Andrew Kamphey is a creator who has made $200k from teaching people how to use Google Sheets over the past three years. Think 'Miss Excel' but he's a beardy guy who doesn't dance in his videos. In this interview Andrew shares his marketing wins, tips for course makers and what he's achieved with his bootstrapped Google Sheets tutorial business.
How much have you made from BetterSheets so far?
I've grossed $200,000 in revenue in 3 years. I started Better Sheets April 3rd, 2020 after a 24 hours sprint to launch something. Better Sheets is a set of tools, templates, and tutorials to increase your skills at Google Sheets.
The revenue is spiky as it’s mainly sold as a lifetime price. I have only added a monthly access price within the past year. Mostly, I sell templates, lifetime memberships to a video library, tools, workshops and consulting.
Why did you start teaching people about Google Sheets?
I worked for 5 years at a startup from the bottom to “Director of Digital Operations” which means that I ran the Google Sheets for the company. Slowly and steadily I kept making more and more sheets at this startup that operated more and more of the business.
The big break was only 2 weeks into the job when I coded up the first line of Apps Script that moved one row of data from one tab to another based on a status entry. It was a basic sort of CRM that the company had been using for 6 months prior. I helped make it easier to use, and automated some nasty little copy/paste thing that people kept messing up.
But ultimately I just kept making more and more sheets. I made sheets that calculated Influencer Marketing rates of quarter million dollar influencer campaigns on TikTok and YouTube. This was around 2014/2015.
After leaving that company, I went out on my own. My own products just kept failing and feeling like I was flailing about, I started BetterSheets as a 24 hours project. I just wanted to ship something. I was recently told in early 2020 that my spreadsheets just looked different. I thought it would be fun to make a Dribbble for Google Sheets to inspire others but then I ended up recording 8 videos and making it into a tutorial/course style site.
What do you think about people like Miss Excel?
She’s executed a TikTok and PR strategy that is just a masterclass. Her actual courses go for almost $1k and she has extensive experience in enterprise training. Her approach of not coming from a place of teaching but more having fun was great. She danced her way into the hearts of many excel users.
I just wish excel didn’t suck. I kid, I kid. It’s excellent. I started on Excel before Google Sheets. I learned Excel VBA 3 years before I learned Apps Script. I was using Excel VBA to automate a ton of work.
What’s it like living as a creator in South East Asia?
I find myself in very envious positions. In places that others can only dream about. But also having nightmare situations where others think only dreams happen. I’ve personally embraced JOMO (Joy of missing out), not FOMO (fear of missing out). So I don’t necessarily miss out on having certain access to things. I’m not a hobbit, nor a recluse. I stay in touch with western culture. I watch Netflix, Disney+ and watched Coachella livestream.
After living in Los Angeles for a few years I definitely find meeting other creators in South East Asia much more rare. It’s vastly different than everyone I meet having IMDB credits, but it’s also much more sensational when it happens.
How have you grown BetterSheets?
I’ve tried everything I can think of. I’ll do a month at a time focused on one marketing channel. I'll try to get it to breakeven or better and continue working on it. Some channels take more than 30 days to learn and test. Some take a few days or even less than a day.
I started going hardcore into SEO in late 2022 and only in early 2023 did it start to show signs of working. Facebook and Google Ads have generally felt like burning money into the air, but I have found some interesting angles and uses for them. I test out keywords on Google Ads to see if there’s enough purchase intent there to commit SEO resources. I use Facebook Ads for retargeting now.
By far the #1 growth has been being a part of AppSumo marketplace. 80+% of my revenue comes from AppSumo. People who are in need of help love BetterSheets. Being able to add more products, and be a part of AppSumo's marketing is a very simple, but hard process.
Here's all the marketing channels I've tried:
- Content Marketing / Blogging
- Email Marketing
- Newsletter Ads
- Facebook ads
- Google Ads
If someone has a good idea, I’ll try it. Even if it’s not my idea.
What do you think about the one project vs many bets debate?
I don’t think of it as a single binary debate. There’s quite a spectrum between a single thing vs try many things. There’s Hardcore Year: focus on one thing and ship it every single month. That’s not, as far as I know, the same as small bets. Because it is hardcore focus on one thing and then drop it and do another.
At any particular moment you can find me on either side of this particular debate. I think the small bets is a bad bet, if and only if, you’re not giving your best to one thing. And I see many people try “small bets” to try to learn something. “I’ll learn SEO for this project.” but I think you can learn 12 different skills in 12 months and work on 1 project or business. Then you get your skills and if the business sucks after 12 different marketing channels, then there’s nobody that’s going to buy!
What’s your top tip for people selling courses
You can make a whole career from one single course. It’s possible. It might not be what you want to do. But it’s possible. It takes a long time and a lot of tries to make something people want to buy if you don’t talk to users/customers/clients. But if you talk to them, and try to make cool stuff, you’ll have a pretty amazing feedback loop.
What are your future plans for BetterSheets?
I honestly don’t know more than a year in advance, but I’ll keep working on it. But sometimes I don’t know even a month in advance. I have so many plans and ideas and outlines and concepts and figments of imagination that something will come out. I make tutorials nearly every day. I make new tools every week.
A year ago I started a more deliberate/intentional plan to build more tools. Tools inside of Google Sheets and tools for Google Sheets users. It worked for a while and I have to understand more about how it might work in the future. Because so much is behind a paywall for members, it’s hard to market exactly what’s inside of Better Sheets. My plan is to get better at framing the content in the near future. And just keep building cool stuff.
I've been playing around with AI in sheets, and it’s going well, but not chart-busting well yet. For the BetterSheets site itself, I’d like to turn it more into a daily tool. I’m adding new features and directories of information that I can’t find anywhere else. Google Sheets documentation lacks a variety of examples.
My tutorials should add to the variety, and I have to make an Apps Script directory that ties directly into my tutorials. Just like I have 500 formulas in a database now and they are tied to every tutorial that features a formula. Makes it very simple to navigate to more examples of what you’re trying to learn.