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How To Sell Excel Or Google Spreadsheets – The Ultimate 2022 Guide

Illustration: a spreadsheet being created

Do you want to sell Excel or Google spreadsheets? Go for it! This is a great way to build a business or profitable side hustle. Spreadsheet sales can bring in passive income. Who doesn’t want that?

In this article we’ll show you how to easily sell your spreadsheets with WordPress. You can easily do this all by yourself, with no coding.

We’ll also look at the market out there for spreadsheets, share marketing tips, and provide tech tips.

Our spreadsheet article has 3 ‘columns’ 🥁💥. Read on, or skip around:

  1. Get Started Now:
  2. Spreadsheet Marketing Tips
  3. Spreadsheet Tech Specs and Pro Tips

Step 1: Set Up A WordPress Site

The best way to sell digital products, like spreadsheets is with WordPress and Easy Digital Downloads (EDD).

Why? Tons of reasons. With WordPress and EDD you have full control, powerful features, no middleman fees, and low overhead expenses. Learn more below.

WordPress + Easy Digital Downloads Logos

If you don’t have one yet, you need a WordPress site first. We can help you quickly get started.


Step 2: Install Easy Digital Downloads

  1. Choose the EDD Pass that works for you.
  2. Once your account is set up go to your account area and download and install the EDD plugin.
Screenshot: Install the EDD Plugin

Once you have installed Easy Digital Downloads there will be a new menu item on the left site of your WordPress dashboard. It’ll be labelled ‘Downloads‘. This is where you manage your store and spreadsheet products.


Step 3: Set Up Your Spreadsheet for Sale

It only takes a few simple steps to set up your spreadsheet for selling. And since it’s a digital product you have unlimited inventory! The items you sell on your EDD store are called Downloads.

First, click Downloads and then Add New.

Screenshot: Add New (spreadsheet)

Next, give your Download a name and a description. Describe how your spreadsheet can solve the problems of the potential customer. Add technical details with a bullet list.

After that, give it a Price.

Screenshot: Easy Digital Downloads - Download Name, Description, and Price

Download Image

Then, attach a Download Image to the spreadsheet. This is important. It’s the product image, a preview, of what the customer is buying. Make sure it looks nice and helps them understand what this product is.

Not sure how to make a Download Image? Click here to download our free Canva spreadsheet product image template. You can edit and customize it all you want. You just need a free Canva account!

Also, check out our post on making attractive images (it has free templates too!).

Photo: a spreadsheet displayed on a laptop

🎨 Free spreadsheet product image template

Once you have an image ready, go under Download Image and link it to your Download.

Screenshot: EDD Download Image Settings

Download Files

Last, configure the downloadable file or link under Download Files. This is what the customer gets after purchase on the purchase confirmation page and purchase receipt email. This is the spreadsheet you are going to deliver to the customer.

  • If you are selling a Microsoft Excel file or Apple Numbers file you upload the file to your WordPress site.
  • If you are selling a Google Sheet, you are selling access to a link or a ‘Certificate of Download’. More instructions on this are below.

👉🏾 Important – We recommend converting your Excel or Apple Numbers spreadsheet file into a ZIP file

  • Under File URL click Upload a File and upload your ZIP file (if selling MS Excel or Apple Numbers file). Otherwise paste in the Google Sheet link. Your link will automatically be protected from search bots and unauthorized downloads (by non-customers).
  • Under File Name the name of your file will automatically be added upon upload. Or you can type a phrase like “Click here to download”. This is the clickable link text that will be used on the confirmation page and email.
Screenshot: EDD Download Files Settings

Selling Google Sheets “Files” In WordPress with EDD

If you plan to sell Google Sheets, there is a small challenge. Google Sheet files only run in a web browser on Google Servers. So when you sell a Google Sheet, you’re really selling a web link.

Make A Copy Link

Open the Google Sheet you plan to sell a copy of within your web browser.

  • Choose the Editor role option under Get Link under the Google Sheets share settings
  • Select the Anyone with the link setting
Screenshot: Google Sheets share with people and groups

This last part is tricky, you need to make a “copy link”, which for some reason Google only allows you to do manually:

  • Copy and paste the link Google Provides on the Get link box into a text editor
  • Add “copy” to the end of the link, removing the word “edit”.

If your link was:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12345/edit?usp=sharing

Change it to:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12345/copy

When the customer clicks this link, they’ll be taken to a page that has them make a copy of the spreadsheet, leaving the original untouched!

Screenshot: Google Sheets Copy Screen

You have two options for selling access to this link.

Option 1: Place Link in File URL

Simply place the Google Sheets copy link in the File URL under Download Files (as demonstrated below).

Screenshot: EDD Download Files Settings

The disadvantage of this option is that the customer must be logged in to their Google Account when they click the link. If they’re not they’ll be redirected to a Google login. Some customers might find this confusing.

Option 2: Make a Certificate of Download

Since a link is not a downloadable file, you can create a ‘certificate of download’ document. This document will have instructions and the link to the Google Sheet on it. This is how it’s done on some other platforms like Etsy.

Use this Word/Google Doc file that contains instructions and the link. We’ve done this for you! Just edit the text and link in the document below:

📄 Click here to download a ZIP file of the certificate

It’s a Word Doc (.DOCX file) that you can also upload to Google Drive and convert into a Google Doc.

We recommend exporting this document as a PDF and uploading as the Download File.

Great work! Click Publish and leave this tab open in your web browser.


Step 4: Select a Payment Processor

Set Up a Payment Method

Now, your customers need a way to give you money! 🤑

We recommend using Stripe. We use it ourself here at Easy Digital Downloads. If Stripe is not available in your country, PayPal is a good option.

With Stripe you can accept credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay! Click the links below to get set up:


Step 5: View The Final Results

Your spreadsheet is set up as a product and you can accept payments. Let’s see the page how potential customers will see it.

Click on View Download button.

Screenshot: View Download

You’ll see your spreadsheet template page on the front-end of your website. In the example below we are using the Astra theme. EDD pages look good on any theme, click here for our free and recommended themes.

The look of your page will vary depending on which WordPress theme you have.

Screenshot: selling spreadsheets | view EDD download on website

Customers click the Purchase button, add to their shopping cart, and checkout. Then they will be taken to the purchase confirmation page. This page will have a download link.

Screenshot: Easy Digital Downloads Purchase Confirmation Screen

Customers also get a purchase receipt email with a download link.

Screenshot: Easy Digital Downloads Purchase Receipt Email

Access Control

One thing that makes EDD special is that the Download File your customer gets will automatically be secured from unauthorized access. 

  • The link on their confirmation page and email will expire after 24 hours, preventing them from sharing it with non-customers. You can change that expiration time from 24 hours to anything you want. Learn more on this Doc.
  • You can provide a new download link to customers who request one at any time with just a click.
  • The download link is also not searchable on the web. No one but your customers will be able to access your products.

What are you waiting for? Get started selling your spreadsheets with EDD today!


Spreadsheet Marketing Tips

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Some people may think spreadsheets are boring. Others may think it’s all about apps and social media these days. But don’t underestimate the humble little spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are powerful and still very useful! Here are some tips for marketing them.

Check Out Whats Going On Out There

Are People Really Doing This? Yes! Plenty of people think spreadsheets are cool. Even for those who don’t think they are cool, still use them. Billions, that’s with a ‘b’, billions of people use them daily or occasionally at their jobs.

People make LOTS of money selling spreadsheet templates and online courses. Microsoft Excel is the most popular spreadsheet app. Also very popular is Google Sheets and Apple Numbers.

😎 You can even be cool on social media by being an ‘Excel Influencer’. Here are some of the top ones out there:

Screenshot: Miss Excel on TikTok

Miss Excel (Kat Norton) is an Instagram and TikTok spreadsheet rock star. Didn’t know that was a thing? Yep. Now it is. She’s started teaching Microsoft Excel courses in 2020. Word on the street is she makes millions of dollars! 🤯

Spreadsheet Opportunities Abound

Lots of people use spreadsheets at work, even if they don’t want to. And, let’s face it, spreadsheets are not super easy to use, at least not for advanced work. So there are plenty of opportunities to sell Excel or Google spreadsheets and do spreadsheet training online.

In addition to the growing popularity of Excel Influencers, there are growing online marketplaces for spreadsheets. Spreadsheet Nut is an online marketplace dedicated to spreadsheet templates. And the popular hand-crafted goods website Etsy has a very large spreadsheet ecosystem. 

We’ll talk about the pros and cons of platforms and marketplaces below.

Spreadsheets Are Important

There are limitless ways to get things done with spreadsheets. Smart entrepreneurs, marketers, data scientists, and even creatives of all types know the value of a good spreadsheet. 

What can you do with them? Anything you can imagine:

  • Store and track website analytics
  • Manage expenses
  • Bookkeeping 
  • Keep track of customers
  • Organize customer surveys
  • Analyze complex datasets
  • Track goals
  • Organize your sneaker collection
  • Mange donations
  • Organize your fantasy sports team
  • Evaluate employee or freelancer productivity
  • Rank players for video game or esport tournaments
  • Project management
  • Organize a film shoot

There is no limit to the ways you can use spreadsheets to store, compare, analyze, organize and utilize information. They help you understand and use numbers in a way that would be impossible without them.

They are an essential business tool. The CEO of Microsoft has recently said that Excel is the most important product Microsoft ever made.

Spreadsheets Are Custom Software

We have so much great software at our fingertips. We use apps every day. The apps on our phones, tablets, computers, and even our TV.

Most of the software we use every day makes use of a database. Spreadsheets basically are databases. Simple and small databases. This makes them, in many ways, custom software in their own right.

Anyone working with technology or the internet is, or likely will be, working with spreadsheets. The market is likely to continue growing.

Spreadsheets Are A Go-Between

Spreadsheets organize data. They can often feed data from apps or pull data from apps. 

You can use automator tools like Uncanny Automator, Zapier, or IFTTT to pull data from or put data into a spreadsheet. Tools like these are on the rise, being used to automate business processes.

Spreadsheets are the backbone of automation. Just about every business is trying to do more and more automation. So the market for templates and training will almost certainly grow.

CSVs and TSVs

Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Google Sheets, and Apple Numbers documents can all import or export data as CSV or TSV.

  • CSV – Comma-separated values
  • TSV – Tab-separated values
Illustration: Spreadsheet exported as CSV

These files can be imported into databases, SaaSs, web applications, and content management systems. They are used daily by data scientists, marketers, and web developers. 

Using CSVs and TSVs is a standard practice in many industries. This helps make market for spreadsheet templates and online courses large.

📊 The key takeaway here is that your knowledge of spreadsheets is very valuable. Use it to create digital products that help others and make money while you’re at it. The market is there.

How to Make the Most Money

The best way to make the most money selling spreadsheet templates and other spreadsheet-related products is on your own website. 

You need your own e-commerce store to build your own business. You can’t really build a successful online business on someone else’s website.

In the past this was hard, but now it’s totally doable DIY-style. You don’t have to know how to code.

We’ll look at how to do that and the pros and cons of selling on other people’s sites versus selling on your own sit

The Best Website Tool

The best way to build your own website is to use WordPress. WordPress offers the most power and flexibility while allowing you control over expenses.

WordPress Logo

WordPress now powers 43% of the internet. It’s open source. Open source means you own it. Do whatever you want with it. It’s amazing; the world’s most popular and powerful website content management system is free (and priceless).

Here’s a secret that other platforms don’t want you to know: they cost more, do less, or are harder to use than WordPress.

WordPress has the world’s largest ecosystem of plugins, themes (templates), and services. It will always be able to do whatever you need it to do. No other platform has more ways to be expanded upon.

👍🏽 The Best eCommerce Tool (For Spreadsheets)

The best way to sell your spreadsheets on WordPress is with the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

Easy Digital Downloads Logo Banner

Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a complete eCommerce store that you can set up with just a few clicks.

You can get started with EDD for free. You can use it for free forever.

Out-of-the-box Easy Digital Downloads provides:

  • Protected product files and user verification
  • Full control over pricing
  • Shopping cart
  • Flexible checkout options
  • Customer management (basic CRM)
  • eCommerce reports
  • Discount codes
  • Stripe and/or PayPal integration

👎 Other WordPress eCommerce Solutions

Many other eCommerce solutions are built for selling physical products. You’ll have to install and set up a bunch of shipping and inventory management tools that you don’t even need. In some cases, this can slow down your website. Selling spreadsheets on many platforms is an after-thought.

📊 EDD is purpose-built for selling digital products like spreadsheets.

EDD is used by more than 50,000 digital creators like you. We have been helping businesses small and large succeed for more than 10 years. We have a dedicated support team ready to help you if you need it.

What’s stopping you from building your own business and having full control? Get Started selling your spreadsheets with EDD today!

The Pros and Cons of Selling on Other People’s Websites

In addition to the growing popularity of Excel Influencers, there are growing online marketplaces for spreadsheets like Etsy and Spreadsheet Nut.

⚠️ Remember, platforms and marketplaces charge middle-man fees and commissions. 

For example:

  • With Spreadsheet Nut they take 40% of your revenue. That’s pretty rough. That number does drop to 30% after you make your first $1,000.
  • With Etsy they take 8% of your revenue. That’s much better, but still hard to swallow. They also take a 20-cent listing fee, no big deal, unless you have lots of products.

Should you sell your spreadsheet on a marketplace or on your own website? We recommend selling on your own website. It’s the best way to keep most of your revenue.

Here’s a list of pros and cons of selling on other people’s websites (marketplaces):

🟢 Pros🔴 Cons
Platforms and Marketplaces already get lots of visitors to their site. This may make it easier for you to find an audience (but there’s no guarantee).They take a cuts of your revenue. The more you make the more they take.
It’s easier to list on other sites than build your own websiteYour customers are not your customers, they are the platform’s customers
You may be able to build an audience more quicklyNo way to do direct communication with ‘your’ customers
May have no way to follow up with ‘your’ customers after purchase, you may want to help them succeed (sometimes called onboarding) and not be able to
Can’t build your own brand and customer experience on someone else’s website
You have to follow their terms of use, which can change at any time
Many platforms have limitations on what prices you can charge

Competing with Free

You need to be aware that there are plenty of websites giving away free spreadsheet templates. This presents a challenge for you to sell templates, and to sell them at a high price. Here are two tips to work around this challenge.

  1. Be sure your spreadsheet solves a problem. Make sure it’s easy to use and brings value. It needs to be easy to understand. People are still searching for a quick solution to their problem. If you solve it, and people can find it, they’ll pay money to solve their problem.
  2. Consider providing training. If you also include a how-to video with your template, or if you train people to use spreadsheets themselves, that will help your product to stand out.

Selling Spreadsheet Courses or Training

We’ve already established that billions of people need and use spreadsheets. In addition to spreadsheet templates, teaching others how to use spreadsheets could be a way to share your skills with others and make money.

There are two ways we recommend doing this:

  1. Use EDD’s Content Restriction extension to build out pages that are only for customers. This is a great solution if you are selling both spreadsheet templates and training videos.
  2. Use MemberPress to build out a more advanced online course website. This is a great solution if you only plan to sell courses.

You could make a course on popular platforms like Udemy or LinkedIn Learning. You’ll face the same pros and cons described above: possible faster access to an audience, but you’ll have to share revenue with the platform.

Take full control of the customer experience and overhead expenses. Get started with EDD today!


Spreadsheet Tech and Pro Tips

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We wanted to provide some spreadsheet technical info and pro tips that will help you succeed in building a business.

Spreadsheet File Formats

Here are the most common spreadsheet file formats:

EXTENSIONFORMAT INFONOTES
.XLSXMicrosoft Excel SpreadsheetMicrosoft Excel’s current format, sometimes called ‘Excel workbooks’
.XLSMicrosoft Excel Spreadsheet (old version, sometimes called MS Excel)Microsoft Excels original file format. This format was discontinued in 2007. You may find these files still, often it’s best to convert to XLSX
.gsheetGoogle SheetNot really a file, but a link to a Google sheet online. Once open in a web browser Google Sheets can download/export to XLSX and XLS (as well as CSV).
.numbersApple Numbers SpreadsheetApple’s spreadsheet application. Apple Numbers can import and export XLSX and XLS files.
CSVComma-separated ValuesA plain text file with columns and rows separated by commas, used for import/export between spreadsheet apps, databases, and other technology
TSVTab-separated ValuesA plain text file with columns and rows separated by tab character (spaces), used for import/export between spreadsheet apps, databases, and other technology

Not sure whether to use CSV or TSV? Go with CSV unless you have a reason not to. CSVs are more likely to work, and more common.

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

Microsoft Excel includes a powerful scripting language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). It’s the backbone of Excel and all the Microsoft Office apps.

VBA allows the creation of Macros. Macros are used to automate complicated business processes. For example you could make a Macro in Excel that highlights a certain value a certain color.

Excel also has Power Queries for doing ‘business intelligence’ work. You can import data from many different sources and have the data modify and interact with data in Excel spreadsheets.

These powerful tools, arguably, makes Excel the most powerful of the spreadsheet apps. There is almost no limit to what you can do with it. Some people even use it to make video games that run inside Excel!

Google Sheets has its own Macros scripting language as well. 

Spreadsheet File Format Popularity

Which spreadsheet format is most popular? Which format/s should you sell?

  1. Microsoft Excel is the most popular format. It’s been around for the longest (since the late 1980s). With its powerful VBA scripting language, businesses use it in very advanced ways.
    • Microsoft Excel is only available as a paid app
    • Microsoft Excel is very popular with large corporations and small businesses
  2. Google Sheets is the next most popular spreadsheet. Google Sheets innovated the world of spreadsheets when launched in 2006 by being the first spreadsheet that worked in a web browser. They were the first to allow multiple users to collaborate on a spreadsheet at the same time. Microsoft took years to catch up to its online collaboration features.
    • Google Sheets is available for free to anyone with a free Google Account.
    • Google Sheets is very popular with entrepreneurs, web developers, and newer high-tech companies (startups).
  3. Apple Numbers is the third most popular format. It doesn’t have the loyal followings, fans, and social media influencers that Excel has. However, Apple Numbers is free to use on any Mac, iPad and iPhone.
    • Apple Numbers is available for free to all Apple device owners.
    • Apple Numbers is popular with casual users of spreadsheets, and many take advantage of its import/export capability with Microsoft Excel.

Sell in the format/s that best suits your potential customers. Or if you are not sure, start with Excel, then expand to Google Sheets, and after that Apple Numbers.

Moving Between Excel and Google Sheets Format

You can easily open an MS Excel sheet in GoogleDrive and either edit as a XLS file or convert it to a Google Sheet. But there are a few things that don’t work or get lost in the process.

  • If you insert Notes into a cell they become comments on the Google Sheet. This is not ideal and could cause confusion.
  • Sometimes, if you use color formatting it will get lost, or be missing just on the last column the right side of your sheet. Be on the lookout for that.
  • Checkboxes don’t always transfer over, the cells where you used checkboxes might end up just saying ‘False’ in them.

Conclusion

Excel-ent! 😜 You have learned how to sell Excel or Google spreadsheets. You also know a lot more about the market, opportunities, and some techie nerdy details to give you an advantage. 

Get started now with the most powerful digital product eCommerce solution.

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Joe Wells

About Joe Wells

Joe is a Marketing Specialist at Awesome Motive. For years he’s been helping people and organizations succeed with WordPress. He is also the founder of an alternative accounting solution for your side hustle called HustleBooks (powered by Easy Digital Downloads). He and his family live and play just outside Detroit. A busy dad, he enjoys running, watching and creating films.

@thisisjoewells

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