How to make money with Affiliate Marketing in 2021: The ultimate guide!

An unique, easy to follow 6.000+ word guide on how to make money with affiliate marketing in 2021!

What if I told you that you can actually earn nice sums of money from anywhere, at any time – which eventually can be even more than you earn with your full-time job?

It sounds magical, right?

Well, many people out there may feel like it’s not possible.

But the fact is that Affiliate Marketing is one of the most popular sorts of marketing strategies and a great way to earn money, even while you sleep.

However, it’s very important that you are aware about how Affiliate Marketing works.  

So here’s an in depth and detailed guide on How to make Money with Affiliate Marketing, where I'll share everything that is required to become a successful Affiliate Marketer.

But why should you listen to me?

I've been working within the online marketing space since 2013. Over the past few years I've build several succesfull (mainly Dutch) blogs that generated tens of thousands of visitors and a lot of €€€ each month. 

But this wasn't always the case...

My first blog, back in 2017, only made me a few bucks. I had no idea on how to monetize a blog, let alone doing it the right way.

After a while I've decided to quit this blog and start over. I invested heavily in SEO and Affiliate Marketing courses, 1 on 1 coaching and spent hours and hours reading everything about websites, online marketing and so on.

Packed with all this knowledge I've started a new blog that became very succesfull within a few months. In 2018 I've build another blog and in 2019 even three new blogs. 

All these blogs combined generate a lot of monthly visitors and a lot of money. 

In this guide I will show you everything you need to know on how you can monetize a blog through affiliate marketing! 

We will start with the basics and cover different topics you need to know, when you're starting with affiliate marketing. 

You will also find several tips and tricks on how to find the right affiliate programs, how to incorporate affiliate marketing within your blog, my secret kind of content that converts like crazy and much more!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I’m happy to get in touch with you. 

Still need to start your blog?

Read my ultimate 6.200 + word guide on how to start a Wordpress website

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep all of my in-depth content free of charge for readers like you.

The foundation on how to make money with your blog

Before I show you the ways on how to make money with your blog, it is import to have all the basics in place. Several things need to be met for your blog to be succesful. 

You can think of things like finding the right niche and writing the best content available, but you also need traffic to even make some money. 

All of these requirements need to be in place, before you can monetize a blog. 

If you haven't started a blog yet, you can read my guide on how to start a Wordpress website

So first things first, let's talk about the basics of Affiliate Marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing, in simple ways, is a way for brands and businesses to increase sales and for affiliate marketers to make money. A affiliate marketer in this case is someone with a website, blog, social media profile or YouTube channel. 

The affiliate marketer does not need to buy stock, collect payment or be responsible for delivery. Everything is handled by the brand, while you serve only as a promoter of the products or services. 

In other words, the affiliate marketer is only responsible for the promotion of the products from a specific brand or seller. And in return, the affiliate marketer earns a commission. 

Here is the process involved in Affiliate Marketing:

  • You promote or recommend a product or service to your followers, video viewers or website visitors. This can be done via a website, social media posting, etc with an affiliate link.
  • Your social media followers or website visitors purchase the product or service. They must use your affiliate link to purchase the service or product.
  • The commission for the sale is deposited to your account using your unique affiliate link by the business owner.

If done well with the right strategy, affiliate marketing can become an important part of your business and generate a generous income. 

The end goal of affiliate marketing is to partner with the best brands and platforms and to help your following and website visitors with making certain choices. And get paid doing this ofcourse ;). 

How does affiliate marketing work?

In simple words, Affiliate Marketing is a performance-based marketing model that allows business owners, affiliate marketers and the end consumers to gain benefits. 

The process goes like this:

A person visits your website and reads your content. You've incorporated affiliate links within that content. That person clicks on one of those links, goes to the website of the business owner and buys a product. The business owner has a sale, the person has the product that he wants and you get a commission. 

Everything during this process is tracked with the help of affiliate software, that is designed to enable the technical implementation and conversion tracking of every individual sale. 

The software allows the merchant or business owners to see if a customer has reached the website through an affiliate partner.

For every sale, the merchant pays the affiliate the corresponding commission.

As we discussed that affiliate marketing is a process of spreading content about certain products or services to a target audience, it serves as a win-win situation for all the parties; manufacturers/business owners/sellers enjoy more sales, the consumer is getting the best and most suitable products to their needs while the affiliate marketer is getting a share of the profit. 

The entire process involves three parties:

  • Brand, product seller or manufacturer
  • The affiliate marketer or publisher
  • The end buyer / consumer

Lets dive deeper into the three parties!

Brand, product seller or manufacturer

This is the first party, usually a entrepreneur, retailer, creator, or large enterprise. The merchant or seller is the owner of the business or manufacturer that creates or sells an item, product, or a service, which can be promoted to a specific audience. 

The products being promoted can be physical objects, like apparel, wedding rings, cosmetics, household goods, or a service like domestic cleaning, learning tutorials, digital marketing consultation, or web-based software.

Take an example of an online shopping portal that sells products, that are manufactured by other brands. A good example of this can be the global e-commerce leader Amazon. Amazon allows affiliate marketers to earn money through their affiliate marketing program, that offers great revenue on every product.

The commission being offered may vary according to the category of those products. The goal for a brand or manufacturer is to reach more people and generate more sales, by paying commissions to the affiliate marketers. 

The affiliate marketer or publisher

The Affiliate Marketer or Publisher, also known as the content creator for the products or services being promoted, serves as the second party in the process.

The publisher can be an owner of a (niche) website, the owner of  (big) YouTube channel or a social media influencer. The job of an affiliate marketer is to create the right kind of content that generates traffic to the merchant’s website. 

The content can be promoted through different channels (Search engines, social media websites, YouTube, Google Ads, Facebook ads etc.) to reach a wider audience, with the aim to increase sales of the products or services from a particular brand/merchant/manufacturer.

For example, the owner of a Tech-based website can start posting content regarding the coolest gadgets, travel essentials, latest updates on technology, fitness gadgets, etc. In this content, the owner kan redirect his visitors to other websites, through an affiliate link. 

Later in this how to make money with affiliate marketing guide, I will show you the type of content that makes the most money. This is essential for a blog or website, you should treat is like a business. 

The end buyer / consumer

The ultimate goal of affiliate marketing is to reach out to more and more customers. It’s the end buyers or the customers who make this entire network work. After all, if the end buyers do not purchase the products, there won’t be any commissions to distribute and no income to be shared.

The second party (affiliate marketers) will create the best possible content, with an attempt to market the products to the customers through various channels.

The consumers is the last party in the process: they buy the products and based on the total price of the product or service, the seller and the affiliate marketer share the profits.

A good thing to keep in mind: the end buyer never pays for the commission. He or she shouldn't feel it in his or her wallet. The merchant pays the commission to the affiliate marketer. 

How do affiliate marketers get paid?

The next step of becoming a successful Affiliate Marketer is to know the different types of payment models.

Ofcourse, the basic rule is the same; you receive a commission from the merchant, according to the pre-agreed percentage of the sale amount.

But did you know that there are different types of payment models such as Pay per sale, Pay per click or Pay per lead (and even more)?

You see, it's not always mandatory for your audience to always buy the product or services to get a kickback. This depends on the payment model. 

Before you start launching affiliate marketing campaigns or content, you must go through the different payment models and make sure to know the type of payment model your Affiliate Partner (the merchant) is offering.

Below, I will share some information about the three biggest types of payment models available right now. 

Pay per sale - how does this work?

Pay per Sale, also known as Cost per Sale or CPS, is one of the most commonly used and also the most established payment method for affiliate marketing. 

The affiliate marketing programs using a CPS model will set a particular percent of commission to be offered to the the publisher for each sale that they refer.

The commission is mostly paid upon the complete sale, however the rules can be different for each program.

Most commonly, the sale is measured on the last click before purchase. Sometimes, the merchant can also apply a rule where the customer must complete the purchase process within a set amount of time. They call this the cookie duration. 

Pay per sale is the preferred payment model, particular because this is the least risky one. If the publisher can’t generate any sale with the pre-agreed rules, then the advertiser has no obligation to reward them for it. 

Pay per click - how does this work?

Pay-per-click is the second most common type of payment method used for affiliate marketing across the world. As the name suggests, Cost per Click (CPC) payment methods involves commissions to the publishers, when the target audience will click on a particular link that is being promoted. 

This mostly involves the publishing of visual or graphical advertisements to attract the attention of the target audiences. The publisher is paid for each click on one of the advertisements.

Pay per click

source: freepik.com

Most often, the businesses use CPC as their primary payment model with an aim to generate clicks that will lead the users to the website, landing page or product. And once the user is on the website, it’s up to the merchant to get the conversion done.

It’s a very preferable model for the publishers because getting clicks is much easier than closing a sale. However, on various occasions, the merchant also might end up paying more for fewer qualified leads or sales.

Pay per lead - how does this work?

Another alternative payment method for affiliate marketing is Pay per Lead or CPL. In this method, the commission is paid to the publisher for the leads generated and not the sales or clicks.

Leads, as we all know, are potential customers that the merchants can follow up with. These leads can be of immense lifetime value for the particular business.

To give you an example: a lot of carpenters, energy suppliers and other craftsmen usually have a pay per lead affiliate program.  

With Pay per Lead, the affiliates or publishers are paid when the visitor would sign up for the qualified action. The action can be different; filling out the contact form, registration for newsletters, asking for a quote etc.

Usually your audience would need to provide several details required on the sign-up form to complete the process.

What do you need to start with affiliate marketing?

So, right now you know what affiliate marketing is, how it works, all the revelant parties in the process and the most used payments methods.

Let's proceed with my how to make money with affiliate marketing guide!

Affiliate marketing serves as a great way for people to earn a lot of money by simply promoting products or writing content that drives sales, clicks or leads.

However, the benefits of affiliate marketing can be achieved only if you follow the right strategy.

For instance: You must have a niche, but you must also find the best affiliate marketing programs so you can start promoting products or services in that exact same niche. 

But what do you need? 

Well, first of all you will need some sort of platform. This can be a website, social media account, YouTube channel and so on. Second, you need products to promote. More on that later. 

Let's dive deeper into the different channels. 

A website, blog, or YouTube channel

As you already know, affiliate marketing is the process of promoting products or services from a merchant to potential customers, with an aim to earn commissions.

To do this the right way, the affiliate marketer would need a platform to perform the promotional activities. This can be done through the following methods:

Create a Blog or Affiliate Website

One of the best ways to become a successful affiliate marketer, is to create an engaging blog or affiliate website that can be used to spread content about different kinds of products or services.

Many merchants would also approve an affiliate marketer earlier, only if they have a blog or a website.

This is because most merchants would like to know on what websites they are being promoted. These websites should fit in with the merchant. That's why a lot of merchants want you to have a website, blog or channel before you sign up. More on that later. 

A great example of an affiliate website is nerdwallet.com. They focus on several financial products and rank high within Google. Here is one of their blogs:

making money with affiliate marketing

Create a Social Media Presence

Do you ever see "famous" people having millions of followers and at the same time suggest their followers to use certain types of products? Well, that’s another common form of affiliate marketing. These influencers are in many cases paid for the promotions as affiliates. 

So, you can also create a good social media presence with impressive numbers of followers. This can be done by connecting with more and more people and persuading them to follow your profile by sharing different types of content through the social media channel.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Interest, Facebook, etc. can serve as a great way to earn passive income by simply promoting products or services from your merchants.

Create a YouTube Channel

According to the records, YouTube is one of the most commonly used video browsing websites with an average of one billion hours of video's being watched every day. Over 30,000 hours of new content is uploaded on YouTube every day. 

This makes promoting products on YouTube a very impressive way of affiliate marketing. You can create a YouTube channel and create videos about the different aspects of the products like its benefits, how to use it, etc. You can also use the video URL in a blog post to make the blogs more effective.

Affiliate products to promote

Once you have a website or social media presence, the next step is to find the products that you would like to promote as an affiliate marketer or promoter.

While this may seem like a quick choice that anyone can make, it is very important that you are picky about the products you want to promote.

For example, if you are a tech freak and have a website or social media presence with a lot of Tech information, you can't start endorsing beauty and cosmetic products on your platform.

It is very important that you stay relevant to your niche. Even if you are new to the industry and have created a new website, make sure to pick a niche and stick to it.

Selecting a specific niche helps you build a more focused audience and potentially help you rank higher within the search engines.

Some pro tips

If you're just starting I strongly suggest to select products that you're familiar with. This way it will be easier for you to start your first affiliate website and learn a lot about what works and doesn't work. 

If your first website is a succes and starts to earn money, then you can start thinking of a second website. In this phase you can select products or affiliate programs with a high commission and that you're less familiar with. Because you now know how affiliate marketing works, your second website can be more succesfull. Also, you've selected products with a higher commission so this will be a double win ;). 

It's important to understand what you're doing, before you can focus on things that will make you more money. 

Many affiliate marketing websites or individuals never make a lot of money, due to the lack of consistency. So, if you are passionate about a topic or industry, there are more chances that you will find it much easier to press on when the going gets tough.

But how do you find those different kind of affiliate programs?

How do you find affiliate products and programs?

As we already discussed the process on how you can choose the products that you would like to promote on your website or social media platform, the next step is to find the best Affiliate Marketing program that fits your niche. 

Searching for these affiliate products and programs isn't that hard. You simply go to Google and type in: "brand X + affiliate program", to find the affiliate program you want.

So if you want to join the Amazon affiliate program, you simply Google "Amazon affiliate program". After doing that, most of the times you will see that the first result is the affiliate program from brand X. 

how to find affiliate programs

Please don't mind the Dutch Google engine ;)

So if we stick to the Tech website example I gave earlier, if you wan't to find the right affiliate programs it's important to know what you want to promote. 

  • If you want to promote different kind of laptops through Amazon, you should now know how to find this program. 
  • If you want to promote how to use Photoshop, you can Google "Photoshop affiliate program". This will show you the Adobe affiliate program, which is the parent company of Photoshop.
  • You want to promote the best smartphones, you can Google "smartphone affiliate programs" and find the relevant affiliate programs.  
  • And  so on, and so on

I hope I've made my point clear here and that you know how to find the right programs for your niche. If not, please let me know in the comment section below this page and I will help you out!

 After you've found the right affiliate programs, it's time to sign up for those programs. 

How do you sign up for these programs?

No affiliate program is the same, so the process to register for these programs can be different. However, the sign-up process and information that most programs require are not often different from eachother. 

With every affiliate program, you will need an account 

So if you want to promote products from Amazon, you will need an Amazon account.

amazon affiliate program

Besides that, you'll also need a way to promote the products. This can be a website, blog, social media account and so on. 

With most affiliate programs, an account and a way to promote their products is enough.

But as I said earlier, no sign up process is the exact same, but most of the sign up processes of affiliate programs are slightly the same.

So, after finding the right affiliate programs and signing up for those programs, it's time to find the right affiliate links. 

How do you get affiliate links from these programs?

Finding the right affiliate links and using them in your content is crucial. Without the link, your traffic and conversions can't be measured, so you won't get any commissions. 

Finding those affiliate links is not hard, every affiliate program has them.

Depending on the program you use, you will typically find productlinks that you can include within your content. Often it is also possible to make deeplinks or custom links to specific pages from the merchant/business that you're promoting.  

Next to that, some programs also have special links for certain banners, discounts or promotions. 

The key take-away from this section is that you need to know that every affiliate program has their own unique affiliate links and that you should use the right links within your content. 

But what kind of content will make you money with affiliate marketing? 

The process above can be different for each affiliate program. Almost every affiliate program has some sort of training, so if you're having trouble with getting the right affiliate links, just contact your affiliate program. 

What kind of content makes money with affiliate marketing?

If you’re thinking that you can start making money simply by pasting content on a website, along with the product links, well I must say that it’s going to be a tough road ahead for you.

Not every type of content keeps your readers engaged and not every type of content actually makes money.

To keep your readers engaged, they should believe that you are writing the content for their benefit. You should seem neutral when writing and it should not look like a brand ambassador of a product is speaking. 

To make money with your blog, you should write the right kind of content. Content that I call "money posts". Luckily, there are different types of content that can be written to keep the users engaged and make money at the same time. You can think of:

  • How-to guides
  • Product reviews and/or video's
  • Best product X articles / video's
  • My secret money posts

Let's take a little look at every type of content, some examples and my secret money posts (that make the most $$$)

How-to guides

Have you ever gone through those ‘How to Guides’ that demonstrate different steps to perform certain things? You can think of things like:

  • How to rejuvenate your skin naturally?
  • How to stop hair fall without using chemical products?
  • How to use Photoshop software?
  • How to learn English?
  • How to become a professional Coding specialist?
  • How to sign up for affiliate marketing programs?
  • How to earn money with affiliate marketing?
  • How to write better content that keeps users engaged?
  • How to become a social media influencer?

The ‘How to guide’ can be written on any topic that you feel that your target audience may be interested in. It is content that shows your website visitors how to do things. People looking for these kind of guides are also showing a purchase intention. They want to achieve something, but they need some help.

This is where your content can fit right in! By showing people what they need to do and how they need to do that, chances are high that they will click on one of your affiliate links and buy something.

how to make money online


All that matters is that the content should be detailed and really solve the problem that your audience has. Your visitors will only stay on your page if they find the content to be useful. 

You can use your creativity to use affiliate links within the content, according to the flow of the content to make it more effective.

Here are some creative ways to ensure that you create a comprehensive and helpful guide for your readers:

  • Know what to include. Perform a good research about the topic and create a list of the things you can include in the content. Make sure to know what other how-to guides from your competitors include. Also make sure to include what the others are missing on their content.
  • Always be a little bit better than your biggest competitor in terms of content, knowledge and information. If your biggest competitor has a 3.000 word how-to guide and misses a few things, you write a 4.500 wordt how-to guide with the right things. 
  • Provide an easy-to-follow structure. The content should be easy-to-read and go in a natural flow that makes it interesting for the readers. You can break down these how to guides into smaller chunks.

Product reviews and/or video's

The second best type of money-making content written by the affiliate marketers is writing products reviews or creating product review videos.

Affiliate marketers share what they like and don’t like about a particular product with their audience. These posts and videos also contain the final recommendations for the potential users and this is where you should drop the affiliate link. 

Here's an example of some software I currently am testing. You can see that a lot of other affiliate marketers have written a product review for this software. You can imagine that these affiliate marketers make money with this type of content.  

make money with affiliate marketing

There is a reason that it is important to mention ‘what you like and don’t like’ in the product reviews; it helps build trust and that you are not just endorsing the product, but creating an unbiased review for your visitor.

It demonstrates that you care about their interests, not just selling something you claim is absolutely perfect when it’s not.

Of course, you don’t want to mention too many things that you don’t like. It should be visible that the product is good, but only contains a few bad parts about it, but these bad parts should not affect the buyers’ decision.

For better results, make sure to use the product before you review it. It’s not always possible, but when you use a product, it's easier for you to cover all aspects of the product and share detailed information about the product. 

If the product is quite popular, make sure that your video or content is different from what the competitors are talking about. Always go the extra mile with your content!

Best product X articles / video's

Another great type of content that definetly will make you money, is content focussed on the best products . 

You simply make a list of similar products in a specific productcategory and write content about those products.

The goal here is to make different posts with the best products. You can think of things like:

  • Best smartphones under $100
  • Best cameras to buy for college students
  • Best health suppliment for skin
  • Best dog crate 
  • Best Wordpress plugins

If you Google any of the keywords in the list above, you will notice that the most websites that rank high within Google are using affiliate marketing in their content. Here's an example for one of those searches:

affiliate marketing example

That's because people looking for this kind of content are likely to convert through one of your affiliate links. Simply because they are looking for the best products within a certain pproductcategory. These kind of searches show a high buying intent, so it should be the type of content you should focus on. 

My secret money posts

The last type of content is a secret. It is the kind of content that I write the most, because it guarantees a high conversionrate, high earnings per click and high click through rate.

These secret money posts are not being used by other websites that often, so it's also easy to rank with this type of content.

Because you are reading my how to make money with affiliate marketing guide, I may assume that you're just starting out. Then this type of content is for you!

The secret money post should be the only type of content that you should focus on when you're just starting out. In most cases it means instant visitors, low competition and instant conversions (and therefore commissions). 

Here you can see an example with 1 of my Dutch affiliate websites:

how to make money with affiliate marketing

In the picture above you can see the click through rate (CTR) and clicks (Dutch word = "aantal klikken") with 1 of my Dutch affiliate websites in the last 7 days. The pages that are blurred are several secret money posts on that particular website. And I have a lot more of them.

As you can see, they generate a lot of relevant traffic.

To put things into perspective: about 25% of all the traffic from this website go straight to my secret money posts, yet they are responsible for about 65% of the affiliate commissions from that same website. 

I'm pretty sure this kind of content is one of the fastest ways to make money with your blog through SEO. 

Do you want to know what this kind of money posts is?

There is a way to find out!

You can get this information for free. Just leave your name and e-mailadres in the box below and I will send is straight to you. Make sure to check your spamfolder, because my email might show up there.  

If you don't want to share your e-mail adres, no problem at all. There is another way to obtain my secret money posts.

Simply buy a product on this website through one of my affiliate links. You can check my favorite business tools page for these affiliate links. 

Make sure that you order a product through one of the links. Just copy the link, open it in an incognito tab and buy the product. You can send me the proof of payment after which I will check. If everything is fine, I will send you the secret money posts so that you can make money with your blog!

How do you get traffic to your content?

Creating engaging and interactive content for your audience isn’t just enough. You would also need a well-laid strategy to make it popular among your target audiences. Let's show 3 popular ways that other blogs, websites and webshops use to generate traffic and sales. 

Please know that these aren't the only ways to get traffic. There are a lot of other channels and platforms you can use!

SEO

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of the most common and effective ways to reap the long-term benefits of affiliate marketing. In fact, it's very useful for almost every business that has a website and aims to attract website visitors through organic search.

The key here is choosing the best keywords that your target audience is using when they search for the products.

For example, if you are promoting tech gadgets (to stick with an example I gave earlier), you can focus your content around keywords such as:

  • Best tech gadgets 2021
  • Best travel gadgets
  • Tech gadgets for developers
  • And so on…
make money affiliate marketing

As you can see, a lot of other websites focus on "best product X" content. 

So you must also think of the kind of content that generates money with affiliate marketing I discussed earlier. The goal of your blog should be to make money with affiliate marketing. Therefore I recommend that you only focus on the kind of content I showed earlier.

I'm going to do a deepdive in SEO later, but not in this article. That's a subject for another how-to guide ;).

Bonus tip

If you want to find the right money-keywords for your website, you should try KWFinder. With this tool you can research the right kind of keywords for your niche, including searchvolume and competition. You can read my KWFinder review (with an extra bonus!).

Advertising

Advertising is a wide subject, especially when it comes to online marketing. Social media marketing, paid marketing nd display advertising are some great ways to attract more visitors to your content and build your audience.

Before you launch an advertising campaign, it is important to identify your goals: if you want more traffic or you want to increase conversion, and then adjust your paid strategies accordingly. Every paid channel has its pros and cons, so you want to take the right step before you reach for your credit card.

For example, if you simply want to increase more traffic to your affiliate blog, using high commercial keywords with Google Ads will be the right choice. The price for these keywords can be high because the competition for these search terms can be fierce, but the payoffs can be worth it.

google ads

YouTube video's

YouTube is quite popular among mobile and desktop users. It's even the second most used search engine in the world. 

Whatever product your audience want to use or try, they’d like to have a glance at what others are talking about it on YouTube. So, if you plan to grow your market presence and sell more with affiliate marketing, creating interesting and genuine video's can be a great choice. 

Earlier we talked about what kind of content makes money with affiliate marketing. All these different types of content are perfect to capture in a video.  

You can think of a product review video, product unboxing video, how-to guide video, my secret money post video etc.

The only difference between YouTube video's and content that you post on a website is that YouTube video's gather views and less visitors. But you can get pretty creative on how to incorporate affiliate links in your video and your video description. 

Our final thoughts

Whatever way you choose to promote affiliate products among your audience, it is very important that you choose a niche and stick to it.

The next important part is having a detailed and well-laid marketing strategy to spread your content and to gain and maintain organic traffic. 

Affiliate marketing is not just a hobby, people are actually making a lot of $$$$ thanks to affiliate marketing.

So, follow the tips given in my how to make money with affiliate marketing guide and start your own affiliate marketing adventure. 

Also many thanks for reading my guide. I would like to hear from you if you found my guide to be helpfull or in case you missed anything. Drop a comment below!

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