How Dakota Robertson Uses beehiiv to Earn $250,000 Per Month
Training Ghostwriters, 10,000 Subscribers on beehiiv & Building a SaaS
Ever dreamed of earning over six figures a year?
How about six figures per month?
Even better… How about six figures a month writing from anywhere in the world?
For some people, that’s not just a dream.
It’s their reality — as is the case with Dakota Robertson.
But, how does he do it?
As a social media ghostwriter.
Dakota was eager to share the strategies he took to go from running a ghostwriting agency to scaling up to a full-blown educational business where he earns over $250,000 per month with the help of his beehiiv newsletter.
If you’re interested in starting a newsletter, thinking of switching to beehiiv, or simply looking for some business inspiration, then look no further. In this interview, Dakota generously offers up a ton of insider information on how to leverage social media and a newsletter to run a successful internet business.
Plus, if you’re a writer who wants to up your game or you’re thinking of ways to earn a living while working from home, you’ll want to pay attention since Dakota has taught hundreds of people how to earn a full-time income as a freelance writer.
Wrongs to Write: An Overview
To kick off the interview, I’ll just let Dakota take the reigns.
He introduced himself, “Howdy, my name is Dakota Robertson and I pretend to be people on the internet.”
“What I mean by that is I do social media ghostwriting. So that's when I take over people's social media accounts. I write the content for them and I distribute that content through my network and essentially grow their account and get more traffic to a profile, their business, and make them go viral sometimes.”
Now, after years of growing a successful social media ghostwriting business, Dakota has started teaching others how they can follow in his footsteps.
He shared, “Now I transitioned to teaching people how to start their own ghostwriting business and grow their own social media and personal brand so they can do the same in scale to whatever number they want to.”
Alongside his social media ghostwriting training, Dakota runs a weekly newsletter using beehiiv. In it, he offers helpful advice for those looking to not just elevate their writing skills but to also transform their social media account into an income-generating business.
He explained that his newsletter covers writing principles, social media growth, marketing and business, and personal brand monetization.
He shared, “A lot of people are teaching how to grow a following, but not a lot of people are teaching how to monetize a following, so I try to incorporate all different elements and life lessons as well in there.”
Dakota recently launched his business Growth Ghost to offer an all-inclusive training program to those ready to launch their own ghostwriting business and monetize their personal brand now.
Dakota shared, “My main focus right now is the community… [Growth Ghosts has] the course element, the live calls, and the community aspect. So it's bundled all into one and that's been going great.”
In just a few months, Dakota shared how many Growth Ghost members have already quit their jobs because of how much they’re earning as a ghostwriter.
Why Newsletters Beat Social Media — From a Social Expert
We asked Dakota to break down his sales funnel to understand how his business works. He was eager to share how, despite being a social media pro, the newsletter is what’s truly turning people from leads into customers.
He shared, “Social media is the top of my funnel where all the magic happens. So from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, I am constantly promoting my newsletter.”
He continued, “I’m trying to get people onto my newsletter because once I get somebody onto my newsletter — like with beehiiv Automations — I can send the welcome sequence. This gives my subscribers a bit more information on my personal story, my journey, my values, results I've gotten for people, and basically warms them up to who I am and what I do.”
Dakota shared how social media is great for grabbing people's attention and hooking them in, but newsletters allow you to build a deeper one-on-one connection that’s crucial for converting people into paying customers.
He explained, “[Warming people up] is harder to do on social media because they're always onto the next piece of content. But when you get them onto a newsletter, it's more intimate. They create a deeper connection with you. It's way more powerful for getting someone to take an action because they feel that deeper connection.”
Dakota shared, “It all stems down to the newsletter, primarily. And that's been a great source for conversions because you warm them up more and it's way more intimate. “With social media, you're at the mercy of the algorithm. But with a newsletter, that's going straight to their inbox. So it's much more personal. I find the conversions are just way higher.”
When Dakota launched his first Growth Ghost cohort, he was blown away by how well his newsletter converted people.
He explained, “I definitely need to focus on promoting the newsletter more and being much more intentional with the structure of it all. But it's been great for conversions. In the last cohort I launched, I wrote one email and it resulted in 80 booked calls. And, I mean, those weren't qualified. I'd say probably 50% of people qualified for the high-ticket cohort. It's been amazing.”
Buzzing to 10,000 Subscribers on beehiiv
Dakota explained, “beehiiv basically simplifies the email marketing and newsletter process for you. I've tried things like ConvertKit in the past and MailChimp, and they're so complicated to use, in my opinion.”
Despite launching new product features every few weeks, beehiiv’s platform is simple to navigate, even for beginners.
Dakota shared, “What I loved about beehiiv right away was how simple the interface was. And, I mean, the level of support is fantastic too. beehiiv just does everything I need it to. I don't need this crazy stuff or these extra features that I just never use. beehiiv is very focused on its users and what they actually care about, and they make it so simple to use, which I love.”
He continued, “For anyone that wants a newsletter or simplified email marketing, it does everything I need it to. When you get the Scale plan it has great data analytics on who you're sending the emails to. It gives you good feedback. Like, ‘How can I use this data? How can I incorporate this and that?’ It’s been fantastic. beehiiv has been my favorite tool I've used so far.”
Dakota shared how he’s been happy with the growth he’s seen with beehiiv already, despite not leveraging lead magnets or offers to get people to sign up for his list.
He recalled, “I started using beehiiv close to when you guys launched — think 14 or 15 months ago. I’ve got the data right here. I'm at 10,266 subscribers. I wiped off like 6,000 subscribers a while ago just to clean my list.”
Dakota shared, “I'm growing at like 900 subscribers every month and that's without any lead magnets or incentivizing people to hop on and all that stuff. So it's been solid and I’m really, really happy with the growth. I just write about whatever I want. And they're like, Oh, I feel like writing about this today, so it's fun.”
Finding the Right Tool: MailChimp to ConvertKit to beehiiv
Before Dakota launched on beehiiv, he actually tried out a few other email platforms to see what would fit well with this business. And, like many beehiiv users, they dabbled with some of the big names in the industry before switching over.
“Initially, I had a trial of MailChimp and I just quickly realized MailChimp is trash. It's absolutely trash. You can quote me on that. So I got like a day into using it and I was like, ‘I'm not doing this.”
After trying MailChimp, Dakota took a shot at ConvertKit. But, he still struggled to navigate the complicated interface.
He shared, “[ConvertKit] was better. But even then it was still complicated and I just didn't know what was going on. I didn't know how to do any of the automation stuff. Maybe that's on me. It made me feel like a Boomer. But, it was just really complicated trying to figure out how to do everything.” “It's like, ‘Hey, I just want to send emails. Is it that hard?’ Like what's all this stuff?’”
Dakota continued, “The pricing with ConvertKit was crazy to send emails and kind of ridiculous at the time. So when beehiiv came around, it was great. It was really simple to use. It was really fair pricing.”
One thing Dakota knew he needed from an email platform was the ability to send automated emails. This almost prevented him from switching to beehiiv. But, the beehiiv development team came out with a nice surprise just in time.
He shared, “beehiiv didn't have automation at the start and I was just about to switch. I needed automation for when people got onto my newsletter at the time. But you guys like literally came out with it the day I asked, which is crazy. I’ve been really gung-ho about beehiiv ever since because, now, it just has everything and you guys keep adding stuff, which is amazing.”
He continued, “I'm a really big proponent of beehiiv. You guys just mastered simplifying publishing newsletters for people like me that aren't super techie with that kind of stuff and having really great features that do everything you need and the support too. I've reached out many times, just to get help with stuff and you guys have been super fast to respond and super helpful”
Why Listen to Me? I’ve built several newsletters from the ground up over the years. My latest publication is The Level Ups business newsletter. I also run support at the fastest-growing newsletter platform, beehiiv.
Automatic Acquisition With Twitter “Auto-Plugs”
We asked Dakota what his list growth strategy was and whether or not he leveraged paid acquisition to grow his list. He shared that he’s grown to over 10,000 readers by simply posting on social media. But, that’s not all he does. He leverages a tool to automatically add in a newsletter call to action on high-engagement tweets.
He explained, “It's all been organic. I haven't paid for anything. I guess the main way the Wrongs to Write has been promoted is through Twitter. So I have an auto plug link on tweets. Once a tweet hits 300 likes, it'll auto-plug a call to action that says like, ‘Hey, join my newsletter.’
Dakota continued, “I also use Instagram to grow the newsletter, but I have not been as intentional. Sometimes I forget because there's no auto-plug. So I'll make a post and I'll promote it sometimes here or there. But, the main channel has been Twitter. I need to create a lead magnet. I need to promote it more, but it's been pretty automatic.”
While many people feel they don’t have the time to grow a social media account or a newsletter, the reality is that there are dozens of tools available to help you grow on autopilot.
Dakota shared, “Tweet Hunter has been my primary tool. I've been using it for a while because I'm friends with JK Molina [the founder], and he hooked me up and I’ve just gotten used to it. I also have Hypefury just in case Tweet Hunter goes down or anything like that. I think they're both great. I think they both do the job quite well, but I'm just more used to Tweet Hunter.”
Dakota broke down how the tool works, “So there's an automatic trigger. You can set it for if a post gets 50 likes or 100, 300, or whatever you want, in a span of whatever time frame you want. If it reaches the threshold, it triggers another tweet that plugs under the original tweet like, ‘Hey, if you like this tweet (or you write whatever copy you want), join my newsletter.”
He explained how you can also switch up the type of call to action you use with Tweet Hunter to offer some variety.
Dakota shared, “I also have an auto-plug like, ‘Hey, if you're interested in writing, marketing, or social media, join 10,000 plus people and join my newsletter,’ which is linked to my newsletter landing page and it's just auto-plugs.”
Enjoying this Creator Spotlight? Learn how another social media expert, Jack Appleby, grew his newsletter to 43,000 subscribers in one year on beehiiv.
Favorite beehiiv Features
We asked Dakota to share his favorite beehiiv features. Here’s what he had to say.
“I really like the growth network feature, Recommendations, where you can refer people to your network and vice versa. That's really cool.”
With beehiiv Recommendations, newsletter operators can leverage the vast beehiiv network of publishers to grow their audience completely free. By enabling recommendations, you can have your newsletter pitched to brand-new subscribers or other newsletters and grow your list automatically.
One of beehiiv’s latest updates is a paid version of Recommendations called Boosts. In it, newsletter publishers can pay to have their newsletter recommended to even more readers.
On the flip side, newsletter publishers can earn income on autopilot by recommending boosted newsletters.
Another one of Dakota’s favorite beehiiv features is its 3D analytics.
Dakota shared, “I also like the analytics. I don't even know what I'm looking at half the time, but it's just really cool to see how deep it goes. Just pinpointing the data is super cool. Those are probably my favorite features. And the fact it's so simple to use, I can't praise you guys enough for doing that. You've saved me.”
Newsletter Content Creation Process
Dakota welcomed us into the Wrongs to Write epicenter to share some of the processes that go into creating his weekly newsletter.
He shared, “When it comes to my newsletter, it's just me writing it. I don't really have too much structure to it. It's not like “Tuesday tips.” I just think back, like, ‘What did I learn this week,’ or, ‘What's a valuable lesson?’ And, I'll just write about it. I don't follow a structure. I don't have these sexy headlines and images typically.”
Dakota also shared how his impromptu newsletter writing style doesn’t just give him the freedom to write what he wants… It also helps him process exactly what his lessons are so he can improve the way he teaches his audience.
He explained, “It's just really bare bones, just writing. I find it's also great if you have an offer or something, but I rarely plug any offers. I just sit back and think, ‘Okay, what did I learn this week?’ And then I try to teach the lesson to somebody else in a way that’s actionable. It really helps me understand and process lessons.”
He also shared, “ I learn a lot just from writing. It’s nothing super tactical when it comes to the newsletter. Just me writing. There’s no team doing anything — no research or any stuff like that.”
Scaling Up by Scaling Back
We asked Dakota to give us a breakdown of how his business works and how his team operates within it.
While he’s recently transitioned out of running a social media ghostwriting agency to focus on training others, he learned a lot about how to build a team in his agency including how to scale back using AI.
He recalled, “When I was going full scale with my ghostwriting agency,’ I had around eight writers writing threads. I had one virtual assistant and one head writer and I was able, with ChatGPT, to scale back those eight writers and just have the one head writer.”
Dakota explained, “I like to keep a lean team. I found that it was taking longer to edit the writers’ threads than it was to actually write the threads ourselves. So, we just started using ChatGPT and got good with writing prompts.”
In his new business venture, Ghost Growth, Dakota was able to scale back his team even more, while multiplying his revenue.
He shared, “When it comes to the ‘done with you’ offer showing people how to start and scale their ghostwriting business, I'm the head coach, but I have one main coach that I get to help me, Joey Justice. And, I have one virtual assistant. That's about it. I don't like having a big team. I just do the marketing, the content, and the emails and it all just works synergistically together.”
While Dakota understands he could have maintained both businesses at the same time to maximize his revenue, he believes sticking to one will give him a bit more free time, and peace of mind.
He shared, “I’m a big fan of focusing on one thing at a time. So last month, we got rid of our final client, and I'm just fully focused on the cohort and growing my own social media because it’s just more leverage. I think it was a good decision because I had like five or six clients while I was scaling the cohort and stuff would come up and you're like, ‘Okay, I gotta deal with this now.’”
He continued, “I was just being pulled in all these different directions and it was really time-consuming and stressful. Scaling back the ‘done for you’ side of things to focus on the ‘done with you’ has been a really great move to focus on one thing and actually improve and iterate and all of that.”
How Growth Ghost Allows Writers to 10x Their Business
In just a few years, Dakota was able to scale his social media ghostwriting business to an incredible $250,000 per month. For years, people kept asking him how he did it, so he decided to create his own program, Growth Ghost, where people can learn the exact strategies he used to reach six-figure months.
He shared, “We started out with pricing [Growth Ghost at] $6,600 per seat. Now we've upped the price to $7,100. We set up third-party funding so even more people can join the program for no more than $300 a month if they can stretch the payment out to five years. So, it's a lot more accessible to a lot of people.”
Dakota broke down the program by stating, “We teach them, ‘Okay, here's how to grow on Twitter. Here's how to grow on LinkedIn.’ We’re going to be adding Instagram. ‘We're going to show you how to write short-form video content. We're going to show you eventually how to do email newsletter courses and all that stuff.’”
Simply put, Dakota and the Ghost Growth program is making people into what he describes as “full-stack ghostwriters.”
Dakota shared, “They can separate themselves from everybody else because they're way more valuable. If Twitter's algorithm is just absolutely trash, they can say, “Okay, well, I have all these skills. Let's bring it to LinkedIn.’”
He continued, “So you're adding defensibility. And, I mean you can make way more money if, for example, you take the one client you land from Twitter and say, ‘Hey, we're getting you good results. Let's grow you on LinkedIn now. Do you want to add short-form video content in that? Oh, you want to write a newsletter?’”
Dakota explained that by using his strategies and adding congruent content services, his students can “scale to like $20,000 plus a month off of one client” by “taking the same content and throwing it in different formats.”
Cohorts: The New Membership-Style Business
Back in the day, if you wanted to develop yourself professionally, you had to buy a book or attend a live seminar. Then, you had to buy a DVD, then an ebook. Next, came online courses. But most online courses typically lack community and coaching which are crucial to seeing results.
That’s where the Growth Ghost “Cohort” comes in. In ancient Rome, a cohort was a military unit. There’s no doubt that Dakota’s developing the next generation of ghostwriting warriors, especially when you look at the results.
Dakota explained, “The first cohort was for three months. The second one I extended to six months. And now we're going to run the next program. We're actually switching it from a cohort to just an open enrollment program.”
He continued, “We're launching that September 1st. And we’ll just keep scaling this thing. The first one was just to kind of test things out. Let’s build everything out. Let’s not go full scale, but let's get a good sample size here and build things out so we can scale this thing. We’re just slowly scaling and now we're ready to hit it hard and just go all out.”
Up Next: A Ghostwriter Marketplace
We asked Dakota to share what he had on the horizon. Apart from growing Growth Ghost, he’s working on a new way for ghostwriters to connect with business owners who are looking to grow and monetize their audiences. That’s where Ghostwrote comes in.
He shared, “For our new SaaS product, we just launched the minimum viable product (MVP) today. We're onboarding people onto it on the Ghostwriter side — taking the people from the cohort, putting them in the SaaS, and we're going to connect business owners or people that want competent Ghostwriters. it’ll be kind of like a Fiverr or Upwork, but just for Ghostwriters.”
With Ghostwrote, ghostwriters will be able to find potential clients more easily. And, business owners will be able to connect with vetted graduates of the Ghost Growth program to scale their online presence and generate new business.
beehiiv ROI: A Six-Figure Return
We asked Dakota what kind of return on investment (ROI) beehiiv’s delivering him in his business.
He shared, “Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not even kidding. The ability to nurture your audience — even if it's just one email a week — and build that connection and have them actually looking forward to your personal thoughts that they can't get anywhere else, that's huge.”
Dakota explained that people subscribed to your newsletter — those are your true fans, the ones who are dedicated to you and willing to buy what you have to offer, rather than a random person who happens to see a post of yours.
He continued, “Those people that are looking forward to that newsletter every single week, those are people that are very invested in you and those are your true fans. Not the people that are just, ‘Oh, I'm scrolling on TikTok or Twitter or whatever.’ Sure, they might like you and know you and all that stuff, but it's just way more powerful when you have a newsletter.”
“When you do go to sell something, they are engaged and they are opening that email, they know you and they like you and they trust you and they're more likely to buy from you.”
While the average ROI of email is $36 for every $1 spent, Dakota shared how he’s getting much more than that.
“It's super valuable for me. The ROI is definitely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the fact that I pay — What? — a thousand dollars a year for beehiiv? I mean, that's a 200, 300, or 500 times return. It's pretty nuts.”
He continued, “Obviously, I credit myself for doing some of the work, but beehiiv has been super helpful in making it easy to do the work. And, beehiiv is super reliable that those emails are going out and it's just not complicated to use. It's been amazing.”
To close out the interview, we asked Dakota what he would say to a friend who was considering using beehiiv.
Dakota responded (tongue in cheek), “Buy it, or I will show up to your house and I will torment you and your family for all eternity in a ghost-like form. So yeah, definitely, definitely do it.
If you’re interested in learning how you can run your own ghostwriting business, including writing tips, growing social media, and monetizing your audience, then subscribe to the Wrongs to Write newsletter.
To learn more about Dakota’s exclusive ghostwriting program, check out Growth Ghosts here.