We’re happy to announce a new eBook release! We’ve assembled our best advice on API marketing, developer relations, and platform advocacy into a single volume. Grab a copy of How to Successfully Market an API for free HERE, or name your price on LeanPub.


The bible for project managers, technical evangelists, or marketing aficionados in the process of promoting an API program. In it we reveal how to plan an API-first business, how to make it discoverable, promote it to press and developer networks, establish quality developer relations, and advocate on behalf of your users to spark adoption and long-lasting integrations.



In the widening API sphere, marketing an API business involves knowing your community intimately, and fine-tuning your developer support channels to help users excel. With APIs continuing to surge in importance across all industries, spreading API knowledge becomes increasingly important. More APIs equals more competition, meaning that API evangelism, the job of promoting a developer-centric program, now needs its own strategy.

This eBook is the first of it’s kind. A compilation of advice and research geared specifically to DIY marketing for a public web Application Programming Interface or similar developer-oriented program. These aren’t tips for amassing hundreds of developer emails – no. This is about creating a usable frontend for your API platform that employs healthy developer outreach to naturally increase the prestige of your Software-as-a-Service. We’ve taken a holistic approach to marketing in this volume, with the end goal to help readers extend reach and onboard more developers to their API.

API Marketing is one of the Nordic APIs 6 Insights to API Practice; a core facet of providing an API. Thus, we’ve collated our best advice within this book to explore the Marketing Insight from four important angles:

  • Part 1 – Planning: Tips on starting your program, understanding your target consumer segmentation, market research, and more using the API canvas model to position an agile API business.
  • Part 2 – Developer Relations: Discussions on onboarding and quality developer experience when it comes to overall API design as well as documentation and developer portal resources.
  • Part 3 – Promotion: Outlines emerging API discovery techniques, API directories, and relevant press resources that will help spread awareness of your product, as well as ideas for creating informative content that informs and engages potential API users.
  • Part 4 – Advocacy: Lastly, we define community building best practices, the roles of program advocates, tips on holding your own developer conferences, API demoing, as well as case studies into developer relations failures and successes that companies have had in their public API programs in recent years.

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


What’s Next?


Stay tuned for our next volume: The Art of API Practice

Roy Fielding once describe REST as “software design on the scale of decades: every detail is intended to promote software longevity and independent evolution. Many of the constraints are directly opposed to short-term efficiency.” Essentially, he acknowledged how developers often execute short term design without long-term design in mind, which causes inadaptability as technology evolves.

In October 2016 Nordic APIs will be holding a Platform Summit centered on this theme, bringing together API industry thought leaders to share their insights on what it means to architect and design Application Programming Interfaces on the scale of decades. The event will especially detail RESTful design techniques for longevity, operational components of sustaining an API, and topics like DevOps, microservices architectures, developer relations, and new business methodologies for keeping your platform aware, stable, and innovative.

The Art of API Practice will gather the best information shared by speakers at the Platform Summit – so even if you can’t afford to attend, you can catch a part of the experience! We’ll feature articles by our speakers, highlight recurring conference themes, and explore what longevity means from the perspective of 6 the Nordic APIs Insights; API Design, API Platforms, API Strategy, API Design, API Marketing, and API Security.

For now, please enjoy How to Successfully Market an API, and look out for more from the Nordic APIs writing team!

Bill Doerrfeld

About Bill Doerrfeld

Bill Conrad Doerrfeld is an API specialist, focusing on API economy research and marketing strategy for developer programs. He is the Editor in Chief for Nordic APIs, and formerly Directory Manager & Associate Editor at ProgrammableWeb. Follow him on Twitter, visit his personal website, or reach out via email.