Ever wondered how you can make money with drones? The demand for aerial photography and videography continues to grow as more and more businesses are finding ways to increase their market value.
At first glance, it might look hard to make money with drones. But there are many successful drone photographers and professional companies that provide top-quality aerial solutions. In fact, it is not that hard to make money flying your very own drone with one of these premium drones from the market such as the DJI, Parrot and Autel Robotics.
All you need to do is buy a powerful consumer-priced drone. Register your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Take and pass the Part 107 exam to earn a remote pilot license. Then you need to find clients who are willing to pay for your services.
What Drones Can You Use?
Before you start flying drones for money, you need to have a drone that is capable of producing 1080P HD video and 12MP photos. Though several professional drone owners will strongly recommend that you get a drone that is capable of producing 4K UHD videos and 20MP photos to assure your clients are getting quality content.
It’s also important to have a drone that has the ability to take RAW photos. Since these RAW photos will allow you to add finishing touches via Adobe Photoshop. In addition to that, a high bitrate for videos is essential to ensure a smooth footage animation. At least 100MB/S bitrate is recommended.
Drones with intelligent flight modes and object tracking ability makes it super easy to capture professional-looking footage. The following below is a list of drones that we highly recommend for making money. Please do note that the majority of DJI drones like the Mavic Mini and older generation of Mavic Series are still great — but will not offer the best quality.
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Mavic Air 2
- DJI Mavic Air
- Autel Evo 2
- Autel Evo 2 Pro
- Parrot Anafi
How to Become a Licensed Remote Pilot
In order to fly your drone for commercial use within the United States legally. You must obtain Part 107 certification which demonstrates you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for flying a drone safely. This means you need to take and pass the Part 107 exam with a passing grade of 70% or higher. Upon passing the exam, you will obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. You can learn more about the Remote Pilot process on the FAA’s website.
How to Get Clients
A very good way to get clients early on is through people you know. Chance is that you might have a friend or family member that wants some aerial work done. They also might know someone who is interested in aerial solutions.
When I first launched my drone business, I networked in my home area by knocking at the Real Estate agencies and explained how my drone business can help increase their properties’ market value. Eventually I landed a contract job with one of the real estate agencies. So when you are starting off, it’s important to know that majority of the time they will say no. Along the way you will get a few to say yes.
A good way to start is reach out to the real estate agents, active construction sites and local sporting teams near you. That’s what I did when I started off when thinking who could benefit from aerial solution services.
Most of the aerial work that I get is from the free stock photography site Unsplash. This is a great way to get your work out in the open in front of a massive audience. Some will reach out to you and make an offer to produce content for them.
Working with other professional drone photographers and videographers is an awesome way to get into an industry. Clients will trust the person that you are working with. Also a good way to connect with other photographers and videographers is through Instagram. Simply create an account and start sharing your work on the platform.
Weddings and Events
One of my favorite ways to make money with your drone is to offer wedding photography and videography. In the past few years, wedding aerial photography and videography has exploded in popularity with several couples wanting an extra special angle that is only possible with a drone.
Other events like sporting matches or a state fair are awesome ways to make money with your drone. Oftentimes, the organizers will want to capture footage of these events for advertisements. Having a drone capturing aerial shots and videos will provide their businesses with a brand new attention-grabbing angle.
Real estate photography is a very popular way to make money with drones. They are consumer-focused and that makes them the perfect choice to fly your drone and capture some really stunning shots. Many real estate agents want to show off their properties or land that they are selling. A drone can capture a unique aerial perspective and show the whole property which really helps increase the market value.
Aerial photography and videography allows you to create informative content that is otherwise not possible with ground-level cameras. By being able to see the size of the property and point of interests that are near. Buyers are bound to be excited. From my personal experience, working with real estate companies is probably the most rewarding experience you can ever get when it comes to flying your drones for money.
Stock Photo and Video
Another way you can earn money with your drones is to upload your photos and videos to stock photo websites. By uploading your drone shots and when someone pays to use the stock photos / videos, the website gives you a cut every time they are downloaded.
Uploading your footage is a great way to generate passive income. But so are free-to-use sites such as Unsplash because it will generate leads that can eventually land you a paid job. One thing I want to point out is that it tends to take longer for your work to show up on pay-to-use websites as they have to be approved first. Compared to free-to-use websites will give you a much bigger exposure and access to a wide range of creators.
Pay-to-use image & video sites
Sharing your work on Instagram and YouTube are also a great way to build an audience. Just like the free-to-use websites, they won’t make you money right away. But these platforms will help build connections that in the future will lead you to several paid jobs.
If you prefer not to sell your work on stock websites. Perhaps you want to keep a bigger cut to yourself than paying the middle-man. You can build a website and upload your stock then charge whatever you think is fair.
The main advantage for running your own digital content website is that you own your work — not the stock websites. Buyers pay a premium price for the rights to use your photos and videos. This can be quite a lucrative way to build an online drone business.
Though you won’t have the same level of exposure that stock websites have. If you want to generate leads, you need to build and establish your business’ reputation first. Well-known and experienced photographers are slowly making the change from stock websites to running their own digital content website.
My personal favorite web hosting website to run your own digital photography and videography business is Cloudways on a Vultr high frequency server for speed and affordable price. If you have never built a website before, Siteground is also pretty good for starters as they offer a massive discount for first-time customers. This hosting service provider is also fast and user-friendly.
Lastly, you can make money with your drones by training new remote pilots. Believe it or not, there are some people who are willing to pay for in-person / online training to teach them how to fly.
If you are an experienced remote pilot and know the ins / outs of the drone system. Then you should consider teaching other people how to fly their drones. When I was in college and networked along with my friends, I had several people who actually came to me and asked if I can teach them how to fly a drone.
For starters, I recommend doing it for free as you will gain valuable experience along the way. Once you feel comfortable and know the best way to teach students, you can start charging a small fee for private in-person private. If you prefer to reach a much bigger audience, you can create your own online drone training courses.
Conclusion: How to Make Money With Drones
There’s so many ways to make money with drones. At first try, it might sound like a daunting task. But after a while building up your profile and networking, you will land several paid jobs. Getting in touch with the Real Estate companies and people who are looking for aerial solution services is a very easy way to get your foot in the front.
You also can build and expand your reputation with an online website showcasing all of your professional work. Both Cloudways and Siteground are very good web hosting websites to launch your own online business for selling photography and videography. Making money with your drones can be a very profitable business in the long run once you have established yourself as a drone professional and business owner.
Do you run drone photography and videos on any of these free-to-use sites, Instagram, and YouTube? Let us know what is on your mind by commenting in the comment section below. Stay tuned for more drone news, guides and deals at Dronesfy. Happy flying and fly smart!