Discover more from Kyle Poyar’s Growth Unhinged
Your guide to 18 months of growth
Celebrating a milestone for Growth Unhinged - and what comes next 🎉
👋 Hi, I’m Kyle from OpenView and welcome to my newsletter, Growth Unhinged. Every other week I take a closer look at what drives a SaaS company’s growth. Expect deep dive takes on product-led growth, pricing, benchmarks, and much more.
Last Spring I took a leap into the unknown with a new biweekly newsletter, Growth Unhinged — my unorthodox take on how to grow a SaaS company.
I didn’t know if I could sustain the pace. I didn’t know if it would be a distraction from my “day job” of supporting OpenView’s portfolio companies. And, to be honest, I didn’t know if folks would even care.
It’s been 18 months and 37 posts since then. Due to your incredible support, the Growth Unhinged community has reached 11,000+ subscribers (🤩) — and is growing faster than ever (🤯). Plus it now has a 🔥 new look, courtesy of design whiz Meg Johnson.
To celebrate I thought I’d go behind-the-scenes, unpacking the story of how Growth Unhinged grew from 0 to 11,000+ subscribers in 18 months. Keep reading for curated recommendations of eleven Substack newsletters to add to your inbox plus a selection of hand-picked PLG jobs.
The growth story of Growth Unhinged
As much as I’d like to think this newsletter’s success can be attributed back to specific actions I’ve taken, the truth is that it all comes back to folks like you. The vast majority of new subscribers come from either fellow writers who recommend Growth Unhinged, readers who forward it to their colleagues/friends, or good old word-of-mouth.
All that said, here are five lessons learned for folks looking to start or scale their own content communities.
1. The platform is a massive growth enabler. Part of why I chose to write on Substack rather than build from scratch is because of Substack’s platform. The platform has generated 36% of all Growth Unhinged subscribers — including a full 73% of subscribers who’ve joined in the last 90 days. Why does the platform matter?
It reduces friction. Readers already trust Substack. If you already subscribe to another Substack newsletter, you can add Growth Unhinged to the mix with only one click.
Substack facilitates recommendations between authors. Subscriber growth ballooned when Substack launched this feature. Then it accelerated even more when Lenny recommended Growth Unhinged (fun fact: 1,800 of you joined from Lenny’s recommendation!).
2. Subscriber count is a bad North Star metric. Look, I love watching my subscriber chart. It’s addictive. But subscribers aren’t a great indicator of growth, particularly in an environment where folks subscribe because of a platform rather than because they love the content. Here’s what matters more.
Open rates. I aim for 50% for each newsletter.
Total opens in the first week. A good newsletter might be opened 3+ times per person who reads it. Seeing that behavior tells me that folks either want to keep coming back to the post OR they’ve forwarded it to others.
Engagement (aka likes, comments, shares, and replies). This tells me whether folks were inspired to actually take action after reading.
3. High quality content wins. Put differently, you all know when I phone it in (🤣). Y’all love posts that are original, have a distinct point of view, and are backed with original research and expert perspectives. These posts generate 1.5-2x the opens and views compared to a lower quality post. Recent examples to bookmark include posts on reverse trials at Airtable or sales-assist at Zapier.
4. It’s best to test ideas before y’all see them. I can get signals on what content folks want to see by testing ideas with a LinkedIn post, then letting the response tell me whether to go deeper or to kill the idea. An added bonus: testing ideas helps me refine my perspective, hear counter arguments, and discover experts who are willing to lend their perspectives. All of that leads to better quality content.
5. I can’t do it all on my own — but I also can’t outsource! At the end of the day this newsletter has to feel authentic. It has to come from me. But it wouldn’t be what it is today if I didn’t have help. The OpenView marketing team (specifically Shannon, Rohma, Meg, and Alexa) has been an incredible behind-the-scenes partner, supporting everything from designing the images you see to copy-editing my poor grammar.
Unhinged PLG jobs
PLG skills remain in high demand as more and more companies look to either introduce a PLG strategy for the first time or scale with an existing PLG motion. Here are three 🔥 PLG jobs from the community.
SVP of Digital Marketing & Self-Serve at Pluralsight. A PLG OG looks to double down on self-service growth. Join Lindsay Bayuk to make it happen.
Senior PM (PLG focus) at Paperless Parts. PLG is (finally) coming to vertical SaaS. Be part of a sharp, innovative crew at this OpenView portfolio company.
Want to be considered for one or more of these roles? Or want to be considered for other cool PLG jobs? Simply fill out this short Google Form!
11 newsletters to add to your inbox
Growth Unhinged is making big changes as we march to 22,000 subscribers and beyond. But it’s still only going to be published every other week. Here are 11 hand-picked suggestions for newsletters to read during the off-weeks.
Lenny’s Newsletter. The growth OG. Now in podcast form, too 🎧
Product Growth. Great resource for product folks or aspiring product folks. Always insightful, always interesting.
Mostly metrics. Let's face it: SaaS metrics are boring. This newsletter isn't.
Investing 101. This is a newsletter I legitimately look forward to. I never know what topic Kyle will break down next - and I mean that in the best possible way.
Software Snack Bites. Shomik covers everything in software you didn't realize you needed to know. And he does it in 5 mins or less.
Kevan Lee. Your marketing MBA delivered right to your inbox. And with better emojis.
Notorious PLG. Have PLG FOMO? This is your TL;DR on PLG each & every week.
Technically. Demystifying technical concepts. Read this to impress your engineers.
Digital Native. Like Technically, but for understanding GenZ. Written by Rex Woodbury at Index.
MKT1 newsletter. Marketing advice for SaaS founders and execs.
Perspectives. Deb Liu — CEO of Ancestry — gets personal about tech and career growth.
That’s all for now. THANK YOU for supporting Growth Unhinged and for constantly making it better. Here’s to the next 18 months! 🥂