The web consists of so many moving parts that you won’t know everything that’s going on, even as someone who works as a developer. There are interface designers, web designers, and backend developers that perform most of the heavy lifting in the background.
One of the most important jobs of the average backend developer is coming up with API that frontend developers use to integrate interesting features into websites or apps. If you’re a newbie to this development thing and you don’t know what’s going on, don’t fret; everything will make sense in the end.
In this article, you’ll learn what APIs are, and how they fit into the development cycle. Also, you’ll learn how to create your APIs as a backend developer and how you can monetize those APIs as a reward for a job well done. As a bonus, I’ll show you 5 API ideas to get you started.
Table of Contents
- What are API Projects?
- How to Build an API
- 5 API Ideas to Make Money
- How to Monetize an API
What are API Projects?
The term API is short for “Application Programming Interface,” and it refers to a piece of code (usually) that lets developers integrate features created by a third party into their apps. While that may sound like a plugin or library, APIs are very different since the creator also typically handles the backend in this case.
A perfect example of the practical use case of an API is Stripe, which is a payment processor that got popular with the rise of drop shipping platforms on the internet. Stripe made it easy for developers to integrate the payment processing feature into their web apps by adding three lines of code.
APIs are reusable; once you create an API for a particular task, you can use it across all the web apps you’ll create in your career. If you choose to open it to the public (like Stripe, for example), anyone around the world can use it, and if you’re strategic enough, you can even proceed to monetize the API.
Before learning how to make money from creating APIs, it makes a lot of sense to consider learning how to build them first. In the following section, I’ll show you how to build an API, so you can focus on making money from them.
How to Build an API
Before going on, it’s crucial to note that reading these few paragraphs won’t automatically take you from a complete newbie to an expert API builder. If you have no idea how to code in any language previously, there’s very little you can learn from this section.
However, if you’re already learning how to code, but need a quick guide to show you what to focus on to build an API, here’s what you need. Here are the steps required to build an API from scratch.
- 1. Conceptualize the API ideas
Before loading up your code editor at all, you want to be sure you know what you intend to do. By that, it means you must have an idea of what you want your API to do to people who will eventually use it; in short, come up with the idea of your API.
If you have no idea what to build, that’s exactly why there’s this article. The following section will show you five of the most interesting API ideas you can build for monetization. Even with that, you still have to think outside the box to come up with a unique idea.
- 2. Choose the API style
This article won’t cover this to a large extent, but there are two types of APIs: REST and SOAP APIs. Apart from the fact that their names are pretty interesting, they also have a couple of differences you need to note. Before choosing the style you’ll be using to build your API, you should consider comparing both, looking at their strengths for your API idea, and determining which of them will make your job easiest.
- 3. Develop your API
After making those crucial decisions, it’s time to actually fire up your code editor and get building. The steps required to build an API are advanced, and I can’t trust myself to be a decent programming tutor. If you’re here, you should already have an idea of how to create an API, or at least where to learn how to create one.
- 4. Optimize for security
During the process of developing your API, you should consider making security a priority. The idea here is to build an API that you’ll monetize, and monetizing an API involves opening it up to the public. You certainly don’t want your API to be a security vulnerability, so you should implement advanced security measures.
5 API Ideas to Make Money
If you’ve been following this article carefully, you’ll notice that the first step required in building an API is conceptualizing the idea. Coming up with API ideas becomes considerably more difficult when you don’t even have examples to inspire you.
To that end, here is a list of API ideas you can build and monetize easily.
1. Form Submission API (Static Websites)
Dynamic websites have servers to handle form submissions, but for static websites, that’s not usually a consideration. However, static websites still have to use some important forms like the contact form found in most websites today.
Since static website developers are unwilling to manage databases and servers because of a contact form, why not just do that for them. You can simply handle the database and server, only to ensure that the messages get sent to the correct email address. For extra flair, you can even add a simple frontend that users can log in to see all messages they’ve gotten through their contact forms.
2. Meme API
Memes are undoubtedly a sensation on today’s internet, and you can take advantage of that to build API developers can use to integrate a meme creation functionality into their websites. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want, integrating as many features as you can care to build.
Some of the options that could go into the API request include a text font size option, which would allow users to alter how large text appears on the image they submit. Other crucial options include text location and text background color for the location and background color of the text respectively.
3. Notes API
The Notes API is exactly what it sounds like: an API that lets users integrate a note management feature into their web apps. You’ll need to provide a database for the API to function properly, as well as CRUD to enter, update, or modify the notes that users keep.
The most basic functions to add to the API are endpoints that let the developer implement options that enable them to add, read, and delete notes. Users should also be able to add titles to their notes and group similar notes together by name and date.
You can make your Notes API more advanced by adding a search functionality that looks through their notes to bring up specific entries automatically. Undoubtedly, the Notes API is one of the most practical API ideas in this collection.
4. Email Verification API
In this case, the email verification API will take email addresses as input, check if the supplied email is valid, and revert a positive or negative response. You can even build the functionality to let the API receive multiple inputs at a time for people trying to verify large email lists.
As for the verification itself, you can do that by validating the format of the email address for a start. After doing that, you can look up the MX records and try to use them to connect to the SMTP server. If any of the steps fail, the program automatically outputs a negative response.
5. FAQ API
The FAQ API will make it possible to create a Quora-like website where people can add, read, delete, and update, questions and answers. While it’s technically similar to the Notes API in structure, it will require far more skills and dedication to create than the Notes API.
The API should manage accounts for authors, and authors should be able to add new entries to both the questions and answers databases. They should also be able to modify the questions and answers they create, and the questions should be separated by tags and categories.
How to Monetize an API
After creating an API and passing it through the testing phase, it only makes sense if you can get rewarded for a job well done when you finally open it up to the public. Fortunately, there are ways to monetize your API ideas if it’s popular enough to make waves among developers.
If you’re looking to make people pay to use specific endpoints on your API, you may have to use an API monetization platform. Monetization platforms like RapidAPI offer you all the flexibility and convenience you need to offer your API as a service. When you monetize using this method, people will be paying you directly for the services you offer, which is a pretty direct monetization method.
Another option is to source traffic to your website using an API. Services like Twitter and Imgur do that pretty excellent. Developers can embed Imgur pictures into their websites using small snippets of code effortlessly, and clicking on each picture will take you back to Imgur.
Of course, when you get new visitors to your website, you can proceed to monetize them using the monetization method you use on your website generally. While that’s not a direct monetization method, it’s still an interesting way to make money from your API idea.
Building an API is not a beginner-level skill in programming. However, once you start trying your hands on them, you should try building the ones you can monetize for profits in the long run. This article has listed five of the most interesting API ideas to try.