Niall Doherty | Founder of
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Niall Doherty of eBiz Facts. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as insight gained from running the business.
Who is Niall Doherty?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
I’m Niall Doherty, founder of eBiz Facts.
I was born, raised, and educated in Ireland, but haven’t lived there much the past 15 years. After I finished college in Ireland, I moved to New Orleans in the USA because I was obsessed with basketball and that’s where my favorite NBA team played.
I started a fan website about the team and that site soon became affiliated with ESPN. Through that connection, I was able to score a media credential, which gave me access to the locker room and occasionally a courtside seat at the media table. I was living my teenage dream there for a while, big-time.
While in New Orleans I also worked 9-to-5 as a web designer. This was from 2007 to 2010. I read the 4-Hour Workweek around that time and was inspired by blogs of the first “digital nomads.” So I quit my job, started my own business, and began traveling the world.
Early on I mainly did freelance web design to earn a living and pay my travel expenses. I spent 44 months traveling around the world without flying, completing one full circumnavigation of the globe through 37 countries and across 3 oceans. I even spent a month crossing the Pacific on a cargo ship.
Since completing that trip I’ve lived for stretches in Amsterdam, Berlin, Gran Canaria, Bali, and Tbilisi.
I started eBiz Facts at the end of 2018, and that’s been my main focus work-wise ever since.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
Tim Ferriss and his book the 4-Hour Workweek certainly had a big impact on me. I never considered myself to be entrepreneurial before reading that, so it really opened my mind to doing my own thing.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given your younger self?
In hindsight, I probably became too eager to do my own thing. After quitting my 9-to-5 job it probably would have served me better to get a remote job working for some established entrepreneur who I could learn from. Instead, I was determined to never have a boss again, and so I blundered through a steep learning curve.
I was also overly obsessed with the idea of passive income early on. I would have made far more money in my first few years if I had taken a remote job or focused on freelancing rather than trying to set up one ill-fated passive income scheme after another.
Now I think of becoming an entrepreneur as similar to becoming a professional athlete. Someone who wants to learn tennis needs to pick up a racket, practice for a year or two, and maybe goes on to win a pro tournament some day. Same with running your own business. Unless you get very lucky or have some crazy natural talent, you have to put in several years of trial and error before you can reap significant rewards.
Q: What is eBiz Facts?
It’s a website where we rate and review online business courses by surveying real students.
Basically, any course that promises to help you make money online, we tell you if it’s a scam or legit. (See the list of courses we’re reviewing here.)
I started off simply buying and reviewing such courses myself. Now we’ve evolved to a crowd-sourced approach, so you get insights from lots of students who have taken a particular course. For example, we ask if the course has helped them earn as much as they expected and try to account for any bias in their rating via a proprietary algorithm we developed.
We also have a weekly newsletter that features tips, insights, and opportunities to help our 22,000+ subscribers grow their online business.
Q: What makes eBiz Facts stand out from competitors?
Most review sites in our industry have one person reviewing each course and they tend to recommend whatever earns them the highest commission.
From the start we’ve strived to be as unbiased as possible, recommending what we believe to be the best courses even if we earn little or no commissions on them.
We’re able to do that even better now with our crowd-sourced approach, especially with an algorithm that weighs how trustworthy each student review is according to a variety of factors.
All told, dozens of data points and multiple perspectives are factored into our reviews, which ultimately helps our readers make the most informed choice about which online courses are worthwhile and which should be avoided.
So long as we keep doing a good job of that, our revenue will continue to rise. That makes eBiz Facts a win-win-win: for us, our readers, and the best course creators.
Q: What led you to start eBiz Facts?
I saw a friend having success with a similar business model in a different niche. His approach was simply to create lots of awesome, well-researched content, make it freely available to everyone online, and then monetize with select affiliate offers.
He was careful to choose affiliate offers that helped his audience achieve their goals, and because of that he never really had to “sell” anything.
It was a natural progression: people searched for help on a topic, found his website, got lots of great info for free, and then saw carefully-vetted recommendations of products or services that could help them further.
He was providing tons of value by doing this and earning a good living at the same time.
My friend encouraged me to try the same model in my niche of interest, which was online business. That’s a niche full of hype and charlatans, so I figured I could help people cut through the crap and find the few courses and resources that actually deliver on their promises.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
In a word: patience.
Someone once defined an entrepreneur as someone who makes constant progress but never as fast as they’d like. That has been my experience. It always feels like there’s more to do and more we could be doing.
But I’ve learned and constantly have to remind myself that patience is key. Being willing to stick with something and play the long game is a massive competitive advantage.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you and the company in the next 5 years?
We’re aiming to collect ratings and reviews of lots more courses. That’s the main thing. We can do it better than anyone else in our niche, it provides a lot of value, and we’re able to monetize it naturally.
Ultimately though our goal is for eBiz Facts to be the site people recommend when a friend asks them, “how do I make money online?”
We want to be the trusted gateway for people new to online business, helping them figure out what the best opportunity is for them, and how best to capitalize on it.
We’re a small team right now and we definitely need more people to achieve that vision. So a big focus for us this year is hiring and training new team members.
For more information, visit eBizFacts.com.