*This post originally appeared on Jessie on a Journey. A big thanks to 8×8, a one-platform solution for collaborative businesses and entrepreneurs, for sponsoring this post! Additionally, this post contains affiliate links.
If you’re wondering how to get blog followers, build an audience, and grow your blogging business — ethically — then you’re in the right place!
It can be confusing trying to understand how typing words onto a webpage can translate to a sustainable income.
The thing is, there are a number of things that need to happen before, during, and after the content creation process.
Personally, I started blogging in 2011 and was able to take my website from a dwindling passion project to a full-time endeavor with one year.
Admittedly it wasn’t easy, and I certainly made a lot of mistakes along the way; but the ability to become my own boss, get paid to be creative, and travel the world made the journey worth it.
Luckily for you, I’ll be sharing some of my best strategies to get your blog seen, turn those website visitors into raving fans, and grow your blogging income in the process.
Specifically, you’ll leave with:
- Tips for getting your blog seen
- Tactics to increase your blog followers (and turn them into raving fans!)
- An understanding of how to turn your blog into a business
- A blogging business plan
- A list of the best free collaboration tools (like 8×8!)
- And more!
Ready to build your dream blogging business?
Let’s do this!
Free Travel Blogger Resource Library
A quick note before we dive in:
I have a free Travel Blogger Resource Library full of printables, video tutorials, cheat sheets, and mini-courses aimed at helping you take your blog full-time.
You can click that link above for instant access.
Inside, you’ll find 30+ resources and counting!
A few recommendations to get you started:
- Defining Your Blog Audience Mad Libs
- Crafting Profitable Affiliate Posts Workbook
- Crafting A Successful Blog Content Strategy Workbook
- And more!
An Incredible Free Tool For Growing A Blogging Business
Speaking of free resources, I want to tell you about 8×8, a powerful tool for bloggers and the sponsor of this post.
8×8 is not just one thing. Instead, it’s a suite of tools that make collaborating with other bloggers, working remotely with a team, and connecting with your audience easier.
My favorite feature is the Video Meetings, which is totally free to use.
8×8 Video Meetings allow you to schedule and host video conferences on the web, desktop, and mobile — no download necessary.
Here is a quick video sharing a bit more about what they do:
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that nothing beats being face-to-face with a potential partner or an audience member, which can be challenging when you’re a traveler.
Or at least, it was challenging before the power of video conferencing was possible.
While the software can be used for a quick video chat, there are additional features like screen-sharing, cloud-based recording, and live-streaming directly to YouTube.
A few quick ideas for using 8×8’s free Video Meetings feature (which I’ll dive into further below) include:
- Teach a live workshop to your audience (a great way to turn visitors into true fans!)
- Have a Q&A call to help your email subscribers (and then email them the replay recording!)
- Schedule a video meeting with a potential brand partner (to make your pitch more memorable!)
- Invite another blogger to collaborate through a video proposal (where you share your screen to bring the idea to life!)
- Pre-record a storytime video, either by yourself or in collaboration with another creator (these tend to do well on social media!)
These are just a few possibilities when using 8×8 Video Meetings, an incredible asset for bloggers and entrepreneurs as well as one of the top digital nomad tools.Learn how to get blog followers, #BuildAnAudience & #GrowYourBlog business with this POWERFUL step-by-step strategy. Free resources included!
How To Turn Your Blog Into A Business
Now let’s backtrack for just a moment.
Before creating a strategy, it’s important to be able to see the big picture in your blogging business.
Here is a simple five-step blogging business model I recommend:
Step #1: Define your blog’s purpose.
Who do you help and how?
You’ll want to spend time really diving into your audience’s problems and pain points so that you can successfully complete the next step, which is…
Step #2: Create a content plan that would attract this audience.
If you help travelers see the world on a budget through travel hacking, consider what blog posts, videos, emails, Instagram shares, Tweets, graphics, and other content would help them do this.
Moreover, if you’re curious how to make your blog unique, consider how you can weave in your own skills, education, passions, and experiences to really bring the content to life in a way that isn’t being done elsewhere.
Step #3: Craft an opt-in freebie to turn readers into subscribers.
While getting free blog traffic from places like Google and social media is great, what you really want is to grow your email list.
Your email subscribers comprise your most dedicated community members, and, in my opinion, are more valuable than blog views and social media followers.
Here is an example of an opt-in freebie:
Step #4: Nurture your subscribers.
You want to make sure you’re regularly sending your community valuable email content — at minimum once per month — so you stay front of mind for them when they think of your blog topic.
Step #5: Place offers in front of your subscribers.
The key here is that these offers, whether they’re your own products or affiliate items, should truly benefit your audience.
This may even be setting up a time for a Discovery Call to better understand your audience members’ needs and really tailor your services to them. Having this call in an 8×8 Video Meeting room allows for a more valuable experience for both of you, as it’s much easier to take your relationship to a deeper level.
What is most important in this step, though, is that with every email they open and every purchase they make, you want them to be thankful they took that action.
Keep in mind, it can be helpful to work backward, as knowing how you’ll monetize makes it easier to understand what audience you want to get in front of.
And with every step, you always want to remember your blog’s purpose to make sure everything you put out into the world is in line with your core mission.
Using the above, you can create the base of your blogging business plan.
Then build on it using the strategies below for growing a blog.
How To Get Your Blog Seen
Now let’s break the above steps down and dive even deeper.
Once you decide what you want to put out into the world, you want to make it your mission to be seen.
Become as visible as possible to really increase your blog fans.
But, how do you do this?
A few of my favorite strategies include:
1. Grow Your Audience Faster Through Blogger Collaboration
When you’re just starting your blog, it’s smart to partner with other content creators who already have the audience you’re trying to get in front of.
This strategy also works if you already have an established audience, as working with other bloggers can help you grow it even bigger.
A few ideas include:
Guest posting on another blogger’s website.
If you want to collaborate with bloggers through guest posting, I recommend ensuring you can get a few contextual links back to your blog posts within the content, not just a link back to your homepage in an author bio.
Moreover, ask if you can also promote your opt-in freebie to really make writing a guest post worth your time.
My favorite way to find guest posting opportunities is by using Keysearch’s Opportunity Finder tool.
Simply type in your blog topic, and Keysearch will find opportunities for guest posting about it in seconds.
If you don’t have Keysearch, you can click my affiliate link here and use code JESSIEONAJOURNEY for 20% off!
Co-create something valuable. This could be a video, a workshop, a blog post, social content or something else.
When deciding who to co-create with, consider bloggers who:
- You already have a relationship with.
- Share the same audience with you but who aren’t direct competitors; for instance, if you both sell a travel hacking course you’d be competitors.
- Can complement your unique talents so you can each bring something to the table; for example, if one of you has a large social media following and the other is great at creating videos, you can both offer something to make a video collaboration more worthwhile than it would be on your own.
Create and take part in collaborative posts.
Collaborative posts involve asking other people, usually bloggers, for their input on a topic.
These bloggers will usually submit a paragraph or two, which get combined to form one larger collaborative post.
There are numerous benefits to this type of content:
By creating a collaborative post on your blog, you’ll often see a boost in traffic as the bloggers who contributed share the finished post on their channels, potentially even linking to it from their websites.
On the other hand, taking part in a collaborative post hosted on another blog allows you to make new industry connections, get in front of a new audience, gain backlinks and grow your traffic.
You can check out this post sharing powerful strategies for working with brands for an example of a collaborative post.
Honestly, this strategy is so effective for growing traffic as well as your Domain Authority in Google that I created a Collaborative Posts Pack in Perlu, one of my favorite influencer networks.
Utilize the best free collaboration tools.
In order to successfully collaborate, it’s smart to invest in some virtual team management tools; though, some of my favorite platforms for this don’t cost a penny, like:
8×8 Meetings. This free virtual team management tool has so many features, like remote team meetings, live streaming, webinars, and video recording (of yourself, your meeting, or your screen!).
Asana. This project management tool is great for creating projects. It allows you to set tasks with timelines and details and assign them to yourself or to team members. Personally, I store all of my blogging workflows here.
Google Drive. When I’m collaborating with another blogger or even a brand, I’ll create a shared Google Drive folder to put content and assets into.
If you’re wondering how to work remotely and travel, the above three tools will be really helpful for staying organized, getting things done, and working with others who may be located in other timezones.
2. Go Live Regularly
Going live is a great way to connect with people faster. You also become more memorable as you go from being text on a page to a talking, moving human being.
When deciding what to share when going live, always go back to your mission.
- Who do you help and how?
- Does the content you’re creating help your community in this way?
Combine this strategy with the previous tip about blog collaborations.
Decide on a topic you want to cover, maybe via a Q&A interview or a shared storytime video, and use an 8×8 Meeting Room to live stream the content on YouTube.
Once the live session ends, re-share the content across your other channels to really maximize its reach.
Because remember, your goal right now is maximum visibility.
3. Be Active In Groups & Forums Where Your Audience Hangs Out
Personally, I’m a fan of Facebook groups and Reddit forums for this reason, though really any online hub where you can connect with your target audience will do.
Maybe that means joining an Italy Travelers Facebook group if you blog about traveling through Italy, or being active in Reddit’s Solo Travel forum if that’s your niche.
The point is to become more visible to the people who would truly benefit from your content.
4. Make Attending Live Events Part Of Your Blogging Business Model
Meetups and blogger conferences are great for landing collaborations and creating new connections.
When you have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction, definitely take advantage of it.
Also, make sure to follow up with every single person you meet, though I also like to connect online right away. As you’re talking you might say something like “I’d love to follow you on Instagram. What is your handle?”
Probably they’ll follow you back. And because you’ve met in real life, when you pop up in their feed they’ll be more likely to genuinely engage, too.
5. Pitch Yourself To Be On A Podcast
If you’re wondering how to get free traffic, being a podcast guest is a great strategy that also increases your blog brand visibility.
Create a list of podcasts in your niche, and for each, spend time researching:
- The type of content they cover, so you can send an appropriate pitch
- The topics they’ve already covered, so you don’t pitch an episode idea that has already been done
By the way:
Sending video introductions and pitches is becoming more and more popular, as it helps you stand out and build a connection right away.
It also shows you took the time to send a personal message vs a templated email.
You might experiment with this idea by using 8×8’s Meeting Room recording feature. You can actually record yourself talking, record your screen if there is something you’d like to show that is relevant to your pitch, or do a mix of both.
Alternatively, you can send an email pitch with a call-to-action to chat further via video conference about the episode.Having trouble growing your #BlogTraffic & community? This step-by-step #BloggingStrategy can help!
6. Get Social On Social Media
It’s funny how anti-social social media can be.
Instead of simply sharing links to your content over and over again — spoiler, that isn’t a smart strategy — look to start conversations.
- Attend Twitter Chats in your niche
- Get active in Facebook groups, as mentioned above
- Search relevant hashtags on Instagram, and spend time interacting with the followers of accounts similar to yours (because this shows there is a good chance they’d be interested in your content, too)
Post frequently on social media, but also vary up your content types. Again, you don’t want to just straight share your own links 24/7.
Mix up a few content types to keep things interesting and see what resonates most with your audience.
To really grow your visibility, also experiment with new and unique types of content that aren’t popular yet.
For instance, maybe you reinvent the idea of a travel video. Karl Watson is a great example on YouTube, as he ignores all of the platform’s best practices to create a documentary series around each trip.
Or maybe you can experiment with an innovative type of media, like cinemagraphs, plotagraphs (shown below), and 3D photographs, which are attention-grabbing because they haven’t been overdone.
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7. Leave Blog Comments
Building on the above, you can also start a conversation in the comments section of another blog.
Sometimes this can also help your traffic, particularly if your comment is interesting or thought-provoking.
8. Gain Blog Visibility In Your Email Signature
One place that many bloggers forget to put their link:
Their email signature!
Along with a link to my blog and social media channels, I also like to promote a valuable piece of content — like an opt-in freebie to help grow my email list.
Here is an example:
9. Use Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a free service where, as a blogger, you can sign up to get daily newsletters sharing journalist queries.
For instance, you might see that a large publication is looking for travelers to share their favorite romantic destinations.
From there, you can send a pitch to the publication to hopefully be used as a source for their story.
While it’s not guaranteed your pitch will be accepted, making this practice a regular part of your strategy can get you some great links and exposure for your blogging business.
10. Make Your Content “Shareable”
Wondering how to get your blog discovered?
One of the simplest ways is to create incredible blog content and encourage people to share it.
How do you do this?
Make it easy to share on social media. I personally use SocialPug (soon to be called GROW by Mediavine) to add social media sharing buttons, clickable Tweets, and vertical graphics with saved descriptions for Pinterest.
Mention other brands, bloggers and businesses. And then let them know they were mentioned to encourage sharing.
You might even include links to your social media shares so they can re-share easily.
Write what other people aren’t. This post I wrote on getting an NYC tour guiding license is a great example.
When I wrote it there was no other content about this.
To date, the piece has landed me numerous radio and podcast appearances, loads of tour bookings, targeted traffic that leads to affiliate income, and the opportunity to be BBC Travel’s tour guide on their NYC episode — twice!
Make your content emotional. The secret to viral content?
The more you can make people feel something when viewing your content, the more likely they are to share it.
That could be sympathizing with your audience in a personal and relatable way, making them laugh out loud, or something else.
11. Optimize For Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is such an in-depth topic that it deserves its own separate blog post.
But I will leave you with a few quick tips, as it can really help get your blog seen by more people:
Use Keysearch to do in-depth keyword research. Keysearch gives you a ton of information on your ability to rank for certain keywords.
For instance, if you want to rank for the keyword “Best solo female travel destinations in Europe” you can input that term into the tool to get a ton of information on how you stand up against the content already ranking for this term.
Don’t worry if that’s confusing, as Keysearch offers a ton of tutorials on how to effectively use their tool.
Targeting long-tail keywords is smart. Long-tail keywords are “keywords ” (actually phrases) with three+ words.
So instead of trying to rank your post for the search term “Italy” you might try to rank for “Visiting Italy with young children.”
You’ll have a much easier time ranking in Google for the latter.
Continuously work on growing your blog’s backlink profile. Backlinks from high-quality sites to your blog essentially tell Google that your blog is also high-quality.
Work to get those backlinks, while also internally linking to your own blog posts.
How To Get Blog Followers & Build An Audience
Now that you’re gaining visibility, you probably want to understand how to get people to follow your blog and grow a loyal audience.
Luckily, I’m now going to walk you through a strategy for gaining free blog followers — no paid ads required.
First, though, realize how important it is to know who you help and how, so that you can target the right people.
The easiest way to turn readers into raving fans is to continuously help them.
And while you certainly want to do this in your blog posts, your real goal should be to get these people onto your email list where you can nurture them into customers.
This is where the opt-in freebie I mentioned above comes into play.
An opt-in freebie — also known as a content upgrade or lead magnet — is something you give your readers for free in exchange for their email address.
This freebie should be something that helps your readers in some way.
Check out this pinnable graphic for a list of opt-in freebie ideas:
Building on this, here is my recommendation for how to build a blog following:
I suggest creating an opt-in freebie that would make sense to promote in all of your content, as well as in your social media bios, email signature — really anywhere your audience may view.
From there, you may get more targeted. Break up your blog mission into three categories, and create an opt-in freebie for each.
For example, if you help travelers take better photos, you might break that up into:
Then for each, you’d create an opt-in freebie to better target the different stages of becoming a better travel photographer that your audience member may be interested in.
For every post you publish, you’d choose the most relevant opt-in freebie to showcase.
Another idea is to create a resource library to grow your email list.
What Is A Resource Library?
A resource library is a collection of assets that collectively help your community solve a larger problem.
An example would be my free Travel Blogger Resource Library, which holds 30+ printables, workshop replays, and video tutorials to help my community turn their blogs into full-time businesses.
The beauty of this is you can really target your readers for each post.
For instance, you can create a unique cheat sheet or workbook to pair with each post, but store all of these printables in one password-protected WordPress page to simplify the setup in your email marketing client.
How To Engage Your Audience
Okay, so once you begin growing your email list, it’s important to realize the worst thing you can do is stay silent.
Along with creating valuable blog posts, social media shares, and opt-in freebies, you also want to send valuable emails.
Before writing an email, ask yourself, “What will the person reading this email get out of this?”
You never want people to read an email and think it was a waste of time.
Therefore, you want to:
- Set up an automated nurture sequence — essentially a series of emails — that your new subscriber receives immediately upon subscribing. To make this easier for you to set up, I’ve got a plug-and-play “Using Freebies To Grow & Monetize Your Email List” workbook inside my free Travel Blogger Resource Library.
- Create a regular email schedule where you send out value-packed emails. A few ideas include teaching strategies, sharing new content, promoting fun giveaways and free offers, and sharing stories that can empower your community.
Now using your growing email list — as well as your other social media channels and online platforms — you can also invite your audience to further engage with you.
A few ideas:
Include calls to action in your content.
- Create a content series that teaches a strategy and then use a remote working tool to engage them further. For instance, at the end, you can invite your audience to join you in an 8×8 Meeting Room to get their questions answered.
- Ask your email subscribers a question and encourage them to reply with an answer. I recommend keeping a spreadsheet with all of the comments, messages, and questions you receive, as this will help you better understand the needs of your audience to better serve them.
- Encourage your subscribers to continue the conversation on social media. For instance, you might email them a video you created on how to choose the perfect solo female travel destination, and ask them to leave their tips in the video comments to keep the conversation going.
- Pair your opt-in freebie with your social media content. For instance, in this video I created on how to pitch brands paid campaigns, you can see I linked a free Brand Pitching Workbook to complement the content. This addition further helps my audience while also continuing to grow my email list.
Interact with your audience by including them in your content.
Wondering how to engage your community?
The following tactic is gold!
Above we talked about collaborative posts and co-hosting live streams with other bloggers, but don’t forget you can also include your audience to further involve them in your community.
For instance, I regularly put out calls to my audience to go live with me on social media for an interview series I call “Inspiring Travelers.”
Essentially, I interview other travelers from my community who have inspiring stories to tell, from a woman who quit her job to travel in an RV indefinitely with her husband after she was diagnosed with cancer, to an inspiring female nomad who trekked the Camino de Santiago to rebuild her strength after an accident.
You can use 8×8 Meeting Rooms for free to get you and your audience members onto the same screen, and then easily live stream the meeting room with high-quality video and audio to YouTube.
During the live stream, other people — both those already in your community and those who are just discovering you — can interact in a live chat.
Talk about engaging content!
Add the word “video” to your email subject line.
Studies have shown that doing this increases your email open rates, so it’s smart to include video sharing as a regular part of your newsletter strategy.
One idea is taking the live stream we just talked about re-sharing it as a video replay. The format for the subject line would be something like “[Big Idea] + [Video]” or “[VIDEO:] + [Livestream Benefit]”.
For instance, “VIDEO: This woman travels the world for free” or “How To Travel The World For Free [Video]”.
Host a webinar or live workshop.
Looking for more ways to interact with your audience?
One of my favorite strategies for engaging my audience is hosting webinars or free live workshops.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to blog about a business topic to teach a strategy during a webinar or empower your audience with valuable knowledge.
Consider what your audience wants to learn, and how you can help them learn it in a step-by-step fashion, typically using a slide presentation for maximum effectiveness.
So how do you successfully host a live webinar?
Actually, along with numerous other team productivity tools and features for virtual team collaboration, 8×8 has webinar capabilities. 8×8 Meeting Rooms integrate with YouTube, so you can livestream your presentation to an unlimited number of attendees.
You’ll want to have at least 30 minutes of pure teaching, followed by at least 15 minutes for taking questions.
If you’ll be ending the webinar with a pitch for them to purchase a product from you, that will typically go in-between the teaching and questions.
Speaking of pitching a product, let’s move on to talk about how you’ll monetize your blog.
Pinpoint How You’ll Monetize Your Blog
You may be wondering how to actually make money blogging, possibly so you can start to travel while working remotely.
The sky really is the limit, but here are the five main ways I personally monetize my travel blog:
- Creating products that benefit my audience, including my NYC photo tours and my online blogging courses
- Promoting referral partners that benefit my audience using a profitable affiliate strategy
- Working with brands that benefit my audience
- Running display ads with Mediavine
- Creating content for brands on their own platforms
Notice how everything I create and promote keeps my audience in mind?
That is the key to creating a sustainable blogging business.
This is because when you share truly valuable content with your audience — whether blog posts, opt-in freebies or paid offers — you are helping them.
So then the question is:
What do you want to create that will help your audience and that you can monetize?
I know for many bloggers it can be difficult to ask their community for money, but realize that the more profitable you are the better you’ll be able to serve your community.
Here is an example:
A top way that I make money is through my growing my Travel Blog Prosperity membership community.
In all honesty, members get a lot more than what they pay for, from new masterclasses published monthly to weekly paid VIP Opportunities sent to their inbox to implementation workbooks helping them truly take action to grow their blogging businesses.
Possibly the most valuable asset included is the three live monthly calls — one goal-setting workshop and two office hour sessions — that help ensure my community can always get premium support.
Having the time to offer these valuable assets would not be possible if I wasn’t profitable.
An Argument For Courses
That creating your own products gives you more control over your income.
And because as a blogger you’re already educating your audience about a topic and becoming an expert in your niche, it makes sense to package that knowledge into a course that better the lives of your audience in some way.
Courses are also great because you can sell them at a higher price point than, say, an ebook.
Now, building on what I said above, one way to add a ton of value to your course is by offering live calls with your students.
These can be easily scheduled in 8×8 Meeting Rooms, and you’ll be able to invite your students to come and ask any questions they still have about the course content.
This ensures you don’t leave them at the lesson, and that you have a school of happy students.A #BloggingTip for you: Consider what you can create & monetize that would *also* HELP your audience. <-- The key to building #BlogTraffic & a community.
Strategies For Running Your Blog Like A Business
Once you’ve determined how you’ll monetize your blog, you need to pinpoint your strategy to making money and growing your business.
These strategies will help bring your blogging business plan to life as you map out how to reach your goals.
You can snag a free “Crafting Your Blog’s Business Plan Worksheet” inside my Travel Blogger Resource Library here.
1. Come up with your SMART goals. SMART goals are:
Consider exactly what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and by when you want to achieve it.
In terms of a goal being attainable, remember that anything is possible; however, you may need to take the time to learn a new skill or do some preparation work.
For instance, you might say “I want to sell 10 seats in my travel hacking course by March 1.”
This is a great goal, though if you don’t have an audience or email list yet, you might want to take some time to build that first to make the goal more attainable.
2. Create a promotional plan. For instance, it’s not enough to simply create a course. You need to actually get it out to the world, too.
One strategy I love that helps me both nurture and monetize my community is the “Give, Give, Give, Ask Method” by mega-successful entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk.
I use this for my email marketing, sending three pure giving emails before sending an email promoting my courses or an affiliate partner.
Here is an example of what that looks like when I email my travel blogging community:
- Week #1 (give): Let’s map out your blogging goals! [FREE Workshop]
- Week #2 (give): Here is my holiday gift to you (+ a giveaway!)
- Week #3 (give): A 5-step strategy for growing your email list
- Week #4 (ask): Travel Blog Prosperity doors are officially open!
By doing this, I’m continuously empowering my community and growing our relationship.
They feel helped by me so that when I do promote an offer, they have been helped by me and better know and trust me — as they should because I only promote offers I genuinely believe in and that I think would benefit them.
3. Build your dream team. While in the early stages of your blog you may be a solopreneur, as you grow you’ll likely start to bring on board a team.
For me, the biggest benefit of having a team is avoiding burnout and alleviating me from doing the tasks I don’t enjoy so I can focus on what I love.
This is where virtual team management tools, like 8×8 Meeting Rooms, become essential.
First of all, never hire a team member without interviewing them. I highly recommend interviewing potential team members face-to-face or over video chat to ensure you truly vibe well with each other.
Trust me, you won’t be able to accurately gauge this over email.
Once you hire your team members, being able to meet on video chat and share your screen to go over projects, analytics, and tasks is also a huge time-saver over trying to explain things in a written message.
For example, maybe you want your virtual assistant to turn your podcast episodes into audiogram videos for Instagram, like this.
Instead of emailing them this complicated task and hoping they figure out what you want, hop on a quick 8×8 Meeting to show them exactly how to create the audiogram.
As 8×8 meetings can be recorded, you can share the footage with your team for later reference.
Using this tool will lead to better overall virtual team collaboration without the misunderstandings and lengthy back-and-forth communication.
A big thanks to 8×8 for sponsoring this post!
When it comes to how to get blog followers, build an audience, and grow your blogging business, what tips would you add?
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