Entrepreneur: Dakota Robertson 

Biz: Growth Ghosts

Tilt: Teaching social media ghostwriting

Primary Channel: X (251.4K), Instagram (221K)

Other Channels: X (Growth Ghosts; 3.8K), LinkedIn (42.4K), newsletter (11K), website/blog

Time to First Dollar: 4 months

Rev Streams: Coaching cohorts, affiliates, agency services 

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Stay the course: Dakota was a procrastinator who came up with ideas but didn’t follow through. But after investing in a course, he committed to starting his business and keep going even if he didn’t see immediate results.
  • Build before you sell: He grew his social audience on X and Instagram before he ever posted about his business offerings. Always provide valuable content that teaches them without having to buy something. Save your goodwill for the big offers so they purchase when the time is right. 
  • Stand out in the crowd: Dakota thought his content tilt might be copywriting, but the market was glutted. So, he pivoted to a narrow niche – ghostwriting for social media. His first cohort program brought in $280K.

The Story of Dakota Robertson

In 2017, Dakota Robertson was studying to become an electrician when a fellow student recommended he read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The book introduced him to the self-improvement genre. The 18-year-old was obsessed and continued reading about the topic as much as he could.

After securing a job as an electrician in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, Canada, he worked 14 hours a day in the cold. He hated it and realized he was more of the creator-type than the blue-collar-type worker. He could not see himself waking up, eating, working, and repeating the same work for the next 40 years. 

Dakota listened to podcasts, read some more, and tried to figure out the next steps when life intervened. In 2018, his mother died unexpectedly. This loss and his desire for more out of life made Dakota realize he needed a change.

“I said screw it, and I left for Asia for three months, and this is when I fell in love with travel. I went to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. But what I really loved was the freedom,” he tells The Tilt.

Dakota Robertson’s love for freedom ultimately led him to become a #ContentEntrepreneur and create @GrowthGhosts. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Road with a renewed sense of purpose

Dakota returned to Alberta in February 2019 with a renewed sense of purpose – living a life with the freedom to travel and do what he wanted.

For almost 18 months, he tried to figure out how to live his purpose. He went back to electrician work. He invested in crypto. He quit being an electrician in favor of side hustles, from repairing and flipping iPhones to flipping items on eBay and Fulfillment by Amazon. He went to college to be a high school teacher. He got certified as a medic and went back to work in the oil and gas industry.

Throughout that time, he continued to listen to podcasts and read. He was still looking for something more. 

‘The’ moment

Dakota remembers his moment well. It happened Sept. 24, 2020. He saw a tweet from CopyNostra promoting an ebook about growing a Twitter audience 

“I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to give it a go and see what happens. It’s only $40,’” he recalls. 

Dakota had been posting platitudes, inspirational quotes, and whatever sounded good but only had 750 followers. The ebook author was growing 1K followers in 30 days. 

After reading the book and hoping on a call with the author, Dakota realized he should stop posting platitudes and start educating his audience on a skill they wanted to learn. But what skill? 

He gravitated toward writing, given reading and writing were big themes in his life. 

On Dec. 4, 2020, Dakota decided to go all in. He dropped out of college and quit his many side hustle jobs. With only a couple of months’ living expenses saved, he knew he had to make it work.

So he went hard on X. He commented 50 to 100 times a day on others’ tweets. He posted about writing – what he was learning and consuming on his own. Three months later, he had 1K followers. Later that spring, he had 4K.

Dakota’s savings were beginning to run out. “I had $8,000 in the bank, so I knew that it was time to start figuring out how to monetize the audience I did have.”

Dakota Robertson (@GrowthGhosts) had only $8K left in the bank when he knew it was time to monetize his audience. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

First dollar and the huge risk

Dakota met and developed a friendship with Dan Koe via X. In fact, Dan paid Dakota his first dollar.  After Dakota gave Dan some suggestions on his community, Dan sent him $200 for the help. Then, the first “stranger” dollar, as Dakota calls it, came from an affiliate payment for referring a new paying member to Dan’s community.

But Dakota paid, too. He spent $6K – three-fourths of the money in his bank account – to take Dan’s course on growing a sustainable business. It was a scary, huge risk, but one Dakota knew he needed as a kick in the rear to get started.

A procrastinator, Dakota usually fell into the same cycle of reading a book, starting a new strategy, and not following through. But he knew spending $6K would force him to follow through. He used Dan’s roadmap to build the business.

However, Dakota still struggled to find his content tilt. He leaned toward copywriting, but Dan helped him see that he needed a more niche topic to stand out. Dakota finally landed on ghostwriting for social media.

“I could be a small fish in a big pond with copywriting, or I could be the big fish in the small pond with ghostwriting,” he says.

The business takes shape

In November 2021, Dakota launched a website and released his first offer to ghostwrite clients’ social media accounts, X specifically, to grow their following by at least 1K a month.

Within 28 days, he landed three clients for a total of $11K in monthly revenue. He soon founded his ghostwriting agency, Growth Ghost, to scale the business. In less than a year, the business was grossing $50K a month.

During this time, Dakota grew his audience to 100K on X and 180K on Instagram. But he wasn’t really taking advantage of it. He had never sold them any kind of offer or service. His next step was to come up with something to sell to this social media audience.

“I could teach my audience ghostwriting, and I could package it up as a group coaching offer, so that’s what I did,” he says.

In January of 2023, Dakota promoted a three-month coaching cohort to his audience and limited the available seats. In two weeks, he earned $280K – $155K from direct payments and $126K through payment plans. (Since then, he’s run another cohort, earning the same net revenue, and plans to launch a third this month.)

In his first coaching cohort, Dakota Robertson (@GrowthGhosts) limited the seats but still earned $280K. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

The coaching program included two weekly group calls with Dakota and one of his first community members, Taylin Simmonds. Participants also get access to course material on everything from A to Z on how to be a successful ghostwriter. 

Dakota provides courses on each social media platform, sales calls, and content marketing. He plans to add newsletters to the course offerings soon. Additionally, cohort members get the added benefit of the community aspect, with members helping and encouraging each other. 

With the success of his education program, Dakota stopped providing direct ghostwriting services to clients.

Advice for content entrepreneurs

Dakota offers this advice for people looking to build and grow a content business:

Publish a newsletter

Dakota is a big believer in publishing newsletters as a way to have direct contact with your audience. In March 2022, he started Captial Creators on Beehiiv. It now boasts 10K subscribers and a 48% open rate (he regularly scrubs his inactive subscribers).

Learn while you get paid

Dakota advises entrepreneurs to figure out how to educate themselves while they’re getting paid by someone else. Deliver pizzas so you can listen to podcasts. Work the front desk at a business. Do a barter so you can take an expensive class while still forming a partnership with another entrepreneur who can help you. 

Become valuable to your audience

When you educate them on something that can improve their lives, you begin to provide that value and set yourself apart. They will reward you in the end.

Remember the impact your words can have on people’s lives. You create content that tells a story, and it can make them cry, make them angry, or make them take action. You have the ability to affect a stranger. Always remember this when creating your content. 

Join your fellow serious content creators at the Content Entrepreneur Expo May 5-7, 2024. Registration now open!

About the author

Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration.  He previously taught middle school for 16 years.  Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.