In episode 417, Vinessa Knabbe teaches us how to be confident food bloggers, talking about our jobs without hesitation, regardless of where we’re at in our blogging journey.
We cover information about the importance of treating your blog like a business from the start, if you downplay your blog, others will too, remembering that businesses take time to grow and become profitable and understanding the value you provide to the community should help you feel confident in conveying all you do as a blogger.
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Bio Vinessa is a wife to Greg, mom of 2 little treasures, a son Dane 5 and her daughter Billie 2 and a fur mom to their golden child, a golden doodle named Shredder. They live in a very special place – Long Beach, NY a barrier Island on Long Island. Vinessa loves the beach and everything that goes along with it, heat, tan skin, sand on her feet and being outside as much as possible. She loves the heat in the kitchen also as she comes from an Italian family full of cooks. Vinessa credits her skills coming mainly from her grandma Annette, who is no longer with us but she feels close to her every time she’s in the kitchen, and her mom who still amazes her with things she makes and comes up with.
- If you are blogging, but not treating it like a business, then others won’t respond to you as a business owner.
- When you’re proud of what you’re publishing, and investing your time and money into, you’ll share your business more confidently.
- Remember there are other titles or positions people work in that you might not be familiar with. Let people be curious and ask questions.
- When talking about being a blogger, share your passion for all you do and for your niche.
- Every business takes years to grow and be profitable, food blogging is no different.
- Share and educate the value you bring to the online community for people to use.
Click for full script.
EBT417 – Vinessa Knabbe
Intro: Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
There’s very rarely a topic that we bring to the table that applies to absolutely every food blogger, but this topic definitely does. If you get that question, which I know you do, that is, what do you do for a living? Then this episode is for you. Vanessa Knabbe is from VanessaRay.com and we have such a fun conversation about that sometimes uncomfortable conversation that we have explaining to people what we do. We dig into the mindset and how that plays a role in explaining our jobs to people and ultimately how this falls on us. It’s how we see our jobs and how we communicate what we do to others. We have such a fun conversation. We dig into a lot of other things inside the episode as well. So I really hope you enjoy this one. It is episode number 417 sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player, go to Eat Blog Talk, and scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five-star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now on to the episode.
Megan Porta: Vinessa is a wife to Greg, mom of two little treasures, a son, Dane, five, and her daughter, Billy, two, and a fur mom to their golden child, a golden doodle named Shredder. They live in a very special place, Long Beach, New York, a barrier island on Long Island.
Vinessa loves the beach and everything that goes along with it; heat, tan skin, sand on her feet, and being outside as much as possible. She loves the heat in the kitchen also, as she comes from an Italian family full of cooks. Vinessa credits her skills coming mainly from her grandma, Annette, who is no longer with us, but she feels close to her every time she’s in the kitchen, and her mom, who still amazes her with the things she makes and comes up with.
Vinessa, hi, welcome to Blog Talk. It’s so great to have you on the podcast.
Vinessa Knabbe: Thank you, Megan. I’m so happy to be here. I’m a huge fan of your show. So thank you for having me.
Megan Porta: Yay. It’s so great to have you here. I love the topic we’re going to dig into today. It’s a really good one that I think all of us can probably benefit from just hearing about. So before we get into that, though, we would love to know if you have a fun fact to share with us.
Vinessa Knabbe: I do. I am a very confident cook until it comes to frozen foods. My kitchen skills go out the window. So yeah, I usually burn them or forget about them.
Megan Porta: This is hilarious. Okay, so give me an example of something that’s happened that’s just been a disaster with frozen foods.
Vinessa Knabbe: My husband, since we started dating, he loves pizza bagels, and now my kids love pizza bagels also. And I just forget about them. So that’s my husband’s department now. He takes care of the frozen foods for himself and for the kids.
Megan Porta: That is hilarious, I have to say. It’s almost like the frozen varieties are just unimportant in your mind, so they just fall to the back of your priority list or something like that. There’s gotta be something to that.
Vinessa Knabbe: I’m not really a direction follower, I cook with a pinch here, this, just you taste it as you go and it’s just too much.
Megan Porta: Oh, this is one of my favorite fun facts I’ve heard in a while. So thank you for starting the day off with a little levity, Vinessa.
Vinessa Knabbe: Glad to share.
Megan Porta: Okay. Yes. I love it so much. Best of luck to you when you’re… making frozen foods. Keep us posted. Okay. So today we’re going to talk about this topic of just that hesitation we feel about talking about our blogs and just that underlying message also of no matter where you’re at in your journey, whether you’re on day one or maybe you haven’t even started, or maybe you’re 10 years into blogging, it’s okay. You’re doing enough. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. It’s okay. You’re doing a great job, this is the message we’re going to talk about today. Vinessa, I would love to hear your story, just your blogging journey and where you’re at today. Take us to that space where you feel like you’ve overcome that hesitation to talk about your blog. Just give us the whole story.
Vinessa Knabbe: Okay, so I started the blog back in October 2021. I had my son and I was planning on getting pregnant with my daughter pretty soon. I was just a stay-at-home mom at that point, and I’m very creative. I was making clothes and selling them to some local boutiques and at some local craft fairs. But it was a little bit difficult because I would get orders and it would consume time. But I still wanted to be creative and have an outlet. Cooking is just something I always did and it just seemed like a natural creative outlet to do because I was doing it anyway. So why not write about it, film it, and be creative with it? I never had really taken it seriously in my mind because cooking was just second nature. I grew up with cooks and cooking all the time and food was a big part of our family. So it just wasn’t something I thought of as a business or a job. So I started small just like mostly filming. I got really into it when my daughter was born and I would film her I would make all her baby food, all the baby purees and she would enjoy them. It was exciting to watch and to film. It just grew over time So for a little bit of time, I wasn’t comfortable talking about it. I didn’t really take it seriously. As I said, it was just second nature but as it went on I got more confident about it and I started to share it and had a website and had a real Instagram following even though it was small. People were engaging and were interested in what was going on.
Now I freely talk about it with people. If they ask me what I do, I’m not just a stay-at-home mom. I am a food blogger. It’s something that I invest my time on a daily basis and money into. Even though it’s not as big as I hope it will be at some point, it still is a baby business and it should be taken seriously, and I think now it is. Now I’m comfortable sharing how important it is.
Megan Porta: Okay. That is such a cool journey. Thank you for talking through that. And it’s really fun to hear about like how your mindset about your business affects how you perceive others take it, right? And this has been, the case for me as well. When I didn’t take it seriously, then I don’t talk about it seriously. I’m like, Oh, it’s just this blog. I just cook. You downplay it. So other people, of course, in their minds. They’re watching you downplay this thing you do, they’re going to do the same thing and be like, I’m not going to take your business seriously if you’re not taking your business seriously. So it’s that mindset thing where we need to come to the place where we understand that it’s a business. This is not just cooking and taking pictures. This is a legit business. If we carry the mindset of I’m serious about this and other people are going to adopt that as well. Do you agree with that?
Vinessa Knabbe: A hundred percent. It showed, because once I was serious about it and, would just talk to, anybody, yes, I’m a food blogger. This is where you can find me. They were interested in it. They did take it seriously and they wanted to follow me or they wanted to get a tip on a recipe or how to make something. So you really have to take it seriously from the start if you want to treat it as a business. You’re investing so much time, the amount of time that we put into this, it never stops and money. So there are tons of businesses that don’t make any money for long periods of time either. So this is the same thing and it should be taken seriously.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s interesting what you just said. So that was true for me for a lot of years. I was running my quote business, but I wasn’t actually making a lot of money and at some points, no money, as far as what I’m investing back into it was way more than what I was making. So that’s hard to explain to people. Because people equate profit and revenue, a lot of money with business growth. So it’s really hard when people ask about that part of it Oh, are you sustaining your family or whatever? Those questions are like, no, I’m not actually making money, but it’s a business and it’s really hard because we know our value and we believe in ourselves and we see where our businesses are going. I know bloggers who have all the confidence in the world and their businesses that they’re going to be hugely successful. But explaining that to someone else is really difficult.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah, I guess because you can’t really see it. If you opened a retail store, you might not see profits for a long time. For some reason that’s taken a little bit more seriously, maybe because you could see it because you could touch it, you could walk into it. Food blogging, it’s information and it’s so valuable and it’s really the same thing. You’re investing tons of time and money into it. It’s a real business.
Megan Porta: Your heart and energy and soul.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yes! Blood, sweat, tears.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Yes. All of it. So much blood. Yeah. But I love your analogy there about the retail store. That’s so true. That can go for any business, really if you think about it. Any business where you’re selling physical products or anything. You might not be profiting for years and it’s the same exact thing. So why do we assume that our businesses are different because we’re cooking? It’s a different business model so maybe that’s where the confusion is. Just people don’t understand what food blogging is? I come across that all the time still. What exactly do you do? You’re a restaurant critic? I get that all the time. No, it’s so irritating. I am not a restaurant critic. Nothing against restaurant critics, but it’s so different that it’s oh, I don’t even know where to start. Just confusing, right? How do you deal with that? When people ask you, oh, so you’re a food blogger. What do you do? What do you say to them?
Vinessa Knabbe: I try and guide them to my Instagram or to my website or I share family recipes in detail. I am finding more often now that people are more interested in it. Maybe they’re hearing it. It depends on the demographic or the generation. My grandfather, wouldn’t understand what I was telling him that I was a food blogger. Some moms at my son’s school, they’re a little bit more interested and I think that once they maybe go follow me on Instagram or go check out my website, they have more questions if we talk later on. Or it explains it a little bit more.
Megan Porta: It starts the conversation.
Vinessa Knabbe: It does, yes.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I just wrote this down. This is something that I’ve never said, but I want to try this out. I’m going to test this one. So what about saying I provide quality, free recipes to the general public?
Vinessa Knabbe: Amazing.
Megan Porta: How would someone respond to that? They’d be like, oh, that’s cool. Then I usually try to explain in terms of okay, let’s say you need a chili recipe this coming weekend and you go to Google and you type in a chili recipe. What comes up? That’s what we do. We create those free recipes that are well-tested and thought out and loved, that you can make. That usually is like a good starter too.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah. I’m going to write that down. I’ll quote you.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s perfect. Megan says… Then my friend Eric over at Eat Like No One Else blog, he’s an awesome OG blogger like me. We’ve had this conversation many times because we’ve been doing it so long and so many people have asked us over the years, especially when we were in the beginning, people especially then did not understand this concept of being a food blogger. So the way he explained it to people I thought was brilliant. He said, and I think he still says this, think of it like an online newspaper. Brands sell ads so we can make money from our content, but we provide it for free. So it’s like that same idea. I thought that was a really good way to explain it as far as the revenue and why we have ads and what we’re creating. It was another little spin.
Vinessa Knabbe: I like that. I’ll be quoting both of you from now on.
Megan Porta: I feel like we finally get to a point, a different point for a lot of us, it can be a few months in, a few years in, many years in, but we get to this point where we’re just not uncomfortable anymore talking about our blogs, even if people don’t understand. When did you get to that point and what changed? What was different?
Vinessa Knabbe: I just think I wanted to talk about it. I was proud of it. I was spending a lot of time on it, staying up at night after my kids would go to sleep. I was really proud of what I was putting out there that I just took the leap. I don’t remember who I told specifically, but when people would ask if I’m out with my husband and somebody asked what do you do now? I confidently say that I have a food blog. Once I said at one time, it just took away that uncomfortably. It’s like you just break that barrier and now you move forward and this is what you do and you’ve put it out there. Like I said, you find that people more often than not were very interested in what that was or what that meant or wanted to learn more because maybe you don’t hear about it too often. Even though there are so many food bloggers, I guess we’re all worried to talk about it because you don’t hear it often, when you ask somebody what they do. I felt like people were interested and it was a good conversation starter and it felt good to talk about it and to share it with people.
Megan Porta: That is such a great point to just being a conversation starter and seeing it as that instead of Oh my gosh, I have this heavy burden to carry that I have to explain to you what I do because I did that for a lot of years. I would be just like frustrated with people and why don’t they understand? That kind of mindset. Where that’s ridiculous. If somebody doesn’t understand what I do, they’re usually curious and they want to know what a food blogger is. It lies on us, really. Ultimately, it’s our problem if we have a problem with it. I had to get to that point where I was like, don’t be a jerk when people don’t understand what you do. Explain it. People want to have a conversation and they want to talk and, oh, cool. Do you make money, they have follow-up questions. Really, this all falls on us. Vinessa?
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent.
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Vinessa Knabbe: How many times have you been in a conversation where somebody tells you what they do and you have no idea what they’re talking about either?
Megan Porta: Oh, all the time.
Vinessa Knabbe: There’s all these words and strategists or market and I’m like, what does that mean? But I’m interested. It is the same thing. But yeah, for some reason, we food bloggers get really in our heads about maybe people aren’t going to be interested or take it seriously. That’s just not the case. So get out there and talk about it. Talk about your food blog.
Megan Porta: I really hope this conversation will help people just realize that. If nothing else, just changing our mindset about how we communicate about our work and just bringing that passion that you bring into it. I’m really proud of this. I’ve found this job that I love. I’m passionate about it, and I’m so proud of the creative work I put together. It provides value for the world and just carrying that mindset into every conversation is inspiring. So thank you for this. I needed this because 12 years into being a blogger, I still get that frustration.
We were camping for a little while, a few weeks ago, and I have my logo on our RV. Because it’s I don’t know, it’s fun. It used to be a conversation starter, and now it’s like a tax write-off, quite honestly. This woman came up, and she was asking, Oh, what’s Pip and Ebby? I just got immediately got annoyed. It was so silly. She was curious. And so my husband was out there and he was like, Oh, it’s my wife’s food blog. He was like trying to explain it. She’s, Oh, a restaurant critic? Like the same conversation. I had to stop myself and just do this whole thing that we’re talking about. She is wanting to have a conversation with you. Don’t be a jerk and sit there, she should know what I do. So 12 years in, this still happens. So we need this reminder to just be open, have grace, and allow it to be the thing that connects you to somebody. Because we all want to talk about food. Delicious creations and all of that. So I just appreciate this conversation.
Vinessa Knabbe: It is true. Food brings so many people together and we talk about food all the time in other ways. Why not this way? If you’re not a cook, people who don’t cook are so interested and inspired by cooking. They want to do it. They want to make a meal for their family. They’re looking for easy recipes, hard recipes, whatever it is. Yeah, it just brings people together, and it’s such a good thing to talk about and a happy thing to talk about.
Megan Porta: So true. Yeah, as you said, even if people aren’t necessarily cooks or bakers, it’s still fun. It’s like a curiosity for them. If you start talking about your niche, let’s say you are, I don’t know, a cupcake baker specifically. I would be curious about that. Oh my gosh, what’s your favorite cupcake? What’s the secret? How do you not get them to flop? People are super curious about really niche food focuses. So instead of just being, I’m a food blogger, maybe you could say I’m a food blogger with a focus on X, Y, Z, and then that’s for sure a conversation starter.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yes. A hundred percent.
Megan Porta: What do you think about, so I’ve started experimenting with this term too, instead of a food blogger. What do you think about using the term like, I’m in food media or something along those lines?
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah, I think that would be interesting.
Megan Porta: Is that more confusing, do you think? People like, okay, media, like books, I don’t know if that would be even more confusing or not.
Vinessa Knabbe: I don’t know. I guess I have to work on how I’d explain it, I’d have to really back that up with something good.
Megan Porta: What about digital food media?
Vinessa Knabbe: I like it. Yeah. Because you can find me online.
Megan Porta: Can we experiment with all of these? Yeah. I’m writing all this down. Which one gets the best reaction? We should do a street interview style, go around with a microphone.
Vinessa Knabbe: I love that.
Megan Porta: That’s funny.
Vinessa Knabbe: That would be so fun.
Megan Porta: What talk show host used to do that? Was it David Letterman? He’d go around and just ask random questions to people and get their reactions. Yeah, I think we should do this, Vinessa.
Vinessa Knabbe: I’m coming where you are, and we’re going to walk around the street.
Megan Porta: Yes. I’m curious too, just for the people listening, if there are other ways that you describe it that just seem to resonate with people outside our world of food blogging, let me know. Send me an email. I’m super curious. Maybe you guys have a different angle, but I love hearing this because it’s such a not known job. Here’s a question for you. Have you ever come across a person where they’re like, what do you do? You say I’m a food blogger. They’re like, oh, and they know exactly what you’re talking about.
Vinessa Knabbe: I don’t think a hundred percent. I don’t feel like a hundred percent. I feel like maybe they have an idea, but not a hundred percent. There are always those real follow-up questions to get a better understanding, but they’ve heard the term. But they don’t know exactly what that is.
Megan Porta: Then, why is this? Because so many people look for recipes on Google. So why are people not linking that to food bloggers? I create recipes online with a little explanation. You’d think they’d be like, Oh, I get your recipes. Why is that?
Vinessa Knabbe: I’m not sure.
Megan Porta: These people who are getting our recipes and then why are they not the people that we’re telling we’re food bloggers too?
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah, I’m not sure. I do feel like there’s so much food blogger content out there. So much. It’s everywhere.
Megan Porta: It’s widely consumed.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah, the views are incredible. I don’t understand. Unless maybe they’re not a hundred percent sure, so they just have more questions. So they pretend like they don’t know.
Megan Porta: Everyone’s pretending.
Vinessa Knabbe: Hopefully people will hear this and be like this is why or they’ll let us know what’s going on.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I feel like We as food bloggers do a lot of educating and I think that’s where the frustration comes in, especially after so many years. It’s okay, people like this, as an industry, we’re making a lot of money and we are putting so much value into the world and it does just get a little bit frustrating. So we need these reminders to step back, have grace, see it as a conversation starter and a way to connect with people, a way to talk about food, all of that. But it is a very interesting topic. Do you think that in the near future, food blogging, is not in our notes, this is just like putting you on the spot? Do you think food blogging is going to become a more widely known profession?
Vinessa Knabbe: It’s been around so long that I guess it could only go up or get more widely known, but I just don’t even know how much more content and information there could be out there. There’s so much already that. What do we have to do?
Megan Porta: More educating. I think education maybe has to be more like how we make money because I think that’s a huge point of confusion for people. They can understand after a little bit of conversation oh, okay, so that chili recipe I found on Google, that’s what you do. They can grasp that, but even with family, I can always tell they’re wondering, but they don’t want to ask. How do you make money?
Vinessa Knabbe: I find that people really ask about the money part, which always cracks me up because I would never really dream of asking somebody about how they make money at their job. People are curious about that part, which I’m happy to share if you’re not saying how much you make or whatever, but yeah. People are super curious about that more so than, anything else I find. But there are so many ways to make money. So there are so many things to share about that also, which is fun.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I got one recently from a family member who I don’t see very often. I could see the wheels turning. They were just really, what the heck. We were on vacation, spending money at amusement parks. Clearly, we’re making money, right? We’re not just doing it for a hobby. But I think they said, something like, oh, business must be going well, or something like that. I’m like yeah, it’s good.
Vinessa Knabbe: I work all the time. I earn this money.
Megan Porta: I hard-earned money. That is for sure. I don’t know any group of people who works just with more love and passion and that’s one of my soapbox things, but food bloggers are the best. So it’s really ironic that people don’t know that. It’s this kind of hidden little community of really hardworking individuals who are so freaking smart and can make a lot of money and the general public has no idea.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah. There are so many things to know and that you do on your own because, you have to start out and you have to cut corners somewhere, and you want to spend your money wisely. So there are so many tasks. So there are so many tasks that you take on yourself and have to teach yourself, from technology things to actual cooking. The skill sets are endless.
Megan Porta: So true.
Vinessa Knabbe: We’re great.
Megan Porta: I want you to speak to people who are listening, Vinessa, who are maybe in the wrong frame of mind about this and who do get frustrated and overwhelmed and maybe who don’t take their blog seriously so that carries over to other people. Talk to them, give them a little pep talk or some words of encouragement so that they maybe feel just more empowered with talking about their food blog.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah. You’ve taken the step to start a food blog, so take it seriously. You’ve invested your time, so much time away from your family, time that you’re not sleeping, so much time, and money. Whether it’s a lot of money or a little bit of money, take it seriously. People are going to be excited to hear about it, they want to hear what you do. People love food. They love to learn how to cook, learn new things, and you have something to offer. You might think, Oh, this pasta recipe is so simple because you’ve been making it for so long, but there are tons of people out there that don’t now how to boil water for pasta or cook frozen foods. They need this treated as valuable as it is. It’s valuable information that you’re sharing with the world. Let it just break that barrier and get talking about it. You’ll see that the opportunity just starts to flow in.
Megan Porta: That was so beautifully said. I don’t know what is wrong with me today, but my ideas are like full. I am writing so many notes. I’m just inspired, especially inspired today. Maybe it’s just you, Vinessa. But I just wrote down, how cool would it be to say to someone, it’s a real secret not a known way to make a ton of money and deliver tons of value to the world. If you said that line to somebody, how intriguing would that be? What a fun conversation that would be. Oh, wow. So you deliver all kinds of value about food and you make money? That is a great way to frame it too. It’s intriguing, a secret little, I don’t know, secret little society we have here that you can allude to.
Vinessa Knabbe: Yeah, it really is. People get involved with all sorts of things, and this is a real way to make real money doing something that you love. Just sharing what you love with the world. That’s incredible.
Megan Porta: Yes. That, if you say that to your neighbor who asks you what you’re doing, that’s cool. That’s powerful.
Vinessa Knabbe: I’m going to. I’m going to try it out.
Megan Porta: Come over for grilling tonight sort of conversation. This is so fun. I love this. I don’t think we’ve ever given this topic a spotlight on this podcast. So I think this is going to be very valuable for people to hear, no matter where they’re at in their journey. So thank you for bringing this to the table today, Vinessa, and for your time.
Vinessa Knabbe: Thank you so much for letting me talk about this because it’s so important. I hope that it inspires at least one person to go out there today and talk about the blog that they haven’t told anybody about.
Megan Porta: Yes, is there anything we’ve forgotten that you want to touch on before we say goodbye, Vinessa?
Vinessa Knabbe: No, I think we covered everything.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you again. To end, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?
Vinessa Knabbe: I do. It is, keep it moving, whether It’s a reel that isn’t performing or something that you’re getting caught up on, or anything in life that’s bothering you, just keep it moving and everything will work out.
Megan Porta: The rivers don’t stop flowing, right?
Vinessa Knabbe: That’s true.
Megan Porta: They keep moving. They slow down, but they don’t stop. I love it. That’s so great. All right we will put together a show notes page for you, Vinessa. If you want to go look at those, you can go to EatBlogTalk.com/Vinessa Ray and I’ll let you spell your name so people know how to get there. Just tell everyone where they can find you online, Vinessa.
Vinessa Knabbe: So you can find me on Instagram at Vanessa Ray, V I N E S S A R A E. And my website is VinessaRae.com.
Megan Porta: Go check Vinessa out, everyone. Thank you so much for being here, Vinessa. Thank you for listening, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like-minded peers. I will see you next time.
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