Income Report: Update #8

By Last updated on August 7, 2015

July was definitely one of the calmer months I’ve had all year.

Didn’t really have any big projects, or big tasks on my list of to-do’s.

I spent a lot of time just reflecting on everything that’s been going on in my business, analyzing where I should be spending my time, and just organizing my blogs to try and improve my productivity.

Especially now that my blogs have reached a certain point, it’s time to start thinking about the next stages.

The majority of my years spent in internet marketing have been spent learning and focusing on growth in the early stages – how to build new sites, find and rank for keywords, build authority, and grow traffic.

I know my site is still in its growing stages, and is nowhere near the kind of “stage” that I’m thinking about, but I do need to plan for it… at least that’s the conclusion I came to during my peaceful reflection times.

Basically, doing a lot of research on how other blogs went from where I am now to the giants they’ve become today.

Obviously one of the main ways is hiring/attracting a ton of writers to write for them. But upon my research, that’s not really the direction I want to take with my blogs.

I’ll get to what I mean by that in a minute.

Research and education

With my main blog growing to nearly a million uniques, I’m feeling the urge to experiment with things that will propel it into a steeper upcurve than it’s on now.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on other content businesses lately, and just soaking in everything learning from their growth strategies.

For the most part, I’m not liking what I’m seeing.

It seems like at a certain point, they all make one of these mistakes:

1. Rapidly scale their content production and turn into content farms.
2. Reach absurd operating costs and struggle to make a profit.

My goal with my blogs is never to turn it into a media business like that, no matter how much it grows in the future.

By media business I mean hundreds of employees, funding, and relying on aggressive sales staff to find advertisers to eek out a profit. It’s a rough business, from what I’ve been reading about so far.

Probably one of the biggest shockers this year was Gigaom closing down, which is old news by now.

But what’s surprising is that they’ve never been profitable a single year in the eight years they’ve been in business!

I would much rather keep operating costs low, and grow at a steady pace while maintaining a high level of quality… no matter how much my blogs may grow.

The last thing I want to do is aggressively scale up content writers and turn into a content farm. So I’m trying to find the right balance of propelling growth, and keeping this level of high standard on the blog.

More long-tail traffic

One of the highlights of this month was my blog crossing 900,000 uniques for the first time ever, which is higher than I was expecting. It’s definitely the most amount of traffic I’ve ever gotten to a single blog in a single month.

With the recent release of Panda 4.2, I was kind of hoping it would give my blog a big boost to cross 1,000,000, but it doesn’t seem to have affected much of anything.

One of the strange things that I did notice was a few of my highest traffic pages (that were already ranking #1 for their main keywords) are getting a lot more traffic than before. Just means that they’re ranking for more long-tail searches that I haven’t been ranking well for in the past.

But I have been building a lot of links the past few weeks, which would obviously be responsible for that….. but still pretty coincidental timing with the Panda update.

Changing WP themes

Over the past few months, I think I’ve done just about everything to fully optimize my Adsense ads with my current site layout.

However, at this level of traffic, even a small percentage increase in my CTR can lead to a noticeable increase in monthly revenue.

So I’ve decided to experiment with changing my WordPress theme from my own custom theme to the Newspaper theme from MyThemeShop.

I’m usually very picky about changing themes, but I fell in love with this one since it’s got the design and layout of one of my favorite sites, LifeHack.org.

I’ve spoken a little about LifeHack.org in the past since they’re able to achieve amazing traffic numbers (15 million page views) with one of the best traffic source compositions I’ve ever seen.

Their site design and layout is one of my all-time favorites.

I’ve actually tried to copy their design into my own themes, but failed since there are some more advanced coding and CSS there that I can’t implement cleanly.

But so far, the Newspaper WP theme is pretty much the exact same everything as lifehack.org so we’ll see how that performs.

An update to the course

That’s right, another update is coming soon to Authority SEO.

Just a short announcement since it’s quite early, but I’ll be releasing a new module on the course that covers more advanced link building strategies.

It will be a while before it gets released, but just wanted to make a short note since all existing members will be getting them for free.

Even with the short amount of content I’ve created with it so far, some people have suggested I just turn it into its own product.

But my goal is to turn Authority SEO into the best SEO & blogging training online, and I believe this is definitely going to add a ton more value to it, especially for people who want more advanced training.

July’s Income Report

Okay, so now on to the income report.

Here’s the total income numbers for the month of July.

Blogging Income: $20,627.34

Last Month: $19,141.05
Difference: +$1486.29

Not a huge boost in income, but still I crossed my next milestone of $20,000/month, which for some reason is less exciting than the $10,000 month milestone.

I want to start a new project.

Let me re-phrase that. I need to start a new project.

I know I said I want to put everything on hold and just focus on growing my main blog, but I also don’t want to feel burned out working on the same things everyday.

I want to something new to work on.

Whether it’s going to be a new blog but in a different niche, or maybe even another product for RankXL, I’m not entirely sure yet.

But I feel like I need to start something new and just keep things fresh. Hopefully I can decide on something and get started on it before I’m back writing the next report.

78 Comments

  • Reply
    Eric
    August 7, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Thats amazing, Congrats man on crossing your first 20k month.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks, Eric!

  • Reply
    Luke Mitchley
    August 7, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Chris, it seems you’ve reached your goal man! Well freaking done! Not many people can say they’re getting $20000 a month let alone passively. If i were you i would take some friends and go on holiday, learn how to surf or something and then get back on the horse.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks Luke! Yeah, maybe what I really need is just a good long vacation 🙂

  • Reply
    ivan
    August 7, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Congrats on your $20k milestone Chris.

    A quick question:

    I had a niche in mind that I’m quite good at ( web development ), but I don’t see it as being profitable in the long run because my target visitors are very tech savvy and most of them know about Adsense.

    What do you think?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks Ivan. There are a lot of relevant, high-paying advertisers in that area so I wouldn’t really worry about that. As long as the ad catches people’s interests, they’ll click.

  • Reply
    Arman
    August 7, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Hi Chris.
    Feel really motivated to follow your course. Right now in step making some pillar article. Congratulations for achieving your USD 20.000/month milestone.

    Arman

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks, Arman!

  • Reply
    Sharath
    August 7, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Your income reports are always a great source of motivation, Chris.

    Thanks a lot for that!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks, Sharath.

  • Reply
    Imran
    August 7, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Congrats Chris for achieving a milestone.

    But for me, more attraction is about crossing 900,000 unique visitors in a month, that really huge.

    Great stuff Chris.

    Imran

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks Imran. Glad you see it that way too 🙂

  • Reply
    mike
    August 7, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Hey Chris,

    congrats! You’re amazing!

    Keep up with great work!!

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Do you use any PBNs for your main articles / pages?

    2. Do you build backlinks to each and every article you post?

    3. What kind of links are those? PR, web 2.0, social (FB, twitter, etc), forums or comment links?

    4. What kind of structure do you use on your site? Silo pages? or just hompeage/article?

    Cheers,

    mike

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks, Mike.

      I don’t use PBN’s.

      I usually only build links to my biggest pages targeting the biggest keywords.

      None of those. It’s mainly through outreach to get links on real pages controlled by other webmasters.

      It’s a variation of a silo structure that’s been working pretty well.

      • Reply
        mike
        August 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm

        Thanks for your reply!

        Do you think you could reveal more details on this silo variation?

        • Reply
          Chris Lee
          August 9, 2015 at 7:23 pm

          Maybe in the future. There’s a lot of information on it in the Niche Site Course 🙂

  • Reply
    Faraz
    August 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

    I’ve become aware of the same thing Chris.

    Excitement and satisfaction in achieving goals begins to decrease at a certain point, regardless of what they are..

    As strange as this sounds, I’m probably going to be more excited about my first affiliate commission than making my first $100 a day.

    So I must begin to enjoy and focus on the process, to keep my sanity ahaha

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      So true. It’s not that I’m always working 24 hours a day that I’m feeling kind of burned out… but I’m literally thinking about something related to my business nearly 24 hours a day. Never leaves my mind, and I think that’s probably a big reason.

  • Reply
    Muhammad Usman
    August 7, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Hi Chris,

    Congrats… Amazing you cross 20K.. It huge amount.. Keep the good work and share the amazing tips as well to the readers of your blog.

    Hopefully this month I’ll start my blog too and then after seeing the result scale it the authority blog.

    Thanks

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks, Muhammad. Update me when it gets running. Would love to check it out.

  • Reply
    Sophy
    August 7, 2015 at 6:32 am

    That Great Chris, your income increase every month that I follow up your report.

    I use this theme http://themecountry.com/themes/superads/ for all my niche sites and my income also increase with adsense.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      That’s a nice looking theme. Thanks for sharing, Sophy.

      • Reply
        Sophy
        August 8, 2015 at 1:31 am

        welcome Chris, It is small sharing with your community and hope you will build private group on FB asap.

        • Reply
          Chris Lee
          August 8, 2015 at 2:52 am

          Thanks Sophy. Will have to put that up. Lot of people asking for it. I’ll try to get it out and send an invite to all the members by the next update.

  • Reply
    JoseLab
    August 7, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Congratulations! Your numbers are fire! And your post are very inspiring 🙂
    One love.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks, Jose!

  • Reply
    Vin
    August 7, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Congrats on hitting $20k!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks, Vin!

  • Reply
    James
    August 7, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for sharing this once again. Inspiring as always!

    I’m looking forward to the upcoming updates to the Niche Site course.

    If you want to start a new project, but don’t want to take too much focus away from your current Niche site and want to partner up to share some of the workload, you’ve got my info!

    James

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks, James! Will reach out if I think of anything 🙂

  • Reply
    Nick
    August 7, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I love the model that you teach in your course. I’m a fiction writer and I was looking for two benefits from a part time business; a decent income and an exit strategy (long term selling the site). This methodology ticks both those boxes. The evegrowing inome that you report validates what you teach.
    I’m already outsourcing my secondary articles. So it’s not that time consuming compared to the rewards.Thank you Chris.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Great to hear that, Nick! Keep it up! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Dave Ledoux - BTMG
    August 7, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Congrats on a big month. I get the sense that hitting benchmarks like the million uniques, the $20K, etc is wearing you down just a bit. The fatigue is tricking your mind into thinking you need a new project. You need to jump on a plane and take a month in Chiang Mai to recharge. What happens to the metrics if you don’t open a computer for 30 days?

    Your big site has a ton of fun left in it! What if you added Sumome to everything and tested an Aweber email every 4 days to your top converting pages? What if you build a mini-niche site and bolted it on as a silo with 3-4 Amazon reviews? Would your domain authority alone be enough to rank it? What if you created some user generated content through contests or a forum? What if you created a tiny membership component with a monthly video or email newsletter at $9.99 a month and modeled Survivallife a bit?

    The thinking that got you to here won’t get you to the next level. Find a coach, recharge and travel, stretch and grow. You’re inspiring a ton of people with rankxl, keep leading wisely you are appreciated!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, Dave. Really insightful. Your questions there just had my mind running there for a minute. Love them.

      You’re absolutely right. I need to recharge, and start experimenting with new things for the site, and yeah maybe even get some coaching for a while if I can find a good one.

  • Reply
    Theodore Nwangene
    August 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Well done Chris,
    Seriously, you’re just another paragon of the saying that “hard work really pays”. I’m always intrigued by the amount traffic and income you makes from this one site. Men, its really fascinating.

    Sometimes, it will just be appearing to me like a magic even when I know its real.

    How are you doing it man?

    I’ve been planning to buy your course for awhile now but there’s something that is still holding me.

    Please check your email, I just sent you a mail now.

    Thanks and good luck.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks Theodore. When it all comes down to it, it’s all about the traffic. I’ll be checking emails in a bit.

  • Reply
    Sam
    August 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Congratulations Chris!!! You achieved the $20K milestone, I was expecting this in this month’s report. I am about to start my journey blog, and guess who inspired me? You are one of them.

    I know when you start documenting things, you become answerable to your readers. And that helps in attaining new heights, like you have done.

    What milestone you have in mind next?

    -Sam

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks Sam! That’s awesome. Come back and share it here when you have it running. Would love to check it out and follow along.

      Milestone will always be to continuously increase income to the next level.

  • Reply
    Dekv
    August 7, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Jump into mobile apps?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Haha, apps that do sound exciting, but with zero experience, I would probably expect myself to lose a couple thousand dollars before/IF I see any success with it.

  • Reply
    Purwanto
    August 7, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Really like your course, I have $150 now and hope this month I can sign up for your course.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Awesome. Thanks, Purwanto.

  • Reply
    ROby
    August 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Hi,
    That sounds good.
    You write that you have almost 1 million unique visitors on your niche site.
    Do you write in your course, which website it is?
    Robert

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Hey Roby. No I do not.

  • Reply
    Rahul
    August 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    whoa!! great earnings there Chris….
    Unfortunately for me my AdSense account hasn’t been approved yet.

    I am thinking of starting an amazon review site .I have found some great keywords and have done my competition analysis with Moz OSE.
    One question- Link building??

    I am not sure if email outreach would work for amazon review sites when comparing to AdSense sites.
    I doubt this method will work for amazon sites or will be less effecive.

    Can u help me with this ???

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Hey Rahul, I’m not experienced with building Amazon sites, but for outreach link building, you’ll have to make sure the information provides value first rather than just a straight-up review article with a bunch of buy buttons.

  • Reply
    LeeTrends
    August 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Excellent Update Chris.

    Have you applied any of the lessons from the Fat Stacks blog course you recommended to us via email as yet?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks Lee. Yeah, I’ve been doing some small tests on new domains, but hopefully I’ll be able to try some of the strategies on my current niche sites this month, too.

  • Reply
    dusty
    August 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Hey Chris,
    Glad to see you have reached your 2nd milestone!
    For your new project, if you decide to create a new
    product for your rankXL customers, it would be nice
    to see a product where the emphasis is overcoming the first
    roadblock in building a site which is in IMO Picking the right niche.
    Even though your course details all the step by steps, I think
    we could be benefited from another stand alone guide dedicated
    to just Niche Selection.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 7, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      Hey Dusty, cool thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply
    Suresh
    August 7, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Congrats Chris. May I know the number articles currently you have in your money site?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 8, 2015 at 2:48 am

      Thanks, Suresh. It’s close to 400 by now.

  • Reply
    Shameem
    August 8, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Hey Chris

    Happy to see your income report I’ve followed your niche site project got some awesome tips.I would like to know that adsense income you have mentioned will that for single site or multi site.Can you share an tip one my keywords were ranking in second page I want to push them for first page.Can you suggest me some ideas for it please as they were in second page for long time I’ve done blog comments , web 2.0 links etc.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 8, 2015 at 2:51 am

      Thanks, Shameem. The total income reported here is from all my niche sites and not just the main niche site.

      Yeah, I would stop doing things like blog comments, web 2.0 links, etc. They’re what I like to call “useless links” since they really don’t affect your rankings at all.

      Instead focus on this rule: the more difficult a link is to acquire, the more powerful it usually will be.

      The most effective way to get these kind of links is through outreach and networking with other webmasters. You won’t get the same quantity as you do with blog commenting and web 2.0 building, but the quality surely will be better.

  • Reply
    Joe
    August 8, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Great results Chris!

    I’m quite new to adsense and I’m getting mixed answers from people. I’ve been told that with adsense sites you can’t use YouTube videos (unless they’re your own), because they’re copyrighted?

    Is this true?

    It’s a bit vague in the TOC, which is why people are kind of split between yes and no.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 8, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks Joe.

      Do you mean Adsense on YouTube, or putting other people’s YouTube videos on your own website?

      YouTube videos are embeddable. They’re allowed to be shared on your site if the author has the embed enabled. That’s the author giving you permission to share it, use it on your own site.

      Now… if you downloaded the video, and uploaded it to your website, then that would be a copyright issue.

  • Reply
    Adil
    August 8, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Hi,

    How can I contact you I have some questions regarding the corse,

    Thanks,

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Hey Adil, you can use the contact page to find my email.

  • Reply
    Marjun
    August 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Congratulation Lee you’ve reached $20,627.34 for this month. I hope I can get adsense income like you.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 9, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks Marjun.

  • Reply
    David T
    August 10, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Hi Chris,

    Well done on your success, they are very impressive results?

    How much of the $20,000 was from your main adsense site? How much was from your previous sites?

    How many back-links do you have to your main site now (I saw it has around 400 articles)?

    Is the site in the same niche which you bought still maintaining its income even though you aren’t actively working on it?

    Do you think the niches which you put in your top 10 list have the same potential as your main site?

    Cheers,
    David

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks, David.

      It can be reached with most niches if you have enough traffic.

  • Reply
    Stacy
    August 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Congrats on your success! I have a dozen of keywords on the 2nd page of G and was wondering what you would suggest to get them on the 1st page. Also, do you get worried at times not getting the ban hammer from adsennse with that much money or do you have LLC? Good luck:)

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 10, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Hey Stacy,

      The best way is to just build a few really strong links to your site. Would be best if you build them to those specific pages, but even if you can’t any strong links pointed at your domain will boost authority and help to increase the rankings for all your keywords overall.

      Not particularly worried since I’m not really doing anything that would solicit a ban, but I do have a backup if such a case were to happen.

  • Reply
    stacy
    August 11, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Thank you Chris! What is an example of a strong link? How effective is getting a link from forbes or huffington post and if it is so do you think pointing those type of links are better to do the domain or the inner page that you want to rank. Many thanks

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 11, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Any link from Forbes or Huffington Post is fantastic. Usually it’s best if you have it pointing to the page you have ranked, but if it goes to other pages, your other pages still benefit from it, and you can also do things like inter-link between your pages.

  • Reply
    Perrin
    August 11, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Nice, man! Congrats on the milestone.

    Can you talk a bit more about your content strategy? If you’re not trying to grow super fast, how fast ARE you growing? Is there a certain # of articles you’re posting per month?

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks Perrin, by super fast I just meant like these other sites who tend to hire a bunch of writers and set their quality standards really low and end up overfilling their site with generic articles.

      I post around 40 articles per month for my main site. But I also frequently publish long-form content as well that I write myself.

  • Reply
    Don Hesh
    August 27, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    You are the man.
    If I can get at-least $5,000 per month. I’ll be very happy.

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 28, 2015 at 1:12 am

      Thanks, Don 🙂

      • Reply
        Tampan Media
        August 28, 2015 at 9:25 am

        How many niche site you have to get 20k monthly?

        • Reply
          Chris Lee
          August 28, 2015 at 3:44 pm

          It’s not about how many niche sites. You can get there with 1 or 100.

  • Reply
    Kang Gunawan
    September 5, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Wow… $20,627.34 a day

    how can and how to do that?
    How many websites, articles, backlinks, etc. to earn $ 20,627.34 a month.
    Chris, can you reveal the secret to us all. I think with $ 20,627.34 a month you will help us do that.

    You know the $ 20,627.34 that much, yes … a lot.

    Kang Gunawan

  • Reply
    Viral
    September 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I am a first time visitor to your website – I only just found out about it thanks to Perrin from Niche Pursuits mentioning you in a recent podcast.

    I had no idea that individual publishers could make this amount of money from Adsense in 2015. I am truly gobsmacked! Congratulations on achieving that level of income, it is something to be very proud of 🙂

    I am very interested in the niche site you mentioned that received 900,000 uniques – how large is this site? How many pages of published content does it have and what would you say is the average length of articles on the site?

    I started a site back in January. It has around 60 pages of content. Most of the articles on the site are 2000+ words long, some are 5000+ words long and one article is even 50,000 words long (it is a very detailed article on a topic in that niche).

    However my site is only averaging around 80 – 100 uniques a day, with 40 or so coming from search. I think the main reason for these low numbers is because I have not built any links to the site. The only links that the site does have, come from social media and a few blog comments.

    What do you think? Do I need to add more content (and if so how much?) to see a spike in traffic? Or do you think links matter more?

    I have only read this blog post on your site so far, but after leaving this comment I am definitely going to browse through the entire site.

    Thanks in advance and keep up the great work Chris!

    Viral – yes that’s my real name 🙂

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      September 5, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Hey Viral, cool name 🙂

      Sounds like you’ll need to stop posting articles and start building some links.

  • Reply
    sunny
    September 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

    hello after reading your post again i want to start using adsen im working from 1 year on this but nothing earn yet nd lose my hope and trust from adsen , today im searching for alternatives of adsen i i fined your site and im realy impressed from your report and now im again want to work with adsen hope this time is good for my i need some advise from you if your free then plese rply me on my site its a job-portal site please give your review and feedback .. thanks

  • Reply
    Tulika
    August 18, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    $20k in a month is a huge milestone…congrats! Recently came across your blog and hope to find valuable insights on SEO here. I am a top-rated freelancer on Upwork and last year started a blog on freelancing. Have been trying to build it up from scratch, and am doing it without any hired help.
    Really agree with your point about keeping operational cost low and focussing on growth.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      Chris Lee
      August 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Tulika 🙂

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