Project Tartarus Case Study: Update #4 | Skipblast

Project Tartarus Case Study: Update #4

Here we are with another month on the books for this site. And it’s making money!

In case you forgot, this case study site is on an awesome aged domain I got at Odys. (this link gets you a 100 USD/EUR welcome bonus)

If this is your first time here, the I suggest catching up on the old updates first:

I’m excited to share how it’s going with the site, so let’s dive in!

**And as always, I’m an affiliate marketer and this post probably contains affiliate links, meaning I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

Month Five – What Happened

Things are continuing to go well this with site. Though, my analytics graph is plagued by referral spam.

So, that referral spam spike added around 1,000 sessions, which puts me at around 19K sessions for the last 30 days.

Not bad.

tartarus month 5

I won’t lie though – I was hoping for a bigger traffic jump. This is that month off working on the site catching up to me.

The good news is that I have managed to move past that 100 live posts goal. 🥳

The bad news is that the bulk of those new articles were toward the end of the month, so not quite enough time to see the benefit there.

But I can still see plenty of new keywords popping up in Ahrefs each week.

ahrefs new keywords

This site still has loads of featured snippets, though there is some recent volatility in those.

I think there were recently rumblings of a small, but unconfirmed, Google update and I think that’s why I’m seeing lots of movement with the snippets.

On my end, I’m seeing high DR (70+) taking those snippets in the past week, even when the site/page isn’t 100% topically relevant.

But then I’ll get them back for a few days…then I’ll lose them again…and so on.

It’s a cycle that I hope ends soon…and in my favor.

Regardless of how that plays out, I’m still just keeping my head down and staying focused on content production.

Okay, let’s talk money now.

Right now this site is monetized with Ezoic and a couple of Amazon links.

I also have a few private affiliate program links on the site, but zero income from those so far

So, before I tell you the income, just a bit of an explainer – I started this site in the middle of a month, and that’s how I’m counting months for these reports. But, of course, I track my income by calendar months.


This means when I tell you the income the site earned in these reports, it was actually earned in the previous full calendar month.

Okay, so in update #3, I told you that this site had earned $53.11 — that was for the month ending December 2020.

And, the income I’m about to share was earned in the month of January 2021.

Yeah, I know that I kinda made things confusing for no good reason, but here we are with my wonky reporting.

Since the last update, this site earned $94.01 (in January).

So, the income almost doubled.

This income came from:

  • AdSense (before I switched to Ezoic)
  • Ezoic
  • Amazon

If you’re curious about the breakdown of income, that looks like this:

  • AdSense = $63.72
  • Ezoic = $28.58
  • Amazon = $1.71

And to preview the next update, this site has already earned over $200 in February!

But back to the display ads. If you recall, I did AdSense first to get a baseline RPM.

My AdSense RPM on this site was around $7.00.

Here’s what my Ezoic RPM looks like so far:

ezoic rpm

So yeah, it doubled and then some. If you’ve still got AdSense on your site, then you could be losing a lot of money, so get your site on Ezoic.

Needless to say, I’m really pleased about that RPM jump.

Of course, as the year progresses those RPMs should increase, which I’m really looking forward to.

In regards to links, I just want to remind you that I’m not planning on doing any link building for this site anytime in the near future. That’s the whole reason for buying an aged domain from Odys.

Month Five Summary & Thoughts

Lots of progress made on the content production front because I outsourced a fuckload of articles.

Making the switch to Ezoic from AdSense was the best thing I could’ve done since the RPM more than doubled.

Here’s how the fifth month of this new site looked:

  • Traffic: 19K sessions
  • New Published Posts: 19 (I wrote one and the rest were from a freelancer and WordAgents)
  • Total spent this month: $10 for hosting and $824.60 for content ($4,978.45 to date)
  • Per article average cost of outsourced content: $45.81 this month ($43.26 to date)
  • Total published words to date: 131,675
  • Average word count per article: 1,193
  • Income: $94.01 this month ($153.86 to date)
  • Links built: 0
  • New natural links: 0
  • Initial Budget Remaining: $21.55 (plus I’m reinvesting earnings)

So, I’m now at an interesting point in this case study – I’ve almost exhausted my initial budget.


This means I’ve got two options:

  • Stick to my initial plan and only spend what’s coming in (so, reinvest all earnings and no additional expenses)
  • Say ‘to hell with it!’ and start hitting this site like crazy with more content

I’ve been considering these options for a couple of weeks now.

On the one hand, I like to do case studies slowly since I know a lot of readers are new and/or have day jobs and can’t commit 100% to sites. So, I like to be able to show you what’s possible on a limited budget (both time and money).

But on the other hand, this site is doing really well and it would be a shame to halt it’s growth potential. Plus, I’ve noticed another aged domain appearing in the SERPs on my heels.


Since I prefer to front load as many expenses as possible, I’ve decided to continue throwing money into this site.

I think I’ve already shown you what’s possible with just a $5,000 budget, so now let’s see what happens if I keep going.

A freelance writer that I used to work with regularly for years messaged me out of the blue with “COVID rates” that are just too good to pass up.

I hired him to write me weekly articles for this site. And I expect him to average around 5 articles a week for around $600/month.

Ideally, I’d like to get up 100 more articles by the end of April.

If my freelance writer continues with 5 per week, that’d be around $1200 for his 40 articles and then around $3300 for the rest from WordAgents (assuming I don’t write any of them). That would be around $4500 over the next two months.

Am I ready to basically double my expenses with this site in just two months? Honestly, I’m not quite sure…but maybe?

I mean, at a 30x multiple it would only have to earn an average of $315/month for six months in order for me to break even here.

And RPMs will continue to go up the rest of the year. And if I start Pinterest now, that will mean more traffic to the site in a few months time.

Did I just convince myself?

Tune in next time to find out!


Did you miss how this case study started? Get caught up from the beginning here.

4 thoughts on “Project Tartarus Case Study: Update #4”

  1. Hey Shawna,

    I’ve been following this case study since the first article. I’ve got 2 questions, hope you can answer them:

    1. Do you do all the keyword research and provide the KWs to your writers? I mean if your writer is going to create 5 articles per week (On average) then who is doing all the keyword research?
    – Also what is the current mix between info articles and affiliate type of articles on the site, is it 50% 50%?

    2. I’m currently building a niche site myself. I get around 5k organic visitors per month and it’s steady growing. However 90% of the content are info articles. Now I’d like to add some affiliate articles but I just don’t want to promote amazon because of their low commission rates. Do you have any experience working with other affiliate networks like Shareasale where the rates are higher? I wonder if their conversion rate is better / same and if it’s worth it or would you recommend amazon?

    Thanks, hope you can answer them. Also are you planning on returning back to Europe anytime soon?

    • Hey Artem,

      1) Yes, I do all the KW research and give the writer a list of titles. 100% info content so far.
      2) Often the other places, like Shareasale, have higher commissions but your conversion rates are lower. Often, you still end up making more money. That being said, I still like to offer Amazon as an option – but do your email marketing, popups, etc with the other programs to push more sales through those.

      And yes, I’m hoping to get back to Europe before the end of the year.

  2. Hi Shawna,

    Hope you are doing well. I landed here after watching your interview with Doug Cunnington. I am currently working on a niche site project and after watching your video, a question popped into my head, I hope you won’t mind answering it.
    How do you find keywords having forums on top search results?

    Will anxiously wait for your reply.

    Thanks and best of luck for the project Tartarus

    • Hi Faizan,

      When you find a forum, just pop it into Ahrefs or your preferred tool to see all of the keywords that it ranks for in the top 5 or 10 results. Happy hunting 🙂



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