Increase revenue by improving your API quality
The best APIs are the minimally viable exposure to a much larger system of business logic, backend services, and infrastructure.
The best API businesses follow that model, delivering only what your developer audience needs with absolutely zero friction.
Growing the revenue from an API means you must first reckon with how few touchpoints there are between a developer learning about your API, reaching “hello, world,” and bringing your code into production. You’re looking at four brief moments, when developers ask:
- How do I get started?
- How do I use this API in production?
- How do I maximize this API’s performance?
- How do I pay for my usage and optimize my spend?
That’s it. Each touchpoint has the potential to send a developer scrambling for an alternative or bonding themselves to the API and developer experience you’ve carefully curated.
To increase revenue and succeed as an API business, you must push hard on the levers that elevate those touchpoints from forgettable to unforgettably good.
The levers for a high-quality API#
Convenient and clear onboarding#
No touchpoint is more important than getting a new developer started. We define that path, where a user finds your website, signs up for your API, and makes their first call of any complexity, as the time-to-first-call (TTFC), which is the **most important metric to successful API businesses.
Unlike authentication alternatives like JSON Web Tokens (JWTs), which require a messy back-and-forth JWT authentication flow involving client secrets, OAuth, and access tokens, you can generate and deliver API keys the moment a developer signs up.
If you then direct the developer straight into an API playground, they can immediately experiment with how your API responds—and how quickly—without leaving their browser or setting up a new developer environment. By letting developers test request bodies, query strings, headers, and then see expected output, you’ve gratefully ended the onboarding touchpoint and directed them straight toward becoming experts in what you’ve built.
Differentiated API documentation#
If API authentication is where a developer answers their first question, then your documentation answers the next question: How do I use this API in production?
To streamline the developer experience (DevEx) here, you need a developer portal that’s distinctly better than your competition thanks to:
- Accurate, up-to-date, and beautiful documentation. This shouldn’t feel like a chore, something you need to constantly poke and prod at. Your OpenAPI specification, particularly if you’re API-first or care about governance, already has all the necessary information to automatically (re)generate relevant documentation on every change. Curious about how Zuplo does developer portals? See our _Rick and Morty_ API.
- Authentication-enabled examples. Developers shouldn’t worry about saving
their API keys elsewhere or manually adding the string into every
curlcommand or code snippet they integrate into their app. When your developer portal auto-populates each example with their API keys, they worry less and always build with good security best practices.
- Integrated key management. API consumers must be able to revoke and roll
keys for any reason, which API key authentication does with far more
simplicity than alternatives like JWTs. The developer portal should enable
that entire lifecycle, allowing them to make swift changes without needing to
ask for help. API keys also let you provide a differentiated customer
experience around security. When you uniquely label your API keys, like Zuplo
zpka_, you can enable GitHub secret scanning to automatically revoke keys a developer accidentally pushed to a public repo, inform them, and help them roll a new one.
- Self-service usage analytics. When API consumers can dig into the real-time data behind how they’re using your API, they can debug ongoing issues, understand exactly how their own users access data from your API, and optimize their spend.
Edge network speed and resilience#
When you deploy your API to the edge, you’re instantly deployed in hundreds of data centers in hundreds of cities around the globe. To put that in more quantitative terms: Your API is running no more than 50ms from almost everyone on planet Earth.
From your developer’s perspective, the less they realize about this touchpoint, the better. An edge-based API delivers consistent latency and availability no matter where they’re based, because requests and responses always do their long-distance hops on an isolated, ultra-fast internal network, not the congested public internet. If their nearest edge point of presence (PoP) goes down, the developer won’t even notice as their requests hop to the next-best data center.
Best of all, the developer doesn’t finish asking their question about how to maximize your API’s performance. With global presence and edge caching, it’s already operating at peak throughput and reliability at extra cost or complexity.
A bespoke monetization experience#
Of the many viable ways to create a business model around your API, you should always hold yourself to two standards:
- Never share your revenue with another platform to get exposure in an API “marketplace” or have them handle your payments.
- Pay only for infrastructure that lets you layer in the best monetization platform for your API business.
Whenever you place another platform between your developer and the response that
comes when they
curl your endpoint, whether that’s an external payment
processor or infrastructure that claims to abstract away all the complexity of
running an API business, you degrade the unforgettable experience you need to
Zuplo, for example, is a highly programmable API gateway. Using TypeScript, which many developers are already familiar with or can pick up quickly, you can tightly integrate your experience with popular payment processing, analytics, and monetization platforms.
We’ve already published comprehensive how-tos on monetizing your API business with Moseif, Stripe, Amberflo, plus an open source template you can fork right now to get started. No matter your route, there are no restrictions and no revenue share.
The lever for a high-revenue API business#
Only Zuplo lets you pull on those four levers while also helping you ship quality APIs faster.
We just revamped our pricing to give your API business more value no matter what tier is right for you. Free and Builder accounts get more collaborators than before, and all tiers come with those features that make all your touchpoints unforgettable: API key authentication, developer portals, edge speed, and fully-programmable monetization choices.
Better yet, you can rack up to 100,000 requests before paying for your go-to-market-ready API gateway.
If you’re looking for an unforgettably good experience in launching your API business, or want to turn your existing effort back toward profitability by layering in tons of new features into the same calls, methods, and documentation your consumers already use, get started on Zuplo for free.