API monetization

After months and perhaps years of work you have managed to build a fully working API with all the features that  competition has and more. Your API is going to disrupt the market and kick competitions a**.

Happy Humans :)
Happy Humans :)

You’ve even set up an API console and documentation is impeccable.

Life is good and everything is peachy… :)


Your team moral
Your teams moral

So you wait a week, month, a year but users aren’t showing up….traction is horrible and there absolutely no evidence of demand – investors are frowning – the moral in your team is falling faster then that red bull guy that jumped of a space balloon thingy…





uh oh
uh oh

How is this possible?
Our perfect product doesn’t have enough users to pay the bills?





After building that perfect product – did you do your homework



I’m gonna give you 4 ways on how you can get developers to use you platform / API.

and it comes down to….

“Lead by example not instruction”


use your own API

1. Build plugins for every e-commerce platform out there by using your own API.

Find out which one is the most popular and start with that.


Most popular e-commerce platforms

Update your code regularly – no one wants to install a plugin that wasn’t updated since April 2013.

Usage has to be free at least to an extent.

2. Build client libraries for top 10 programming languages out there.

With back-end code also give out some basic CSS,HTML and JS – help people integrate your technology into existing forms with ease.


You’ve noticed I’m using the word “build” a lot?
You are asking yourself what’s the point of an API if we do all the building…that’s what developers (potential clients) should be doing?


no body knows you exist -you don’t have enough money to pay the bills, people are quitting on you – push your API out there.


3. Build extensions for  the most popular frameworks (Laravel,Ruby on rails, Spring).


4. Write down the things you normally ask yourself before using any product

Things regarding……

QualityWhat is behind this product / Who is behind this product?

Answer this through smart tag lines and illustrations on your website


Reliability – is the customer service always available, is the service in general working 99.9% of the time?

Talk about this on your on blogs, webinars.

Safety – refund / guarantee / SLA ?

Have a clear terms and conditions and also talk about this in interviews…blogs…webinars.

How fast can I integrate this product / technology into my companies existing infrastructure?

Make a 3 minute YouTube/Periscope tutorial videos where you convince developers that your product can be integrated withing any platform / framework in 180 seconds


Is there a plugin that will allow me just to install the product into my current infrastructure (For example Magento, WordPress…etc).


Price – when all above taken into account do I feel like the price matches what I get.

Make your prices easily accessible and simple as it gets.




After and only after you have done your homework you should venture out into the world

If you don’t like long blog posts stop here :)



You want to keep reading?…alright…..

Next step….

If you are targeting developers…

These are the web-sites you should know inside out.


1. Github (offer extra value by giving out client libraries, reference to various extensions and plugins you made for popular frameworks and platforms)


2. Stackoverflow (present your product and offer extra value)


3. ProgrammableWeb (research the competition)




Let’s talk about StackOverflow….



In this research it is estimated that there are a total of 18.5 million developers in the world, StackOverflow a Q&A for developers has over  4.5 million users.

Meaning that on this particular website you can find 25% of all your potential clients.


For example you have built a API that really help building better CRM systems and you would like to only filter out questions that are CRM related?

In stackoverflow that is really simple.

All you need to do is go on


and type in CRM


You’ll be given an option to “subscribe” and every 24 hours you’ll get a list of all questions that had a CRM tag on them.


If you want to get a live feed of the questions being asked reefer to and enter this


After you get notified of the question being asked you should respond only to the ones you can give extra value too. For example in this question  it’s clear that a developer is just beginning to build an CRM system and this could be a perfect chance for you to present your product to her/him.




Obviously don’t have a secret agenda – approach openly and directly.

Literally write this before giving out an answer:

“Hello XY employee here, there are a lot of good CRM APIs out there (even name a few) but XY will provide a 10 $ free usage and another 20 $ if you reffer a friend to us”

Be sure to give tech value to the answer. For example  recommend a client library or a plugin that could get this potential client started right away.

You don’t even have to refer to your company all the time – just be there for them.


If you are successful enough you’ll even get your own tag like Twilio did.

Example of "sponsored links" Ad option for Stackoveflow
Example of “sponsored links” Ad option for Stackoveflow

There is always an option to have Sponsored links option with Stackoverflow which they call

“Tag Sponsorship Specs”.

SO AD prices
SO AD prices

They are a bit pricey and I really recommend instead of dishing out cash for ads for you to create real value to developers that are interested in the technology you have available for them to use.


So let’s recap why you should use stackoverflow:

1. Reach out to you potential clients by helping them out and presenting your brand very transparently

2. Reassuring potential clients that you are a part of the same community as they are

3. Creating extra value that helps the whole IT community become a better place.



Github community is strong  – you should really be present on this platform.

Giving out sample code (not only backend – but the frontend also), developing for popular frameworks and platforms.

No body from the developer community will take you seriously if you don’t have a very upkept github page.




Use ProgrammableWeb to look for competition – yes I’m aware that there a bunch of other resources out there (ProductHunt…etc) where you can scope out the competition, but ProgrammableWeb gives out the very detailed information about your competitors APIs – and that’s what we are talking about now.

use this form to easily find by category and protocol what (Companies) APIs are emerging as your possible competitors.


In Conclusion…

Don’t expect that team lead or a CTO to recognize the potential of your API – you need to do your best to promote it as much as possible – by directly reaching out them.

Who knows…that end user could be a IT team lead working in Facebook or a CTO of a huge bank. By reaching out the developer community you can influence the decision makers directly.

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