By using BlankSlate and WebServius technologies together, you can turn a spreadsheet of data on your computer into a fully managed public API in literally minutes, and easily charge money for access to this data. For example, you can sell your spreadsheet data for $0.01 per row. The following video shows the entire process:
The BlankSlate platform turns any tabular data into a public API. The WebServius API management solution is used to secure, manage, and monetize the API.
Here is a more detailed description of the steps shown in the video:
Creating a BlankSlate API
1. Sign in to your BlankSlate account (or create a new one) at http://beta.blankslate.com
2. Click ‘Create my first API’ and give it a name and a description.
3. Choose ‘Upload a Spreadsheet‘ and follow the instructions to select an Excel spreadsheet from your computer. Other data import methods are available on BlankSlate, and they will also work.
4. Click ‘Take me to my Data‘, verify that the data was imported correctly into BlankSlate and change column settings if needed.
5. Click on the ‘API‘ tab. This will display your API operations along with your unique API key. Keep this information private if you’re planning to manage the API with WebServius.
You now have a functional API. If you would like to expose your data publicly with the ability to control who has access, observe usage patterns, or to charge money for access to the data, you will need to add a WebServius management and billing layer on top of your API.
Managing your API with WebServius
Follow the simple instructions on the account creation forms until you get to the main WebServius dashboard.
2. Create a Service
Go to the ‘Services’ tab and click on ‘New Service’.
Enter a name and a description that accurately describes your data set, and choose BlankSlate Spreadsheet Data from the Service Type selection.
Find the ‘Search operation URL’ on the BlankSlate API and copy it into the BlankSlate API URL field. Make sure that your API key is included in the URL.
Next, select how you want to track API usage for the purpose of billing (or for limiting usage on free plans). There are currently two options available:
Per record returned: Each spreadsheet row your API returns counts as one unit of usage, regardless of how many API calls are made. For example, this allows you to sell your spreadsheet data at $0.01 per row. (This is the recommended option when selling valuable data, and we will assume you have selected this for the rest of the document).
Per API call made: Each call made to your API counts as one unit of usage, regardless of the volume of data returned.
Finally, click on “Enroll Service”.
3. Set pricing and access rules
Go back to the ‘Services’ tab, and click the ‘Usage Plans’ button next to the service you just created.
You can select either a Paid or a Free plan.
Choose a descriptive name (for example, “Regular Pricing”) and set your rules. For paid plans, the parameters available are Monthly fee, Included units, and Price per additional unit, where “units” refers to rows of your spreadsheet. For example, if “Monthly fee” is $20, “Included units” is 1000 and “Price per additional unit” is $0.01, it means that you will be selling access to your data at $20 per month for access to up to 1,000 rows, and any additional rows accessed will be priced at $0.01 per row. Please note that if your API users request the same row multiple times, they will be charged multiple times.
If you’re creating a free plan, you can limit the number of rows allowed per period of time (e.g. allow access to not more than 100 rows per hour).
You can create and offer your subscribers multiple plans to suit their usage – for example: a limited free trial plan, a simple per-row pricing plan with no monthly fee, a plan with a monthly minimum but lower per-row prices, and a plan with a higher monthly fee and unlimited free records.
4. Expose your API and allow it to accept new subscriptions
Go back to the ‘Services’ tab, and click the ‘Packages’ button next to your service.
Click New Package, type in a name, select one of the Usage Plans you have created in step 3, and hit Save. If you’re offering several usage plans, you’ll need to create a package for each one.
5. … Profit :)
Go back to the ‘Services’ tab and find the ‘Subscription URL’ next to your service. You can now give this URL to potential customers who need the data in your spreadsheet (For example, you can create a “Subscribe to my API” button on your website that leads to this URL, or you can blog it / tweet it out). To see what this URL would look like to your potential customers, click the “Preview” button.
Your customers will be able to subscribe to your data at this URL, and pay for access using a credit card or their PayPal account. You will get a check at the end of each month that will include all of your data sales revenue (minus a small WebServius fee). If you are using WebServius to manage a free API, you will be able to easily see the list of your API users, get reports on their usage, and contact them if necessary.
We’ve kept things simple in this tutorial, but there’s a variety of other features you may want to take advantage of, including:
License agreement: Create a custom license agreement if you require your subscribers to agree to specific terms in before they can subscribe to your API. For example, for a free package you may want to require a link back to your site.
API documentation: Click on Setting on the Services page to add rich-text-formatted documentation for your API, or provide links to external documentation. It’s recommended that you provide the necessary documentation to allow subscribers to use your API. This includes BlankSlate’s generic documentation pertaining to the Search operation, as well as a technical description of your data (column names, formats, etc).
Promotion: Give your subscribers a one-time bonus of any number of units at sign-up.