Blogging For Small Business Owners

If you’re running a small business, blogging can help you gain new customers and keep your current ones happy. Blogging For Small Business Owners will show you how to get started as well as how to become a successful blogger.

Blogging for Small Business Owners is a complete step-by-step guide the world’s leading expert on blogging for business. You’ll learn how to start blogging, how to blog efficiently, and how to get more customers and clients through your blog.

Are you a small business owner looking to blog? This course will cover everything from what is a blog, to how to get started and even how to monetize your blog. You’ll learn how to use your blog as an effective tool for marketing, outreach, and community building. By the end of this course you’ll know exactly how blogging can help your business grow!

Blogging For Small Business Owners

Start a WordPress blog

The process is easy to follow whether you are 20 years old or 60 years old. However if you need help, our expert team will help you setup your blog for free. → Click Here to Get Your Free WordPress Blog Setup! ←

What do you need to start a WordPress blog?

There are three things you need to create a WordPress blog:

  1. A domain name idea (this will be the name of your blog i.e wpbeginner.com)
  2. A web hosting account (this is where your website live on the internet)
  3. Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.

Yes, you read it right. You can start a blog from scratch in less than 30 minutes, and we will walk you through the whole process, step by step.

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  • How to Register a Custom Domain Name for Free
  • How to Choose the Best Web Hosting
  • How to Install and Setup WordPress Blog
  • How to Change Your Blog Design Template
  • How to Write Your First Blog Post
  • How to Customize WordPress Blog with Plugins
  • How to Add a Contact Form
  • How to Setup Google Analytics Tracking
  • How to Optimize Your Website for SEO
  • How to Make Money From Your Blog
  • Resources to Learn and Master WordPress

Step 1. Pick Your Blog Name and Platform

The biggest mistake beginners make when building a blog is choosing the wrong blogging platform. Thankfully you’re here, so you won’t be making that mistake.

For 95% of users, it makes more sense to use WordPress.org also known as self-hosted WordPress.

That’s because WordPress is open source which means it is 100% free to use. You can install plugins, customize your blog design, and most importantly make money from your blog without any restrictions (see the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

WordPress is also the number one website platform used by all successful blogs including our own. To put in perspective, 43% of all websites on the internet use WordPress!

Now you might be wondering why is WordPress free? What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. It’s free because you have to do the setup and host it yourself.

In other words, you will need a domain name and web hosting.

A domain name is what people type to get to your website. It’s your blog’s address on the internet. Think google.com or wpbeginner.com

Web hosting is where your website files live. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every blog needs web hosting.

A new domain name typically costs around $14.99 / year, and web hosting plans normally costs $7.99 / month.

That’s a lot of money for beginners who are just starting out.

Thankfully, Bluehost, an official WordPress recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name and over 60% off on web hosting.

→ Click here to Claim this Exclusive Bluehost offer ←

You can also use other popular WordPress hosting companies like SiteGround or Hostinger, and still be able to follow our blog setup tutorial.

We recommend Bluehost for beginners because it is one of the oldest web hosting companies on the internet. They are also the largest brand name when it comes to WordPress hosting because they host millions of websites including many of our own.

On top of all this, Bluehost has been working with WordPress since 2005, and they are committed to giving back. That’s why they have promised us that if you cannot get your blog online within 30 minutes by following this tutorial, then our expert team will complete the process for you without any cost. They will compensate us, so you don’t have to. Contact us for free blog setup help.

NOTE: At WPBeginner we believe in transparency. If you sign up with Bluehost using our referral link, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain). We would get this commission for recommending just about any WordPress hosting company, but we only recommend products that we personally use and believe will add value to our readers.

Let’s go ahead and purchase your domain + hosting.

Open up Bluehost in a new window and follow along.

First thing you need to do is click on the green Get Started Now button to get started.

Get started with Bluehost

On the next screen, select the plan that you need (basic and plus are the most popular).

After that, you will be asked to enter the domain name for your website.

Select your domain name

Lastly, you will need to add your account information and finalize the package info to complete the process. We recommend going with the 12-month plan because that’s the best value.

On this screen, you will see optional extras that you can purchase. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you purchase these, but we generally don’t recommend purchasing them right away. You can always add them later on, if you decide that you need them.

Hosting checkout for starting a blog

Once completed, you will receive an email with details on how to login to your web hosting control panel (cPanel). This is where you manage everything from support, emails, among other things. But most importantly, this is where you install WordPress.

Step 2. Install WordPress Blogging Software

When you signup with Bluehost using our link, they will automatically install WordPress for you, so you can start building your blog right away.

Simply login to your Bluehost account, and then click the Login to WordPress button to get started.

Log in to your WordPress blog from Bluehost dashboard

You can also login to WordPress by going to yoursite.com/wp-admin/ directly from your browser.

If you are using a different WordPress blog hosting service like SiteGround, Hostinger, WP Engine, etc, then you can see our comprehensive guide on how to install WordPress for step by step instructions for those providers.

Although most of the above blog hosting companies are now also automatically installing WordPress to help non-techy users kickstart their blogging journey.

Once WordPress is setup, you’re ready to create your blog pages, customize your blog’s design, and start blogging.

Step 3. Selecting Your WordPress Theme

The visual appearance of your WordPress blog is controlled by blog themes. When you first visit your blog, it will look something like this:

Default WordPress theme

This is not very appealing to most people.

Customizing the look and feel of your blog is by far one of the most exciting and rewarding part in the journey of creating your WordPress blog.

There are thousands of pre-made WordPress themes that you can install on your site. Some of them are free themes, while others are paid premium themes.

You can change your theme by going to your WordPress dashboard and clicking on Appearance » Themes.

Add new WordPress theme

Go ahead and click on the Add New button.

On the next screen, you will able to search from 9,100+ free WordPress themes that are available in the official WordPress.org themes directory. You can sort by popular, latest, featured, as well as other feature filters (i.e industry, layout, etc).

Select a theme

You can take your mouse over to a new theme, and you will see a Preview button. Clicking on it will open the theme preview where you can see how the design would look on your website.

Preview theme

The preview of your theme may not look exactly as shown in the screenshot, which is normal as you will get to customize and set it up later. What you need to look for is design, colors, typography, and other elements.

The best tip to select the perfect WordPress theme is to strive for simplicity in design. It helps you keep things clean and clear while offering a good experience to your users.

If you need help selecting a theme, then please refer to our guide on 9 things you should consider when selecting a perfect WordPress theme.

When you have found the theme that you like, simply bring your mouse on it, and it will show the Install button. Click on it and wait for the theme to be installed. After that, the install button will be replaced with an Activate button. You need to click on it to Activate the theme.

Install and activate the WordPress theme

Once you have installed your theme, you can customize it by clicking on the Customize link under the Appearance menu.

Depending on the theme you choose, there will be built-in widgets and customization options that lets you tweak your blog design.

You can get even more design control with a WordPress page builder like SeedProd or Divi which let you create a custom header, footer, sidebar, and more without writing any HTML code.

These plugins give you more design control than what you get with Wix or Squarespace, while giving you the full freedom of the powerful WordPress content management system.

SeedProd Page Builder

Once you have selected your WordPress theme, you are now ready to create your first blog post.

Step 4. Creating Your First Blog Post

To write your first blog post, click on the Posts » Add New menu in your WordPress dashboard.

You will see an editor area where you can write your first blog post.

Writing a blog post in WordPress

WordPress uses a block-based editor that allows you to create beautiful content layouts for your blog posts.

To familiarize yourself with the editor, see our WordPress block editor tutorial.

Once you’re done writing, go ahead and click on the Publish button on the top-right corner of the screen to make your blog post publicly available.

Publish blog post

On the posts screen, you will notice several other sections such as Categories and Tags. You can use these to organize your blog posts into sections. We have a great writeup on the difference between categories vs tags, which we highly recommend that you read.

To utilize all the features on the posts screen, you should read our article on how to add a new post in WordPress (video included).

It covers how to embed videos, add blog images, headings, table of content, sub-headers, bullet lists, call-to-action buttons, social media posts, and all other shortcuts you need.

Often beginners are confused between posts and pages menu in the WordPress dashboard. That’s why we have also written a complete guide on the difference between posts vs pages in WordPress.

If you need help brainstorming new blog post ideas to write about, then here are some helpful resources:

  • 103 blog post ideas that your readers will love
  • 73 types of blog topics that are proven to work
  • How to write a good blog post (12 expert tips)

A lot of pro bloggers choose their specific topics strategically by doing keyword research. This helps their content rank higher in Google search and get more traffic.

We have a step by step guide on how to do keyword research for beginners using the exact same method that we use on WPBeginner.

Step 5. Plugins & Customizations

Once you have written your first blog post, you probably want to get started with adding other usual elements on your website such as contact page, galleries, sliders, email list, forums, etc.

To add all these additional features, you need to use plugins.

WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features to your website (without writing any code).

There are over 59,000 WordPress plugins available in the free WordPress plugin directory alone. This means no matter what you want to accomplish, there is a plugin for it.

We have a step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to use plugins to add some essential features to your WordPress blog.

How to Create a Contact Form in WordPress

Every website needs a contact form. It allows your users to email you directly. Since WordPress doesn’t come with a built-in contact form, you will need a WordPress form builder plugin to add a contact form on your site.

We recommend using the WPForms Lite plugin. It is a free version of the popular WPForms plugin, which is #1 in our list of best contact form plugins for WordPress.

Over 5 million websites use WPForms!

You can install the plugin by going to Plugins » Add New page and typing WPForms in the search box. Next, you need to click “Install” and then “Activate”. Upon activation, you need to head over to WPForms » Add New page to create your first form.

Adding a new contact form in WordPress

This will open the WPForms builder interface.

First, you need to enter a name for your contact form and then click on ‘Simple Contact Form’ template.

Simple contact form

WPForms will now create a simple contact form for you with all the required fields. You can click on any field to change it, or add a new field from the left column.

Editing your contact form

Once you are done editing the form, click on the save button at the top right corner and then exit the form builder.

You can now create a new page in WordPress by going to Pages » Add New and call it ‘Contact’. On the edit screen, you need to enter the WPForms block into the editor.

Add WPForms block to the editor

After that, select the form you created earlier from the drop down menu and WPForms will load a live preview of the form in the editor.

Select your contact form

You can now save and publish the page and visit it in your browser to see your contact form in action.

It’s a best practice to test your form to make sure you’re receiving the notifications. If you don’t get the notification, then you should see our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending emails.

If you need more detailed instructions, then see our step by step guide on how to create a contact form in WordPress.

As a blogger, the best part about WPForms is that it grows with you. Aside from simple contact forms, you can also use it to create reader surveys, polls, guest post submission forms, and more.

How to Setup Google Analytics Tracking

Google Analytics helps you see how many people are visiting your blog, where they are coming from, and what are they doing on your website.

It is best to install Google Analytics when starting your blog, so you can see how much your blog has grown over time.

First, you need to visit Google Analytics website and sign in using your Gmail account.

Once you are logged in, you can go ahead and sign up for a free Google Analytics account.

Google Analytics sign up

You will be asked to provide your information and website URL. After that, you will be presented with your Google Analytics tracking code.

You can stop here because we will be using a plugin to automatically fetch and add this code to your blog (along with setting up proper WordPress tracking).

Switch to your WordPress admin area to install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin. It is the free version of the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, and it is the easiest way to add Google Analytics on your site (trusted by over 3 million websites).

Upon activation, you need to visit Insights » Settings page to configure the plugin settings.

Connect Google Analytics using MonsterInsights

On the settings page, click on the ‘Connect MonsterInsights’ button to connect Google Analytics to your WordPress site.

Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup. Once done, you will be able to see your website analytics report straight from your WordPress dashboard under the MonsterInsights tab.

Website stats reports in MonsterInsights

For detailed instructions, see our article on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.

How to Optimize Your WordPress Blog for SEO

Most beginners don’t optimize for SEO when creating a blog. SEO or search engine optimization helps users find your blog in search engines.

If you want more traffic, then it’s crucial that you optimize your blog for SEO right from the beginning.

To get started, first you need to install and activate the All in One SEO plugin. It is the complete WordPress SEO plugin that will help you optimize your blog.

AIOSEO

The plugin comes with a quick configuration wizard to help you walk through the set up. It will help you setup a WordPress sitemap, write proper keywords and meta description, add schema markup, and a whole lot more.

We also recommend you to follow our complete step by step WordPress SEO guide to set up your blog’s SEO.

Now there are other SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, RankMath, etc, but we recommend using AIOSEO because it offers the most beginner friendly interface for new bloggers.

Aside from a WordPress SEO plugin, you can further optimize your blog content by using a keyword research tool. These SEO tools help you come up with new content ideas that people are searching for around your topic.

You can even see the exact keywords your competitors are ranking for, so you can create better content and outrank them.

This helps you maximize the traffic on your new blog site right from the beginning. For more details, see our newbie’s guide on how to do keyword research for your own blog.

More WordPress Plugins and Customizations

There are a ton of others WordPress plugins that you can install. Often beginners find it a bit overwhelming to search for the plugins they need.

At WPBeginner, we often feature the best WordPress plugins to help you add the functionality that you need.

Here is our expert pick of the best WordPress plugins that you should check out.

  • Backup – UpdraftPlus is the best WordPress backup plugin. You need to create regular backups of your website in case something ever goes wrong.
  • Security – Sucuri Security is a free security scanner for WordPress. We have a complete step by step WordPress security guide for beginners that will help you secure your blog.
  • Performance – We recommend using either WP Rocket (premium) or WP Super Cache (free) to speed up WordPress. For more on this topic see our article on WordPress speed and performance with step by step instructions.
  • Design & Customization – We recommend using either SeedProd or Divi page builder for customizing your homepage design, creating custom landing pages, or even creating custom themes (without writing any code). For more on this topic, see our article on best WordPress page builders (compared).
  • Traffic & Subscribers – We strongly recommend using push notifications by PushEngage. This lets you connect with visitors after they leave your website. It’s our top 5 traffic source on WPBeginner. For more details, see how to add push notifications in WordPress.
  • Email Marketing – We recommend using Constant Contact or HubSpot as your email marketing service. To get more email subscribers, we recommend using OptinMonster free plugin to create high-converting popups, scroll boxes, and call to actions.

If you are curious about all the plugins and tools that we use on our website, then check out WPBeginner’s Blueprint. That list contains all the tools that we use to grow the WPBeginner blog.

Need more recommendations? See our expert-pick of the must have WordPress plugins and tools for all websites (hand-picked by our founder, Syed Balkhi).

Step 6. Making Money From Your Blog

Now that you’ve created your personal blog and customized it to your liking, you are probably wondering how can I actually make money blogging?

There are a lot of different ways to successfully monetize your blog. However there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme.

Don’t be fooled by the pictures of expensive cars and mansions because those are all fake.

Unlike other “make money online” articles, we have created the most comprehensive guide on how to make money from your blog using WordPress.

That’s a 4000+ word guide that everyone who want to make money with their blog needs to read. We have shared our 15+ years of online wisdom in that ultimate guide.

As long as you’re willing to put in the hard work and effort, you’ll reap the reward. Remember, there are no shortcuts.

Here are some of the best ways to make money from your blog.

1. Google AdSense

Google AdSense

Many bloggers make money by showing ads on their blog. If you make a blog with monetization in mind, then Google AdSense is the best way to do this.

It is the largest advertising platform for bloggers and publishers. Acting as a middleman between you and the advertiser, Google allow advertisers to bid for keywords matching your content. This allows you to get the best rates possible for the ads.

For more details, see our article on how to properly add Google AdSense to your WordPress blog.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the second most commonly used monetization strategy among bloggers. Basically, you recommend your favorite products / services to your readers, and when they make a purchase you get a referral commission.

The key in affiliate marketing is to recommend high-quality products and services that you already use and trust. There are plenty of affiliate marketing plugins and tools for WordPress that can help you make more money when promoting affiliate products. We recommend using PrettyLinks or ThirstyAffiliates as a must have.

We also have a complete step by step affiliate marketing guide for beginners, that will help you get started with choosing the right affiliate program and strategies to monetize your blog today.

3. Online Store

Add an online store to your WordPress blog

Many bloggers make money by selling things directly from their blog. This could be physical products, digital downloads like ebooks, artwork, music, and more. Some bloggers even offer consulting services.

We recommend using WooCommerce because it is the best eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It is also the most commonly used eCommerce platform in the world.

For detailed instructions, see our guide on how to easily create an online store using WordPress.

Some bloggers don’t want the hassle of creating a store to sell their own products, so they create an Amazon affiliate store which lets them sell other people’s products from Amazon and earn a commission.

On top of the 3 methods above, you can do so much more with your WordPress blog. You can make WordPress blogs specifically for reviews, fashion blogging, food blogging with recipes, and more. Each of these blog types brings you more unique opportunities to make money.

You can also turn your blog into a membership site to offer premium content and courses. We have a detailed guide on how to create and sell online courses with WordPress.

Step 7. Mastering WordPress

Business Learning and Support

WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.

At WPBeginner, our main goal is to provide cutting-edge helpful WordPress tutorials that are easy to understand for small businesses, bloggers, and non-techy WordPress website owners (see more about us).

To expand your WordPress knowledge, you should check out:

  • WPBeginner Dictionary – The best place for beginners to start and familiarize themselves with the WordPress lingo
  • WPBeginner Videos – New to WordPress? Watch these 23 videos to master WordPress.
  • WPBeginner Blog – The central place for all our WordPress tutorials.

For more discussions, you may want to join our free Facebook group WPBeginner Engage. With more than 85,000 members, the group is focused on helping beginners and non-techy users do more with WordPress.

You can also subscribe to WPBeginner’s YouTube Channel where we regularly share video tutorials to help you learn WordPress.

Lastly, you can use Google to type your question and add WPBeginner in front of it. Our users find this trick to be always helpful because it makes it easy for you to find the RIGHT answer for your WordPress questions.

In case you don’t find an answer to your question, don’t worry. Simply use our contact form to send us a message. Our always helpful, full time WPBeginner support team, will be happy to assist. We love helping users get started with WordPress.

blog examples for beginners

If you are a tech junkie, you may want to start a blog focusing on technology.

A tech blog usually features the latest news on technology and its applications in various fields such as science, entertainment, and business. Some technology blogs also feature reviews of newly released gadgets.

Here are some of the most popular blogs on technology:

1. TechCrunch

  • Main topics: technology and startup news
  • Created on: WordPress VIP

TechCrunch is a blog that provides technology and startup news, from the latest developments in Silicon Valley to venture capital funding.

The blog’s target audience is technology and business enthusiasts, especially startup founders and investors worldwide.

What Can We Learn From This Blog

The TechCrunch website’s clean layout prioritizes text readability with its simple white background and black text.

Headlines of the most recent articles are shown neatly on the homepage and accompanied by snippets from the blog posts and relevant pictures to add a splash of color.

The TechCrunch website also provides a helpful sidebar on the left side of the screen for easy navigation.

TechCrunch's website homepage.

2. The Verge

  • Main topics: technology, science, entertainment
  • Created on: Chorus

The Verge is a blog focused on examining how technology will change the future.

This blog provides news and opinion pieces on the latest technological developments in art, culture, and science for the mainstream audience.

What Can We Learn From This Blog

The Verge’s website homepage is vibrant – a black and white theme with bright accents of orange and magenta.

There is a collage of large headlines and pictures to attract site visitors’ attention below the blog’s title and the navigation bar.

In addition, some additional blog content is displayed on the right side of the homepage for easy access, such as featured videos and reviews.

The Verge's website homepage.

3. Engadget

  • Main topics: technology, gadgets, consumer electronics
  • Created on: proprietary AOL CMS

Launched by Peter Rojas, Engadget is a technology blog providing reviews of gadgets and consumer electronics as well as the latest news in the tech world.

It also showcases the best tech deals, helping people make the best gadget purchases according to their needs.

What Can We Learn From This Blog

The blog’s simple black-and-white theme gives it a sleek look fitting for a technology blog.

Upon accessing the website, visitors’ eyes are immediately drawn to the collage of photos and headlines of their most recent and popular articles.

Further down the page, more article headlines are sorted by the most recent to the oldest and accompanied by a picture and sentence summarizing the article’s content. This lets visitors know that the blog is regularly updated with a variety of content.

4. Gizmodo

  • Main topics: technology, science, environment, entertainment
  • Created on: Kinja

Gizmodo is another technology blog created by Peter Rojas. The blog publishes news and opinion pieces on technology, gadgets, science, entertainment, culture, and the environment.

What Can We Learn From This Blog

Gizmodo’s homepage is very busy yet still organized.

It provides as much content as possible in neatly separated sections with different headings, such as Reviews & GadgetsScience, and Field Guide. Each blog section consists of a collage of various headlines and pictures.

The blog also does a great job of emphasizing text readability by using a simple color scheme consisting of black, white, and blue.

At the top of the page, there are links to other websites of the same company, promoting the websites and providing easy access to visit them.

Gizmodo's website homepage.

5. 9to5Mac

  • Main topics: Apple products
  • Created on: WordPress

Part of the Apple user community, 9to5Mac is a blog covering news and reviews of Apple products.

The website was originally created as a hobby blog covering news on Macs. Since then, 9to5Mac has become a blog covering all Apple products and is now part of the 9to5 blog network, which includes other sites such as 9to5Google and 9to5Toys.

What Can We Learn From This Blog

The blog’s homepage features a colorful and eye-catching collage of pictures and headlines right below the navigation bar. When a cursor hovers over images, they slightly enlarge, enticing people to click.

In addition, the blog also uses the infinite scrolling feature so readers can explore more pages of the website simply by continuing to scroll down.

The 9to5Mac website homepage.

how to start a blog for free

Before you begin your blogging adventure, it’s worth keeping a few tips in mind. Here are the absolute musts to consider.

1. Find a Niche and Name

Do your research. Look at what’s popular and what your competitors do. More importantly, what can you deliver and sustain? In the end, you need a focused and interesting niche.

The blog’s name should then come naturally. Make sure it’s simple, catchy, and not already in use. Most platforms will even help you find an available name.

2. Choose a Blogging Platform

How to start a blog for free and make it successful, we hear you ask? That partially comes down to choosing a platform to host your data and give you the best possible tools.

To be exact, what you’re looking for are platforms that offer free hosted blogging. This means that the provider stores your site’s data on its servers without you needing to pay a fee.

One downside is that you share that space with other clients. With a free account, the provider also expands your blog’s URL, attaching the subdomain it belongs to. So, your website will read something like: myblog.wordpress.com.

Paid options get you a custom name, domain, and your own server. This is referred to as self-hosting because you have more control over your storage and space. It’s something worth considering once your free blog starts gaining traction.

RELATED:The Best Web Hosting Services: Shared, VPS, And Dedicated

3. Select a Theme and Design Your Blog

Free blogs have a selection of free themes to choose from too. These stylize your site with certain layouts, color schemes, and even fonts.

You can then customize your theme until your blog is just as you want it. Try out different effects, widgets, plugins, and wordings, but be careful not to overwhelm your blog and visitors.

Keep in mind that there are limits to how much you can customize each theme. For more freedom, look into design tricks like simple CSS coding to optimize your website.

4. Publish and Manage Your Posts

Learn SEO techniques before writing anything. Basically, the words and structure of your online content affect how well they perform on search engines—if these discover your blog at all.

Another issue to be aware of when choosing a good platform is that some services actually block bots from entering hosted blogs and indexing them on their respective search engines. In other words, getting your site on Google or Bing is harder.

Apart from sorting out your discoverability, make sure you maintain the blog, publish regularly, and present your posts in an attractive way. Readable text, clear categories, and a user-friendly design should do the trick.

RELATED:How To Write SEO-Friendly Content With Google Docs

5. Promote Your Blog

Turning your blog into a hub for your niche takes work. Posting content that interest people is a good first step, but they have to find it too.

Social media is the best free route. Create a dedicated Facebook page, for example, and share your posts with followers. You can also join groups on LinkedIn or Reddit that allow promotion and drop your blog’s links in there.

Also consider free tools on services like Pingler and GrowthHackers, which can boost your popularity and visibility—even on search engines.

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