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2,000 Words on Approaching 2,000 Customers

It's February, 2021. Approximately 10 months since I launched Better Sheets. Better Sheets has more than 1,800 customers and fewer than 1,900 at the moment.

While 1,900 isn't a well documented milestone, 2,000 is.

I'll take the next 2,000-ish words to talk about what it's like to approach 2,000 customers.

Why it began. How it went. Where it will go.

And I'll talk through a few giants who let Better Sheets stand on their shoulders. Or rather plucked Better Sheets from obscurity.

TL;DR

  1. I made Better Sheets. Turned Anger into Love.
  2. AppSumo picked Better Sheets from 700 applications.
  3. I focused on making videos for individuals not cohorts.
  4. AppSumo found new ways to promote Better Sheets.
  5. 10 months, & 151 videos later, the price will rise.
  6. More effort to bring cohesion to Content, Community and Commerce.
  7. Launching Soon: Sheeeets.com - a marketplace for Google Sheets.

Begin at the Beginning

Looking back at the start, I never imagined I'd be here. Right here. Right now.

I'd never imagined I'd have 100, let alone 1,000\. And now approaching 2,000 customers.

It doesn't feel like 2,000 customers.

I know many of their individual names, and faces.

They all know my face. Thanks Loom.

It feels more like 2,000 individuals.

  • Carlos
  • Maria
  • Anders
  • Colin
  • Tracey
  • Jon
  • Ben
  • Gayle

To name a few on my mind now.

I know what most of them are working on - Exciting stuff!

I know many of their needs - Their wants - Their fears - Their desires.

I also know my own fears and my own desires - for Better Sheets.

Let me remind you and remind myself why I started Better Sheets.

Before Better Sheets

Let's go back to the first week of April 2020.

1 week before Better Sheets existed.

I was angry. Fuming. Pure rage steamed out of me . I was focusing on an article. TNW wrote about the Transpose() formula as useless.

I've used it.

A lot.

Immediately I could think of 10 ways to use the Transpose() Formula.

Of course this was, at the time, a petty thing to be angry about.

I had already spent March 2020 fuming at the U.S. Government. I had emailed and called 50 representatives that I was a personal constituent to. Asking them to take on Coronavirus. I had seen in my recent travels through Asia in January that it was spreading fast.

Without going too deep into it, I will be honest. I felt disenfranchised, powerless, un-empowered.

I was looking for anything I could control. But not in a destructive way. Rather in a constructive way. Feeling out of control is not a good place for a serial maker to feel, or is it?

Create While Chaos Reigns

The world was going into lockdown. Work From Home. Stay at Home.

The world would soon know what I knew. Working from home offered 30 second commutes. People found more time.

Time to work on new projects - side projects - small businesses.

Not everyone.

I can't hand wave over a massive global pandemic. I hope you can afford me a little passing nod to an awful awful event that's continued to kill and destroy lives. Not everyone has the time to pursue "projects". I remain grateful and 100% admit my personal privilege.

There exists a non-zero amount of ambitious folks, who will take this time to up-skill, learn, and do new things.

I learned over the next 10 months that it's not only those who learn new things.  Better Sheets Customers came from all over. Customers include people from all walks of life. Doing all sorts of projects, jobs, work.

Where I started was at "project"

And every project starts as a google sheet.

And everyone googles for answers to their google sheet questions.

But, not every question, roadblock, hesitation, is google-able.

How do you find creative, orthogonal, crazy ideas of what one can do in Sheets?

I couldn't find it. So I made it.

Better Sheets Was Born

Better Sheets was born into calamity. But it didn't have to be a mirror on the world that existed. I hoped I could show there was much more than meets the eye in a sheet. More thanks blank cells within the rows and columns of a brand new fresh sheet.

I thought of Better Sheets as Google Sheets 201.

You think you know Google Sheets but you have no idea!

I created Better Sheets in 24 hours.

Created 8 videos on Loom.

Made 4 available for free, 4 behind a Gumroad paywall.

Listed it for $39 Lifetime deal.

And launched Better Sheets.

Almost 2,000 customers later, it's still a Gumroad Page and Loom.

More on future plans at the end.

Why me?

But, why me? I'm Andrew Kamphey. I'm one person.

For 4 years I worked at a startup building television networks. Among 30 of us, we needed to curate online videos. And cut them together to produce hours of television programming.  And we operated it all in Google Sheets.

We did it all in Google Sheets because of me. I ran the google sheets.

They called me a Wizard. 🧙‍♂️

My boss, Wes, at the time said "You're a Wizard, Kamphey". and I loved it.

After creating sheets that helped them 10x their productivity I'd be giddy that I did it. More rejoicing that it's possible rather than relish the narcissism.

The excitement for getting stuff done in sheets carries on to today.

Customers have commented they feel my enthusiasm for sheets. I'm giddy that something worked and I love google sheets.

Love is a powerful motivator.

I made a Facebook group called "I Love Google Sheets"

Why a Lifetime Deal to start with?

A recession was hitting. And if you don't believe that, at least a period of uncertainty.

And in times of uncertainty 3 things happen.

  1. People stop paying
  2. People want certainty
  3. People do the math

A lucky break that I'm grateful to discover this piece of psychology early on.

1. People Stop Paying

People stop paying for whatever it is they can stop paying for. This means people are more sensitive to immediate value.

If you can make people money, then they'll pay. But you need to prove it to them.

This is basic of business and it's priority increases during a recession. People always want to be faster at their job, and make more money.

2. People Want Certainty.

Tactics like "Less than a cup of coffee a day" won't work. People aren't sure they can afford a coffee a day.

This meant pricing needs to be certain.

3. People Do The Math.

If I charge $5 a month, People will calculate it: $60 a year.

Between all three of these Lifetime Deal (LTD) pricing was a must.

The phrase "I'll never charge you again" was certain.

I meant it. Still do and continue to do so.

Launch

Better Sheets launched first week of april, on a Saturday.

No sales until....

Carlos Was My First

Carlos was the first Better Sheets customer.

He was by far, the best first customer anyone could have.

On the Monday after launching Better Sheets, I got a "Sale" email from Gumroad.

Best Feeling Ever.

It was Carlos.

Carlos, Watched the 4 free videos.

Then he paid

He also sent me the greatest customer email ever. Writing in his own words the benefits of Better Sheets.

"loving the videos so far, I was not aware that sheets could do all this."

"I am already playing around with the aesthetics of what I learned in one of your free videos. I like being very organized and having the ability to see my data in a way that is pleasing was a big sell for me. "

"being able to share sheets without people messing them up is great too. Can't tell you how many times it has happened to me."

He sent me screenshots of what his sheet looked like before and after Better Sheets. Unprompted.

I then made a video, for him showing him what else he can do. A 10 minute loom for Carlos, only.

The response:

"went through the video and holy shit is this useful to me!"

This is what I wanted Better Sheets to feel like. For users and for me. Excitement is contagious!

"Useful" is a key word I've used throughout my maker life. You'll see "useful" again later.

The Giant Enters

By end of April there were exactly 7 Better Sheets customers.

If the story ends here, bummer.

But you're reading about me approaching 2,000 customers.

What happened was AppSumo.

AppSumo was starting a community driven marketplace. They started with one deal. That one deal was Better Sheets.

I filled out a google form to apply to be in AppSumo's new thing, before anyone knew what it was going to be.

At the time the community marketplace didn't exist and I didn't know what I was getting into.

AppSumo emailed me and said that I was one of ten finalists, out of 700 applications.

A week later they chose Better Sheets.

Now as I write this AppSumo's Community Marketplace has over 700 products.

At the time, it felt like a magical carpet ride. AppSumo was Aladdin and I, Jasmine.

Wait, that doesn't work.

I'm Aladdin.

AppSumo the Carpet.

Customers, Jasmine.

Let me share this whole new world with you.

Within the first week on AppSumo I had over 100 new Jasmines, I mean customers. I mean members.

A Whole New Better Sheets

Better Sheets became a wonderous place once customers arrived.

New customers asked new questions.

I answered those questions and every single Better Sheets Member got the answer.

I can attest that the Better Sheets that exists today is only because of paying customers.

By being a customer, you make Better Sheets Better.

Every single Better Sheets Member is a super-smart motivated person. And I hope you can meet each other.

I hope Better Sheets is useful to you.

I know Better Sheets is useful to most.

I know that because I've made individual videos for individual members throughout. 150 more videos than are in the members library.

There's a lot of value in each of these individual videos and lots of noise. More on that later.

Useful Sheets

One of the core values I'd like to think I've put into the center of Better Sheets is "Be Useful".

Early on I had the idea that I would create some useful sheet. Make videos of how I made it and also release that sheet to drive traffic to Better Sheets.

AppSumo helped ease the need to do that a lot.  I didn't have to put out free sheets anymore to drive traffic.

So I could start selling the sheets. No longer tied to giving away free sheets. This actually worked. And every Better Sheets would get the sheet for free.

100 Twitter Templates helped prove the idea. It's now added over $500 to my base revenue.

Not everyone wants to learn, some want to buy a solution and use it right away.

More Content

What has worked is whatever AppSumo thinks will work.

They are pros. They know what they are doing and do it well.

Their content drives sales.

They included Google Sheets as an Excel Alternative and mentioned Better Sheets. This drove sales.

AppSumo packaged 19 of my templates into a single Google Sheets Template Pack. Available for free.

Noah's Pick

On September 28th, Chief Sumo himself, Noah Kagan, picked Better Sheets.  He picked Better Sheets as one of Noah's Picks.

This was a surprise. This is something in the entire AppSumo ecosystem that happens to a very select few. I wasn't told about it until I asked the AppSumo team "where did this deluge of sales come from?"

It drove the 3 greatest revenue days in Better Sheets history.

I used to work in Influencer Marketing. This was a bonafide Influencer working his personal magic.

Noah loves Sumo-lings.

Sumo-lings love Noah.

What Noah picks, Sumo-lings buy.

For 3 days straight, Better Sheets did over $1,000 in sales, each day.

It sounds Insane. And it happened.

What is Insane, is the value.

Insane Value

Along side "Be Useful", one of Better Sheets' core values is Insane Value.

From the beginning I knew Better Sheets Customers would be thrifty, frugal, and need to be crafty.

A review on Appsumo calls it "insane value". And that's intentional.

I don't want you to spend any time having buyer's remorse.

Many say it's underpriced.

The price on AppSumo will increase this week. It's going to more than double.  Insane! right?

It'll still be insane value.

More Drops

One reason I want to increase the price is to keep giving away cool stuff I make. I want to give for free, to members, every new experimental drop I make in the future.

Early on I thought I'd only be making templates. As my own experience in Google Sheets increases and I get more ambitious.

OnlySheets is not a template. It's a script that becomes a self hosted web app for a buyer.

Drops are more all encompassing than "stuff I make" or "templates"

I'm creating a process for releasing new experimental drops to a wider audience. Making sure that Better Sheets Members get access to everything first and for free.

If you buy an LTD from me, I'll never charge you again.

I've made

And that's not all.

Better Better Sheets

Better Sheets will get better, I promise you.

Better Content

As I write this there are 151 videos available to every Better Sheets Member, in a folder.

I'll admit it. It's too much for a person to get through with ease.

And there's 150 more that I made for individuals. Lots of value stored there.

I've made a site that attempts to organize it, but that's failing my expectations right now.

The price increase also helps me hire help. Promote new drops, make a new site, and deliver better.

Better Community

I hope members will connect with each other more.  Along with the upcoming marketplace I have experimented with audio only space.

In Sheeeets.com will be a place for other experts to sell their time to those who want it.

And I'm using Space, to enable the community to listen to each other. Members got an email with the link to the private Audio Only space.

Lessons for IndieHackers

I think these are good lessons for other IndieHackers to learn. As well as for myself to remember. As much as "Startups" want huge TAM. I think the power of being an indie hacker is being everything and everyone, including customer support. We can choose to focus on individuals as people, not just MRR and percentage growth.

  • Launch Something
  • Focus on Individuals
  1. 2

    this is one of my favorite posts so far on IH!
    congrats on your success, Andrew! your passion is contagious.
    I hate google sheets tbh, but you make me wanna give it another try!
    looking forward to sheeeets.

  2. 2

    Great write up, Andrew.

  3. 1

    sheeeets.com: Why have you decided to invest in a name that differentiates itself with the number of vowels? What if someone adds an extra 'e' to compete with you, or just to steal some of your traffic? If a phishing website has an extra 'e', 99.9% of people won't notice, including me.

    1. 2

      Did it because it was a silly idea. like Dribbble for Google Sheets.

      I will never do it again. It was too much of a silly idea and poor execution.

      Beyond what you mention, Autocorrect all over the place is driving me crazy. I have to type it out 3 or 4 times to make it stick.

      It's also very hard to speak to someone about. It's hard to emphasize the double ee. or quadruple e. "Sheets with Four E's dot com"

      1. 1

        Ha, ha, I did not think of the problem with Autocorrect and that's quite funny... The Autocorrect loves you too much to let you use so many Es in the same word. It knows you gonna regret it some day. I always get confused by the spelling of dribbble, is it 2 or 3 Bs? Maybe 4, 5... Whatever, Google sends me to the right place because they are famous. Besides, making a good copy of their site would not be easy...

        1. 1

          Not looking to copy their site. Google sheets has a plethora of specific issues in how to sell and find and buy them.

  4. 1

    Awesome write up man! Excited to see things expanding with https://sheeeets.com/

  5. 1

    Thanks for sharing your journey Andrew!

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