#10: how to build your own million-dollar spreadsheet

content spreadsheet example

Welcome to contentfolks—a fortnightly newsletter with short lessons & ideas about content that makes a difference, sparks action, and truly serves its audience. Thank you for being here!

Hey you 👋

Content comes in many formats that are often word-based—but occasionally a piece works incredibly well while having almost no words at all.

What if I told you that a simple spreadsheet can change the course of your entire business?

True story:

contentfolks slack ronnie higgins
The December 2020 conversation that inspired today’s (news)letter

Think about what your audience REALLY needs

We’ll get to the story of the million-dollar spreadsheet in a second, but first let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

Your goal as a content creator is to serve your audience—which means they dictate what you make, not the other way around. If you insist on giving them ten thousand words when all they need is a k̶n̶i̶f̶e̶ 2-column spreadsheet, you’re not doing your job.

But!, if and when you do finally give them the spreadsheet they’ve been looking for, they might reward you big time.

💡 A practical example 💡

A few years back, Ronnie Higgins was running a content series about event promotion at Eventbrite. If you’ve ever organised an event (online or elsewhere), you’ll know how hard it is to stay on top of everything—so Ronnie created a simple spreadsheet that any event organiser could use to plot marketing and advertising activities over the course of 16 weeks:

eventbrite content template

Ronnie invested 2-3 hours into the spreadsheet, called it “Event Marketing Template for Planning your Advertising Activities,” and set it live on a landing page with a form people needed to fill before downloading.

eventbrite content template spreadsheet
Ronnie’s original landing page, via archive.org

Turns out that blog posts and guides about event planning are useful, but what everybody truly needed was this very scrappy spreadsheet. The more people found and downloaded it, the more they started signing up for Eventbrite and using the company’s paid services to organise their one-off events → $$$.

There’s more. About a year and a half later, Ronnie had another idea—he made a copy of the spreadsheet, added a minor tweak, renamed it “The Ultimate Template for Planning and Promoting Multiple Events,” and immediately solved a very similar pain point for a completely different audience → even more $$$.

This 4-hour spreadsheet generated hundreds of thousands of leads and contributed millions of dollars in revenue. Also worth noting: as an evergreen content piece, it continued to be a top-performing asset throughout the entire four years Ronnie spent at Eventbrite.

How this story applies to you

So that’s how Ronnie made Eventbrite millions in deals with a 4-hour job.
But what about you?

# If you’ve ever built yourself a spreadsheet to solve a specific pain point, chances are others are experiencing the same issue—and they could probably use your help. Can you make it public?

This is how my “Calculating your Net Promoter Score” spreadsheet came about: early in 2019, I needed to figure out the logistics behind the NPS calculation, so I made myself a spreadsheet. And then I added it to a blog post and shared it with anybody who needed to do the same thing:

contentfolks fio hotjar nps

# If you’ve ever heard your customers say “I wish I could do X:” could a spreadsheet be the solution?

This is how Hotjar’s “Open-ended question analysis” spreadsheet below came about. We’d heard several customers say ‘I wish we had a system to analyse survey results quickly,’ so we sat down and tried to figure out a way to help. And again, once the spreadsheet was built we added it to a blog post with step-by-step instructions.

contentfolks hotjar example 1
The piece is still ranking well. Take a look.

There are many spreadsheets I created over the years, though I’ll be honest—none of them were ever as successful as Ronnie’s.

…but perhaps yours will be?

I hope this inspired you to think about an alternative content format that could do wonders for your audience (and your business, as a result) 😉


PS: speaking of spreadsheets, here’s a tip → to find hundreds of publicly available templates, just google site:docs.google.com/spreadsheets [topic you’re interested in]. Pretty handy:

site docs search