The Great Outbrain Challenge: Part 1

Steve Strauss, founder of, introduces a challenge involving online content for small businesses.

Steve Strauss headshot

I am very excited to share with you today an exciting new venture that I have launched with a company called Outbrain that is designed to help you get more traffic to your website, and in the process, ultimately, to get you more business.

It’s called The Great Outbrain Challenge.

But before I share just what the Challenge consists of and how it will help your business, I first have to share some background about my business. As you may know if you are a regular reader of my columns (and if you are – thank you!), I recently launched a new website called TheSelfEmployed. The site took a year to plan and almost that long to launch, so it is both a labor of love and a significant commitment.

Looking back, the project can be broken down into two phases, and in that sense, it is like any new startup:

  1. The pre-launch and launch phase, and
  2. The startup

Both phases were interesting, fun, and challenging in their own way. Phase one consisted of vetting the idea of the site, working with the design team, and then getting sponsors on board. We were blessed to get great sponsors like EHealth, Elance, Greatland, SCORE, Verizon, LegalZoom, and Staples. An impressive lineup if I do say so, and a great group that is truly committed to your small business success.

Phase two has essentially consisted of adding more and more great content to the site and then getting people to visit it – getting customers. We have employed a variety of tactics to do this:

  • We have invested heavily in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • We launched TheSelfEmployed Facebook and Twitter pages
  • We advertise on Facebook to get more likes
  • We launched an aggressive content guest blogger program
  • We invest in PR

And while it is all good and all works, like any new business, we want to continue to grow. That is why I was very interested when I was contacted by Outbrain. I had not heard of Outbrain before, but as they say, I was familiar with their work:

On my site, or, or Time or Rolling Stone and any number of other excellent content sites, at the end of any article you see links to other articles from both that site, as well as “From around the Web.” That app is powered by Outbrain. If you have valuable content on your own small business site, you can sign up with Outbrain and it will promote your content on these great channels to increase traffic to your site.

Does it work? Well, let’s find out, together.

I challenged the folks at Outbrain to see if what they do can help the typical small business, and to their credit, they not only loved the idea but offered to let me try out their service for free to see just how much it could help my small business, TheSelfEmployed.

So here’s the deal: Outbrain gave me a typical small business budget to play with for a month and we are going to see how much their services increases traffic to TheSelfEmployed. I hand-selected about a dozen articles from my site to start with – everything from our most popular content to a few things that are a bit more dry. These articles will now become part of the Outbrain arsenal that get’s promoted at the bottom of other articles around the Web.

In a month I will be posting and sharing the results. I am confident that what we at TheSelfEmployed learn will help you too.

Let the Challenge Begin!


Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer and writer and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international business speaker. The best-selling author of 17 books, his latest is the all-new 3rd ed. of The Small Business Bible. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success Powered by Greatland, visit his new website for the self-employed, TheSelfEmployed, follow him on Twitter, and "like" TheSelfEmployed on Facebook. You can e-mail Steve at: © Steven D. Strauss