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Why an Affiliate Program Can Help You to Sell More

You’ve found yourself riding the wave of a successful business. Your marketing is catching plenty of attention, your products and services are getting snapped up left and right, and you find yourself struggling to keep up. When you’re spread in too many directions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. One secret to success in business is learning where and how to delegate. Reseller and affiliate programs allow you to delegate part of your marketing to individuals and companies who can focus solely on pushing traffic to you. The way a reseller or affiliate program works is simple. An affiliate markets your product through a variety of manners, and they receive a percentage of the sale or a flat rate, depending on the payment structure. While it might seem like giving up a part of your profit to an affiliate is not the most profitable idea in mind, you have to understand exactly what an affiliate brings to the table.

New traffic sources

If an affiliate has been at this game for awhile, they’re bringing their own traffic sources with them. These are traffic sources that you might not have known about or been willing to pay the advertising costs for. An affiliate or reseller allows you to expand your reach. You also build brand loyalty and recognition as the affiliates spread you around.

Nearly effort free leads

You can spend a lot of time on an affiliate program, creating advertising materials, working one-on-one with affiliates, and investing in an expensive tracking system for affiliate traffic. However, if you aren’t sure that your affiliate program is going to take off, it’s better to not spend a lot of time with it at first. Give your affiliates a basic toolkit, which may be automatically generated by the software. The affiliates generate leads and sales for you, without a great deal of personal effort on your part. If the program takes off, you can always hire an affiliate manager to handle things.

Market Research

Market research brings you valuable information about the business, your product line, and the customer demographic that you sell to. You get a lot of data from the traffic that affiliates send, which can be used to determine who is most likely to buy products from your business. The more customer information you legally gather, the more focused your marketing efforts end up being. You can tighten your demographic and learn exactly what it is that they want, or realize that your core business demographic is completely different from what you assumed.

Transfer of marketing risk

When you’re dealing with a large company, you can’t try out an edgy new marketing campaign just because you have a hunch that it’s going to work out well. Your affiliates, on the other hand, usually only work for themselves or a small company. If they want to try an unusual marketing technique, they don’t have to worry about getting board approval. You’re well within your rights to pass along marketing campaigns that you would like to try, but are unable to. The affiliate uses this information to craft a custom marketing campaign for your product line.
Major Affiliate Networks to Consider

If you’re on the fence about creating an affiliate program for your products or services, knowing all of the benefits to running a program tips you over the edge. Qualified leads and sales are hard to pass up.

References:

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/02/15/should-you-use-affiliates-to-promote-your-products/
http://www.alibrown.com/blog/2012/08/16/should-you-start-an-affiliate-program-by-ali-brown/
http://moz.com/blog/roll-your-own-affiliate-program

Non-Ebay Places to Sell Your Products

When you want to sell items online, eBay may be the first place you think of. And as an enormous and well-known ecommerce site, it should be. However, there are plenty of other sites that are bustling online marketplaces. Most of them don’t have the same enormous reach as eBay, but sometimes their smaller, niche customer base means that those who go to the site are looking for exactly what you sell. Depending on what you sell, one of these sites may help you to find your customer base better than the auction giant.
Half.com
Owned by eBay, it may share a parent company, but it doesn’t share a marketplace concept. Rather than being a free-for-all of items of every type like eBay, half.com is strictly for media items. If you have CDs, books or movies, this site is simple to work with. There are no listing fees, and the commission is one flat rate of 15 percent no matter what the price of the items you sell. And, the listings never expire. There are no membership fees, and the payments are made directly from the site to your bank account twice a month.
Amazon.com
Everyone knows that Amazon is an easy place to find and buy whatever you need, but many don’t think about selling there. But like eBay, the customer base is enormous. The enormous traffic volume often means quick sales even for sellers without a feedback rating. And, listings are free. Like half.com, Amazon takes a 15 percent commission on each sale. There is also a .99 fee on each sale if you don’t have a $39.95 monthly membership. For high-volume sellers, it’s a good deal that leads to fast, plentiful sales to a ready-made customer base. The money is deposited directly into your bank account, and you can get a deposit as often as once every 24 hours on weekdays.
eBid
Almost as old as eBay, eBid has a similar structure but a very different set of fees. Many sellers who were fed up with the escalating costs of doing business on eBay have fled to eBid over the years because there are no listing fees whatsoever. There are only small final value fees, and even that can be waived by upgrading your account with a monthly fee. And unlike eBay, it allows for several different forms of electronic payment. Sellers who don’t want to use PayPal can use the site and receive payments through Skrill, Google Checkout or pppay.com.
Etsy
If what you sell is handmade or otherwise one of a kind, Etsy is one of the best marketplaces online. It may even surpass eBay for the number of customers who visit the site looking for handmade items. If your product is mass produced, your items aren’t welcome; but if you sew, paint, knit or otherwise create, this is a fast and lively marketplace that can lead to a large following for your items. The product listings on Etsy are fixed price, and each listing costs $0.20. The final value fees are a flat 3.5 percent no matter what the item’s price.
Silkfair
Silkfair.com is an ecommerce site that allows for free listings in each buyer’s own free Silkfair store. The only cost is a flat 3 percent final value fee. Both handmade and mass-produced items are common on the site. In addition to pictures, sellers can also integrate video of their product for a better buyer experience. Upgraded accounts include integrated Google Analytics and other features for a monthly fee. The site allows for PayPal payments as well as Google Checkout. It has a direct import feature to bring inventory items from eBay, Etsy and Amazon into your Silkfair store.
Bootic
Bootic.com is a free online marketplace that allows merchants to set up their own free storefronts through the site. But unlike other free marketplaces, this one allows buyers to edit the listings. They can change the product descriptions to give other buyers a more complete picture of what is being sold. There are no final value fees on any sales.

Owl’s Cheat Sheet 4: 25 Excellent Free Icon Sets for Your Website

There are countless icon packs available online for you to use to add a bit of visual flair to your own website. Not only are these icon sets attractive, easy to install and available in many colors and styles, but they are completely free! After flying all over the internet, I’ve filled The Owl’s Nest with my top 25 favorite and most helpful icon sets for your ecommerce website. Enjoy!

Childish – A collection of 60 stylistically exaggerated icons for websites with a friendly atmosphere.

KaChing – Series of 24 essential ecommerce themed icons.

Siena – Massive group of 200 icons to cover a wide range of common website basics. Each icon is available in greyscale, red, blue, green and yellow color variants.

Simply Icons – Here’s a minimalistic white series of 50 icons that are best suited for dark-themed websites.

Free 200 Inventicons – Inventicons created a special run of 200 free silvery icons to introduce users to the huge variety of icons that their creative team produces on a regular basis.

90 Free Vector Icons – An excellent resource to keep a consistent visual theme with icons of different sizes.

Bluetron – 40 PC themed icons with a uniform cerulean coloring.

Eco Vector Logo Elements – Series of six green icons for environmentally conscious ecommerce brands.

Ultimate Social Icon Set – 75 icons fashioned after a host of social media websites. Available in three sizes.

Media Icons – A bright orange set of 12 communication themed icons to encourage interaction with your website’s visitors.

Media Icons

Media Icons Set

IconShock’s Metal Icons – A heavy metal series of icons that will fit in with any metallic and silvery website.

Apple and Chrome Store Buttons – Two pairs of orange and blue icon buttons to link to your digital products.

Social Media Icon Pack – A bunch of shiny, circular buttons used to direct visitors to your social media pages.

Checkout Process Icons – Six helpful icons to visually lead your customers through course of their purchase.

Simpltio – 24 colorful and minimalistic social media icons in both PSD and PDF formats.

Silver Social Media Icons – Here’s 18 shiny platinum colored metallic button icons for your website.

Credit Cards Icon Set – Six shiny credit card icons that instantly tell users which payment types your ecommerce website accepts.

Starry Site – A stellar series of 16 star-shaped social media icons. Great for Christmastime, space-themes or generally adorable websites!

Shop Cart Icons – Five shopping cart icons to show customers the current status of their online cart with a glance.

High Detail Social Icons – This is a beautiful collection of large, polished and large social media icons that look great wherever they are used.

Socialize Icons – Here are 12 cute sticker-like icon buttons for the most popular social media websites.

Black and White Social Icons – 14 simple, greyscale social media icons.

Love RSS Icons – Sweeten your RSS feed link with one of three pink heart-shaped icons.

Social Post Stamps – 13 stamp themed social media link icons in one compact package.

The Leaves Fall

The Leaves Fall Icon Set

The Leaves Fall – An autumn themed set of social media network buttons shaped after freshly fallen leaves.

Leaves, stars and stickers are nice, but until someone creates a series of icons featuring everyone’s favorite Owl, you’ll have to settle for these designs! Do you have a favorite icon set? Let us know in the comments below!

Owl’s Cheat Sheet 3: Top 30 WordPress Premium Themes for Your Storefront

WordPress Themes

With so much great stuff out there, it’s hard to pick a favorite!

If you are planning on hosting a blog for your business, we wholeheartedly approve of WordPress due to its adaptability, usability and reliability. On the other hand, there is no reason why your exceptional online branding should be shoehorned onto a generic theme that many bloggers see everyday while browsing the web. We’ve collected this list of 30 premium themes to ensure that your storefront’s WordPress page stands out from the crowd, while providing everything your website needs to thrive.

Catch-All Themes:

Titan – This striking WordPress theme is used for The Owl’s Nest. Nice stuff, if you ask us!

View – Here is a minimalistic theme that was designed to adapt to mobile devices. View makes it easy to host video and image galleries as well as a variety of widgets.

Apogee – This theme offers online businesses plenty opportunity to be creative with their WordPress website. Reskinning the theme with your brand, organizing your content and displaying images that you want your users to see becomes a snap with Apogee.

Pixem – A clean and colorful blog theme that is well suited for online innovators and carefree brands.

Powered – A great solution for a brand looking for a structured and sterile environment to display their branding. Plenty of features to fully integrate your company’s colors, social media and more into the theme.

Themes to Showcase Pretty Pictures:

Atlas – Serves as an excellent gallery-themed blog that automatically displays a full screen slideshow of your uploaded images and videos.

King Size – Provides a series of customizable tabs leading users to your brand’s gallery of images and videos, as well as a homepage that is guaranteed to leave a positive impression on your viewers.

Exposure – This photography-based theme is an excellent way to display photos. Features include 27 transitions between images, a full screen slideshow and a beautiful black and white color scheme.

Anan – Impress viewers with your brand’s artwork in a BIG way with the Anan theme: Its navigation bar stays out of the way until users want to see more of your site, leaving more room for your homepage slideshow.

Galleria – A gallery with plenty of customizability options, so the Galleria theme can show off your company’s branding. Offers an appealing gallery for photos and is easily adapted to your needs with widgets and social media tools.

Clean & Simple Themes:

Min – Straightforward black and white colored blog for you to place the reader’s focus exactly where you need it to be.

Personality – A simple theme to highlight your brand’s information and accomplishments in two color schemes: Light and Dark.

Minimalisto – Another stylishly simple theme with Light and Dark options.

Minimalisto WordPress Theme

Minimalisto

Timeless – Clean cut, basic and themed around the Helvetica font, with the ability add as much additional visual content as you desire.

Avett – Stylish grey and rectangular theme that fantastic for hosting a portfolio of images.

Blog & Ecommerce Combo Website Themes:

WP FlexiShop – Several integrated product-displaying sliders, a cart for shoppers and widgets for all of your social media marketing needs make this theme an excellent WordPress storefront.

The Clothes Shop – Sell your brand’s real-world or downloadable goods with this theme that covers everything from gift card code inputs and tax configuration to providing a giftwrapping option.

RGBStore – Choose your favorite color, (Red, Green or Blue), and start selling right out of the gate with this uncomplicated seller’s theme.

Clean Cut – A spiffy presentation that combines the sophistication of a homepage with the function of an online shop.

Kids Toys – An adorable theme that is well suited for selling children’s playthings.

Visually Interesting Themes:

Craftwork – An eclectic mix of textures and designs that is perfect for brands specializing in handmade goods.

Cloude – A nice choice for companies with blue, white and upbeat branding. Easily personalized to display widgets, social media buttons and/or ads.

Claudia – A contemporary theme that contrasts a clean silvery sleek area to host your content against a wooden backdrop.

City Journal – Cute metropolis WordPress theme that combines natural flowery beauty with the grittiness of an urban jungle.

Metalo – Heavy metal theme that would complement any business associated with construction, industry or rock music.

Perfectly Portable Mobile Themes:

HandHeld – When readers visit your WordPress blog on a mobile device, they are automatically transferred to this highly customizable theme. Compatible with all major mobile operating systems.

Obox Mobile – With three visually neutral themes, the ability to customize the theme with your branding, and a seamless transfer of your blog’s content to smartphones and other devices, Obox Mobile is a simple way to send your WordPress reach to mobile devices.

Hybrido – For a clean look with nine color schemes and options for a wide range of widgets, Hybrido is a nice choice for blogs with a heavy emphasis on visual content.

Simple Mobile – Highly adaptable theme that is at home on mobile devices and PC displays. Since it is optimized for 43 different social media websites, eight color options and easily integrated with Twitter, Flickr and GoogleAnalytics, it is a great choice for users with a serious social media marketing strategy.

Good Minimal – A fitting name for this clean, simple and quick-loading theme that adapts to various sizes and resolutions for a variety of mobile devices with wide screens.

Good Minimal

Good Minimal

Remember that choosing a WordPress theme that best suits your ecommerce brand easily improves the viewing experience for your fans. We hope that we found your new favorite theme!

Is Pinterest Worth my Brand’s Time? An Advanced Guide for Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest worth getting

There’s always something exciting to see on Pinterest!

Sure, we’ve covered the basics of what Pinterest is, how to use it and how the photo sharing social media website can drive photography fans to your Storefront, but is this up-and-comer worth YOUR brand’s time? How can I make Pinterest a central part of my online efforts? What else can I do with Pinterest to grow my audience? To answer those common questions along with plenty of other useful hints and tips, here is out advanced marketing guide for online shops using Pinterest.

Is your intended audience likely to use Pinterest in the first place? The average Pinterest user is female, 25-44 years old and it should be noted that 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook Likes are from female users. Half of Pinterest’s users are parents and most do well for themselves financially. Consider the people who frequent Pinterest, the products that you sell and the content that you could provide. For example, an online business selling designer toddler clothes or exotic foodstuffs is much more likely to use and benefit from incorporating Pinterest than one specializing in mature rated videogames or replacement truck parts.

There is an infinite amount of incredible things to find and buy online, but are my products dazzling enough to share on Pinterest? Merging Pinterest into your current social media strategies will be so much easier if your product shots are already impressive. That’s another reason why clothing, food and art related products and retailers do well on Pinterest- These items are naturally photogenic!

Is your brand cool enough for a cult Pinterest following?The most popular Pinterest boards shows that hip, friendly, lighthearted and youthful brands have more active followers. Some of the trendiest big name Pinterest brands include West Elm, HGTV and Whole Foods.

Target Pinterest Audience

Did you know that Bootic shares tons of great stuff through Pinterest too?

Can you target certain consumer bases with Pinterest? Yes, but within certain boundaries. Pinterest has a much smaller audience than Facebook and Twitter, but Pinterest users often browse the website for an average of 16 minutes per login! If the content that you display on your board is interesting to the user, they are likely to absorb it like a sponge, while repining all of their favorite images along the way. Stick to your Storefront’s niche, provide the best content that you can deliver and Pinterest users who will appreciate your Storefront’s boards will take notice.

Your brand and products would be a great fit for Pinterest, but is it really worth the time? YES! While Pinterest has a smaller base than the social media juggernauts, it was the first individual website to pass the 10 million unique monthly visitor mark. Not only is Pinterest an excellent way to build a fan base, but an active Pinterest account serves as an excellent SEO booster for people to discover you through search engines. It’s no fluke, Pinterest continues to bring in new fans from America and Europe each month and there’s no sign that this social media innovator will slow down anytime soon.

With so many appealing pinboards out there, how can you stand out from the crowd? Pinterest is for the greatest and most visually appealing photography and images on the internet, and if you want your online branding to become Pinterest royalty, you’ll have to do the same. However, you can keep things interesting by creating a board exclusively for interesting videos, optimizing your content with #hashtags, interacting with other users, adding links to your content leading outside of Pinterest, hosting contests, creating a pinboard for your fans and by displaying your brand’s lively and fun side to your new fans.

Pinterest ecommerce branding

Photo enthusiasts will swarm to see your Pinterest boards!

How do you get people interested in your company’s Pinterest activity? Pin remarkable images and related information to your Pinterest board, interact with commenters, fill out your brand’s profile with its logo on Pinterest, install “Pin It” buttons on your Storefront, and be sure to link Pinterest to Facebook, Twitter as well as your Storefront’s homepage.

And stick a Pin in this guide, it’s done!

Owl’s Cheat Sheet 2: The Ultimate Stock Image Guide

With so many quality stock image websites available, it’s easy to choose exactly what I need!

We know it takes plenty of hard work and dedication to maintain a thriving online Storefront, ranging from advertising, uploading products, updating various social media websites and creating brand new content to keep fans informed and entertained. The last thing that you need to worry about after shipping orders, replying to emails from customers and planning your brand’s latest Twitter strategy is to blindly search for the perfect image to complement your latest blog post. Here’s our top 30 stock photography and image websites to make grabbing that one special image to drive your point home a piece of cake. Enjoy the pretty pictures!

deviantART: Search through millions of portfolios from illustrators, photographers and painters in this massive social media website to find one-of-a-kind images. Ask for permission to showcase images on your own website or commission an artist to make something unique for you.

Depositphotos: Register an account, and you’ll have access to a huge catalog of royalty-free images. Its payment plan is flexible, depending on the size and quality of the images you want to buy.

Microsoft Office Images: Completely free listing of photos, images and clip art from Microsoft’s Office series of products.

Microsoft Office Images

When the internet gives you lemons, find what you need at Microsoft Office.

iStockphoto: Hosts plenty of high-quality photos and illustrations for countless situations as well as an archive of video and audio clips.

Shutterstock: Best for power users who need plenty of high-end content at bulk prices, Shutterstock might be a bit pricy for Storefronts with lower budgets.

Fotosearch: With well over 12 million images and 14 years of experience, Fotosearch’s collection of decently priced images is worth a look.

Big Stock Photo: Nicely stocked gallery full of affordably priced vector illustrations and professional photography.

Acclaim Images: If you’re looking to obtain extremely high quality images from top photographers for an advertising campaign or publication, look into Acclaim’s directory of images.

123RF: Featuring a nice balance of priced and totally free stock images, there is something for everyone here. Check back often, as 123RF releases free artwork on a regular basis.

Dreamstime: An enormously huge selection of images, in just about every situation that you could ask for. Modestly priced, too!

Stockvault: Decently sized gallery of free medium to high quality images for non-commercial usage.

Freerange Stock: A nice selection of free images for registered users and directs searchers to Shutterstock for additional low cost pictures.

EveryStockPhoto: A collection of millions of free photographs and illustrations from all over the internet. Each image will have its own licensing terms, so be sure to pay attention before using one!

Free Photos Bank: A fair amount of varied free images here, with a handy link to Dreamstime for additional images related to your search.

ShutterPoint: Hosts a large selection of commercial-use photographs at decent prices; a great resource for advertising needs.

FreeDigitalPhotos

Discover a wild range of great pictures at FreeDigitalPhotos.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net: here is a wonderful resource if you simply need a small sized image. However, you’ll have to pay for larger sized images.

fotolia: Featuring several payment plans as well as over 18 million photos, illustrations and vector art, fotolia is adaptable for a broad range of users.

Photographers Direct: With over 2 million photographs from photographers worldwide and the ability to hire one of their photographers for your projects, it’s easy to discover photos that no one else has ever seen before.

Alamy: A good balance of traditional and creative photography from millions of photos for a wide range of commercial uses.

Jupiterimages: Millions of images available here, along with buyable CDs full of stock photography from their parent company, Getty Images.

CanStockPhoto: Great resource for images available in a variety of formats at dirt cheap prices.

Corbis Images: There are loads of top-notch photography and vector illustrations from a huge talent pool of contributors.

Thinkstock: A search engine that pulls results from several of the other websites listed here. A good tool to look through many stock image websites quickly.

Aerial Stock Photography: Sure, this one is a bit specialized, but if you need aerial images of nearly any kind of landmark or environment, this is your one-stop shop.

Flickr: There are countless images to choose from that have been uploaded to this popular photography website, but be sure to ask permission from the owner of any images that you wish to use!

OpenPhoto: A catalog of free images, but each individual image has its own usage rights.

Stock.xchng: A nice resource of over 350,000 free images.

Stockvault

It’s easy to pick out a gem of an image at Stockvault!

Stockvault: Although there are over 33 thousand free images here, most are available for non-commercial use.

FreeStockPhotos.biz: Over 15,000 absolutely free images to use as you need.

TurboPhoto: Here’s an archive of more than 2,000 free public domain photographs.

Whatever you need an image of, we’re sure that this list will help you to find exactly what you were hoping for with lightning speed. Now the real question is whether you put the time you saved back into your business, or into a well-deserved break…

Have a Fiendishly Fun Halloween!

The Bootic Team wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

It’s not the trolls, zombie horde or chainsaw wielding maniacs that you need to keep an eye out for this Halloween, but the graveyard-load of top-notch Halloween goods listed on the Bootic Marketplace. Like a hungry spider in a full web, we’ve picked out some of our favorite grim goodies from the Bootic marketplace:

happy-halloween-matmates

Happy Halloween MatMates

Happy Halloween MatMatesEverything Door Mats

If you want this year’s trick-or-treaters to start smiling before they knock on your door, set out this sweet doormat well before the 31st.

snake-wind-ups

Snake Wind Ups

Snake Wind UpsKarma Kiss

Hiss! If you’re unwilling to give out sugary treats this year, why not give the little goblins a slithery wind up prize that they can enjoy all year?

plants-vs-zombies-game-of-the-year

Plants Vs. Zombies

Plants vs. ZombiesBoonty

Braaaains! Fend off the endless zombie attack with your gardening skills in this award-winning PC game.

monster-house-key-keepers-set-of-4

Monster House Key Keepers

Monster House Key KeepersKarma Kiss

With these ugly and adorable key cozies in your pocket, you can proudly tell your friends that a monster is keeping people out of your house and car while you’re off bobbing for apples.

sow-grow-monster-plants

Monster Plants

Monster PlantsKarma Kiss

FEED ME! Get started on a freaky garden of moving, primitive and strange plants that are just as suited to a lost land of dinosaurs as your front yard.

cyclops-for-ipad-2

Cyclops for iPad 2

Cyclops for iPad 2Below Retail Prices

This fuzzy beast is perfect for scaring away dust bunnies from your iPad2. (He’s also available for the original iPad too!)

beaded-pumpkin-candle-1-cavity-silicone-mold

Beaded Pumpkin Candle Silicone Mold

Beaded Pumpkin Candle MoldVan Yulay

Create your own custom pumpkin candles with these easy to use molds for cute Halloween décor and gifts.

vally-witch-feather-false-eyelashes

Vally Witch Feather False Eyelashes

Vally Witch Feather False EyelashesAccessoryCart

Although this spooky costume accessory can double for both the “Wicked Witch” and “Lady Gaga,” it is strange enough for any shadowy costumed character to wear with style.

madpax-later-gator-mighty-bite-pouch-snap-dragon

Madpax Later Gator Mighty Bite Pouch

Madpax Later Gator Mighty Bite PouchKarma Kiss

Here’s a costume accessory that serves as both the shell of a princess-kidnapping turtle monster and as a chic backpack for the other 364 days of the year.

spiderman-eyes-mask-costume-hoodie-red-hoodie

Spiderman Costume Hoodie

Spiderman Eyes HoodieTeesForAll

Flip up and close the hood to instantly look like the Wall-Crawler with this official Spiderman hoodie. If you go trick or treating with this, just be sure to keep an eye out for super-baddies who might mistake you for the real thing!

batgirl-t-shirt-black-batman-women-s-graphic-tee-shirt

Batgirl T-shirt

Women’s Graphic Batgirl Tee Shirt TeesForAll

Since Batgirl is a night owl herself, Halloween evening is the best time to grab some candy between keeping Gotham City safe from crime.

tattoo-golf-woven-black-with-skull-golf-towel

Skull Golf Towel

Skull Golf TowelBeaver Golf

Show off that Voodoo that you do so well on the links with this delightfully creepy skeletal golf towel.

Stay spooky, don’t leave the house without garlic cloves and above all: Have a safe and happy Halloween!

-The Bootic Owl

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