Smoke and Mirrors: How to Avoid Hating Your Blog in 2018

Blogging tips

A new year always begins with the same pattern in the blogging world. My emails, reader and social media feeds become filled with targets for the next twelve months and an influx of New Year’s Resolution bloggers will start to appear in the comment section on my blog or across various Facebook groups.

The next few weeks will be filled with an overwhelming amount of conflicting information and I can pretty much guarantee that most will disappear as quickly as they arrived. For some, the novelty of having a blog wears off pretty quickly. For others, there’s a disappointing realisation that thousands of views can’t be achieved simply by pressing the publish button.

However, for the ones that stick it out, it can become a minefield of self-doubt and, at times, a huge knock to their confidence in their writing abilities.

Quite simply, there are two things that bloggers are now up against:

1. The blogging market is super-saturated. I have seen an enormous change even in the last four-and-a-half years, mainly because blogging and vlogging is now a viable career option and as a result there are MILLIONS of posts sent out on a daily basis. The competition, if you choose to regard it as such, is enormous.

2. Consequently, there are very few new and original ideas, particularly within those of certain niches.

It’s a rather depressing thought.

I love bloggers. I love blogging. What began as a therapeutic hobby has now become a lifestyle and a career, and the people within my online world are incredibly important to me (some of them even came to my wedding, and some of them from my incredible Facebook Group secretly squirrelled together an enormous amount of money for The Bloke and I for our honeymoon. I’ll never forget that…).

My community consists of die-hard, enthusiastic and experienced bloggers. However, it’s increasingly common to see numerous people start to become as disheartened as the newer ones…

Indeed, I’ve felt this way myself, particularly this year. After both extremely positive and negative blogging experiences in the last twelve months I’ve become more and more aware of the bullsh*t surrounding the blogosphere… and believe me, there’s a LOT of it.

If a readership and/or number of views doesn’t matter to you as a blogger, then that’s fabulous. I don’t necessarily believe most who proclaim this, but I do know and follow people who genuinely write for themselves for the sheer pleasure of it. However, if (like me), the numbers are important to you (my livelihood actually depends on it) and you really want to develop your blogging confidence and enjoyment in 2018 then read on…

1. Creating a successful blog or vlog and building a large following takes YEARS, unless there’s a large amount of luck involved. This doesn’t equate to how talented someone is – I’ve read endless amounts of fabulously written articles by bloggers with a small following, and just as many posts filled with utter nonsense from people with enormous numbers behind them. Stop looking at their numbers, focus on your own and be prepared for it to become an unpaid, full-time job.

2. Create your own targets rather than looking at those that others have set. If you post once a month, your views are probably going to be a lot less than someone who posts once a week. If you don’t have any social media accounts and hope for the best when you publish, you’re less likely to get views than those who do. Don’t compare your own achievements to the numbers that others have – some large social media accounts have been created by buying followers or by participating in mass follow/unfollow techniques. Each to their own, but don’t immediately always take what you see as being truth and allow this to put you off. And on a slightly different note, accept the fact that some of these bloggers have enormous numbers because they have worked their backsides off on a daily basis to achieve them.

3. Your social media is just as (if not more) important than your blog, and you will need to devote large amounts of time to developing these as you do writing your posts. This doesn’t mean following and then unfollowing others to make your numbers look better, it’s about engaging and sharing with authenticity. Don’t waste your time with those who repeatedly do this to you – block them, don’t take it personally and move on.

4. Lots of bloggers are incredible, wonderful people, and, quite frankly, there’s quite a few that are the opposite. The good ones will support, encourage, share, offer opportunities and boost your confidence. They’re the ones who will message you if you haven’t been online for a while, or who will remember when your birthday is. The not-so-good ones will copy ideas and posts, steal images, lie about sharing posts in link-ups, troll comment sections with links and use others and their resources for self-promotion, often suddenly becoming ‘busy’ when asked for help in return. They’re also the ones who will email you demanding a reblog, swear at the admins in Facebook groups for reminding them of the rules or who will send nasty messages if you haven’t replied to their comments in less than 24 hours. Take the time to get to know those around you, be generous in your sharing and don’t be afraid to say a firm ‘no’ if an entitled so-and-so starts making demands or suddenly forgets how to Google something – this has been prolific this year. After being burned numerous times and witnessing some really disgusting behaviour across various forms of social media this year I now have a blacklist, and it has proven useful.

5. Don’t believe everything that you read – there’s a large amount of smoke and mirrors being used at every turn in the blogging world. The trend for 2017 has undoubtedly been ‘Look how much money I made on my blog’ posts, which I loathe. Of course, I love the fact that people are proud of their achievements, I’m genuinely pleased that there are those who have been able to monetise their blog, and kudos to them. However, some of these posts are incredibly exaggerated and I can guarantee that the creators of these posts don’t stand in the workplace and yell out their salary to their colleagues. Similarly, ignore the posts on ‘How to Get Millions of Views on Pinterest’ when they have a following of 98 people on Pinterest and 0 repins, or ‘How to Get 50,000 Followers on Instagram’ when it’s obvious that the advice should be ‘I spend two hours a day following and then unfollowing people’ instead of the 1,000 words of nonsense actually written in the post itself. Not all advice posts are based on personal experience – again, smoke and mirrors. Earlier in 2017 I read a post on why .org is better than .com, and after a discussion with the author she openly admitted that she had never used .com and her article was based upon opinions that she had read elsewhere. This happens all the time – information is shared around without any research or actual knowledge being gathered first.

6. What works for one does not always work for another in the short term. One of my closest blog friends achieved hundreds of thousands of views from Pinterest this year. It’s taken her two years to get to this point. Two years of research, setting up her account effectively and actively working to build it up, and her most popular pins are ones from a year ago. It’s cliche, but starting something and then giving up 6 months down the line because you haven’t achieved the same results has wasted a lot of your time. Remember: blogging is all about the long haul.

7. Stop chasing the ‘Viral’ post. A viral post is usually about luck. Chances are, it’s not going to happen, even with the best content. Ignore the posts that offer advice on ‘How to Go Viral’ when the author has never experienced it themselves – there’s far more out there of these sorts of posts than you think (See point 6.)

8. Sometimes, a blogging break is necessary. If it all gets a bit overwhelming, walk away and come back to it when you’re feeling better. I’ve had to do this on several occasions recently, and it’s worth it.

9. Finally, remember who it is that you’re writing for. If it isn’t for yourself first, you’re doing it wrong, which something that I need to remind myself of more frequently in the coming year.

Remember: it’s all about smoke and mirrors. Perception rather than fact… and if you allow this sort of rubbish to deter you from thoroughly enjoying everything about your blog in 2018 then you have nobody to blame but yourself.

 

What about you guys? Have you felt disheartened with blogging or the blogging community in 2017?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

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167 thoughts on “Smoke and Mirrors: How to Avoid Hating Your Blog in 2018

  1. Numbers honestly aren’t the be all and end all to me in blogging but seeing certain numbers fluctuate alarmingly despite all the sharing has been disheartening for me.
    I’m not taking a step back as such but I shan’t pressurise myself in the way I did this year, going forward.
    I want my blog to be fun…. not hard work!

  2. This fantastic! I am a newish blogger with a site that no one reads 😂😂 and lose that this advice is genuine and more importantly free of B.S.!

  3. I blog as & when I get inspiration, be that once a week, once a month or whatever. The important thing is to give people quality content & I hope I do that. It’s writing practice for me & if I make readers smile (ho bloody ho seems to be doing all right) I’m going some way to honing my novel.

  4. You always make me feel better with your sensible no-nonsense approach Suzie. I haven’t struggled with blogging per se but with the whole social media self promotion aspect. It’s interesting you say that social media is just as important as the actual post!

    In particular I do have issues about Pinterest and other social media platforms in relation to blogging.

    I hate the way it seems to be so transient, with people pinning lots of pins but not engaging or visiting blogs. It seems to be done more for the number of followers and the appearance of being popular and engaged when in fact the opposite is the case. The constant follow/unfollow also bothers me.

    I get annoyed at the reasons why we have to have pins that look a certain way or they don’t get any traction. I hate the formulaic approach and the following a certain look, there doesn’t seems to be any individuality at times. Why can’t my pins be a different style, why do they have to be the same? Why do I even care???

    Overall I find blogging a supportive and encouraging community. But there are some of us who don’t want to make money; who just want to blog our random thoughts from time to time and interact with others for the simple fact of interacting.
    I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from and I’m not alonewith these thoughts.

    Thanks again for your help and support, it’s because of caring people like yourself that I am still enjoying my blogging journey.

    All the best for 2018, I’m really looking forward to meeting you in person!!

    • Thanks Debbie! I think the problem that you’ll have with Pinterest is that you like to be creative with your pins, but in order to create a brand and attract people to your site it’s better to have clear titles and beautiful images that say ‘come to my blog’ – your posts are great and your regular readers will always visit because of you and your adventures, but it’s about pulling in the people who have yet to discover you… Looking forward to meeting you too!!!

      • Thanks for your response – it all makes sense! I just had to get that off my chest after reading your post which summed it all up so well. Your approach is different to others who offer blogging advice because of your personal touch, so thanks again.

  5. I don’t get huge numbers reading my blog posts. To be honest I just enjoy doing it. I love the blogging community Big Up Your Blog, that I’m involved in. The members are very genuine and supportive. They take the loneliness out of it somehow. But like everyone else, it’s lovely when I get a day with a lot of views and I love getting likes and comments. My blogs don’t make me any money. I actually moved one blog from wordpress.org to .com because my second blog is .com and it’s perfect for what I need, so I decided I didn’t need to be paying for my hobby. Great advice Suzie!

  6. Yes! Yes! And yes! Loved this post. Thanks so much for writing it. Whilst, I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years- I agree with everything you’ve said. Have given this post a little Pin x

  7. Thanks for sharing. It will be two years of blogging for me in March. I have to admit, I never did any other social media with the exception of Facebook. The more I read, the more I think I may want to revisit my platform. As a newbie, I assumed if I wrote people would come. It wasn’t until 6 months or so in, that I realized I needed to work at this. I have loved the correspondence with other bloggers and built a small following. Looking forward 🙂

    • Ooh that’s great! It took me a long time to embrace social media, and I’ve always regretted that I didn’t do it sooner. It takes a while to set up, but it’s totally worth it!

  8. That was a proper worthwhile read. I need to mull some of that over. I’m a new blogger – only been at it a couple of months, with low numbers but steady(ish).

    I’m still very much feeling my way, and can see that i’ll Need to get my head round social media (I absolutely haven’t) and may need to work on the layout of the blog – all the bits that bore me to tears.

    But that why your advice is invaluable, I’d be utterly clueless otherwise. X

  9. Luckily I haven’t seen any horrible things like you describe but, I beleieve you. I’ve come to realize just how hard blogging is and I’m only in it 15 months. I have to talk myself out of quitting weekly sometimes.
    You’re right…blogging is saturated and it is hard to stand out. I’m thinking blogging was so much easier 5-10 years ago. What did I get myself into?

    • If I’d have known then what I know now I would have started years before – The Bloke had suggested it to me numerous times and I ignored him haha! It is saturated and competitive, but the readers are out there – you just have to pull them in!

  10. Common sense reigns..Well, here at least..lol….I love blogging and don’t really get disheartened more overwhelmed at times with just the sheer volume….I come here for a bit of sanity so thank you Suzie ❤ I hope you and " The bloke " have a wonderful Christmas x

  11. I loved this post Suzie! Really well written. I agree, there are thousands, millions of bloggers out there. Right now I’m just enjoying writing for writing and not worrying about anything else. The pintrest part is so true, I never listen to those posts. Again, I just pin my own stuff and just disseminate it. If people want to read it, they read it, but no pressure. 🙂 Hopefully 2018 is even more amazing for you than 2017 was.

  12. I think blogging has a bright future. As social media like Facebook face challenges of regulation due to the types of ads and news it transmits a blog will be a personal social media platform. We just have to keep blogging and keep things moving along in the future.

  13. Ha! My sentiments, exactly. I think we all need a break from time to time. I’m down to barely blogging once a week and even that is tough with book writing, family, and life in general.

  14. I honestly feel like it matters who you are writing for, like you mentioned. If you’re not doing for the right reasons, the big break isn’t going to come and eventually you’ll burn out. I started my blog because I wanted to help people, share my experiences and provide a platform where we can learn together. And you know what ? I’ve found that even just the writing itself has helped me grow a lot as a person. Great read as always Suzie!

    • Thank you! I think that the idea of the big break is the problem for a lot of bloggers – there’s an expectation that it will happen and it may take years and years before anything actually does…

  15. I’m actually going to reduce my blogging a bit next year – going from three posts a week to two and focusing on enjoying the journey – I’ve pulled out of so many groups etc because of lack of reciprocation (and we won’t even go into link droppers at parties!) For me it comes back to loving what I do and if I stop loving it then it’s time to pack up my laptop and find something else to engage with. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet. Thanks for your encouraging post – it’s good to see the nitty gritty laid out in black and white.

    • Thanks lovely! I never understand how someone can be in large amounts of Facebook groups and regularly participate properly – I’m in 5 that I participate in and that’s more than enough!

  16. THIS. This comes at a time when I’m really questioning my ability, relevance, and staying power. I’m also going through a bit of blog envy, because it seems everywhere I look there are many blogs that seemed to have blown up in no time at all. It makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong and if I can do this for another three years.

  17. Great post, Suzie. I’m feeling like I may need a ‘blogging break’ just because I’ve written so much lately for my PhD. Then there’s the worry that I’ll lose followers and something awful will happen because I don’t write for a while, as though everyone is waiting for my posts! I try not to take too much notice of the numbers, but it’s a nice feeling when I get more followers on my blog. I think I just need to cut myself some slack and not put pressure on myself to post at the moment.

    • It’s been a real roller coaster of a year for you hasn’t it! A blogging break has always been a positive thing for me – if you’re worried about your traffic you can always schedule posts in advance?

  18. You must have written a post like this just before I started blogging three years ago, because I remember your advice then was that it takes time to grow. It’s still good advice.

    I’m sorry that you’ve encountered so much bad behaviour and rudeness this year. You give the impression of knowing how to deal with it, though. I, for one, am very grateful that you set up BUYB. I’ve met some lovely people there and I’m looking forward to meeting them in person.

    • Yeah I’ve written numerous similar things, perhaps not as angry as this one haha! The Facebook group is lovely – they’re a very supportive group of people, it’s just some need to learn some manners occasionally haha! Looking forward to meeting you too!

  19. I’ve been blogging on and off since 10 years, but finally got more serious about blogging last year. So I still consider myself to be quite the newbie! These are some excellent points you make, and this is something I needed to hear as I sit down to create my 2018 plans. I do want to grow my blog and reach, but I want to do it slowly and steadily and authentically – not by chasing numbers and wondering about how other bloggers get the views they claim to get. I guess this is a long way of saying I really need to set down some time (and discipline – not my best suite!) every day for reading and sharing – because at the end of the day, that personal connection is what helps much more than huge numbers. I love your honest, no-nonsense advice, Suzie. Thank you!

  20. So very well said, Suzie! I love the fact that you hit the nail on the head on so many topics surrounding blogging. I have two blogs and while one is monetized, the other is not and I kind of enjoy the stress-free writing on the latter while the former is delightful in the way I am learning new things about branding and Pinterest and social media promotion. And this, after 10 years as a blogger, so I am always glad to learn.

    I won’t say page views don’t matter at all (being honest here) but I do love engaged comments, people who read and bookmark my posts and share them. Love having found BUYB for that reason. I run a blogging community too and the blog love from them has always helped keep me going.

    Wishing you a warm, wonderful and fulfilling 2018 as a blogger and a person 🙂

  21. Hi Suzie, I have felt a bit down about blogging recently but this in many ways is my fault because I have no idea how to manage the monster I’ve created. On top of this I’m frustrated that I haven’t been able to spend the time on it that I would like.

    But as for people behaving in the way you describe… Disgraceful is all I can say.

    You always do such an amazing job. Keep it up! ☺️

    • I think you might be better just taking it in small chunks – getting a post out and sticking to perhaps one or two areas of social media until you get into a routine?

      Thanks! Most people are lovely but there’s a number who really need to learn some manners…

      • Thanks I need to work it all out and see what I can and can’t do.

        I can’t stand bad manners… or being rude. Makes my blood boil.

        I hope you’re getting into the festive spirit 🙂

  22. Your posts always come at the right time for me. It’s encouraging positive and really sympathetic towards bloggers like me who do it because I enjoy it but the poor statistics can be disheartening believe you me!!

  23. Another great post, Suzie. I try really hard not to succumb to comparisonitis, but I don’t always manage it. I also try not to get my knickers in a twist about the numbers but again, I often fail miserably. It can be soul destroying spending time putting together what feels like a really nice post, complete with pictures that I take and edit myself only for it to resemble tumbleweed. I have resolved to try even harder next year to give less of a sh*t and see if I can’t just enjoy the journey a little more. Thanks for the timely reminder. Sue x

  24. Suzie, you old married woman, I have limited myself to blogs that appeal to me with great bloggers and generous people. I still have way more emails to read each day than I can get to, but I try to hop around and visit each one at least once a week!

    • I really need to expand my reading to some new blogs in the new year – I’ve noticed that a lot that I have followed for years barely post now, and I have to comment more! Have a great Christmas!

  25. Really good post Suzie, you’ve got it so right when you talk about ‘smoke and mirrors’. We’ve been blogging for a couple of years and it’s easy to get drawn into the blogging-bs of increasing hits by any means possible. We now only really blog for ourselves and if anyone likes it then that’s great but we’re not going to lose any sleep over it. We still like the numbers to be good of course and the depressing feeling of poor stats on what you thought was a great post still hits us hard when it happens but to be honest there is nothing you can do about it. I guess the bottom line is that we now don’t live to blog, we live to travel (and blog about it).

    • That’s such a great way of looking at it! It’s the worst when you spend ages on a post and it gets little feedback – I find that my highest consistently viewed posts are ones that I wrote ages ago though, so I’m hoping the ones that were poorly received this year pick up next year…

  26. Great advice, Suzie. I have grown my readership slowly over time and I have by no means reached superstar status, but to have loyal readers each week despite the millions of bloggers out there, makes me happy. I write for me and enjoy it. Coming up on my third anniversary and grateful for the friends and support I have. Quality content and consistency have been my mantras.

  27. Hi Suzie,
    You are so respected in the blogging community I’m sad to hear you’re disheartened.
    What resonated with me the most: Be prepared for blogging to be an unpaid full-time job. No truer words were ever spoken! I do try to include screenshots in my posts so people know my numbers are valid. Strangely, I see many bloggers raving about numbers they don’t show.
    Janice

    • Thanks Janice – it’s all smoke and mirrors and competition and lies in some cases, which puts me off. My biggest annoyance is that people will actually send me emails demanding reblogs or send me a message when I haven’t replied to their comments quickly enough… It’s really frustrating!

  28. Pingback: The Em Linthorpe Annual - where my blog and I are heading in the upcoming year – Em Linthorpe

  29. Very true and encouraging post, Suzie. It is a very timely post as once the new year sets in, many bloggers will certainly feel a bit disheartened by seeing not the progress of their blogs as they expected. Your post will provide the very needed inspiration and encouragement to bloggers to continue with their creations, not thinking of anything else much…..nice one.

  30. the saturated blogging world – it’s actually comforting to read the comments – my own traffic has dropped and even keeping at what I see as a ‘basic’ level is a struggle. Here’s to a successful 2018 for all of us

  31. I read every word nodding along. I always wonder what the person is like on the other side of the blog too! I can understand disillusionment too. I think I have looked past it for the moment but thus is wholly due to having this group as a blogging staple in my week. It makes me feel like the blog is not just a pepple in the ocean. For that I thank you guys xx have a lovely first Christmas as a married lady Suzanne! 🤶🎅

  32. I completely agree with all your points. Success as a blogger is about engagement with others and even after twelve and a half years I occasionally get disheartened when my view go down for a period of time. Theres an ebb and flow and you just have to ride the wave.

  33. Personally I try (but don’t always succeed) to be happier when one person makes an insightful comment having read a post, than 20 likes. My pet hate: getting a Like within 1 second (literally!) of publishing a post!

  34. well said and much needed. I do think people get caught up in the numbers. I started blogging by accident and now love it and the community that comes with it. Thank you for that. I want to share information that I hope resonates with people but I realize this is something I have to enjoy doing first and foremost and for me. Hopefully from that will come an authentic blog people will enjoy.

  35. Great post and a great reminder! I love blogging more and more as time goes on. I’ve been writing for almost 18 months now, and blogging was the first time I really wrote. One of my main loves is the blogging community and interaction blogging creates. Although I wouldn’t say numbers are important to me, readers and feedback is. So in a roundabout way numbers are essential. I write because I enjoy the process (mostly), but also because I want others to enjoy it or find it useful.
    Thank you for writing this 😊 I’m in the middle of writing something rounding up my year, and this really got my thoughts going.

  36. Followed this post from Em’s post. This was a great read! I learned early on (though hard to keep in mind) that I shouldn’t look at the numbers of other people’s followers. Sometimes I’ll read a blog and I’m like, “how the hell do you have 3,000 followers? You write 4,000 word posts about toilet paper….1-ply toilet paper.” I self-hosted way too early and that makes it so much harder for me to gain followers. I hope it will pay off in the long run but for now, it’s slow. I just need a routine!

    • There’s pros and cons for self-hosting, the most difficult being about the slower growth as you don’t have the same access to readers and things like you would with .com. I’ve always been .com – I toyed with the idea of going self-hosted but then realised the amount of work it would take and could be bothered haha!

      • Yeah, I instantly regretted self-hosting. The slow growth is a HUGE draw back. There are some positives though. I was drawn to the fact I can add plug-ins. It also allows me to use Google Analytics which I absolutely love. I can see which hours are the most popular and get down to the city of where people are visiting from.

  37. I have found the last year to be a bit crazy in many ways too, Suzy. I managed to completely mess up Edwina’s Episodes blog that had taken me so long to build up and I lost a lot of followers moving over to my other site. Still, I am doing well on Pinterest now (thanks to your help), and am starting to build up the numbers. I know stats are not the be all and end all, but it is devastating when the numbers do drop to just 100 views a day if I am lucky. ( I remember when I first got 100 views, I was thrilled)!!! I love the community though, and the interaction we have. That is what keeps me going. 🙂

  38. I don’t want to monetize my blog, don’t look at numbers or stats (it may be hard to believe, but it’s true), and if we’re talking viral…I’d rather get the flu.

    Still, this post is spot on. The blogosphere is saturated, there are very few original ideas out there, and there are some unpleasant people who hide behind their screens. It is also quite overwhelming at times. And when I get that overwhelmed, I guess you’re right: I’ve nobody to blame but myself.

    So why do I blog? Don’t know. I guess because there is a lot about it I love. And I’ve met some wonderful people through blogging. One thing is for sure, Suzie, I will take more breaks in 2018.

    Have a lovely holiday and new year! 💖

  39. Lots of helpful advice Suzie. I’m not at the level where people hassle me so perhaps I should be grateful for my little blog. Though, I have noticed requests to feature on my blog from unknown sources coming in of late. In general I have ignored these. Have you any advice about these? Merry Christmas, hope you have a lovely day. Xxx

  40. I really needed this pep talk today. one of my biggest regret is that I didn’t stick to blogging when I first began in 2013. The market wasn’t so saturated back then. And now that I’m back at blogging, there is an enormous competition. Sometimes I ask myself if this is worth it at all. But I like writing about the things I write about so there’s that.

  41. This is a relevant post, Suzie. I just started my blog a month back so I really don’t have all you guys’ experience in this area, but I’ve seen articles around the web and know it’s unrealistic to expect numbers to just increase overnight. It’s a slow and gradual process.

    So that’s why, right now all I aim to do is post quality content on a regular basis that can resonate with and help other people, and do the occasional social media shenanigans for promotion. Also, for the sake of a visible “growth”, my goal right now is just to ensure the number of views on my site for one week is higher than the previous week and I’m happy. 🙂

    So far, it’s sticking to that, so fingers crossed for the new year!

    Happy New Year, Suzie!

  42. I had a different blog when I was working on my degree. Once I got it I finally made the transition (this week, haha) to a blog-one related to teaching. I do it because it’s therapeutic and a nice hobby.
    Kudos to all you successful bloggers! It takes a lot of work to do it well!

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