3 Signs You’re Ready to Create an Online Course

3 Signs Youre Ready To Create An Online Course

NOTE: I originally wrote this post in May 2014. I’m updating parts + resharing for the 2015 reeeeemiiiiiiiiix (said in your best imaginary echoey DJ voice) David + I are hosting for you next Tuesday, June 2nd.

You may know that I recently launched and delivered my first (non-college) course, A Course About Copy.

(Sidenote: I’m opening the doors for good this summer, and while I can’t WAIT, I totally feel like I’m delivering course twins three months apart. But that’s a different story.)

The point is: With over 50 students from ALL over the world (and over $50k in revenue – WHAT on earth?!?), creating my first online course has been a total game-changer – for me, my business, and my family. (2015 UPDATE: A year later, we’ve now got over THREE HUNDRED dreamies in the ACAC fam. Amazing. Take everything I say here + multiply it by six.)

Several of my clients, students, friends, and readers have expressed interest in creating THEIR first online courses lately, which is precisely why I’m so happy to share some of my fave course-creating tips and resources with YOU today.

In this from-my-living-room-couch video, I’ll share:

  • 3 sure-fire signs you’re ready to create your first online course
  • How courses are like carbs (i.e. the wrong ones give you digi-saddlebags)
  • Why online courses are MAGICAL if you want more time with your fam, your friends, your DVR…
  • A time-sensitive invitation to join me + DSG LIVE to talk course shop on Tuesday (+ YES that includes a Q&A party!)

Click below to watch (or take a listen):

Click here to watch directly on YouTube.

In a (Coco)nut Shell…

Courses are like carbs. It’s all in how you use ’em. (Tweet that!)


If you…

  1. have something valuable (step-by-step) to teach +
  2. have an audience of someone(s) to teach that something to +
  3. are ready to SCALE and grow your business beyond the dollars-for-hours model

….you’re ready to create your first online course :)

Links Worth Noting

Our *next Tuesday June 2nd* webi RSVP page

My one-year-of-ACAC-in-review story on The Rise to the Top

My crazy first ACAC launch story on The Rise to the Top

A free sample of my A Course About Copy goodies

Your Homework

  1. If you haven’t already, RSVP to join David + me by clicking here.
  2. In the comments below, tell me: What would YOUR first course be about?

Share it LOUD and proud so we can cheer you on :)

Hope to see you Tuesday, friend!

To valuable courses and sweet, sweet, freedom,


P.S. For real. Don’t miss this call. We’ll make it fun AND you’ll learn from our wins + flubs :)

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 1.50.39 PM





  1. Dayna

    Giiiiirrrrllll, you are operating in my zone this week. ;-) Can’t wait for your party with DSG next week. Talk about genius!

    Any-who, my first course is going to be all about designing course content so it’s clear, concise and highly actionable so learners learn and experts earn. Not so much the technical and marketing bits. Think content flow, activities and support materials. It’s been a crazy ride so far and I’m sure it’s just going to get crazier as I get closer to launch.

    Thanks for being a guiding light through the whole biz development thing. You’re the best!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      YES Dayna – there’s such a HUGE need for your course (hello, all comments below). Curating content is where so many people get stuck and/or overwhelmed.

      Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up!

      1. Dayna

        Thanks girl! My bizinspiration…

    2. Kristy Goodwin


      I LOVE that idea that “learners learn and experts earn”. That has to be your tagline, right?

      Agreed, Nikki is such a fantastic guiding light. This was just the “kick in the pants” I needed to get cracking on my eCourse.

      1. Nikki Elledge Brown

        She’s good, huh Kristy?

        Thanks for the kind words, ladies :)

  2. Kathy Grosskurth

    As a bookkeeper with an MBA, I find there are lots of folks who do not know how to read their financial documents (P&Ls and Balance Sheets) to know how to their business is really doing and whether they are making (or losing) money. That would be one area whereby I could provide webinars to teach those folks to learn the basics of how to read these important docs.

    I am also looking at creating a course in basic bookkeeping skills which would include a basic accounting principles primer. I am working with several unemployed folks which would be able to enhance their skill set (and also command higher starting pay!) by learning how to do basic bookkeeping.

    I am looking forward to being a part of your webinar!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Very cool, Kathy! Love the empowerment behind that idea :)

  3. Ewa

    Hi Nikki, I love your video. Thank you for asking good questions :) I want to create a course about creating your own organic cosmetics. I am thinking about it for a long time now… months maybe even a year. I feel overwhelmed with all the content I would have to create. Somehow the tech part doesn’t overwhelmed me. And I am of course afraid that after I spend months creating it it won’t sell so well… I congratulate you your crashing course launch :)

    1. Alysa

      Ohhh!! A course like that sounds fabulous!

    2. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Try not to let that fear seep into your brain, Ewa.

      Think happy thoughts, stay in your creative zone, find support where you need it, and everything else will line up :)

      ALSO – connect with Dayna of teachcoachcreate.com (see first comment above). She’s got great tips on curating + organizing your actual content!

  4. Sarah

    Hey Nikki!
    Such perfect timing :) We are in the process of restructuring our business from an online store to a hub where mums-to-be can learn how to look after their bodies before having babies in order to have the healthiest bubs.

    With that in mind, our course would be a complete and safe detox (preconception) to create the healthiest, happiest and clearest blank canvas in which to conceive. This includes hormone balancing, heavy metal & liver detox, candida-killing all out clear out :)

    Love all your videos xx

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks, Sarah, and love that idea. New moms especially can get overwhelmed with all the resources out there. A super-step-by-step program could be VERY helpful!

  5. Christine Dyan

    This is such perfect timing and Divinely ordered! Although I do love the 1:1’s, I need to leverage my time more.

    I’m a dietitian/ holistic nutritionist with over 20 years of experience, and over the course of my career, I have seen people struggle with meal planning. While I could provide a meal planning service that would rock (and may do that somewhere down the line), I would like to provide a course the teaches people how to easily and effectively do it themselves using what I uniquely call “The PFF Rule”. The PFF Rule allows for more freedom and flexibility in planning your meals without having to stick with ready-made recipes or ingredients that you may not like (or may not tolerate).

    Thanks for this video Nikki. You are always such an inspiration!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Intrigued, Christine! I’m just finally starting to experiment in the kitchen (have been allergic to cooking for…ever.), so I’d love to hear more about your PFF rule :)

    2. Kristen

      This is very intriguing to me!

  6. Bethsarim

    I want to show people step-by-step how to turn their iPad into a design station for their social media content creation.

    Tips & tricks from a expert designer for graphics and quotes that take your content strategy to the next level.

  7. Stephanie

    Nikki your videos are the best. LOVE THEM! The Universe is speaking to me and over the past week so much information has been thrown in front of me about online courses. I am getting the hint! I am signed up for your call with David. Can’t wait!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks so much, Stephanie. This week in particular I was like, “DUDE. You prefer video. Why are you hiding behind text-only posts??” This is definitely my preferred mode of communication, expect plenty more vids this summer :)

      So glad you’re joining us Wednesday. You’re going to love David’s tips!

      1. Kristen

        Same here! One of my mentors actually commented on a video of mine and told me I should do more. I took that as a sign and have created a few more. It’s actually quite fun and I thought I would never say that!

        1. Nikki Elledge Brown

          Fabulous! Then you know you’re on the right track :)

  8. oeda

    This sounds so great Nikki and it is exactly what I have been thinking about. So it is like you are reading my mind.
    My course would be a confidence building course.
    x Oeda

  9. Sara Young

    Hi Nikki! My first course would be about how to communicate effectively with your manager/boss/supervisor in order to get your needs met at work.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Oooh, Sara. So valuable. (And you know I’m a fan of effective communication ;))

  10. Siobhan McAuley

    Thanks Nikki, great timing. I was just hinting myself this week that I needed a formula/recipe for re-writing the copy on my site. I’m also about to co-facilitate a webinar with a friend and I’m so looking forward to hearing your next week.

    Homework: At this point, I think the thing that I would most like to create a course around in helping people to get clear on what their end game is. So often I work with clients that are busy doing, doing, doing all these tasks they’ve set up for themselves, but they’ve never stopped to ask themselves what they want their life to look like 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years from now. Without having a clear picture of where they want to go, they end up spending all their time in the present on things that will never actually get them to where they want to go.

    So my course would be all about creating a map of the life you want and building a business that is the vehicle that will take you to your desired destination. Does that make sense? A little like a treasure map course I suppose. Sounds like fun!

    Thanks again.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Makes sense, and it’s SO important.

      I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about, dreaming of, and visualizing what I want for our life in the past few weeks…and having that perspective is shifting everything.

      Exciting! And I love the treasure map idea :)

  11. Allison

    Nikki- impeccable timing as usual. I’m just beginning work on my first course and I NEED this and your guidance! xoxo :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Happy to hear it, Allison! You joining us on Wednesday?

  12. Kristy Oustalet

    Can’t wait for the webinar with you and DSG… I’ll be there!
    Cheers to all of your biz growth :)

  13. Christine

    Hi Nikki

    Thank you for a great video and information. I’ve been thinking about creating a course for so long, that I think this is the push that I needed after watching your video.

    I want to create a course to teach people step by step on how to turn their uninspired home into an inspired, well organized oasis of creativity, and productivity where they can sit back relax and enjoy their home. I believe passionately that your home should reflect who you are, and can transform your life!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Been thinking of you lately, Christine, because I’m now KEENLY aware that my home needs a makeover this year :)

      Think I need to schedule a consult soon!

  14. Rick

    Hey Nikki, great video! Thanks for the 3 tips to identify whether I have what it takes to create an online course. I have spent the last year and a half creating a course to help married couples put the “HONEY” back in their relationships and I do want to create an online version. My first course would show spouses HOW TO do this on their own, 100% online. I’m enjoying your emails and videos and look forward to connecting with you next week! I just signed up for the webinar next Wednesday! Warmly, Rick

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love your spirit, Rick!

      Thank you so much for the encouragement AND for doing what you do. I’m all about finding, keeping, and reinforcing the honey :)

      See you Wednesday!

  15. Jessica Zelenko-Barrier

    GREAT video! Thank you! I have the outline for my first course and it’s loosely titled Figure Out What You Want To Do With Your Life. I’m a career coach. I help adventurous, smart, driven people (usually college educated) who can’t decide what they want to do for their careers and don’t know how to turn their dreams into their reality.

    I have a step-by-step plan for them to follow and am good at getting clients through word of mouth, Facebook (not fb marketing, just my page) and my direct contact. I’m just starting to grow my list, though.

    I’d love to learn more from you about list building. I know B-School really helped because they were your target market but did you do anything else to grow your list? I know this isn’t your exact niche but I love learning from you because you make it easy to understand.

    And… I am ready to scale! Can’t wait!

    Thanks for putting this great and actionable work out there for us! Looking forward to the webinar.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Hi Jessica! Honestly YES, my list-building BOOMED from that original FB group, then kept blooming organically after that…largely through connecting with folks on FB.

      My biggest list-builder so far has been my free training series…had 2,000 folks sign up in a span of 90 days before, during, and right after my initial ACAC launch!

      Expecting another boom this summer with the launch of my new site and ACAC Summer School, so I’ll keep you posted :)

  16. Valerie

    I sell jewelry supplies and also make jewelry myself. Over the years I have acquired a wealth of knowledge on how to take beautiful photos of my products and jewelry.

    I want to put together a small video course on how to take mouth watering photographs of your jewelry. :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That is BEAUTIFULLY specific, Valerie! That’s one of David’s biggest suggestions when starting on your course-creating journey – find an audience that’s so laser-focused, you’re in a league of your own.

  17. Brianne

    I’m a holistic esthetician and I juuuust started creating my 4 week course to help people who struggle with persistent acne. It will teach them how to incorporate diet and lifestyle changes into their life and how to find their own personal triggers so they can heal their acne, rather than treat it. :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That’ll be a game-changer for your folks, Brianne! Would’ve loved a solution like that in my teen years :)

  18. Karen Taggart

    Thanks Nikki!

    Both your course and David’s are on my “Courses I Want to Take ASAP” list. :)

    For quite a while now I’ve been thinking of offering a business basics step-by-step course for people (especially moms) who have an idea and know they want to start a business, but who have absolutely no idea how to even start. Sort of a B-School for beginners. My target audience would be moms who use email and play around on Facebook and Pinterest, but who otherwise know very little about starting an online biz. I’m tossing around the idea of doing an in-person workshop locally to try it out and learn from that and then turn it into an ecourse. We shall see… :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love that idea, Karen! The more of us to help mamas (like us), the better :)

      I think it’s great to start in a workshop as a lab test – but don’t forget you can use your 1/1s as market research. I bet you’ll start seeing patterns on what folks need help with, what Qs they ask, etc. almost instantly.

      Your Q&A show will also be a great place to find content ideas!

      Go get ’em, tiger :)

  19. Nicole

    Wow, great timing. I’m just about to announce my course in the next couple of weeks.

    My course is about your Energy: Understanding and using your energy to move forward.

  20. Laurel

    Hi Nikki! I have designed a daily mindful exercise program for people who are at a point in their lives where they recognize something is missing. For so many years I treaded water with my job and my relationships and lived life securely, but never felt fulfilled. After studying A Course In Miracles and feeling the sheer joy it brought to my life in the form of hope and faith I would like to share that experience with others who my be feeling stuck in the tread mode, and have forgotten how to swim. I devised a daily practice workbook/journal and I am in the midst of deciding if I want to turn it into an online course or just publish it in book form. I am hoping your instructional course might offer me some clarity and give me something to swim towards. Thanks so much to you and David. Xoxo-Laurel

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Sounds very cool, Laurel. Love the idea of a workbook/journal!

  21. Kristy Goodwin


    This was a such a valuable video. Like always, you so eloquently and succinctly communicated some big ideas about creating courses.

    My first eCourse is actually under development. It’s all about how parents can use iPads (and other iDevices) with their young children in healthy, educational and appropriate ways so that they can ditch the (unwarranted) parental techno-guilt.

    Looking forward to the webinar with you and Mr DSG. Setting the alarm at 1am will hurt but I am sure it will all be more than worthwhile!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ha! Did you make it this morning??

      You know I love your content…about to reload the iPad for another trip across the Pacific!

  22. Heather

    My first online course is debuting in August and is called “Streamline with Systems.” It is a step-by-step course on how to go from Prospective Client Inquiry to Services Completed/Product Delivered to Client-Refers-You-To-Everyone-Because-They-Love-You. It will include actionable steps that have worked for me and the clients I have coached and an awesome Guidebook for them to complete each week and have for their company to not only help them build consistency and trust with their clients, but also help them to easily train new members of their team when they grow.

    By the way, were your ears burning on Thursday? Dayna and I were chatting and your name came up. All good things…pretty much that we both adore you and are so flippin’ excited for the goodness you are sharing with the world and the success you are having from it.
    Hugs lady!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Aw thanks, Heather! Love Dayna :)

      Excited for you and this course of yours! Game-changing.

  23. Itatiaia

    I want to create an online course teaching people how to repair their physical body (from the years/decades of alcohol abuse) through whole foods nutrition so that they can heal their obsession and craving to drink alcohol. I have first hand experience on the power of raw food to heal alcohol addiction. It’s a faster, easier and delicious way to stop the cravings. Nutrition is the missing link that is missing from other alcohol addiction programs and I want to be the one to change that so that people with addictions can finally start living the life they are meant to live…one that has meaning and purpose. Thank you for asking. You are awesome ! Keep up the great work :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you, Itatiaia! What a powerful topic.

      Wishing you all the best with your course journey!

  24. Ruthie

    All signed up for the call and looking forward to it.
    I’m in the midst of creating my course teaching email marketing to online shop owners and helping them to drive massive revenue & results in their store. The material is stemming from my site where I share Online Shop Success Strategies.
    See you on the webinar :)
    – Ruthie

  25. Tamsen

    My first course is definitely biz development for all my lawyer friends!

  26. Manuela

    Hi Nikki,
    Thanks for another great video.

    It will be the middle of the night here in Oz :-( so I can’t join you live, but I have signed up hoping there will be a recording (?)

    What will my first course be about? Getting more life for your money and more money for your life.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Hi Manuela!

      Did you sign up? If so, you should have the replay in your inbox :)

  27. kate himes

    Excited to call into the session tomorrow. THANK YOU for what you are doing.

    I am launching a site called Simply Sustainable where I will be teaching, coaching, and encouraging women all over North America about the small and simple steps they can take in their to transform their homes and lives into one that is sustainable – both earth-wise and manageability-wise. I want to put the entire information – the Home Transformation guide – into an e-guide or e-course that women who are super motivated and ready to roll can utilize to implement the steps quicker, vs. waiting week-by-week to introduce new steps.

    My question for you would be — are the techniques for crafting an e-guide all that different from an e-course? And if so, how?

    Thx a bazillion!!

    -kate himes

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Hi Kate!

      A Course About Copy was my first “product” so I’m not experienced with books or e-guides…but I think it’s all about what you WANT to create. What would be most fun for you and most helpful to your potential students/customers? What would better serve your goals for your business (and your life)?

      Let those Qs (and answers) guide you – and be sure to catch the replay if you missed the live run…David talks about this a bit on the call!

  28. Camilla

    Oh! I’m so excited for this! The timing is perfect as I’m at the very beginning stages of outlining my first online Pilates course. Thanks so much! x

  29. Dee

    I’m so happy you are sharing this right now Nikki! You see I really need this so my peeps can get the best of what I can offer for them. My first ever online course is going to be about Mastering limited beliefs and playing with fears, as guides to being the best you can be so you are always living the life of your dreams. OMGeez…it’s really happening and you’re giving me the confidence that I will do a great job! Thanks Nikki looking forward to the seminar! Love dee

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      So glad you joined us, Dee! Told y’all he knows his stuff ;)

  30. Siedah Mitchum

    I am so looking forward to the webinar tomorrow. Nikki you are absolutely awesome!!

    My first course launches in less than two weeks (May 23rd) called Rule WordPress where I walk you through step-by-step how to create a home for your business using WordPress Genesis Theme (Lifestyle Pro) and I have bonus videos also teaching you how to install free themes and create your very own graphics using Canva.

    I am super nervous and excited because I spend 6-8 months creating this course and it’s almost time to open the doors. I am sure you can relate Nikki. :D

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That sounds AMAZING, Siedah.

      So many folks need that (and it’s a great complement to A Course About Copy, where they learn what the hey to WRITE on their site ;)).

      Happy launching!

  31. Rachel

    Thanks Nikki! I’m in the very early stages of launching my business (I’m still working on my website, market research, etc). But my goal is to create an online course that shows my audience how to take charge of their health and happiness through raw foods, exercise, mediation, stress management, etc. I know I’m a ways off from being ready to create the course, but I’m really looking forward to the webinar.

  32. Rachel Taylor

    Unfortunately I missed the webinar as I only got back from vacation last night. But my first course is going to be for Mailchimp beginners. Going from sign-up to sending your first campaign.

  33. Anna Juusela

    Hi Nikki!
    I love your new website!
    My very first online course is now published (I took your advice and did not try to make it perfect at once). I am so excited! :) Lets hope it will boom like yours have.
    My course is a Step-by-Step Guide: Budgeting Purchases of Retail Merchandises for Retail Sales. It is targeted for fashion professional.
    Thank you for your helpful and good tips!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      So glad this was helpful, Anna. Hope your course launch went great!

  34. Melissa

    This was really good to hear. I’m in the process of setting up a course, especially after seeing some really poor ones recently.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Happy you enjoyed it, Melissa! Hope your creation process goes as smoothly as possible :)

  35. Rayzel Lam

    I have a successful business kind of guiding people through my videos and blogposts through a diet that I successfully lost weight and maintained. However, my course idea is more of a motivational course idea, and I don’t know if this is something that people would actually pay for, because it’s not actionable really in the sense of, do this and then this will happen. It’s more of a way to stay motivated on the diet, by having daily positive input to boost their motivation, inspiration and support them to stick to the diet while it’s going on. Many people quit the diet because they feel alone and don’t have support and it feels hard. So I thought a daily motivational course would be like their daily shot of positivity to help them stick to it. I am now in the process of finding out if people in my audience find this a good idea.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Good call, Rayzel! The best way to find out is to ask the folks who would be your buyers.

      Instead of asking a yes/no question, just as them what they’d want to know about X – or what they’d like in terms of support around Y…then let them take the reins!

      You’ll feel so much more confident building a course you KNOW people will be ready to buy :)

      (And if you haven’t yet watched the replay of the webi where we discuss that in way more detail, be sure to sign up for the replay here before it ends tomorrow: https://www.nikkielledgebrown.com/courses)

  36. PollyAnna

    Nikki, I just love you and the way you communicate! Thank you for everything!

    I am already putting together my fourth online course, but this one is something special. The others were great to get my feet wet and see how to create a course, what to create, and all that jazz. But this one is the best thing I’ve ever come up with.

    My new course that I’m creating is called The Simple Love Formula Bootcamp. It’s a course about creating a solid foundation for love. It helps singles get out of their negative dating patterns and attract the love of their life, while it helps couples heal wounds, deepen their intimacy, keep the passion alive, and strengthen their communication. Regardless if people are single or in a relationship, the course helps each person to strengthen their connection with themselves, their intuition, and Spirit (whatever that means to them).

    I’m so stoked, and this was just confirmation that I’m on the right path :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      OOH that sounds like a good one, Pollyanna! Love that it can help both singles and couples. (On that note – can you do that easily, or would it be easier for you to make two more specific courses? Just food for thought.)

      Hope it goes well!

  37. Sheila Viers

    I have two self-study courses already created, but… I’ve learned so much since I created them and I’ve decided to revamp my 6-week course to make it even better, more focused, and to really differentiate it from my 6-month course, which I am currently offering as a group program..

    Clarity feels so good, doesn’t it? :-)

  38. Rachel

    I love how you share your journey on many levels while you are creating your biz. I have designed several courses already: 8 Essential Manifesting Tips, Access Your Intuition, & How To Release Stress For Intuitive Souls. With more to come. :-)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you, Rachel! And WOW – you are a course-creating machine. Just creating ACAC (twice) was enough to last me at least a few years ;)

  39. Aleksandar

    Hi Nikki, my name is Aleksandar and I just discovered you through a related David Garland video on YouTube.
    I love your videos, energy and advice you share for all those up and coming hopefuls struggling with creating their digital product. I am really interested in creating a digital course to help people with things I have been struggling immensely throughout my life. I am running the risk of looking like another cheesy self – help course peddler but I would like to help people to better PROTECT THEIR MINDS. Literally. With all the negative habits that we generally pick up, distractions, today’s media culture all put together makes for millions disorganized individuals lacking focus and goals that live psychologically burdened lives.
    Not sure EXACTLY at this time what to decide on the actual structure of the course but I managed to transform my life for the better in recent years and I feel I can share my experience and advice with people to live more purposefully. From your experience, do you feel that is something that can attract an audience? Is it way too general? Do you think that people would not take me as seriously because I am not a native English speaker. You have a Macedonian fan right here :) Thank you so so much!!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Aloha from Honolulu to Macedonia, Aleksandar! :)

      Have you checked out David’s free training yet? (My link for it: https://www.nikkielledgebrown.com/courses) He answers a lot of those Qs in the cheat sheet + training videos. In short, though – you definitely want to test the idea first, before you pour your heart and soul into creating a course around it. If you have a feeling it’s too broad, it probably is. Gotta have the audience interest FIRST, then you can create with confidence.

      Hope this helps some :)

  40. Harshwardhan

    Hello, I already have a few courses on Udemy but I need to improve them, my goal is to make courses that people love! Any marketing tips you would like to share? Many thanks!

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