online always looks at the global level – which means that you’ll be competing on a global scale. How many people are in your area that do what you do? Maybe … one? Two, tops. And, they’re generally really outdated websites, lackluster designs and implementation. If you took what you know now and applied it within your area – just in the offline world, you’d be killin’ it because you could eaaaasily become “the expert”. Go for it man!

  3. Sheila Atwood
    February 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Murray,

    This is an excellent idea. The average person does not know how to put up a website and would love to be part of your directory or use your space. You could rent it out on a 3 month basis.

    I have some great local domain names that this would work for. And your right it would not be hard to beat the other guys out. The dentists and construction companies could use some help in my area.

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      Just open up a copy of your Yellow Pages and scan through the ads – they’re paying thouuuuusands of dollars for those ads each year; selling them on a $1000 website should be a piece of cake haha. Plus, you can add in all these other benefits like being able to update their promos, add content, videos and more – they have control of the marketing campaign, not the yellow pages. There’s so many businesses out there that would love to “get online” but they need guidance, they need someone to lead the way and that could totally be you Sheila!

  4. February 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    First, thnx for the mention. Second, you had me cracking up with the “me love you long time”, and third, I think this is an idea who’s time has come.

    Great shit as always my friend :-)

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

      Givin dat shoutout to mah homeslice Dinooooooooo

      Time to kick ass yo, ante up!

  5. February 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    This is a great twist on a system I have read about before. Domain flippers often do this because exact matching domains are GOLD. Of course they go on and flip the domain.

    This takes it to the next level. Great twist. Great way to leverage.

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      That’s awesomely smart Eugene. You’ve grabbed the domain already and make nice money – if you threw up a blog and included the login details as part of the package, you’re already on top of the game!

  6. February 3, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    There’s only one possible flaw with your apartment model – the occupancy rates may be extremely high for the town. If the demand is high for apartments, and there are hardly any openings, no owner would take a discount because there will always be people looking. In my hometown, the occupancy rates are sky-high, like 95%+. I had friends get denied apartments when they showed up with cash in hand because the owner bumped into someone else 15 minutes previously and promised the unit to them.

    A great business to target are hotels/motels. If there are a lot of hotels in the area, then there is a high demand for rooms to rent out to people visiting. No one would build a hotel if there isn’t that demand. Most searches for “city + hotels” comes up with links for individual hotel sites. Most hotel sites are only a few pages deep with general information about the hotel, but none have blogs producing ongoing content to help with page ranking. Creating a site to tap into that market would be easy. Plus hotels would be willing to pay for advertising.

    $100 to a hotel is one room sold, so they only need one person to click-thru and book to get back what they spent on the ad. It’s a no brainer for them.

    Of course, on top of advertising space, you could also include affiliate links to Expedia, Travelocity, etc (most are part of Commission Junction) and earn more money. My previous employer has contacted me about creating something similar for their hotels, but I could easily turn that template into something that would work for other cities.

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

      Jaaaames, duuuude, that’s brilliant!

      I was staying away from hotels at first because it would be a hassle to keep everything up to date but now that you mention it, that’s gold man, pure gold. Plus, with those affilaite links, if you figure someone is traveling into your town, they might need a rental car or maybe a flight out from there – if they can snag it right then and there, boom, you’ve got yourself a bit of extra money.

      The trouble, though (as I see it), would be to get people on board with the idea since I don’t see a lot of the smaller chains going with websites, ya know? Maybe bed and breakfast’s would be a great way to start since they are truly mom and pop operations, ya know? Hrmm.

      Tracking would be the hardest part I’d think overall but there’s ways around it such as setting up a VOIP number which you could track – at the end of the month, you could say – here’s the list of the number of people that called you through our service; these are genuine leads – you could either have them pay per person staying or do it off of lead generation so you get a bit of a kick back for everyone that you refer – hrmmmm.

      Dang, now you’ve got my mind running, the possibilities – gah! gotta focus …. lemme see something….

      • James M
        February 5, 2011 at 7:23 am #

        The way I see it, it is up to the hotels to provide you with up to date information. Most will have sales text that they include for listings or just copy it from sites like Travelocity or Expedia. The hotels will be most interested in keeping their information up to date because that leads to more sales for them.

        There are companies making sites for communities that include everything: hotels, golf, spas, concert tickets, etc. They have their own booking engines that collect commissions for everything. Of course, these systems cost $$$, and smaller cities do not need anything that complicated. A well designed site with general information about the city, things to do, with advertising spots may be all that you need. With, of course, affiliate links for booking engines for hotels, air, cars, etc.

        The best way to track anything is through a tracking code for the hotels/motels. When someone calls into the hotel, they quote “Murray’s Special Rate” and the hotel will know exactly where that person got their hotel information from. I would probably base advertising rates on how visitors are coming to the site rather than a PPC model. Hotel operators think about exposure first, bookings second.

        I could go on and on about this because I’ve been thinking about it way too much lately. Like you said, gotta stay focused. Your idea is a good one as long as he occupancy rates are low for the city. I say run with it!

        • Murray Lunn
          February 9, 2011 at 2:21 am #

          James, thanks for all the wonderful ideas man.

          Quite literally, I put up a hotel site in a few hours late one night because of what you were mentioning; I’m trying to go after a nice keyword for a local city that’s quite touristy. I need to begin filling in content but I think I’m going take it a step further by maybe directly contacting these hotel chains to see if I could gain literature from directly; I could do a directory which would be a free section but if they want a full listing I could charge; this way I could still have content for people looking in the area and it will entice people to join advertising – or maybe think it through a bit more and figure up the best approach to it.

          There’s a service which is called Vumber, it’s like Google Voice, you can set it up to a voip number and when someone calls it can auto direct them to the destination number; the great thing is that you can track stats and everything and even set a message so you could totally do like “hey, here’s another lead from Murray!”.

          I found a great affiliate program that agreggates all the listings kind of like kayak but a bit more centered around Hotels and with a great affiliate payout – wonder if they’re just middlemen though and would pay out more by having the individual ones; hrm – it’s earnings vs. convenience for customers.

          Dude, killer ideas man; if you need any help pushing forward with your idea, just hit me up and we could exchange notes as this thing starts to be built.

          • February 9, 2011 at 7:29 am #

            That’s awesome that you have the site up and running in such a short time period!

            I’ve never heard of Vumber before and will definitely check it out now.

            I’m curious as to what the affiliate program is for hotels. If you don’t want to say the name, that’s fine, but is it found within one of the networks like Commission Junction or e-junkie?

            My area is too full of well-established sites like this so I’m not sure I would make much headway into that market. I’ve been contemplating other ideas though. Need to set aside some time and get busy with the work. But I’d love to help you out with building profiles or need an editor to make the content more “hotelized” so to speak.

            • Murray Lunn
              February 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

              Hey James

              Glad I could add some value back atchya with Vumber – it’s really cheap and being able to track the phone calls you’re sending someone can be really powerful to reinforce that you’re sending people leads because sometimes people forget to say things like “murray’s coupon” ya know?

              The affiliate program is through Hotels Combined. It’s sort of like the Kayak of hotels – they offer some pretty good affiliate commissions; even though it’s not as high as going directly to the source; you figure if you’re showing all of the results instead of pointing someone at just one website you’re likely to convert better – I know, from experience, that whenever I’m looking up deals online I always have the multiple sites open at a time or just use Kayak to aggregate the results – makes it easier.

              James, remember that the big aggregation websites that show up in your area can be knocked out of the way – for the most part – because they’re a bit like Amazon – they leverage their existing website’s PR and links to target local cities and towns. They don’t do a ton of optimization and rarely provide extra information from a local’s point of view, ya know? You can gain that edge by making it very personalized for your area vs. a large company trying to figure out what’s going on in the local area, ya know?

  7. February 4, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    This is one of those ideas that made my eyes pop, and at the same time one of those quiet, “Holy **!” moments came over me. This is just too awesome NOT to do!

    Delena

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

      If you can setup a blog – you’ve got yourself a business; take it and run with it :P

  8. February 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Brilliant Murray!
    Not only do many small businesses not know about putting up a web site as Sheila said, and they don’t know about the power of social media. Would selling ads around a blog about the community be a viable idea?

    • Murray Lunn
      February 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

      Exactly Lori – you could create an upsell by offering coaching and consulting for social media and all other forms of tech stuff that you already know but may not realize that people are more than willing to pay for it.

      Little confused on your question though; maybe it’s the wording, please explain? I’d love to hear more about what you’ve meant.

      • Lori Gosselin
        February 5, 2011 at 12:02 am #

        Sorry for the confusing comment Murray! I think your idea is bigger than mine. I like the idea of offering coaching and consulting for social media.I was thinking of a blog about the community which would sell ads to local businesses. I like your idea better!

        • Murray Lunn
          February 5, 2011 at 12:49 am #

          Ooooh, I gotchya Lori – sorry, must be a bit off this afternoon, I see what you’re saying now and I could give you a great example of how to pursue something like that.

          Here in Florida, we have a thing called Bike Week – it’s all over the state (kind of) but it’s mostly around Daytona but Leesburg (where I’m at) is one of the big hot spots as well. Going with your question/idea, yeah, you could totally make something that would highlight a big, local event (as an example) which you could then sell ads on the blog to the local businesses – people doing research on the event would see the local businesses and while they’re down for the event, they could get a bit of extra business.

          Now, you’d want to expand a bit beyond it since you wouldn’t want just a week or two of advertising so you’d probably want to step it up a bit by going into all kinds of areas around the event/community such as the history, on and on.

          Was that something you were thinking?

          Awesome idea btw.

          • Lori Gosselin
            February 5, 2011 at 2:03 am #

            Murray
            Wow – You’re way ahead of me. My blogging/web skills don’t even approach your ideas! It must be nice to have all those skills. I’m just doing my first blog (loving it) and relying on others who have the skills I don’t have. It is a good idea – for someone! Great thinking! Thanks for taking the time to explore it.

            • Murray Lunn
              February 9, 2011 at 2:14 am #

              Hey Lori – in a lot of ways, it’s kind of great that you don’t have some of the tech skills because those people that you’re coming into contact will be some truly amazing connections. In fact, I kind of wish I had to ask more questions when I started and connect with others; I kind of went at it on my own – I probably would have traded a few earlier connections with people than some of the technical skills I know; you’re definitely on the right track :)

  9. February 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Wow Murray, you definitely outdid yourself in that post!
    I too live in quite a small town here in Egypt, and have made a small fortune creating websites for small businesses here in the area.
    However, I never thought of actually offering a service such as the one you mentioned.

    Great thinking buddy, I might implement it pretty soon :)

    • Murray Lunn
      February 5, 2011 at 12:45 am #

      Very glad you could get something out of the article Amr.

      Btw, your niche site is awesome as hell! That’s a great example of leveraging your skills and network – you’re working with your mom to on the site correct? Since she knows German? Just think of how many other people could do something along those lines and make a great connection with their folks on a fun project :D

  10. February 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Awesome Idea. Gotta love the “outside the Box” thinking too. Certainly this could a great way to make money. You can even take it a step further too. Make a huge case study out of doing this for a few sites. Put together a step by step process aimed at someone who knows nothing AT ALL and walk them through the process, from building a webpage, to how to get backlinks, Link out to good info on more complicated things like SEO. Discuss in depth how to network and connect locally.

    Perhaps even make some online templates and tools and you have a kickass pay project here. Think of how many small areas their are around the globe where you could help people capitalize on this idea.

    Great Idea, man!

    • Murray Lunn
      February 9, 2011 at 2:25 am #

      Exactly right Steve; that was one idea I was thinking of.

      After our talk, I’ve been thinking of the top-down approach a lot so if this service got up and running – I could then port it over into an ecourse and then even bizops for local people that don’t want to buy into infoproducts (sell em hard copies); I could also take a lot of that information and form it into DIY guides for the business that may not be able to subscribe fully but still want to gain the benefits, hence the DIY.

      This is one of my BIG goals in 2011; what’s even better is that I’m going to apply it to my stepdads site first which hasn’t been updated in forever. It’ll have a trickle down effect since it will obviously benefit the family as a whole and it will give me a reference; he could even talk to other business owners while he meets with them :D . Additionally, my friends dad owns a shop and we plan to apply the same things to his business; our work benefits our families, we gain experience and leverage and then it all takes off from there :)

      Mashing all of these together is going to be quite awesome; can’t wait to get full underway but with the trip coming up, I can’t dig too deep into it – once I’m back though, its on.

  11. Robert Dempsey
    February 6, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    I’ve heard similar ideas but using directories to generate (and then sell) the leads so an interesting take on that. Since you mentioned it here it shows that there are many awesome actionable ideas (like this one) that no one is taking time to do.

    Un-fucking real.

    Wide open for those of us who can get a site up in like 5 minutes I’d say…

    • Murray Lunn
      February 9, 2011 at 2:55 am #

      Exactly Robert

      I mean, just to ramble off the top of my head – Thailand probably has a TON of small markets; you could easily create little directories for these markets as research centers – you could provide people with information on what’s going on in the market and maybe do a small advertising fee or trade your skills as barter for food :D

      It can just expand over and over again; there’s tons of these niche markets, events and gatherings that aren’t really represented online. Like you said, for someone that can put together a site so quickly, it’s prime pickings.

  12. Alex
    February 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Bro!

    Stop sharing this shit man! LOL
    This is what it is all about man.

    Nothing more to say.

    Finding Murray online – $200 Hosting fees
    watching him write killer posts – $50 in Mars Bars
    Seeing EVERYTHING culminated in one killer post – PRICELESS.

    • Murray Lunn
      February 9, 2011 at 2:59 am #

      Haha

      Dude, this is just the tip of it man; there’s almost so many ideas that I can’t get them into posts – just you wait man, going to blow the socks off your kickers.

  13. February 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Murlu,

    Hats off to you! What a F’in.. brilliant little idea you got there. This is one of those posts that makes you wish you had come up with the idea and written the post yourself lol.

    Okay, so I’ve bookmarked this to read it again until I get smart enough to try it out myself. Oh, and it’s also a post that surely belongs in a SuperPost roundup :) .

    There is so much further you can go with this as well. So many more ideas and services you can offer folks.

    Thanks for sharing the goodies Murlu! :)
    Excellent.

    Cheers

    • Murray Lunn
      February 9, 2011 at 5:01 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it Ingrid – are there any things that immediately come to mind which you could bridge over to paying clients? I mean, just blogging skills a lone are one thing – I’m sure you’ve got a few other things you may not even realize.

      For example: I realized just today that so few people have ever done heatmap stuff – it was second nature to me because of my work at an ecommerce company – we use it all the time so I’m used to it – I bet there would be quite a few people that would love to see where users are actually clicking instead of just assuming – I could turn it into reports and more :D

  14. Tessa Zeng
    February 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    I love your initiative. And this is seriously brilliant. I saw your ‘Beyond Blogging’ title and did a double-take, since I’m about to launch a series with the same name, but our ideas can peacefully coexist, haha. It’s super refreshing, in any case, to find another blogger explicitly thinking about how to make things happen OFF the Internet!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 1, 2011 at 12:06 am #

      Hey Tessa,

      I think a lot of us forget that there is a wide world of opportunity to be had in the real-world. We’re a bit so caught up with what’s happening the cloud that we forget that so much goes on that we could be really rockin’ at because we have these skills as bloggers and techies.

      Hell, for the most part, people go to the web now to be entertained but we’re the type to goes to learn. We can apply our knowledge to the offline world in ways that will greatly benefit whatever we touch; we can create amazing businesses with a few hours of work and hustle. Can’t beat that … that’s where I think blogging will be going … beyond :D

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