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Can a Google Sheet have DRM?

About this Tutorial

Are you wondering if you can sell a google sheet and only allow buyers to use the sheet, and not share it? I answer that sort of question, with more questions! 

Video Transcript

00:00 Hey, better sheet members. This is a very weird video because it's more about sheet theory and I'm going to sort of talk to you and talk about this concept and talk around it a little bit.
00:11 Basically if you're trying to sell Google Sheets or you're thinking about selling a Google sheet, that you have in your Google Drive and you're like, hey, I got this Google Sheet, I created this in my Google Drive and I want to sell it.
00:23 The first few steps you're going to take are either like templatizing it in some way, like creating it so that someone else can use it, creating some videos around how to use it.
00:32 And then putting it up on like Gumroad or Etsy or AppSumo Marketplace, somewhere that someone can buy it, right? Or putting it up on a payment page like Lemon Squeezy, putting it up on your own website, even putting Stripe links and then selling that link and selling that link, maybe you're going to 
00:47 share this link with someone. And the question is like, during this process you're probably going to ask a question like, can I prevent people who don't buy it from getting it?
01:02 And there's two things about this question. Ah, that there's sort of two variations of this question. One is, people who don't buy it, how would they get it?
01:13 They would get it with this link. How do they get the link? They got the link from someone who, ah, did buy it, right?
01:19 Who bought the link. Also, like, we can give up we can give up that link because the link is up here.
01:25 If you make a video about your Google Sheet and then have the link up there, and literally are selling this particular sheet, then you've shared your link up here.
01:35 But generally speaking, people who don't buy it, will not get it. So the actual question is, how do I prevent people who bought it from sharing it?
01:43 But this is sort of a wrong question because fundamentally this is creating a local maximum. You actually don't want to be in the selling business, you want to be in the reselling business.
02:06 You want to make sure that someone buys a sheet from you and then buys a new sheet. That will double the lifetime value of every single customer that you have.
02:15 That would be far, far, far more revenue over time. You can then build, if you're selling a calendar template, it's a printable template that's like.
02:25 A seasonal thing you want to sell that every single year and you want to build sales every single year meaning I want to sell it to everyone who bought it last year and I want to sell it to new customers because if you are selling only two new customers mind you I'm also doing this with a life.
02:41 If time deal on better sheets if you're selling only two light one time you literally have to find a brand new customer every single time, but I've noticed there are these two top sellers on Etsy of spreadsheets.
02:58 And I read their story and both of them are very interesting in the fact that they keep an email list.
03:04 They keep an email list because they will sell templates after templates after templates to the same audience. And so now like we can ask a question like can a Google Sheet have a DRM where, and I will answer that question by the end of this video, I hope, in some respect, technically.
03:22 But just to get into the question, we might not necessarily want to. We might want to buy a sheet or have a Google Sheet have someone buy a sheet.
03:32 We may want that person to actually share it with someone. Look, if we go up to the share settings, and we can give restriction to anyone with a link, we can definitely give access to now anyone with this link.
03:46 We'll have access to it. That's like the least actually, there is a least, least less secure place we can do.
03:55 We can go to file, share, publish to the web. We can do that, and that's going to be indexed by Google.
04:00 So there's sometimes if you create a freebie, actually there's a really cool note. If you create a freebie, name it and, and name it over like a very specific keyword.
04:08 Your domain is a google.com domain and that keyword is going to show up and it's, if it's Google, if it's indexed by Google and published to the web.
04:18 It'll show up in search results. That's like a really weird funny thing. So that's even less secure but we can also share the link.
04:26 But let's go back to editor. Or actually no let's go to restricted. Done. Actually, sorry. So this is a really weird place.
04:37 But there are settings here that you can actually change. And so do you have the ability to not allow people to share?
04:43 And the answer is yes. You can uncheck these boxes. Editors can change permissions and share. That means now. Editors cannot share.
04:53 Funny thing else, you can also have viewers not see the option to download or copy. So now, if this is unchecked now, if I go to anyone with a link can view is a viewer done.
05:07 Okay, let's look at this in incognito mode. Now I go up to file, I cannot make a copy. So this is one way that you can absolutely prevent people from sharing the sheet, right?
05:22 They can't copy the sheet to the Google Drive, they can't make it, but like, also they can't use it. I mean, if you're creating like an interactive template that people need to buy, like, they can't do that now, they can't get it and put it on their Google Drive.
05:34 So you're restricting people from doing the very thing that you want them to do in the first place, you're selling them.
05:39 Something to do. And so, ah, fundamentally speaking, if we are selling Google Sheets, two things in my mind come up when people ask me this question of like, can I prevent viewers from sharing it, can I prevent buyers from sharing it with others?
05:57 And I say, do you really want to? And I don't think you do. I don't think you really want people to not share it.
06:04 I would say, and I'll have this in a couple of other videos here on Better Sheets, I would say, brand the hell out of your sheets.
06:11 Put your brand name and your colors everywhere so that even if somebody, not even if, but in the event that someone does share your sheet, cause you want to make a sheet that's super useful.
06:22 Number one. Make the damn sheet super useful. Number two. Brand the hell out of it. PUS put your name everywhere.
06:29 I mean EVERYWHERE. Go up to extensions, app script, and write a comment here with a link to your website because people who buy it and share it might not go there, they might not go here, and so if so, if you see your sheet on sale somewhere, buy it, check, and then copy it, then check out the code, 
06:51 like, you can go here copy this put this one slash then two star stars, and now we can write a comment and be like better sheets dot co.
07:04 Htps check out, check out better sheets dot co. Make cool stuff and sell it with only sheets, htps. Only sheets dot better sheets dot co, right?
07:20 Like this is going to be now saved and it is now in the project and it'll be shared in the sheet as people share, copy it and share it app.
07:32 Script and you can also add script if you want to check out spreadsheet automation 101 to learn how to actually use app script and add some automation so that like people actually have awesome experiences with your sheets, go check out spreadsheet automation 101.
07:45 Okay, so I've discussed already. The idea, the fundamental idea that if you sell a Google sheet, you don't necessarily want to prevent people from sharing.
07:53 You want people to share and so when people share, you want to have your name everywhere. Again, I go through this in another video about branding and where to go and I also showed you just now.
08:04 Add your name to, add a link in Apps Script, add a page that talks about you, add your, add a header, all this stuff.
08:12 And I also shared with you how up here on the settings, we have some options here. The question still remains, can Google Sheets have a DRM?
08:27 Like digital rights management. This technology was something like certain pieces of content in the past like 30 to 40 years.
08:36 Would have this thing, this thing on them that has only allowed the buyer itself, themselves, to see that content, to listen to that CD.
08:49 You couldn't switch out things, you couldn't copy it. Some way, if you copied it, you didn't have this like key, and I've pontificated over this a lot.
08:58 I've tried to figure this out in many ways, right? I've made only sheets, which is a good little barrier before someone buys that they can't get a restricted sheet.
09:06 Like, your sheet stays restricted and it only, that's like double thumbs up. Great. I love it. I think only sheets are super fun and useful, but when somebody buys it and then they share it can you stop some functionality?
09:23 Now, I think the answer is in Google Chrome, sorry, Google sheets, add-ons because if you add something, some script that externally calls, so, so actually, sorry, let me go back.
09:40 There is, one step before that. What you can do is create a sheet, a spreadsheet that externally calls an API on your own web server and then puts in the information into a sheet.
09:52 If, if you're selling some kind of like informational data, which at that point you're already creating a server on your own website, you're creating a URL, an external URL link that it's going to check, grab and bring in and only buyers, maybe you have a tab that says put in your API key and then you
10:09 generate an API key for each buyer. But at this point you're doing a lot of Thank you. Thank you. Software engineering and you're probably spending a lot of money on like making sure your website has this like API that it's sending the sheet and it's like why even have a Google sheet at the point, right
10:23 ? So I think one of the answers is in a Google sheet add on. I think you can create a Google sheet add on.
10:29 Where in inside the add on it checks for a API key that you generate and an API key could be literally any random digit.
10:40 Any number of random digits. You can even generate 10,000 random. Mm. Digits in a Google sheet export that and put it on a web server and have this like very simple sort of ping.
10:54 Ultimately, it's not a huge software development thing. And then you can have the. Add on check for that key. You can even okay.
11:09 Funny enough, I think you can even do this with gum road. So like create a page where people buy on gum road.
11:14 It generates them a license key and then in the add on. . Check for the license key on gum road. So you don't even have to create the server functions.
11:28 Gum road license key. So you would create basically gum road creates a license key. It gives it to the user and then you verify it with this, ah, here it's a curl command but we can generate.
11:41 If you take first you have to take spreadsheet automation 101 but also supercharge your spreadsheets. The last section of spreadsheets.
11:50 Automation 101 goes through how to do API calls like this, ah, in addition, I would watch like adventures in AI because I go through a quick start tutorial of using AI in Google Sheets and I take a curl.
12:06 Essentially, a curl command like this and change it into a, ah, inside an Apps Script. And then once you do that, just make that into a Google Sheet add-on which you can take a look at in my, ah, create a Google Sheet add-on course that I showed you.
12:22 Share with you. Put that Apps Script in there in an add-on. Publish it to the Google Sheet add-on Google Sheet Mark, Google Workplace Marketplace.
12:35 That's a, and essentially. In theory, right, this is a very theoretical video. In theory, you would have DRM. And you say, okay, this sheet needs this key, needs this thing to, to work in some respect, in some way, shape, or form.
12:51 What I would sometimes, I, I don't know if I, would recommend this, but I would sometimes sort of think about this, is like, if this key doesn't exist, everything is white and stays white, and it's sort of this, maybe it's a function that sort of changes, changes the text and the background to white,
13:07 unless it has this key again, maybe. It's sort of I think it would be really silly or funny to do that, but I also think it might be detrimental to users, right, it might be a poor user experience of like, oh I have to add a key somewhere, oh my god.
13:25 When people are like buying. A Google Sheet, they just want to use a Google Sheet, right? So I think that's the ultimate idea here.
13:32 I would find somewhere in the middle where you don't have to do license keys, you don't have to mess with stuff, but you can brand things, create more templates than one, sell a bunch or sell them seasonally, figure out a way to sell a template each year.
13:43 Add updates to it, sell the updates instead of just selling the sheet and then updates forever. Say hey, I got this sheet, I made it for sale, then in a year be like hey, I got this version too, everyone who bought it before can have like a discount and be in the resale business, I think.
14:00 The question, can a Google Sheet have the DRM, the answer might be yes, but the answer might be we don't necessarily need it.
14:09 So buy Google Sheets, buy more Google Sheets, sell more Google Sheets don't buy mine and sell mine. At the same time.
14:17 But if you do, watch out cause I might have some DRM cooked up in the future. Thanks for watching this sort of theoretical sheet video.
14:26 I hope, if you like this, email me and let me know that you liked it and you want more of this.
14:31 If you have any questions, also, this is going to be interesting because this video might have created more questions in your mind of like, hey, if you can do that, what else can you do?
14:40 Email me, please email me all the time. Better Sheets members can email me all the time. Email me, andrew at bettersheets.co