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I have a chrome app that’s up to ~1000 weekly users, and i’m not sure if or how to monetize it.

see https://www.extempengine.com

The app is called Extemp Engine, and it’s a specially designed news search engine for students participating in one kind of speech competition in the USA.


It’s a very niche app that i built originally both as a favor to my high school speech team, and as a vehicle to learning to develop javascript apps. I also used it as a chance to practice some simple SEO techniques and copywriting.

The simple description: it loads a large archive of news articles locally, offline, and makes them easy to search through.

The main pain problem that i saw in the ‘industry’ was that there were not any usable apps that catered to the pain point of my audience — in the Extemp speech competition, you are not allowed any form of internet access, all your files must be locally loaded, or in the form of paper.

I built most of the app 3 years ago, and since then i’ve only done a few bug fixes and scaling fixes since then. (I also used the opportunity to refresh my android app development skills, and i built and Android client for it).


My biggest problem is that I’m not sure how to monetize it without alienating the small following that it already has.

The primary user of the app is a high school student. So if I charged for it, the person paying for it would be either the student, their parents, or the school.

  • Student: does not have a lot of money. might not have a credit card.

  • Parent: not the primary user, so value proposition isn’t as obvious to them.

  • School: cash strapped already. requires more involved sales process

The other issue with the app is legality. Google gets around the issue since they primarily serve to link people to content. My Rails app stores all articles in a database in order to make them available to all the chrome clients apps.

If i tried to monetize it, then i’m using other people’s news articles for commercial purposes, which doesn’t get any better.


I have an list of 114 email addresses of people who have incidentally (un prompted) clicked the ‘sign up’ link on the website, and I have a google plus group (for alpha testers of the android app) of 10-20 people (i have not checked recently). My website gets about 30 users per day, mostly (90%+) new, and most (75%) from search.

I still have connections to my local school district, so i could promote it via those channels too.

There might be other details i’ve failed to mention, so if there’s some data you’d need to know to give me advice, please ask and i’ll post it.


I want to monetize it because i’m hitting hard limits on my mongodb databases (I’m using mongolab). And it’s causing API failures. The chrome client itself is also failing to scale with large numbers of articles. (377,000~ articles consume approximately 50GB of my mongo database). It’s getting hard for me to justify spending time to fix these issues for an app that isn’t generating revenue.


Given the situation, how should i monetize this app?


Thank you for reading