3 Secrets To Growing Your Blog

How to grow your lifestyle blog to being successful with 3 secrets - the confused millennial, millennial blog

Today we are doing a little “Ask Rachel“. One reader asks:

“Hey Rachel! I absolutely love your blog. Every post has such valuable content, your brand and design is really gorgeous, and you seem like a genuine person as well! Since I read your post about your 1st blogivesary I’ve been wondering: What’s your secret? Would you mind sharing the one thing that you did that you feel really contributed to your blogs growth? Or can you point me towards any helpful resources you used?”


Ahhh! First of all, I am so flattered by your kind words! Thank you! I really can’t give you a “one secret” response though! Instead, I’m breaking it into 3 secrets! I hope these are helpful!

Secret #1: Listen To Your Gut.

I really don’t use a ton of traditional resources. There’s no one post I’ve found that I was like “THIS! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN MISSING!!” TBH, most posts/resource guides or webinars I’ve been in actually hurt my self esteem when it came to blogging. I did a round up post on some of the digital entrepreneurs I’ve learned from. However, even consuming too much of their content could get in my head and get me down. I started to listen to my gut and stopped consuming so much of other people’s content. I think that’s allowed me to maintain a positive mindset.

As a blog and business coach today, I’ve seen my clients tailspin down rabbit holes countless times. They begin searching for a certain topic and find countless contradictions on the web. If that’s happening to you, I would recommend hiring a coach until you can get to a place of listening to your gut. Otherwise, in my experience, you can be swimming in a sea of self doubt without a life preserver.

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Secret #2: Put in the time & refine.

I want to take a beat and give you some background on my career and how I ended up here. While TCM is only a year old, the skills I put into my blog have been refined over many years.

I started blogging technically when I was 14 or 15 years old (over 12 years ago!) it was AWFUL. You can actually still read it here (seriously don’t judge, it was 2005 haha). One of my best friends who I always talk about on the blog passed away a few years ago. So over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time revisiting those posts (and his) to feel close to him again. – On a professional level it was also helpful since I could see why no one (other then our friends back then) would ever read my blog. It was a great learning experience of what not to do and I tried to carry that insight into my future.

After abandoning that blog back in 2007 (there are a bunch of private posts people can’t see where I kept it up). Per the suggestions of a therapist in 2011 or 12, I launched an anonymous blog about family issues and mental health. I didn’t keep up with it for very long because a lot of that writing has gone towards a memoir I’ve been working on and off since I’ve been 17.

Basically, that’s my long winded way of saying, I’ve been writing on and off for many many years and have had the ability to look back on those pieces and learn from them.

ACTION TIP: Revisit your older content, see what’s changed (how you’ve grown), as well as what’s working and what isn’t. Ask yourself, if you read this on someone else’s site, would you share it? If the answer is no, why not?

In the present, we are often too connected to what we are writing about to really take a step back and determine, “is this good? would other people be interested in this too?” – which is why I like the trips down memory lane, it almost feels like I am critiquing someone else’s work and I can always learn from it.

The next major part of my past that I don’t talk about very often, is SISU Programs. In 2014 I started my own business, SISU Programs, SISU (pronounced see-SOO), is a Finnish word that basically means “having guts, determination, and resilience”. I had just left the counseling world where I had been working as a substance abuse and mental health counselor. During my work, I had seen a lot of my clients struggling with #adulting. It wasn’t because they were in recovery, it was simply because our twenties can be crazy confusing.

Over 3 months I did a ton of research and wrote a 200+ page curriculum with worksheets and lessons plans for #adulting. The curriculum covered everything from basic financial literacy, healthy eating and grocery shopping effectively on a budget, vocational programs for getting started and advancing in one’s career, relationship tips and tools, and so on. Basically the majority of the categories you see on TCM. I worked one on one with 19-30 years olds teaching them these skills. At local businesses, I ran groups/workshops for over a year. Over time, I took on consulting positions for local treatment centers looking to implement similar programs.

Basically, another really long winded way of telling you guys why I think the wide variety of categories works on TCM. They had been in the works for over a year before launching (even though I had no idea I would be launching a blog). The research was done and I had already received a ton of feedback from millennials in person. All it took was a not so nice exchange with another coach at the time to set the lightbulb off for The Confused Millennial.

The other thing happening simultaneously to the above events, is that my husband had his own start up. Through his business, I grew accustomed to the behind the scenes of building a business. I helped with the branding, web design, UX/UI, marketing plans, networking, etc. Over the years, I’ve been hired to do people’s websites and work as their business coach/consultant. – In other words, I didn’t develop these skills over night. I’ve put in my fair share of 18 hour days for the last five or six years in some way or another.

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Secret #3: What’s the Value Add?

If forced to give a one sentence answer to what my “secret” is though, it’s exactly what you said in your question: valuable content. My clients get this drilled into them. They also probably get super frustrated with me sometimes because you can always dig deeper on this. With blogging, it can be easy to want to share about your latest trip or purchase, but ask yourself, what’s the value add? How am I adding value on this topic to readers lives with this?

TCM was the logical next step to bring the SISU curriculum to life. I knew confused millennials were out there that needed it (because I had just spent a year working with them in person), and so I decided to make every post as relatable, valuable, and as actionable possible.

[RELATED] 3 Tips To Help You Create Content Your Audience Will Love

Bonus Secret:

One thing I don’t talk about very often either, is the Inspiring Millennials vlog series I used to host. TBH, I started this when I started TCM to force myself to network! I am awful at networking and a total introvert, but I know your network = your net worth today. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone! In doing so, I made some amazing friends (some who I’ve even met in person!). Over the last year, I collaborated with almost all of the guests on various projects. I also try to “grab coffee” with a friend I’ve met on the internet once a month! It’s all about community over competition and finding a supportive tribe. In fact, one of my blogging besties just wrote about this exact thing on Monday –> community over competition 4 the win!


If you’re a blogger, what do you think contributes to your blogs success?

Let me know in the comments!

If you’re a reader, but not a blogger, what keeps you coming back?

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  • Jill Hamilton McMeans

    I love reading your blog- thank you for this advice! I completely agree with going down the rabbit hole… I’ve gone down that path way too many times to count. Sound advice- thank you!

    • Thank you so much!! That rabbit hole can be so dangerous 😉

  • Caroline Steinberg

    Thank you for these tips

  • Leighann Hall

    My goodness, you’ve done so much! The SISU program is such a great idea. Congrats on all of your success and hard work!

    • Haha yeahhh! I tend to go full tilt on things haha

  • Erica Gilliam

    These are great tips! I have recently had to limit how much information I take in as well. I find that it is so easy to be a chronic researcher, but I would just end up overwhelmed and feeling like I am not accomplishing enough. Limiting my research to intentional time has made such a huge difference for me! Thanks for sharing these!

    • It really can be!! I think it has such a huge impact on you’re mindset and attitude too!

  • Sarah Jean

    Rachel, I loved hearing how TCM came into place! While I’m still figuring out how to grow i’ve learned that listening to my gut is better than getting overwhelmed by trying to copy “successful” blogs. Also – I always try to add valuable content because that’s what I like to read as well. Love TCM too!

    • Love that insight Sarah! I love your stuff too! It’s stuff I never would think to google, but am actually really interested in doing! Now I just need to find the time to make some of those fun beauty products and stuff! So smart!

  • Carlie Dreux Rice

    Thanks for the tips! Starting the blog I knew I’d have to put in time but i didn’t know HOW MUCH! Definitely a lot of time but always worth it.

    • Same! I really didn’t think it would take over my life in almost every way! But I love it! I could never imagine if doing this if i did’t wholeheartedly love it!

  • People who think their blog is going to grow after 1 or 2 blog posts are severely wrong. You need to work hard and KEEP AT IT !!! You are right for sure in saying that. I didn’t see any MONUMENTAL success with my blog until at least 3 years in, and even then it wasn’t crazy… But now, SHA BAM! And I only plan on continuing what I am doing! 🙂

    • YUPPP!!! it’s a skill that needs to be refined!

  • Awesome tips! 🙂 I totally agree, adding value is so important to growing a blog.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I love reading other’s success stories! Always inspiring to make it happen for me 🙂

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    I love this so much! This is the encouragement I needed. It has been tough to keep my head on straight after having baby number two. I love your point about one’s gut. I get discouraged when I listen to, read, or watch pointers from other people. Even from my family. There intent is to help but I have to stay true to me and my vision. Thank you for publishing this. So very helpful!

    • I hear that! Blogging is so different than most other businesses, and my husband and I talk about it all of the time, the strategies and hustle can be applied to other industries, but things that work in other industries don’t work in blogging (if that makes sense), plus then you have all the weird unspoken blogging rules to boot lol

  • Such amazing tips! I think it’s important to listen to your gut. LOL at my content when I started my blog in 2014…. I deleted a lot of it, which I kind of regret, because I think it represents my growth!!

    • Haha i can only imagine! I’ve debated deleting some of it… i don’t think i am going to, i just try to fix it up haha

  • Mary La Fornara

    More great info from you! I been wanted to revisit my old blog posts and you just gave me the little push I needed. I should just listen to my gut!

    • Thank you Mary!! I hope you found some time to go through this last week!

  • Casey

    Great tips! I am a new blogger and found this very helpful!

  • Dzeneta Cavcic

    What a great post Rachel! I Especially liked your tip on looking back at your posts and seeing how you can improve. I’ve been doing that a lot and noticing things that I’d like to change and make better. It helps my writing and actually has helped me find my center. I knew I had to get my blog focused, and that’s what i’m trying to do by improving every post I write from the one I wrote before it. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you’re looking at other successful bloggers, but we have to keep motivating each other. This post was motivating to me! Thank you.

    • Thank you! I love that “trying to improve every post from the previous” – and at the end of the day, when you look at other “successful” bloggers, we never really know their behind the scenes (#s, if they have a manager or publicist, etc.) people seem to forget that!

  • Lauren McPherson

    Thank you for the tips, I find your blog very inspiring! I’m new to blogging and find it all so overwhelming and hope to be where you’re at someday!

    • Thank you so much! Why did you leave BPP btw? It certainly is overwhelming at times!

      • Lauren McPherson

        Is that a FB group? If so, it’s probably because I joined WAY too many and got extremely overwhelmed!!

        • haha yeah blog passion project; i think we’ve all done that! haha but that one is always my favorite since it’s so not overwhelming imo haha

  • Ashley Mason

    Love these tips! Thanks for sharing, Rach!

  • Belema Ronabere

    You sound so experienced and you obviously are. Number 1 made me just jump up and down. As for adding value, I just keep that on my mind ALL the time

  • Razena Schroeder

    All these tips are great and I especially love No.3, what’s the value add!

  • Love all of these tips! I thinking asking your readers what they want to read about and then producing good content based around that is always a great idea!

    • That’s super smart! I did’t include that one because my readers literally are equally divided across all the categories I cover except 1 (but that’s a passion category for me so I leave it) haha so it’s impossible for me to ever really narrow anything down

  • Love the first one especially! I know what you mean about how too many webinars/courses etc. can get you down. It can be overwhelming and feel like I’m not doing anything right. The thing I try to remember most is that I LOVE writing about my niche and I love blogging because of it. And I hope it shows in my blog.

    • It really can be so overwhelming! And it definitely shows in your content!

  • I always ask myself “why” with blog posts! It seems to help.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlifeblog.com

  • Adriana

    Such important tips!! Adding value and making sure that there’s something worth your readers’ time is so important!

  • Kseniya Gershberg

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing! It is so true that you need to revisit your content as you grow. I looked at some content before when I just started out blogging and really had to change it up.

  • I definitely notice that personal posts don’t do as well as “valuable” posts do. Love your tips!

    • I think a lot of it has to do with titles on personal posts too unfortunately. I think a lot of people do “my wedding” instead of 10 tips to planning a wedding (in which you can tie your personal story into it). because i really think personal posts are valuable – I look at the categories personal and educational/informative posts – both are valuable in different ways

  • LiveJournal was where it was atttt back in the day!


  • Meg

    Yep, I remember the days of terrible blogging, thinking I was just the coolest. (Yikes.) But it was good practice, if nothing else! These are great tips, and the tip about valuable posts is especially true.

  • jennadesigns

    I think being authentic is important as a blogger and I strive for that. If my story makes one person feel less alone than I’ve accomplished something to be proud of. That being said, those “life” posts don’t do nearly as well as my posts that are “valuable.” I try for a mix of both.

    • Just got chills! “…one person feel less alone…” so much yes! – I think it’s important to have real life posts mixed in to informational posts – but I look at both types as “valuable” because connection is valuable, it’s just a different type.

  • IG:Suetanyamchorgh

    Love these tips! Thanks for sharing, Rach!

  • I love these tips. I think it’s so important to focus on adding valuable content. Social media let’s us forget how precious valuable content is, and in a blog, so vital! I’ll definitely be saving this advice!

    • Couldn’t agree more! I think a lot of bloggers today are relying on pretty photos (because of social) rather than valuable content!

  • These are some really good tips. I think for me and my blog, I’m always genuine and try to make it sound like I’m talking to you as a friend versus just a reader, if that makes sense


    • That’s an awesome point! I love that “coffee talk” type of vibe some blogs have! where you legit feel like you’re on the phone with a friend!

  • Robin

    It was SO interesting reading your story!! I left a similar career path and took from it my intense interest in analyzing and learning about people and their experiences – it’s a tremendous asset to have as a blogger. I also loved reading about the way that you believed in the decisions you were making with your site and just stayed steady on that course – I can relate to that so much. Once you learn the basic principles for success (and keep up on them as they evolve), what matters is what makes you unique–not just how you measure up to other bloggers’ barometers of success. Last – I totally had a million crappy blogs when I was in middle and high school, too! Absolutely terrible!

    • Exactly! I think success looks different for everybody based on future goals that are unique to each of us!

  • Great tips, Rachel! I had a livejournal and Xanga back in the day and it’s so interesting to look back on.

  • Thanks so much for answering my question!! And in so much detail.
    It’s really nice learning the story of how TCM came along. I’m so glad you shared your old blog 🙂 it’s so nice to be able to look back at your old writing, isn’t it?

    • Of course! haha that’s why I didn’t want to respond in an IG message haha! Hope it was helpful! And some of the comments have some additional good points too!

  • Katie Mulford

    Love these tips! Couldn’t agree more about the valuable content. I’ve been blogging on and off for 5 years and I’m just now getting back into it from an off period. I’ve finally begun narrowing my niche and what I want my message to be. I don’t want to post just to post…the content we put out there should definitely be of some worth.

    • Couldn’t agree more! You never know where someone is going to come into your site and what will be their first impression of you! it’s so important to keep all things worthwhile, even if it isnt there cup of tea they can appreciate that!

  • Megan

    I have definitely found that success in blogging comes from a genuine place. When you are 100% yourself and focusing on building relationships with people rather than trying to get something from them…you do so much better!

  • I agree with you so much on revisiting old posts and seeing what works and what doesn’t work! This has helped me understand why a post was so successful and what I can do to improve other posts!

    • Agreed! That just reminded me actually to check my analytics for my least popular posts!

  • April Kitchens

    Completely agree with posting valuable content. I like reading informative posts like this one.

  • Anita Nicole

    You are so right, I need to listen to my gut. Why did I start this blog in the first place…was it for me or for others and who am I targeting – people just like myself. I have to stop looking at other people’s blog with envy wondering what the heck I am doing wrong. 🙂

  • Anna Hubbard

    These are all great tips, Rachel! I like how you said to look back on your old posts and see how you grow because so much changes even over a year! Great post!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  • Miss ALK

    I always enjoy hearing the stories behind what inspires bloggers with their bloggers- and yours doesn’t disappoint! Keep on shining girl!

    xoxo A

  • Shani Ogden

    These are great tips! I’ve been meaning to go back through some of my older content and refresh it because I know for sure that it needs a little TLC. I feel more confident in my writing style and I think some of my earlier stuff was me trying too hard.

    • I hear that! I think that happens to a lot of us!

  • hzajac13

    This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing!

  • Love this post Rachel! Listening to my gut has made me make a lot of great decisions for myself and for my blog! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love your point about the amount of time you’ve poured into writing before this blog existed. I think it can be daunting for people to see that a blogger has “only” been blogging for a year and then they start comparing themselves. But once they realize how much has gone in to getting to that point it will make a world of difference!

    • For sure! that’s why it was so important for me to go into detail on my past experience. I think it some people were comparing themselves after my blogiversary post, but they didn’t realize i had all this other experience (plus am a business coach) so I know how to do things more than the average person starting out

      • Absolutely! And it is much appreciated!

  • I’ve recently been trying to go back and revisit/revise my old posts. We all have to start somewhere and while I’m not going to totally adjust the content I still make little tweaks.

  • thesofieyahdiaries

    Love these tips! And I totally understand all these tips, especially about trusting your gut 🙂 my #1 tip! But I also think enjoying the content you are putting out is super important as well 🙂


  • Are you Finnish?!?! I knew Sisu the second I read it! My mom is 100% Finnish and spoke it with my grandma and aunts/uncles. I have a mug that has suomalainen sisu on it (Finnish guts). Loved this post in its entirety, but I’m totally taken with your Finnish reference because I’m super proud of being a Finn haha (here’s an Insta of that mug: https://www.instagram.com/p/y4hUhAm1tV/?taken-by=joylynnlifestyle)

    • OMG NO WAY!! HAHA that’s awesome! I am not! People always think I am because of the name. My husband had a client who always signed off with it and he loved it. He knew he wanted to name a company it someday and it really fit for what I was doing at the time!

  • Bea Alvarado

    These are great tips! I like the one about visiting old content + seeing how you have evolved. Thanks for sharing!

  • Visiting old content is great! I’ve just started revising some of my old posts – the content is there but my photos have gotten so much better!

    • Oh gosh! I can only imagine! My photos used to be terrible

  • Brittany Daoud

    Thank you for sharing these tips! I think revisiting old content can be a great way to put in to perspective where you started and where you are now!

  • Taylor Mobley

    I love these tips! I totally agree with the part about networking – I am super shy as well, so it can be tough! But so important!

    • You are so not shy haha I neverrrr woudve guessed haha

  • ON POINT with every single tip here. Especially with #1 – you can (and should) go your own way.

    • You really have to! Otherwise I think you hit a wall or don’t come off as passionate or authentic. It just doesn’t connect as well!

  • ColtonandJessica

    Yes! Great points. I think consistency is another big one. Whether you post once a week or 5 times a week or once every other week, consistency is important.

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    Yes! Great points. I think consistency is another big one. Whether you post once a week or 5 times a week or once every other week, consistency is important.

    • Yeah, i agree for sure. I think that one is pretty commonly talked about though which is why I left it off. Every post about blog growth talks about consistency! haha

  • Thanks for sharing your tips. I need to do more of visiting my old content. I’m sure that helps put things in perspective. I appreciate your transparency.

  • I love this! And especially #1. While I might be new, I’ve come across and read so many amazing blogs and it can be tough to not compare yourself to them. And a while some advice is pretty helpful, other stuff not so much. And a lot of it is geared for long-time bloggers, so it can be discouraging as a newbie. But I try not to let that impact how I’m doing stuff. In fact, I’m still super proud and happy with my progress!

    • It’s funny, because i talk to a lot of “long time bloggers” and many feel like the blog advice out there is for newbs! haha I think honestly the biggest thing is focusing on your own stuff and not all the noise out there! There is always a new milestone to celebrate in blogging and it can be easy to forget that!

  • Love the secrets you shared here! The point you made about asking yourself “what’s the value add?” is definitely something I try to always think about when creating content for my blog. I think if you can create content that even you would find share worthy or helpful, then that’s a big, big plus.

  • Thank you for sharing these tips! Being a newer blogger myself, I found these tips to be very helpful – especially your first point about listening to your gut. As business and blog owners, it’s so important for us to stick to our brand and what WE want to say to the world.

    Thanks again for these tips! Your blog is AMAZING 🙂

    – Kristen

  • I started a blog when I was 15… 2009 I think! And it was a mess hahahaha. But yeah I always wanted to started blogging again and I finally decided to do it. So many new things to learn!


    • lol what a mess is right! haha so many new things to tackle today! it all changes so fast!

  • Lauren Norton

    Great post! This is all so insightful! When you had your blogiversary, I couldn’t believe it had only been one year for you! I couldn’t comprehend how you were able to crank out so much valuable content so quickly. Seriously, I love your stuff and am always over here checking you out – so I’m very inspired by your life/business story. 😛
    My biggest “secret” is trusting in my abilities. It’s way too easy to compare your success to others but if you look out for the tiny moments when your hard-work is validated, it helps you stay motivated in your pursuits. For example: I had NO IDEA what I was doing when I started Glitter & Grandeur – I launched it in a week on a whim – but I now (one year later) have a job as a professional homes blogger (I also have never owned a house). Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and trust that although you feel like you are stabbing in the dark – that you actually know what you are doing. 🙂
    Anyway, that is my long-winded way of saying you are awesome and I admire you. <3
    xoxo Lauren | Glitter & Grandeur

    • Haha awe thank you! That’s why it was really important for me to go into so much detail on my background in this post! I think a lot of people were wondering that lol – Couldn’t agree more with trusting yourself! Honestly that faith and hardwork opens so many doors!

  • Greta Hollar

    I think that being passionate about what you’re writing about and being genuine is a big key to growing your blog!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

    • Couldn’t agree more!! I had people tell me they loved topics on my site they never wouldve been interested in, but the passion just invigorated them!

  • Listening to your gut is soo important!!


    • It can be so easy to let it got lost in all the digital noise!

  • I’m super guilty of not revising… just post and run!! I really need to #adult a bit more and start cracking down! SISU ftw!

    ❤ Angel ❤ Next Garden

  • Sydney Power

    I think putting in time, planning, and giving myself the time to refresh and bring our creative content is what keeps myself growing and getting better.

  • I think putting in the time is the most important part of blogging. Quality content takes a lot of time, effort, and thought!

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

    • It does! and self reflection! Otherwise you may miss the mistakes you’re making!

  • Having a regular gut check is vital to producing authentic real content. This is so easy to fall away from and just go with what everyone is doing, but in the end it won’t make your brand stand out. Super great tips girl!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    Gosh, I totally need to put in the time and refine my blog, but it’s so hard to carve out the time. However, I do like some of my old content, so giving it new life could really be helpful, especially when I don’t have much time to write new content right now.

    • Yeah I can only imagine with a newborn! I love repurposing old content! It’s really helped me!

  • Leeza Smith

    loved these tips, i haven’t been blogging for that long and struggle to gain readers and stand out in such a large blogging community, i just have to keep exploring what works for me and keep going because i love it!

    • I think thats the most common struggle I hear! You have the right mindset though! Passion really shows and carries through in people’s work so make sure you are doing what works for you!

  • Yes collaboration and community are my words for this year! I love your tips – reading your blog always makes my day better!

    • Awe thank you so much! That makes me SO happy! haha

  • I love this! Collaboration always makes things better! OH and I NEED that 200+ page adulting guide, my life is a mess HAHAHAH please offer it!!!

    • HAHA It’s basically slowly interspersed in posts throughout the site! There are a few sections of it I haven’t turned into posts because I’ve debated turning it into like a $25 ebook or course or something… I’ll see in time!

  • Hello! Thank you for this amazing read. Really helpful!

  • Victoria Stacey

    I’ve been working on that value add concept! Thanks for sharing – I love your tips!

  • These are all such great tips!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Na’omi Keith

    This post really resonated with me. I just started my blog royaltybygrace.com, it’s a Christian blog that I launched literally a week ago tomorrow. While learning about how to blog I found so much information to be overwhelming and heavy. But I did what you suggested and I listened to my gut. There is still so much for me to learn, but I think I’ll be ok. Thanks Rachel.

  • This is a great post! One tip that has been game-changing for me is 20% content, 80% promotion. I was spending alll my time writing blog posts and then just crossing my fingers that people were going to find it. Now, I’ve totally switched it up. I still spend a lot of time writing, but triple that time is spent on promoting that content – building my pinterest following, growing my instagram, connecting with bloggers, etc.

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