Do you have web scraping skills, or you want to know the prospects of having such a skill? Then come in now and discover the best ways you can make money web scraping.
Before the Internet became accessible to many people around the world, the availability of data is a huge problem – this is no longer the case as the Internet has become one of the largest databases in the world with data in many forms – text, audio, and video. The availability of data on websites on the Internet opens up unique money-making opportunities to programmers that have the skills to collect those data in automated ways as manually collecting huge data can be time-wasting, error-prone, and sometimes not practicable.
Are you a programmer and have skills in web scraping, or you want to take up a career in the field? Then you need to know that regardless of your level of experience and skillsets, there is money to be made provided you have a reasonable skill in it. In this article, you will learn a good number of ways you can make money with your web scraping skills.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the technical term used for the process of extracting data publicly available on web pages. Web scraping is carried out using computer programs known as web scrapers. Web scrapers are computer bots that automatically download web pages and parse out required data points to either use them immediately in making a decision or store them in a retrievable database that could be used later. For web scrapers to work, the process of extracting the required data must be predictive and replicable in an automated means.
There are a good number of web scrapers in the market. Some are general web scrapers such as Octoparse and ScrapeStorm. Others are specialized scrapers for special purposes like SEO and website testing. The presence of these tools does not, in any way, make web scraping an unrewarding task. In fact, as you will come to realize, as you continue reading this article, there is a lot of money to be made in web scraping. But first, what are the required skills for web scraping?
What are the Required Skills for Web Scraping?
If you have had a little idea about what web scraping is, you will know that it requires some forms of technical skills except if you want to make use of already-made web scrapers in the market. What are these skills?
Computer Programming Skills
The number one skill required for developing web scrapers is computer programming. Web scrapers are computer programs and written using computer programming languages. While you can potentially use any of the Turing complete programming languages, Python, Node.js, Ruby, C/C++, and PHP are the popular languages for developing web scraping tools.
Each of these languages has libraries that can help you speed up development and develop better scrapers. However, Python seems to be the favorite. It has an extensive and easy to use support for web scraping with a good number of libraries and frameworks available.
Generally, you need to know how to use programming to programmatically retrieve web pages, parse their content, extract required data, and either uses them immediately or store them – that’s what web scraping entails. With Python, you can use Requests for sending HTTP requests and Beautifulsoup for parsing out the required data. Depending on the nature of websites in question, you might need a browser automation tool like Selenium. For a complete framework, Scrapy is a popular web scraping framework.
- Scrapy Vs. Beautifulsoup Vs. Selenium for Web Scraping
- Building a Web Crawler Using Selenium and Proxies
Evading Anti-scraping Systems
It might interest you to know that websites do not like being scraped. Some dislike scraping because of the too many requests web scrapers send, which eventually adds up to their running cost without any benefit to them.
Others fight web scraping because they paid for the data they publicly display, while others do it to protect the rights of their users in terms of the user-generated content. In fact, it is high time you know that most websites cherish their data and wouldn’t hand them over to you easily. Some provide paid APIs to earn from the data.
So, your web scraper will most likely get blocked if it does not incorporate techniques to evade detection as a web scraper. Evading anti-scraping systems is out of the scope of this article, but at the basic level, you will need to make use of proxies in other to hide your IP footprint and then rotate IP addresses to avoid exceeding requests limit. You will also need to rotate headers and mimic popular browsers. For some websites, you will need to use Captcha solvers.
When I say engineering skills, don’t get scared, not all web scrapers require you to have software engineering knowledge in other to build them. In fact, an overwhelming number of web scrapers do not even require them. However, if you are going to be scraping hundreds of thousands or even millions of web pages, then you will have to plan ahead. Regular web scrapers won’t do the job – likewise, regular database systems.
You will need to build your web scraper using a distributed architecture so that you will have scrapers running on many computers/servers. The database system also has to be distributed. There are other things you will need to consider, including exceptions, handling wrong data, avoiding honeypots, and a host of other things.
Ways to Make Money Web Scraping
If you have the skills described above and you can comfortably develop web scrapers to scrape most websites on the Internet, then there are many money-making opportunities available. Below are some of the most popular.
Develop Custom Web Scrapers for Businesses and Researchers
The reason why this one comes first is the ease at which you can make money with it. It might interest you to know that businesses are increasingly seeing the importance of making data-based decisions and the Internet is one of their sources.
Many of them have unique needs and are looking for a developer that could develop a web scraper they can use periodically to scrape. One advantage of this is that if you do a good job, you will be retained as the maintainer of the scraper.
Web scrapers stop working when the layout of its target website changes. For this reason, businesses that use custom web scrapers will need to constantly get them updated. You can get gigs from Freelance websites such as Upwork. I have seen a lot of web scraping gigs on Upwork that pays handsomely.
Offer Web Scraping Service
Some clients with an interest in collecting data online are not interested in any form of web scraper. All they are interested in is data, and as such, all that’s required for you to do in other to earn money from such clients is to scrape the data and hand it over to them.
Unlike in the case above, you will have to develop the scraper and then run it until you have scraped all the required data. This is different from just developing a scraper. You can even take this further by starting a data scraping business where your sole aim is to provide businesses with data.
Develop Web Scrapers for Sale
In the first method above, you wait for businesses to come with unique ideas, and then you build scrapers to meet their requirement. In this case, you come up with an idea of web scrapers that businesses will like and then develop them. Take, for instance, Octoparse is a web scraper that people pay to use. It was developed for use by non-technical users.
Another popular web scraper people pay for is ScrapeBox, dubbed the Swiss Army Knife of SEO. There are a good number of them in the market. However, there are still a good number of unimplemented ideas. Think outside the box and develop one that you can sell for money.
Selling Data and Leads
I know you might think this method is the same as offering web scraping service – but no, it is not. This method entails you scraping important data and presenting them in a structured format for buyers. There are a good number of websites that make their money by selling data.
Take, for instance; you can scrape performance data of all footballs in a particular league and sell them to those that need them. You can create a database of online users on social platforms and sell them as lead to businesses. These are just examples; there is a good number of data you can collect free online and sell them for profit.
Scrape Data and Create Application Around it
Let me give you an idea I wanted to implement in the past but had to move on to something else. I wanted to create a football match prediction program that works by scraping the head to head performance of teams and then carrying out some analysis on it to draw a decision.
Many of the soccer prediction sites scrape data in the background. If you’re not the type that has an interest in that, there are other ideas that use data in the background. SEO tools that such as Moz that provide SEO scores for links and Domain do that with the help of web scraping. You could create online directories and business pages by scraping business information online.
Create Web APIs
Another way you can make money through web scraping is by creating web APIs and monetizing them. For those that do not know what APIs are, the term stands for Application Programming Interface. You can scrape data that websites can programmatically access via your paid web APIs.
If you do not want to deal with a huge database, you can simply do the scraping in the background and return the required data as a response. There’s a whole lot of data you can provide via web APIs. But you need to know that programmers are your target audience as they are the only ones that deal with them.
Buy items at Cheaper Prices for Resale
It might interest you to know that you can profit a great deal from deals. A good number of e-commerce stores sell some of their products at discounted prices. Some stores offer clearance sales.
You can use web scraping to monitor the prices of the items and discover discounts that could be of interest to you. You should be able to buy some items you can later sell at higher prices. To make more money, you can even make the price monitoring tool web-based and get others to make use of it, which you can monetize in different ways.
Create Purchase Bots
With skills in web scraping and crawling, you can actually create bots that carry out purchases online. Take, for instance; you can create bots for copping limited-edition sneakers. There’s also a market for ticket scalping. In fact, any product that is in limited supply and there is a high demand for it is a potential product you can create a purchase or check out bot for.
After creating the bot, you can commercialize it and make a lot of money. Sneaker copping bots that work get sold out in no time. However, it is important I stress here that selling bots is competitive – and your bot has to have the required features to beat the competition. Another way to make money from your bot is by using it to buy limited-edition items and reselling them at higher prices.
Teach Novice the Skills of Web Scraping
Another way to make money is by teaching developers or intending developers on how to develop web scrapers. There’s a lot of opportunities in this. You can start a YouTube channel or a blog. You can also write books and sales on Amazon and your own sales channels, such as social media pages.
The most important thing is doing research to make sure your unique tutorials are needed, and the tutorial you create should meet their requirements. If you’re able to get a sizeable number of audience and you become popular, you might end up becoming an authority, which will give you more access to other money-making opportunities.
Looking at the list above, you will see that if you’re really serious about making money through web scraping, there are many options for you to choose from. However, as a way of concluding this article, I will have to stress here that most of the illegalities associated with web scraping stem from the commercialization of data scraped.
I will advise you to speak to a lawyer and be sure you’re not breaking any rule before going ahead with your chosen method. But on a generalized basis, web scraping is completely legal – it is what you use it for that might make it illegal.