How to Successfully Market an API
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How to Successfully Market an API

Fine-Tuning Developer Relations & Platform Advocacy

About the Book

In the widening API sphere, marketing an API business involves knowing your customer intimately, and fine-tuning your developer support channels to help users excell. From evangelism, advocacy, to community building - the job of promoting a developer-centric program (and doing it tastefully), now needs its own strategy.

This eBook is structured into four parts. We first we walk through a Planning stage with tips on starting your program, understanding your target consumer, market research, and more using the API canvas model to position your agile API business. Next, we discuss Developer Relations with tips on onboarding and quality developer experience when it comes to overall API design as well as documentation and developer portal resources. Next, we cover tips on Promotion, outlining API discovery techniques and relevant press resources that will help spread awareness of your product, as well as ideas for creating evergreen content for blog publishing that informs and engages API users. Our last section on Advocacy defines the roles of program evangelists, tips on holding your own developer conferences, as well as case studies into failures and successes companies have had with public API programs in recent years. 

If you are a project manager assigned to marketing an API, here is your bible.

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About the Author

Nordic APIs
Nordic APIs

In 2013, Nordic APIs was formed to help organizations become more innovative, lean, and efficient. Nordic APIs has grown into one of only a handful of all-­API-­related event series held anywhere in the world. After hosting more than a dozen events, the community has grown to include hundreds of international thought leaders. Through the global reach of its blog, Nordic APIs is connected to 10's of thousands of API practitioners from around the world. Visit for more information.

About the Contributors

Bill Doerrfeld
Bill Doerrfeld

Editor in Chief @ Nordic APIs

Bill Doerrfeld is a technologist and writer interested in disruptive software and projecting technology of the future. He is especially devoted to tracking the API economy, and is the Editor in Chief for Nordic APIs, a blog and knowledge base devoted to helping API (Application Programming Interface) providers refine their platforms. Follow him on Twitter, Linkedin, or reach out via email. Visit for more.

Chris Wood
Chris Wood

API Specialist

Chris Wood is an API specialist from the UK. His main interests are API management, Python and working on cool and interesting stuff. Connect with Chris on Twitter.

Jarkko Moilanen
Jarkko Moilanen

Jarkko Moilanen is a long term open source community activist, creator of the APIOps concept and founder of the API-Suomi community. Jarkko is one of the leading API economy evangelists (APItalist) in Finland. Nowadays designing and leading strategy implementation in education and cloud services at Ministry of Education and Culture. Also acting as one of the X-Road Ambassadors in Finland and Joint X-Road community midwife.

Kristopher Sandoval
Kristopher Sandoval

Blogger @ Nordic APIs

Kristopher Sandoval is a web developer, author, and artist based out of Northern California with over six years of experience in Information Technology and Network Administration. He writes for Nordic APIs and blogs on his site, A New Sincerity.

Oscar Santolalla
Oscar Santolalla

Host and Producer of the public speaking podcast Time to Shine. Oscar has spent more than three years as a Product Manager in the software industry. Either onstage or on blogs he advocates making technical presentations and product demos that engage and inspire.

Vassili van der Mersch
Vassili van der Mersch

Chief Architect, Oxygis

Vassili van der Mersch is a technology entrepreneur and freelance programmer from Belgium. He is the founder of Sevendays, the Chief Architect at an Internet of Things company called Oxygis and formerly a manager at Accenture, where he worked as a technology consultant for 10 years. Throughout his career in consulting, he has worked on a variety of API backends for large organizations in government and financial services.

Table of Contents

    • Preface
  • Part One: Planning
    • Building from the Ground Up: Tips for Starting Your API Program
      • Clarify Your Needs
      • Get Buy In (From Everyone)
      • Aim for a Public MVP
      • Act on Feedback
      • Build your Practice
      • Final Thoughts
    • Define Your Target Developer Audience
      • Why Create a Developer “Persona”?
      • The Developer Brain
      • But Plenty of Other People Are Interested in APIs, Too!
      • Expanding our Portal: Developer End User Evangelism
      • Varying Industry Backgrounds
      • Location & Demographics
      • API Use Cases
      • Technology Preferences
      • Lessen The Corporate Branding
      • Developer Experience
      • Build it And They Will _____
      • Understand Your Audience
    • Developer Experience is a Key Ingredient of Quality APIs
      • API Model Canvas – offspring of Lean Canvas
      • Developers are the Rockstars of the API Economy
      • Addressing the Entire API Model Canvas
      • Case Study: National Library of Finland
      • MVP for next step
      • Gain speed and make it fun
      • Final Thoughts
  • Part Two: Developer Relations
    • Ingredients That Make Up a Superb Developer Center
      • Getting Started Guide
      • Authentication Guide
      • API Documentation
      • Testing Environment
      • Developer Resources
      • Support Channels
      • Platform Policy
      • Cater Your Home Presence to Non-Developers Too
      • Final Thoughts
    • Crafting Excellent API Code Tutorials that Decrease On-boarding Time
      • Setting the Context
      • Exploring the Details
      • Creating an Application
      • Final Thoughts
    • What is the Difference Between an API and an SDK?
      • Define: API
      • Define: SDK
      • Squares and Rectangles
      • Examples
      • Apples and Oranges
    • Developer Resources: SDKs, Libraries, Auto Generation Tools
      • What Are Helper Libraries?
      • Why Not Just Let Them REST?
      • Data Problem
      • Programming Language Trends
      • Discover What Languages Your Consumers are Using
      • Who Should we Model?
      • HTTP is Language Agnostic
      • 5 Tips for Helper Library Design
      • Last Line of API Code: Your API is Never Really Finished
    • A Human’s Guide to Drafting API Platform Policy
      • Key Themes
      • Defining Responsibilities
      • Setting Expectations
      • Describing Good Behaviors
      • Final Thoughts
    • Creating A Brand Guide for Your API Program
      • Platform Strategy Dictates Brand Requirements
      • Brand Guide Components
      • Formatting Your Design Guide
      • The Effect of Zero or Poor Branding Guidelines
      • Final Thoughts
      • Examples of API Branding Guides in the Wild:
  • Part Three: Promotion
    • Perfecting Your API Release
      • What do I release?
      • Time Your Release
      • Widen Your Potential Audience
      • Have the Right Monetization plan
      • Have a Demo
      • Have Awesome Branding
    • Tips to Make Your API More Discoverable
      • SEO Approach: Optimization of API Homepages
      • Service Discovery Automation
    • Cheat Sheet of 10+ API Directories to Submit Your API to
    • Important Press Networks and Developer Channels in the API Space
      • Press Release Distribution
      • API-Specific Blogs, Thought Leaders, and Digests
      • General Tech & Developer News
      • Nordic Tech Press/News
      • Social Bookmarking
      • API Events
      • The Everpresent Commentator
    • Utilizing Product Hunt to Launch Your API
      • Alpha, Closed Beta, Open Beta, or Full Release?
      • Preparing for a Release
      • Offering Exclusive Deals: The Gold Star
      • Actually Submitting a Profile on Product Hunt
      • The Launch: Introduce Yourself, Play Nice, Get the Word Out
      • The Unanticipated Launch
      • The Return on Investment
      • The Internet’s Watercooler is Product Hunt
      • Resources
  • Part Four: Advocacy
    • Day in the Life of an API Developer Evangelist
      • 8 Important Job Roles of a Software Evangelist
      • What does an Evangelist do each day?
      • Evangelism vs Advocacy
      • Q&A Section
      • Conclusion
      • Interviewees:
    • How to Offer Unparalleled Developer Support
      • The Importance of Developer Outreach
      • Email and Social Media
      • Event Hosting and Attendance
      • Documentation and Knowledge Bases
      • Conclusion
    • Accumulating Feedback: 4 Questions API Providers Need to Ask Their Users
      • Why Feedback is Important
      • What Do You Expect From This API?
      • What Is Your Greatest Frustration with the API?
      • Why Did You Choose Our API?
      • If You Could Change Our API, How Would You?
      • Methods to Use for Accumulating Feedback
      • Think As a User
    • How to Hold a Killer First Hackathon or Developer Conference
      • Types of Get-Togethers
      • What is a Hackathon?
      • What is a Developer Conference?
      • What’s the Difference?
      • How to Host an Event
    • What Makes an API Demo Unforgettable?
      • 1: Describe the API, in a few words.
      • 2: Convince we all share the same values of the API
      • 3: Impress with how great and easy your API is
      • 4: Interact with the audience
      • 5: Live coding mastery
      • 6: A theater-like script
      • Preparation for potential technical flaws
      • Conclusion
    • Case Study: Twitter’s 10 Year Struggle with Developer Relations
      • 2006 - 2010: The early days
      • 2010 - 2012: OAuthcalypse, competing with third party apps and other perceived betrayals
      • 2012 - 2013: Token limits and open war on traditional clients
      • 2013 - Present: Post-IPO controversies
      • Wooing back developers
      • New releases and optimism going forward
      • Other social networks
  • Review
    • TL;DR Checklist
    • Endnotes

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