How I Run My Online Business From a Web Browser

A few years ago, I used to say I can run my business from anywhere in the world as long as I have my laptop with me. This was because all my information and the programs I used to run my business were stored on my laptop. I never really liked that setup because if something were to happen to my laptop, I would be pretty screwed. There was also the hassle of syncing the laptop with the desktops. Oftentimes, I never brother to do it and ended up not having files that I needed.

Today, I no longer need my laptop to run my business. I just need access to a Web browser. The Web browser can be on my laptop, my iPhone or a public computer at the library (or an Apple Store), it doesn’t matter. I never have to worry about syncing or missing any files. All my datas are stored in the cloud using the latest security and backup technologies.

I have replaced all the programs I used to run on my comp with Web browser based programs. I’ve done it to the point where there are almost no programs installed on my Macbook Pro other than what came with OSX. With the exception of iMovie 09, every other program I use to run my online business runs from a Web browser. This has completely liberated me from having to carry around my laptop when I go on trips. Sure, I still bring the Macbook but it’s nice to know that should something happen to it, I can just swing by any Apple Store, buy another Macbook and I’m back in business with nothing lost. Here are all the browser based programs I use to run this blog.

Blogging Software: WordPress

John Chow dot Com is powered by WordPress, which runs from any web browser. I can log into my blog from anywhere in the world as long as I have access to a web browser. Before blogging came along I created content sites using MS FrontPage. I would create the page on my computer using FrontPage and then upload it to the web server using a FTP program. That tied me down to one machine. With WordPress, I can access my blog from any machine, anywhere in the world.

Email Software: Gmail


In the old days, I used MS Outlook to handle my emails. I would never brother to sync the emails between the laptop and desktop. This caused all kinds of problem because I had different emails on different machines. Then there was the time I reformatted the computer and forgot to backup my emails.

Moving my email to Gmail has been one of the best moves I’ve ever made. Gmail has one of the best spam filters in the business and I never have to worry about having different emails on different machines. Gmail also makes a good backup service. Because each account has 8GB of storage, you can use it to backup your WordPress database. Just make an email address for your WordPress database, then use the WordPress database backup plugin to email a copy of your DB to the Gmail account once a day. Should something happen to your database, just log into the DB Gmail account and recover it.

Newsletter Software: Aweber

$1 Aweber Offer

My blog newsletter is handle by Aweber. Their interface is all browser based and can be used from any computer. With Aweber, I can quickly create sign up forms and auto responders. Every money making blog needs a mailing list and Aweber is by far the best in the business. My list is the main reason the blog makes the income that it does. If your blog doesn’t have a list, get one now!

Aweber offers a $1 trial account for all new customers. The account is just like a normal Aweber account and includes unlimited email campaigns, newsletter, broadcasts and follow ups. It’s a great way to test drive Aweber to see what it can do for your blog. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If you find that email marketing is not for you, contact Aweber within 30 days and they’ll give you the $1 back.

Documents Software: Google Docs and ZOHO

Forget Microsoft Office. You don’t need it anymore. All my documents are handle by Google Docs. Why pay for Office and have it take up space in your computer when you don’t have to? One of the best features of Google Docs is sharing and collaboration. If I’m working on a project with other people, I can give them access to my docs so they can work on it as well.

ZOHO Writer

If you prefer the look and feel of MS Office, then you can use ZOHO, which as far as I can tell, is pretty much MS Office on the Web. I’m shocked Microsoft hasn’t sued them out of business yet.

Time Management: Google Calendar

Google Calendar

I used to use Outlook to handle all my appointments and reminders. I now use Google Calendar to do the same thing. I like how I can share my calendar with others so they know what I’m up to and can even schedule themselves in.

Twitter Software: Hootsuite


Before I discovered Hootsuite, I used TweetDeck to handle my Twitter account. Hootsuite is the best Twitter client I’ve used to date. It has many advantages over Tweetdeck, the most important of which is that it’s browser based. I can use HootSuite from any computer and not just my own. HootSuite also uses way less resources than TweetDeck but offers additional features like timestamp tweeting and stats so you can find out how many people clicked on your links.

With HootSuite, you can manage all your Twitter followers and accounts in a single application. You can create as many columns as you want in order to separate your followers into groups. You can add new tabs to track keywords or other Twitter accounts. Add your application key (and a Group, if desired) to send new tweets from HootSuite to your account. Add your blog RSS so it sends out a new tweet when you have a new blog post. HootSuite even allows you to add editors in case you don’t want to write the tweets yourself. I can only see celebrities and the President of the United States using that feature.

Instant Messaging: Meebo


Meebo allows me to run all my Instant Messengers from one browser window. Before Meebo, I was using Adium and I still prefer Adium over Meebo. When I am on my Macbook, I will use Adium. When I’m on a public computer I will check my IM with Meebo.

Image Storage: Flickr


I used to store all my images on my local comp. Now I store them all on Flickr. Flickr allows you to store up to 200 photos for free. Go beyond that and they will want you to upgrade to a Pro account, which gives you unlimited storage. A Pro account cost $24.95 a year ($47.99 for two years). That to me is a no brainer. I have lost photos before because of a hard drive crash and I didn’t have a backup. Those are memories that I can’t recover. While there is always a chance that Flickr might experience some kind of failure, I know their backup systems are far better than what I use.

Flickr integrates with WordPress if you run the Flickr Photo Album for WordPress. This plugin allows you to pull in your Flickr photosets and display them as photo albums on your blog. The plugin provides a very simple template that is fully customizable. Since all my blog photos are pulled from Flickr, I save money on bandwidth cost.

Image Editor: Pixlr


Most of the time, the only thing I need to do with an image is resize it. For that, the built in Preview program in my Macbook can do it. However, there are times when I need to edit a photo before uploading to Flickr. For example, I might need to add a watermark or blank out some sensitive information (like in the Meebo screenshot). For those occasions, I rely on Pixlr. Pixlr looks and works just like a Web based version of Photoshop. With the exception of the really advanced stuff, pretty much anything you can do in Photoshop, you can do in Pixlr. And it’s free!

Video Storage: YouTube

YouTube Channel

I used to store all my videos on Vimeo until YouTube started allowing me to embed HD videos. Now, I’ve stop uploading my videos to Vimeo and I’m going to let my Vimeo Pro account expire. Why pay for HD when you can get it for free with YouTube?

Editing videos is pretty much the only thing I do that is not browser based. However, because iMovie comes with OSX, I can easily work on my videos from any Mac. If I’m on a PC, then I’ll have to settle for Windows Movie Maker but I wouldn’t wish Movie Maker on my worst enemy.

It’s Better Living In The Cloud

Many people feel unsecured about keeping their information in the cloud. For me, I actually feel more secure by having it there. I have lost information before when things were stored locally. I have yet to lose a single item from the cloud. Plus the freedom it gives you is unmatched. A few days ago, I walked into an Apple store, used their Macbook for an hour, accessed all my information, set up an email marketing campaign and made $1,500. By having all my programs running from a Web browser, I can make money from any computer, anywhere in the world.

The above Web browser based programs are what I use to run John Chow dot Com. For affiliate marketing, I use a bunch of other browser based programs. But that’s for another day.

103 thoughts on “How I Run My Online Business From a Web Browser”

  1. That is awesome John! Pixlr looks like a fantastic resource that I will probably start to use a lot now 😀

    1. Tom we would love to see some of your photos which you have been edited through Pixlr.

  2. This is a great post! Another type of site like Pixlr thats coming soon is

  3. interesting approach – I have most of my data on a stick so i can carry it with me. What I am worried about when working from other peoples equipment is viruses and keyloggers.
    Which precautions do you take in this regard?

    1. John Chow says:

      Mostly just being aware on the computer you’re on. Most public comps require admin access to install programs. If they don’t then I’ll be careful. I wasn’t too worry about keyloggers or viruses at the Apple store because those things don’t affect the Mac.

        1. John Chow says:

          Don’t see how anyone is going to be able to install that since all Macs will ask for the admin password before it installs any program. The keyloggers I’ve seen are hardware based, in the form of a USB stick. Those don’t work on Macs.

  4. I agree with Tom, will do the same 🙂

  5. I still use only my laptop or computer at home because i do care lots with security if using public computer.



    1. John Chow says:

      I use my Macbook most of the time as well. It’s just nice to have the ability to access your information from any computer.

  6. What would we have done without the internet , I wonder ….thank God I have an internet business that I can operate from any part of the world

  7. Diabetis says:

    I never imagine that you are using gmail as well.

    1. Why … what was the reason ?

      Are you trying to linked this with google conflict.

      Comeon now things sorted out and because of that no one would like to miss gmail kind of service.

      1. Diabetis says:

        I’m not even familia wiht Google conflict!

  8. Smile Pls says:

    You deserve to be on the clouds 😉 This is fab!

  9. Ugwu Uche says:

    Great article thanks for the info

  10. interesting article…shows technology advancements over the years…how long have you been blogging john? I believe this blog was started on December 2005. Were you in blogging business before that?

    1. S Ahsan says:

      He has been blogging for a decade now; i guess this blog has over 6000 posts!

  11. I didn’t know about Pixlr. I just bought a iMac and don’t want to spend the extra bucks for a mac version of photoshop right now.

    1. John Chow says:

      If you don’t require the full power of Photoshop, then Pixlr will do just find. I love it.

      1. If you do not want to spend money than pixlr will be great for you.

        1. krillz says:

          Are any of your comments ever relevant? I have seen that face of yours too many times on the way down through reading the comments and you bring nothing relevant to the discussion but spamming for the sake of getting comment counts.

          Like the comment I’m commenting on now, repeating what John Chow just said, just shows you’re here for the top commentators, and add no value at all. If I were John Chow I’d kick you off the possibility to even get there, as I personally hate spammers, people who talk with out bringing anything valuable to the conversation and also I do not like ass kissers.

  12. Simon Bunker says:

    Nice post and coverage of the various online apps that are available. I am with you on Gmail, Google Docs and WordPress they are really useful online tools. I will have a look at Pixlr but I normally use for basic image editing.
    Thanks John

    1. Yes we would like to know more about your Google Calender.

      Do you think that we can save Google calender task with Outlook.

  13. Darrell says:

    Good article John. I use Gmail all the time and with new features like Google Documents, I have my important files backed up and never worry about my computer crashing (Again) and loosing data.

    I had one website recently go down and got it back, but I didn’t have the newest back up done. I will make sure in the future I am using wordpress back up plugin.

    Roboform Online is a new beta version for putting your passwords online via there secure website. That way, you literally can go anywhere and access your websites, without having to remember them all. They have a drop down keyword on the computer, so I don’t worry about any key logger or Malware finding out my password by using another computer.

    Cloud computing really is the wave of the future.

    Make it a great day

  14. Cash Genie says:

    Such an apt list 🙂

  15. 0-hero says:

    Great article. Thank to you, john! I like the idea of working anywhere anytime myself.

  16. andrew says:

    What software do you use to create and edit your blog posts? I still haven’t found any browser based blog editor that is as good as MS Live Writer, which is a desktop based application.

    1. John Chow says:

      I edit with the WordPress editor, which is browser based.

      1. S Ahsan says:

        I can make good use of the editor. Didnt really think about it. sounds good!

  17. Todo List says:

    Thanks for the info. I would like to be in the cloud.

  18. I also do in similar way but when I am in between of any task than I would prefer to do it on my laptop and after completion I can send such task on cloud but before that it should be in my laptop only.

  19. Thanks for the tips John. My favorite is the one to use Gmail as a good backup service for WordPress – creating a dedicated backup email account.
    This makes it even slicker when using Google Apps and your own domain name!

  20. photo frame says:

    Impressive. I guess if you can run your empire in the cloud, there is no excuse for me not being able to run my tiny business in the cloud.

  21. John says:

    For affiliate marketing, I use a bunch of other browser based programs. But that’s for another day. – *** that would make a good post

  22. fas says:

    Wooooooow nice stuff, but sometimes you need programs like VSO Image Resizer, winzip and stuff. Just my 2 cents.

    1. John Chow says:

      The Mac can resize image and unzip files without any 3rd party programs.

      1. fas says:

        Thats the mac, but most of us use windows 🙁

        1. jtGraphic says:

          Windows can unzip natively after WinXP, and 7Zip is great and free if you have admin access for image resizing.

  23. Glenn Magas says:

    Wow! Perfect timing! I was just telling my wife – I need a new laptop – something with more memory like MacBookPro since I’m using a MacBook right now. Well, i just want a MacBookPro but that was my excuse.

    But I was thinking, I need more web based functionality so I can do whatever I need to do and not have to drag my laptop to my sister’s house when I babysit the kids or go to the library to do homework with mine.

    So this post is PERFECT – definately going with online photo hosting (i prefer SmugMug) since I do some other photo gallery stuff!

  24. But this kind of life is expensive for me because of internet bandwith cost. Internet bandwidth is really expensive here, in my country.

  25. russ says:

    So true. Put all your apps online and you can travel the world and access your business from anywhere…

    I have done the same thing in recent years and it has been beautiful

  26. yes i thinks this tool is great

  27. I’m still learning this kind of method, anyway I want my business also like you did.

  28. Ammuli says:

    I have just started to look around to your site has great information.I’m try to sink as much as i can .Thanks for sharing this information.

  29. Eymard says:

    Awesome. I want to be like you someday. Maybe it will take
    more years. (hehe).

  30. Jay says:

    This is a very resourceful post!

    I am up to date on everything except the use of Flickr. I was not understanding what in the world that was. Now I see that I can use it, and best of all it’s free!

    I am sick of seeing all of my pictures cluttered into a folder on my desktop. I think I can be able to utilize Flickr and clear up some space in my pictures folder.

    This post went over somethings that can help you become a more organized webmaster. I am installing the Google Calendar as I comment.

    What is the deal with Mac users? I have tried using Mac computers, but I immediately had to switch back to what i’m comfortable with. To each its own they say.

    1. John Chow says:

      You need to spend a week on a Mac before you find out what the deal is. Trying it at the Apple store won’t do it.

      1. So how do you suggest trying mac for a week? For many people, the cost of a Mac isn’t disposable income.

    2. I had to use a Mac a couple years ago for video editing work I was doing.

      The whole time I always kept wanting to right-click. It was maddening.

      1. John Chow says:

        Don’t know how many years ago that was. When I made the switch to Mac, it already had the right click.

      2. I remember this from when I was in high school (my only first had experience with Mac). I absolutely hated only having one mouse button. Maddening is a serious understatement.

        At this point, I have a desktop replacement PC laptop, but I’m starting to strongly consider switching to mac.

        The only other reason I’ve had a hard time considering mac is the game support; I’m married now, so it doesn’t really matter anymore 🙂

  31. adriansabah says:

    That’s fine if the broadband service is stable for your area. For the rest of us, it’s gonna take a little longer. Thanks for sharing this, it makes a lot of sense and I for one look forward to be able to do this.

  32. proson says:

    Hi John, interesting post. May be you transformed yourself as a creative writer! But as the Internet evolved Google does point out that people can run their computers bases on the web browser and probably Google is moving to that direction which everything can be accessible by the Internet which makes some computer program obsolete like MS office. 😛

    1. John Chow says:

      That’s what the Google netbook is all about. Moving everything onto the browser.

  33. FS says:

    Thanks for the valued information, I have never thought of that before. I can’t go away with my computer in the past. Now I can start to put all my pack up disks aside 🙂

  34. Awesome John. Thanks for sharing. You can do it all in one with your different top programs all at once on you laptop. That is so cool. You can run your online business from anywhere on the go with just your laptop. Living the good life eh? 🙂

  35. Rob says:

    Great Stuff John, I work with almost everything you mention. So I totally agree.
    Just one question about WordPress. I have redirected a domainname to my wordpressblog instead of installing WordPress up on my Mac. Can I still use ads like you do or all these plugins? I thought that wasn’t possible.

    1. John Chow says:

      If your blog is hosted by you are not allow to run any ads on it. If you’ve downloaded WordPress from and installed it on your own web server (or web host provider) you can put ads on it.

  36. David says:

    Pixlr is good, but an equally good and free browser based photo service is piknik. I use them all the time

    1. John Chow says:

      Picnik is a nice free service but it can’t watermark or blank out stuff.

  37. Chris @ TBE says:

    An extremely high-quality post, John. One of the best in recent memory. I did not know about Pixlr. I use Gmail and Google Calendar, and now Google Docs. Poor Microsoft

  38. Samuel says:

    John I have been wanting to switch over to a web based email service for awhile now but was wondering if I can add my pop3 accounts to gmail. Is that possible. I have a lot of email accounts that use my domain ext. If this is possible I will make that switch over quickly.

    1. Why not just go download Thunderbird?

      It can handle all of your accounts and has some really neat features/plugins. It’s put out for free by the Mozilla group.

    2. John Chow says:

      Yes Gmail can handle pop3 accoutns. However, I think you’re limited to adding 8 pop to a single Gmail address. What I do is set a bunch of forwards on my domain mail to go to Gmail.

  39. Great post. I never thought about using Gmail to keep backups of WP. I’m going to get started on that.

    First time I’m hearing about HootSuite. Was looking for something better than TweetDeck, so thanks for that!

    And good choice by sticking with YouTube!

  40. It is awesome.It including all the aspects that could help us to run one’s business.

  41. Adam says:

    Which wordpress database plugin are you using for backing up to Gmail? Thanks!

    1. John Chow says:

      There are two that I have used.
      WordPress Database Backup –
      Online Backup for WordPress –

  42. ElectroGeek says:

    John, That’s is cool that you use mostly online services to handle your daily tasks, however do you really want to trust Google and the other online services to store your mission critical data and your backups on their servers. In the event of a catastrophic system failure on their side or in the event one of those services decides to suddenly shut down without notice, you had better at least keep a local backup of all your data and store 1 copy off-site in a secure facility such as a safe deposit box. Just for good measure.

    1. John Chow says:

      Yes, I have local and offline backup as well for the really mission critical stuff. Always better to be on the safe side.

  43. Awesome, Google Calendar looks better than most of the other scheduling programs out there. I’m definitely giving that a look– glad I read this post!

  44. Mathew Day says:

    Very informative post John. That’s really cool you can run your internet business with just a web browser.

  45. I have two things to say:

    1.) Google is taking over the world

    2.) that’s some really awesome software you got there, I’ll definitely look into the Pixlr and Hootsuite programs. Photoshop is awesome, but expensive, and only available on my PC. Thanks a ton for the post.

  46. Free Picks says:

    its that gmail, its looking to advance, how did you make it like that?

    1. John Chow says:

      That’s Gmail with a couple of tweaks and the addition of the Remember The Milk widget.

  47. faizsuberi says:

    great post. this is really helpful. thank you.

  48. You mentioned that these are the only programs you use for your business. What do you use for music? I know there are a lot of streaming radio stations, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to pick your music.

    Do you have online software that you use to do that?

    1. John Chow says:

      I don’t listen to music. When I do want to hear some, I fire up iTunes (comes with all Macs) and check out their big list of radio stations.

  49. garron says:

    Awesome.You are great, I think is it possible to be like you someday. Maybe it is impossible.But I learned something and will more from you ,please teach me,thanks!

  50. Das Brain says:

    Ha, I love the part of your post when you said, you go into the Apple Store and use their MacBook to run your blog business for an hour… funny, but very ingenious as well. 🙂

    Das Brain

  51. Zach Hodgins says:

    Thanks for great information John. It certainly makes a lot of sense to not be so tethered to one device for all of your computing needs. Im glad that I found your blog. Your name has come up many times this weekend at Yanik Silver’s seminar. I’m looking forward to learning more from you. Thanks!

  52. Zach Hodgins says:

    Is there a certain plugin that you used to have the various tabs such as Facebook fan page, twitter, digg this , etc at the bottom of your wordpress blog?

      1. I was looking for that.

        Thank you John for revealing here.

        I think this one is free.

  53. I use Google Docs, Gmail & Hootsuite myself. Has Meebo got Skype on it’s list of IM’s yet? Lack of Skype in Meebo is the only reason why I haven’t used t myself.

  54. My rock solid 1Tb LaCie external drive holds all of my info. Hasn’t faltered yet and never will.

  55. I have learned a lot from this post. lately I am experiencing bandwidth problems with my hosting. I can definitely lower the consumption by applying what I learned here.

    1. Yes this is the best way to manage yourself if you are into online business.

      After reading this post you should also alert what other things are coming to internet market world.

  56. Marquelle says:

    John, you’re giving Google far too much information about yourself!

    1. ????

      What do you mean my friend ?

  57. jtGraphic says:

    I use about half of those programs. I definitely marked this post for follow-up. One of the better ones I’ve seen. I’m going to slowly try and move towards the cloud. Thanks for the inspiration.

  58. This is the best of all articles I read in your blog John. Great piece of information you have brought out and specially very helpful to me as I have learned few new stuffs of it.

    Good stuffs, keep writing…


  59. Nice post and coverage of the various online apps that are available.

  60. Jack says:

    Thanks for the rundown on apps, John. This demonstrates how little technical equipment we need to run a web business in 2010.

    I am not ready to use public computers with my business, but these web based apps are perfect for use with netbooks and other small devices. Frankly, it’s quite possible to run a web based business from an iphone/ipod touch or blackberry.

    Maybe that’s fodder for another post?

  61. Sharninder says:

    Wow ! Isn’t it amazing how far along the Internet has come. It is absolutely amazing how someone like you can run an online business and make tonnes of money without having any software other than a web browser installed.

  62. Excellent post John!

    Thanks for the great info on the best cloud-based software for running your business.

    I’ve got my laptop backed up automatically onto my Apple Time Capsule using Time Machine, but I’ve also got a lot of my business related stuff on there, so if I’m away, then I don’t have access to a lot of my stuff. Using the software mentioned above would get around this perfectly!

    Thanks again for the great tips.


  63. Heide says:

    Sounds awesome! Wanna be like you 🙂

  64. Weekly Staff meeting (thats on your google calender)

    How many staff do you have John ?

    Any tips how to manage staff. I have 6 staff at the moment.

  65. john plott says:

    Email marketing seems easier for some folks.But it is rewarding only when carried out in the
    most proffessional.So I would advise you to find a good email marketing program that can help
    you in your email marketing campaign right from a scratch(with a clean slate).

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