Authority Site Entrepreneur. 7 Figure Income in USD. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
If you are in search of the next ‘big thing’ in your life, consider yourself to be a creative storyteller. And if you're passionate enough about something, put yourself out there and share it with the world...
If the above describes you, then you should certainly explore podcasting!
Before diving into the details, it’s important to note that running a podcast takes time, money, and effort. But we can all agree that there is nothing more delightful than doing something you love and can call it your own.
This is why we have put together an ultimate podcasting guide for beginners that is sure to answer all your concerns and help you embrace podcasting!
Firstly, set aside your fears associated with starting a podcast. There is no place for concern if you want to start something new and exciting.
Now, why start a podcast of all things?
1. Growing Popularity of Podcasts
22% of the US population listens to podcasts weekly, and that number is only expected to grow owing to its easy to digest format and emergence as a viable content marketing channel.
What does this mean to you? It spells out massive potential more so because the competition in the podcasting world is a lot lesser than having a YouTube channel or creating blogs. So, get onto the podcasting bandwagon and enjoy a competitive advantage.
2. Podcasts Are Easy to Create
The process of podcast creation might sound intimidating, but it is not. Owing to the various online tools and technology available, creating podcasts has become easier than ever. Don’t believe us? By the end of this guide, we are confident you will.
3. Get to Learn New Skills While Running Your Podcast
Imagine learning how to generate exciting content ideas, recording and editing audio files, and continuously finding new ways to build an engaged community of listeners – sounds exciting?
Podcasting exposes you to a range of new skill sets that are an asset to have in today’s times. You teach yourself on the go, make mistakes and learn from them in the process.
4. Potential to Monetize
Yes, you can make money podcasting. There isn’t one or two but several monetization opportunities to make your podcast sustainable and get good returns. We have explored this topic in detail further below in the guide.
5. Enjoyable Experience
Podcasting is ample fun – enough said. There’s no denying the amount of work it requires but at its core, podcasting is just you having a great conversation. All you have to do is be yourself and come up with interesting ideas to keep your audience invested and engaged.
Not convinced? Here are the 10 reasons why starting a podcast channel in 2019 and beyond makes absolute sense.
The short answer is – yes.
Talk about content marketing and one is likely to think of blog posts and YouTube videos without realizing that they are missing out on an extremely valuable content asset – podcasts.
Content marketing is all about producing diverse forms of content and churning out meaningful content to impart value and expand reach.
Here’s why podcasts form an integral part of your content marketing mix:
1. Podcasts Are More Engaging
Podcasts are an immersive and intimate form of content that makes them more engaging. Being a podcaster, you are likely to strike a deeper connection with your listeners – more than what you might achieve by starting a blog, for instance.
2. Having A Podcast Builds Loyalty
Podcasts promise a level of transparency and credibility. This will appeal to users, making it easier for you to build a loyal audience that can be leveraged across your other marketing channels too.
3. Mobile-Friendly Format
To be relevant in this increasingly mobile world, you need to adapt to the mobile-first world we are living in today wherein most of the browsing happens on smartphones. In this aspect, podcasts are a winner because 69% of consumers use smartphones to listen to podcasts.
4. Increased Visibility
Creating and publishing podcasts gives you exposure on an entirely different platform like podcast directories, thereby giving you access to a new set of audience. Running a podcast helps in increasing reach and spreading brand awareness.
Podcasts refer to a series of audio files on specific topics that listeners can download onto a computer, laptop, or mobile device. Mainly, it’s blogging – in the audio format.
From music and pop culture to relationship and entrepreneurship – they can be based on a variety of topics.
It starts with the creation of the audio file with the help of recording equipment. Podcast audio files are in the mp3 format.
Once the audio file is ready, upload the audio onto a podcasting host service. It will then create a podcast RSS feed and notify your listeners every time you upload a podcast. You can also distribute your podcast to directories such as Spotify and iTunes for broader reach.
Logically, there are typically only two types of podcasts:
Involves a single person running the show. Solo podcasts are the easiest to manage as you don’t depend on anyone else and can run it on your terms. These types of podcasts usually involve storytelling or educational content.
Involves two or more people hosting the podcast. Multi-host podcasts usually have a discussion or roundtable format.
Be it solo or multi-host; you can invite guests on your show and interview them to treat your listeners to expert opinions, advice and offer variety in your content.
While some podcasts involve a subscription fee, many others are free to listen.
Similar to blogging or having a YouTube channel, you need to first boil down on a niche for your podcast.
While you might be tempted to make it a mixed bag, it’s always better to establish your presence in a niche. Doing this will help you position, launch, and promote the podcast to the desired audience, giving your efforts a clear direction.
One Google search will tell you that every possible podcast idea already exists in one way or another. Yes, it’s a crowded space but don’t let that dishearten you. It’s all about choosing a specific subject, committing to it and giving it your unique voice.
Your content needs to give people a reason to keep coming back to your channel for more.
1. Establish Your Goal
Before anything else – it’s crucial to establish your reasons for starting a podcast channel.
Do you want to be heard? Do you want to share your personal stories with people and inspire them? Do you want to network and connect with industry experts? Do you want to strengthen your brand? Do you want to make money out of podcasting?
Having a definite goal will help you choose a niche and unique angle for your podcast.
2. Explore Interests
Start by asking yourself these questions.
What are your interests? What are your passions? Are you an expert on a specific?
No, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in that topic – it can be a subject you have experiences in or one you can have conversations on.
Ask yourself these questions and do a brainstorming session to identify topics that you can do a podcast on. There is no way you can do an excellent job if you are not convinced about the topic/subject, to begin with.
By the end of this step, you need to have a long list of subject ideas which you can evaluate one at a time. This will help you to finally decide on that one BIG idea which poses maximum potential.
3. Analyze Demand
If only pursuing your ‘passion’ was enough – well, while it’s a start, it is certainly not enough because to gain listeners and succeed. Firstly, you need to find out if there is a demand for the subject.
How do you find out?
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find the demand for the various list of niches you have put together. Don’t forget to add ‘podcast’ at the end. For example, small business advice podcast, health and fitness podcast, content marketing podcast, etc.
Doing keyword research will tell you if people are searching for a particular topic and if there is a demand for it.
4. Check Existing Competition
To run a successful podcast channel, you need to ensure it stands out from the competition. So, turn to top podcast directories like iTunes or Stitcher to check the existing podcasts in the particular subject.
It’s a good idea to check their reviews, ratings and also hear them out to understand what’s working. Identify the gaps, and most importantly, what can you bring to the table that will set your podcast channel apart from theirs.
Now, that you have decided on the niche, let’s get down to business – starting the podcast. What’s the easiest way to start a podcast, you wonder? Let us dive deep into this!
These are the steps involved in starting your podcast channel:
1. Crafting A Title & Description
Does it intrigue users, or does it make people say “thank you, next”? What you choose to call your podcast can make a significant impact on your podcast’s perceived value. So, think hard and choose wisely.
You can start by browsing through podcasts on iTunes to gain some inspiration. Your name should be unique and reflect your show’s tone of voice.
You can choose to go with a descriptive name that gives away what your podcast is about (e.g., Stuff You Should Know). You can also play with words and get creative, which evokes curiosity in users (e.g., 99% Invisible).
Don’t make the mistake of using too many keywords and using commas and separators as iTunes do not prefer them.
You should also work on a short description which needs to be a concise summary of your podcast – it lets users know what your podcast is about. The description needs to include your main keywords, so it pops up in the search results page of Google and podcast directories.
2. Design Cover Art
Another element that forms the first impression of your podcast is the cover art, which is a square image that represents your podcast channel. It should be attention-grabbing, include the name of your podcast and be easy to read.
As it’s a small space, make sure you don’t crowd it with too many words and glaring fonts. Keep it simple with one central image and the podcast title for it to be visible.
Make sure you have the cover art to meet the size requirements of all directories you submit your podcast to.
3. Select Theme Music
If you are an avid podcast listener, you must have noticed how every podcast has theme music. A podcast’s theme music is played at the beginning and end of the show. It also comes on when transitioning from one segment to the other.
Your theme music sets the tone for your podcast – make sure it is short (up to 30 seconds), catchy and match the style and volume of your show.
Once you have the intro and outro music ready, you can keep the template available and use it for all your episodes.
4. Choose Format
There is more to podcast formats than solo-casts and interview style shows. Selecting a format lets you work on the messaging and style you want your podcast to have.
Here’s a look at some podcast formats you can explore:
Don’t worry – the ‘format’ of your podcast is not set in stone. You can always present a mix of formats as per your content offering for that particular episode.
5. Record and Edit Episodes
Get your hands on the essential recording gear and software (you can read more on that below) and start recording. Depending on the cloud or local recording software you choose, you can follow the instructions and record the episode.
Just like blog posts and images, even podcast episodes need to be edited and polished to perfection before sharing it with the world. While editing, remember to stick the intro and outro music with the recorded clip.
Post-production is the stage where you get rid of all that background noise, ensure there is consistency in the audio volume and maintain the appropriate length.
To trim or not – that’s always the critical question. We know it is difficult to get rid of the parts you spent time recording. However, it is essential to think like a listener and only retain valuable portions.
6. Submit to Host
Your podcast is now ready to reach listeners. Depending on the podcast hosting service you choose, you can fill out the necessary details and hit ‘upload’.
7. List on Directories
On receiving the RSS feed from the podcast hosting service, submit it to iTunes and other podcast directories; that way, their users can listen and subscribe to your podcast too.
As iTunes is the world’s largest platform for podcasts, let us show you how to submit your podcast RSS feed to them:
You will need to wait for 24-48 hours to receive a confirmation email from Apple. Once approved, it will feature on the Apple Podcasts app.
To create a superior quality podcast that attracts and retains listeners, you need to invest in the right recording equipment.
Many podcasting beginners make the mistake of going for poor quality and cheap equipment or worse still, choose to record on their iPhone. Recording on your phone is a terrible mistake if you want to take podcasting seriously because it impacts the audio quality and is certainly not a long-term solution.
Here’s the essential equipment needed to start a podcast:
The microphone you go for will define the audio quality and clarity of your podcast. While you can use built-in mics, headsets, or earphone mics, you should not use them because they provide the lowest sound quality.
There are two categories of microphones – condenser and dynamic. The former is high on sensitivity, which means it picks up every little sound. So, unless your recording environment is not a quiet and professional set up, you should go for dynamic mics.
Mics are further categorized into XLR and USB. A USB mic is connected to your computer or laptop, while an XLR mic needs an audio interface to be connected and is ideal for formats involving multiple podcast hosts.
2. Audio Mixers
Audio mixers let you further improve and control the quality of the sound output. They are a must-have if you are using an XLR mic and if you regularly make remote calls to guests and record live podcasts. Mixers are also used to eliminate noise and create unique sound effects.
3. Mic Boom Arms
“I can just hold the mic while recording” – no, bad idea!
It’s uncomfortable and is sure to impact the recording process negatively. You’ll need mic boom arms that will hold the mic in the desired position and adjust as per your liking. When not in use, they can be turned away to free up space.
4. Mic Pop Filters
While mic pop filters are not a mandatory requirement, they certainly are ‘good to have’. Pop filters are used to prevent the mic from picking up noises that generally occur due to the absorption of bursts of air while saying the letters’ b’, ‘p’ and ‘t’.
5. Podcasting Headphones
We recommend wearing closed-back headphones (the ones that completely seal your ears) while recording. It helps you to hear yourself clearly and reduce background noise from your surroundings. They are way more comfortable than a pair of earphones and let you do a more thorough job with editing the podcast and maintaining consistency in your tone.
6. Shock Mounts
While recording, every time you shift the mic, type or slam the table – the microphone is bound to catch every little noise from these gestures and movements. Investing in shock mounts helps in absorbing and eliminating these noises. Just make sure the shock mounts you choose are compatible with your microphone.
7. Podcast Recording Software
Now you know the recording gear you require but what about the software? There are two types of recording software – local and cloud-based. Cloud utilizes cloud software and allows recording on cloud storage. Local requires you to download a particular application and lets you store the files on your computer. There are paid and free options for both types.
To find out more, take a look at our detailed guide on the best podcast equipment where we explored various options and made comparisons to help you purchase the perfect equipment that meets your budget and requirements.
Once the audio file is ready – it’s time to distribute it and reach listeners. This is where podcast hosting sites come into the picture – they help your podcast reach your audience.
They are a platform wherein you upload the audio file after which an RSS feed is available. You can then use this to share with podcast directories and deliver content to your subscribers.
Choosing the right podcast hosting platform is a crucial decision to make because its quality and reliability can make or break your listenership.
Most podcast hosting sites require you to pay a monthly subscription fee and in return, let you upload your podcasts and offer a multitude of additional features.
If you have a website and are wondering if you can save some money and host the podcast on your website, you are mistaken. Audio files are enormous and hosting them on the same server as your website is likely to affect its bandwidth and obstruct the listening experience.
Moreover, as you gain more listeners and produce more episodes, you will need more storage space, which is a crucial feature of podcast hosting sites. Due to this, opting for a good podcast host is always worth it.
You must consider the following factors while choosing a podcast hosting service:
Deciding on a podcast host boils down to your budget and how much you can shell out. While you might be tempted to go for a free podcast host, they might not offer features that are beneficial for growing your podcast.
Being a podcast beginner, we recommend you start with the more affordable options and upgrade it once you have acquired a sizeable audience.
The podcast hosting service you decide on needs to have a user-friendly interface as it will make the task of uploading, publishing ,and managing podcasts a lot easier and save you ample time.
3. RSS FEED GENERATION
Being one of the critical reasons for subscribing to a podcast hosting site, you must not overlook this feature. The host will generate an RSS feed, which makes distribution seamless and automatic.
4. EMBEDDED PODCAST PLAYER
Many podcast hosts let you embed a podcast player on your website. It’s essential to take note of what the player looks like and if it’s customizable.
5. BANDWIDTH AND STORAGE
Once you have decided on the frequency of your podcast uploads, make sure it aligns with the bandwidth, storage, and upload limits the hosting site offers. You need to ensure download speeds are quick and the quality of your podcast is acceptable.
6. ACCESS TO ANALYTICS
How will you grow your listener base if you don’t know how to measure your podcast’s performance? Access to basic analytical data such as the number of downloads and other audience stats is essential if you wish to take your podcast to the next level.
Here are some of the best podcast hosting platforms you can consider:
Each of these comes with different features – what might work for someone else, might not work for you.
Need help deciding? Take a look at our roundup of the best podcast hosting platforms along with their features and pricing options to help you pick the one which is well-suited for your needs.
Starting a podcast is not the tough part; producing episodes consistently is the tough part. The key here is consistency.
In the initial rush of excitement, you might churn out 5-6 episodes but what next? There is no way you can reach a wider audience and even retain your existing ones if you are not consistent.
To start with, create a content calendar for your podcast. A content calendar will help you sort out content ideas and the production schedule. You can break down the podcasting process into smaller tasks like planning, writing the script, recording, editing, artwork creation and publishing.
Having a content calendar helps in streamlining your efforts and better planning. You can explore project management tools such as Asana or Trello for this. If not, the good ol’ Google Calendar always works.
Here’s how you can generate great content ideas for your podcast regularly:
1. Check Forums and Bulletin Boards
Forums and bulletin boards such as Reddit, Quora, and even Facebook and LinkedIn groups and Twitter threads are a great place to find content ideas. Enter keywords related to your niche and explore these spaces to understand what people are talking about, trending topics, and see if there are any gaps your podcast episode can fill.
2. Research on Google
No, you cannot just type the keywords on the search bar and expect to get ideas. You need to tap into the power of Google and use it smartly. Start with letting Google suggest ideas. When you enter a keyword or search term related to your niche, you will see Google suggest options. These suggestions will tell you what people are searching for.
Another great place to look at is the last section of the search results page which displayed the related searches. Search results are another goldmine of ideas as you get a better understanding of how you can diversify your topic or idea to cater to popular demands.
You can also set up a Google Alert for the topic or industry you are dealing with. This way, you can stay up to date on the latest happenings and trends which can be used to create content for the podcast.
3. Browse Related Books on Amazon
Yes, you read that right. Not many people realize the potential Amazon has when it comes to offering content ideas.
Think of a topic or subject and there is likely to be a book of the same. So, log on to Amazon and search for books related to your subject. No, you don’t have to read all the books. Even a glance at the contents page will tell you what it entails.
You should also read the book reviews, especially the negative reviews to understand what was missing, which you can include in your podcast.
4. Ask your Listeners
If you want to come up with content ideas your audience will love, why not just go ahead and ask them what they want to hear. Yes, that works.
You can either send them an email asking open-ended questions like what they want to hear about or direct more specific questions related to your niche. Otherwise, consider sending them a survey asking them for feedback and content suggestions to see what works best with your listeners.
Your listeners love listening to you but having a guest on your show from time to time is an excellent idea because it makes for exciting content and exposes your listeners to unique perspectives and voices. Not just that, it expands your reach as you get to tap into the guest’s audience base too.
While you might dream of having high-profile guests on your show every other week, it is not as easy as it sounds. There will be instances when you won’t get replies or might also get turned down – so be prepared to handle rejection.
Another vital thing to remember is – don’t just focus on getting famous and high-profile guests. You should also consider people who like you are looking at building their brand because guess what – they need you as much as you need them.
Let’s take a look at how you can approach guests and feature them on your podcast:
1. Leverage your Network
A great way to start featuring guests would be to look into your network and identify friends or ex-colleagues who can add value to your podcast. They can share their unique experiences related to your niche and attract listeners.
It is also a good idea to get select listeners on your show, interview them and have them share their thoughts. Being selective about your guests helps in strengthening your relationship with your audience.
2. Connect on Social Media
Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are the best places to approach people you don’t know personally but would love to have on your podcast.
Don’t just send them an invitation request and shoot the question in the first go. It’s important to be tactful here and build the relationship first. You can start with adding or following them, commenting on their posts and send them an email or message introducing yourself and the work you do.
Personalize the message and acknowledge their work. Even if these people don’t agree to come on your podcast right away, it’s always good to expand your network, build a relationship, and keep in touch with them any for future collaborations.
3. Attend Networking Events
Is there a seminar or conference taking place that is related to your podcast niche? Make it a point to attend it so you can network with the speakers and make valuable connections who you can invite on your show.
4. Search for People Looking for Publicity
It can be someone who is launching a book, a web series, or any other product or service that would be relevant to your listeners. They are usually the low-hanging fruit because they are looking for publicity and your podcast might be one of the mediums to help them reach more people. So, always keep an eye out for such people.
5. Use a Podcast Guest Service
Yes, there are podcast guest and outreach services that connect podcasters with relevant guests. Most of these are paid services, and you can turn to them if you are desperately in search of guests and have the budget for it.
Regardless of who you choose to invite on your podcast, make sure they are in line with your niche and would be of interest to your listeners. Always have a plan and discuss it with the guest to manage expectations and run a smooth show.
Every podcaster dreams of launching their podcast with a bang such that it features on iTunes’ New and Noteworthy section.
Yes, after all the time and money you have invested in producing your podcast, you need to give it the launch it deserves.
Here are five ways to successfully release your podcast and reach a wider audience:
1. Submit to Top Directories
Publishing the podcast on a hosting service is not enough. You need to submit it to the top podcast directories too. Remember the RSS feed we spoke about earlier? You need to share that with podcast directories to be featured on them and reach their listeners.
2. Build an Email List
You need to work parallel-y on building out an email list – this needs to include the emails of all the people you will send the podcast launch email to.
This list can include email ids of friends, colleagues and your extended network. This should be a work in progress list which you need to keep updating as and when you expand your pool of contacts.
The podcast launch email needs to announce the launch of your podcast, along with directing to your website, app or a platform where they can stream or download your episodes. Always have a clear call-to-action which urges them to subscribe to your podcast and spread the word.
3. Launch Multiple Episodes
It’s always a good idea to launch your podcast with multiple episodes – this lets listeners get a gist of your show and what it’s going to be focusing on. Launching numerous episodes in the beginning also lets people decide whether they enjoy your show and choose to subscribe. You’ll also get to learn about which episodes perform better for future productions.
What’s more, iTunes considers how much time people spend listening to your podcast episodes. So, more episodes equals more listening time, thereby increasing your chances of getting featured on their New & Noteworthy section.
4. Create Buzz on Social Media
No launch plan is complete without creating buzz on social media. Create awareness about your podcast across your social media channels. You can start with posting teasers and giving a sneak peek to your followers.
Creating buzz is a great way to build hype and keep your followers excited for your upcoming episode. Let the excitement build and keep it alive. You can also set some budget aside to run social media ads and target your desired audience.
5. Run a Contest
Everyone loves contests! So, why not run a contest or giveaway prior to the launch?
Alternatively, get people to subscribe to your podcast or leave reviews. Running contests can also be an excellent way to collect contact details and build your email list.
Apart from the fact that you need to produce valuable content consistently, you also need to find new ways to grow your audience and attract new listeners.
Here’s how you can grow your podcast listenership:
1. Encourage Reviews and Ratings
No amount of marketing and promotion can match up to the power of positive reviews and ratings – something you can never get enough of. Always encourage listeners to drop a review as it builds credibility and encourages potential listeners to take note and subscribe to your channel.
You can do this by inserting a call-to-action at the end of every episode and show notes. It’s also a good idea to run a contest to encourage more reviews. Always make it a point to acknowledge all those who leave you a positive review – listeners love a shout-out.
2. Be Easily Discoverable
So you have submitted your podcast to the leading directories. What next? You need to make yourself discoverable by optimizing your podcast for search engines. As Google does not assess audio files for SEO, it’s essential to include the main keywords in your podcast episode titles and descriptions.
If you run a blog, it is a good idea to create a blog post for every podcast episode to increase its ranking on search engines.
3. Promote Your Podcast on Social Media
Social media promotion does not mean putting out a post announcing your new episode. You need to make your social media posts attractive so that people take note of your podcast. You can post behind the scenes footage, audio snippets, teasers that invoke interest in your followers.
Social media platforms is also a fantastic space to interact with your listeners, ask questions and engage with the community members.
4. Convert Your Podcast to YouTube Videos
Converting podcasts to a video format might seem like additional work, but it has multiple benefits because you get to cater to YouTube’s massive audience along with improving your podcast’s SEO rankings.
You can record videos of you hosting the podcast and upload snippets to give people a sneak peek of what you are offering. We don’t recommend posting the entire episode as that won’t entice people to subscribe to your podcast.
5. Collaborate with Others
Collaborating with fellow podcasters, influencers and other content creators is an effective way of leveraging their audience to grow yours. You can invite them as a guest on your show and can also make a guest appearance on theirs.
Apart from collaborating with people in the podcast space, you can also reach out to social media influencers and get into barter deals wherein you can give each other’s brands a shout-out on your respective channels.
At some point, anything you start needs to be sustainable and give you returns. The same holds true for podcasting.
Considering the time and monetary investments you make to launch and grow your podcast, you would want it to fetch you good returns. Well, the good news is that you can make money from podcasting.
From affiliate marketing and sponsorships to offering consulting services and selling branded merchandise – there are multiple ways to monetize your podcast.
However, always remember that your podcast is nothing without its listeners. Everything you offer needs to be centered around your audience’s needs and interests – making money from podcasting should be a secondary motive.
Before you decide to monetize your channel, here are three areas you should work on:
1. Quality of Content
To reach a level where you get sponsorships and have the ability to influence listeners, you need to create engaging, high-quality content consistently. It comes with being observant, taking note of what your audience wants to hear, delivering valuable content and not being afraid to take risks.
2. Podcast Performance
Every brand will want to know how your podcast is performing before they decide to consider your channel for sponsorships or advertising opportunities.
These are some metrics you should track to understand how your podcast is performing:
Unique downloads – refers to individual downloads attributed to unique IP addressesSubscribers – number of people who have subscribed to your channel
3. Build a Community
Building a community of engaged, loyal listeners is essential in growing your channel. You need to make efforts in this direction from day one because this takes time. It’s a good idea to start social media pages or create a Facebook group and interact with your listeners there. It needs to be a two-way communication where you encourage your listeners to share their views and hear what they have to say.
Once you are confident about meeting these three factors – there can be no stopping you from making the big bucks!
If you want to strike a chord with your audience, it is crucial to enjoy the process and be your authentic self because anything else comes across as pretentious and is likely to put people off.
It’s almost crucial to have immense patience – you cannot expect to get hundreds of downloads overnight and get disheartened. You need to spend time building your channel, reaching out to a broader audience and work on improving your content. It’s a gradual process, but with consistency and hard work, your efforts are sure to pay off.
So, what are you waiting for – start your podcast channel today!
P/S: Want to hear what a finalized podcast episode sounds like? Check out The HUSTLR Podcast.
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