How you can make money from your APIs?

A Business Approach of APIs

As promised in my previous article, we are going to see how to make money from the APIs — API Monetization.


Before getting into the dollar factor first, let’s see how APIs have changed modern E-commerce and businesses. APIs enable systems to communicate with each other and transfer data easily as we discussed earlier. This has expanded the business’s to showcase their product catalogs and provide better user experience apart from the old-fashioned storefront.

Besides, a business can gain more value addition by incorporating with APIs according to their business structure and complexity of the business model.

Some of the values added by APIs are as follows:

  • Better user experience : APIs allows to connect to different data sources and bring them to customer’s fingerprint which can tailor explicit need of the customer or visitor. This enhances the user experience with minimum browsing time, efficient and accurate response.
  • Easy marketing strategy and wide customer base: As APIs enable to access different databases and platforms, business gets an opportunity to reach to a wide customer base with potential customers via these platforms. On the other hand, APIs simplify the marketing process by rapid sales and less time consuming go-to-market strategies.
  • Improves overall innovation process: APIs empower the innovation of the business by adopting new technological changes easily with API modular architecture and it allows to improve the overall operational process to be automated without hassle.

Looking at all these values, most of the businesses are tend to monetize their services and offer them as public or semi-public APIs with a price tag attached to it. This is what really known as API Monetization.

For example, Pearson’s Plug and Play developer program use APIs to make thousands of pieces of content assets acquired over decades available for remixing into new, creative and interactive products and experiences.


Exposing internal digital assets to the third party such as internal/external developers, partners through APIs and make a business out of those APIs are basically considered as “API Business” which is done with appropriate API business model and by adopting an API Strategy.

John Musser, the founder of ProgrammableWeb has explained potential business models for API business as follows:

Source: API Business Models
According to that, the main categories identified as Free, Developer Pays, Developer gets Paid and Indirect.

Most of the well-known businesses and organizations select the appropriate model using the industrial method of the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder according to their business purpose, API consumers and accessing assets.


Selecting the best fitting business model for API strategy is critical for a business as it needs to be decided after a better understanding of each component which put together to create the real value expected from the business strategy.

Let’s talk more about the API business models in details and how to select the right model in next article. :)