Excelville has been operating for a few months now and some trends are starting to develop around what types of spreadsheets perform well on the site. The selection of spreadsheets (both paid and free) is growing but I'm seeing certain types go quickly while some others don't seem to be getting much attention. So I've decided to create a short list for characteristics of spreadsheets that sell against those that don't.
Spreadsheets that sell:
1 – Highly specialized: If you're thinking about selling spreadsheets, consider offering something in an area that you have particular and valuable expertise. Think niche in this case because these are the types of spreadsheets that are extremely difficult to find on the web and can be difficult and time-consuming to build from scratch. An example is the plant downtime tracking system from Max Performance.
2 – High level of functionality and practicality: The higher functionality should be applied to make the user experience easier and not to confuse the user. If you're going to offer a very common spreadsheet like a budgeting spreadsheet or grocery list, make sure yours has some advanced level funcitonality that would be difficulty to match by a novice or intermediate user. People aren't going to pay for something they can easily get for free or create themselves.
3 – Well thought out description, screenshots, and video: The first thing people tend to do if a spreadsheet doesn't sell right away is lower the price. This is a mistake. The first thing you should do is try to do a better job communicating the value in your spreadsheet through the text, screenshots, and a video if you can put something decent together. Spreadsheet sellers that take the time to put their best presentation forward tend to do better in the marketplace.
Spreadsheets that don't sell:
1 – Common spreadsheets with a low level of functionality: These spreadsheets offer little more than formatting and simple calculations. These types of spreadsheets can be easily found for free on the web or created from scratch with minimal effort.
2 – Ineffective spreadsheet design: People don't buy into spreadsheets that intimidate them. They would rather go for the one that looks "easy" to use and understand. Keep the learning curve low and make the spreadsheet do most of the work for people.
3 – Ineffective descriptive text: No one is interested in a spreadsheet if they don't understand what it does. Be clear and help the user understand the benefit of using the spreadsheet. Stay away from acronyms or industry slang. Use simple language unless you need to do otherwise in order to explain the function of the tool.
Stay tuned for more tips and advise on how to create and sell winning spreadsheets.
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