Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Andrew Kamphey and I run Better Sheets.
Better Sheets is Google Sheets tutorials. Screencasts I make which help scrappy small businesses do more with less. They teach you how to make less cluttered, more visually appealing spreadsheets.
In April I had 13 sales and made $390. As of now, in the month of May I’ve made 134 sales with revenue of $2,291.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
It began as a side project while building a web app. I had wanted to launch something helpful to a broad set of people. And I wanted to launch something that could run without my interference.
In the company that I co-founded, to do ad sales we were constantly building biz models and outreach in Google Sheets. My co-founder earlier this year mentioned that all my Google Sheets look great. And are way above anything else he had seen.
I didn’t have to validate it, necessarily, before creating it. I just launched the damn thing on a Friday. Landing page, 4 free videos, and 4 paid videos. I set a price and moved on with my life. Come Monday I had a sale, and everything blasted off from there.
Or so I thought. 2 weeks later I had only done one sale. But the damn thing existed and I just kept working on it. Adding more and more videos. 15 each week.
The first customer was blown away. He ended up sending me, unsolicited, 3 emails of testimonials. Showing me the Google Sheets he made before and after watching my videos. This alone gave me the motivation to keep moving.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I used Carrd for the landing page. Linked to a Gumroad page for payment which then leads to a Loom folder for viewing.
Google is full of answers to your Google Sheet questions. YouTube is overflowing with explanations of functions. But I saw that there was a huge gaping void in creative uses of Google Sheets. Uses that businesses could use right now. In order to use Google to answer your questions, you need to know what to ask. You need to know you need this function or that function. And only a single layer of abstraction exists.
I thought, if I could show more creative uses around each function that I’ll be able to help people do more with less.
By the time you’re reading this, it’s a bit more complicated. I just built a membership site with basic HTML and member space. Then created a search bar for the videos with Algolia. No frameworks, just Bulma for CSS.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Created the landing page in Carrd. A beautiful tool that I keep finding an excuse to fire up, time, and time again.
I had already been using Loom so I didn’t need to pay for it again. I just made a new folder. Collected all the videos in there.
Popped that folder behind a Gumroad paywall and boom, I'm off to do Marketing and selling.
I didn’t have time to overthink this. I wrote copy and for the next month, re-wrote and rewrote and re-made. IndieHackers community was incredibly helpful and kind. Their constructive feedback helped morph the page and the copy.
At first I had the free tutorials behind a “free videos” button and that was the first thing I changed. Moved them from behind that click and saw lots more people viewing them.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The pricing is the main motivating factor for buying. I’m now selling lifetime access. It’s not monthly, it’s not recurring in any way. Modeled quite openly after the initial MakerPad business model. I wanted no strings attached to having to update this forever.
Initially the growth tactic was this: Release a Google Sheet with some crazy “feature” and make it available for free. Add in a link to a video on how I made it, for free. At the end of the video explain all the stuff I can do better. And upsell to the paywalled videos.
I created “Sunsplash: Unsplash in a Google Sheet”. I thought this would be the main driver of sales.
The biggest selling channel is AppSumo. Small businesses are going crazy for Better Sheets. Because they already use Google Sheets so much. Might as well get better.
Appsumo typically sells lifetime deals of SaaS products that have a monthly charge. You can get insane deals, like a $49 lifetime deal for a $30 a month product. They also do free lifetime deals from time to time on products that will upsell you later and are useful now for free.
I was very lucky to be picked for a beta program: “Sumo-ling Spotlight”. I applied along with 700 others. 10 got to the finals, and then 1, Better Sheets, was picked. It’s different than their other style deals.
It’s absolutely worth it because they already have a million people who want to buy products to help their business. I would have normally paid around $5,000 in ads, and not had the help their team is helping me on. They helped shape the copy on their landing page. They helped craft a blog post that went live last week.
Google is full of answers to your Google Sheet questions. YouTube is overflowing with explanations of functions. But I saw that there was a huge gaping void in creative uses of Google Sheets. Uses that businesses could use right now.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
By far this is absolutely profitable. Funny enough this project was technically profitable after the first sale. Cost $8.99 for a domain and $30 sale.
Right at this moment (Mid-May) I’m rushing to help current customers. I’d like to super-serve the ones who believed in a landing page promise. Those who got wowed by the few videos I had created, now will truly be blown away!
The point is that every question I get, every challenge I overcome for a customer, is a new video for everyone. Everyone benefits from questions and answers. I hope too, to be able to create more free videos, as I see simple little short solutions to big problems.
I’ll also try to release a little bit at a time longer tutorials. I think in the long run, the YouTube channel will prove to be useful in acquiring more customers. But I love it because it can help the most people.
Already a few friends who have deep knowledge of one thing might start a “Better…” series of videos. And package them up. It’s just hard to find a category as broad as “Google Sheets”.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One day in early May I released a free guide for travel influencers. The timing couldn’t be worse. It was free and generally speaking is a gift to those who are having trouble creating content. The copy didn’t sing. The copy didn’t really sell because I was giving it away for free.
On the same day my AppSumo deal launched. People had to pay. The copy sang. The copy sizzled. It was amazing. It broke through any objection anyone would have to buy it. And I backed it up by being incredibly generous with personal screencasts to those who asked. 60 sales in the first day. The same day that I got 3 downloads of the free guide.
You need good timing. No matter what you sell.
Read the room. Listen to the zeitgeist. Lean into what works.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Carrd for landing page
- Gumroad for payment portal
- Loom for videos
- Pigeon for CRM
- Descript for editing videos (most screencasts I release aren’t edited. Now, I am editing more and going to produce some crisper videos)
- Memberspace for memberships
- Bulma for CSS
- Algolia for search
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most inspiring book is The Dip. Learn to quit and move on.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I wasn’t until I got to this question. I’d be open to someone who can take existing content and re-contextualize it. Use Descript to get transcripts. Publish those as walk-throughs on a blog with screenshots. I think this will help SEO but I just have no idea when I’d be able to do this on a regular schedule. By June 1st, I hope to have 100 videos made. And continue to do 2-10 per week for customers.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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