Newsletter #6

Why You Would be Brain-Dead Stupid to Use the Same Tools as Us

written by

Kevin J. Duncan


That’s a title that gets your attention, huh?

It’s true, though.

It would be incredibly… unwise for you to use the same tools we use at Profitable and Smart Blogger.

I’ll explain why. I’ll also show you:

  • What we use
  • What tools to use instead
  • And when you SHOULD consider using the tools we use

I’ll start by giving you a peek behind the curtain.

“Just do everything like we do for Smart Blogger”

Those were the (paraphrased) instructions I gave Tim, our company’s tech guy, when it was time to launch Profitable.

Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Smart Blogger is a well-oiled machine. We’ve been using the same tools and apps for YEARS.

So when we were coordinating Profitable’s tech stack, choosing to use the tools we already used — the tools we already knew like the back of our hands — made complete sense.

And so that’s what we did.

Then this happened:

A humorous photo of an office where chaos is going on

Okay, so I’m slightly exaggerating.

Profitable’s tech stack setup was fairly straightforward. But you know what it wasn’t?


It was hard work. It took time. Me, Tim, Meghan, and others on our team had to put on our thinking caps, roll up our sleeves, and really dive in to get things working as they should.

But here’s the thing…

DIFFICULTY isn’t the (sole) reason you shouldn’t use the tools we use.

And it isn’t because of the price tag (though that’s certainly a consideration).

No, it’s because it’s overkill.

When you’re starting out, you don’t need sophisticated (i.e., complex) and advanced (i.e., expensive) tools.

You need simple…

Tools you can unpack relatively quickly and easily — and that won’t put a dent in your wallet.

So, let’s quickly highlight a few of the tools we use…

Briefly explain why we use them…

And go over what you should be using.

Learning Management System for Online Courses


  • What We Use: LearnDash (aff) installed on a subdomain
  • Why We Use It: We can self-host the software, giving us the ultimate control and flexibility
  • What You Should Use: Skool (aff) or Circle

In Short:

If your business involves online courses, keep things simple.

Don’t worry about self-hosting and keeping things “in-house.”

Both Skool and Circle handle everything for you. There’s no subdomain to create, no software to configure, and no plugins to install.

They “just work” — which is what you need.

Email Marketing


  • What We Use: ActiveCampaign
  • Why We Use It: In addition to allowing us to create in-depth automations, it comes bundled with a CRM (customer relationship management software) for our sales team
  • What You Should Use: SendFox (aff) or ConvertKit (aff)

In Short:

If you need to create funnels, go with ConvertKit.

If you don’t, go with SendFox until you outgrow it (then move on to ConvertKit).

e-Commerce (aka Selling Things)


  • What We Use: Elementor for creating sales pages, WooCommerce for the e-commerce platform, Cartflows for building sales funnels, WP Fusion for integrating with ActiveCampaign, Stripe for processing payments, and… and…
  • Why We Use Them: We need scalability and flexibility — even if it means more complexity
  • What You Should Use: Gumroad and Stripe

In Short:

Gumroad’s fees are higher than our setup, but when you’re starting out, it’s well worth it.

This one tool can replace half a dozen others.

And there’s no upfront cost. Gumroad only takes its cut when you make a sale; conversely, each of the tools we use has an upfront or annual fee.

Factor in the simplicity factor and it’s pretty obvious which choice is the right one for most.

So When Should You Use Our Tools

Honestly? Possibly never.

Most online businesses never reach the point where they need to swap out simplicity for scalability and flexibility (and the complexity that comes with both).

But here are a few rules of thumb:

1. Your Email Marketing Platform is What You’ll Upgrade First

As soon as you…

  • Have more than 5k subscribers, or
  • Need to create a funnel to sell something

You’ll have outgrown SendFox.

When that happens, you’ll want to upgrade to ConvertKit (aff).

(For this reason, depending on your needs and situation, it may make sense to skip SendFox altogether and start with ConvertKit)

Will you ever outgrow ConvertKit? Very doubtful. And if you ever need a CRM, you can integrate one with ConvertKit in a few clicks.

2. You Could Use Skool or Circle (or a Similar Tool) Forever

We chose the LearnDash + subdomain route, but Skool or Circle would’ve been viable options for us too.

So if you start with Skool or Circle, stick with them and don’t look back.

3. Swap Out Gumroad Once You’re Making Real, Tangible Money

When you reach the point where Gumroad’s 10% fee is significant…

And saving a chunk of that fee would be well worth the headache that’ll come with switching to a different tech stack…

Make the switch.

But not a moment before then.

Your sanity will thank you.

The Best Links:

Your Next Steps:

If you got value from this, and you know anyone who’s interested in starting an online business, please let them know about it.

Use one of the share buttons to the right (if you’re on a desktop) or below (if you’re on mobile) to spread the word.

The more referrals we get, the more awesome content we can publish.

Thanks in advance.

Until next time,

Kevin J. Duncan