How to Make Money with a Drone
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Drones have become increasingly popular and more affordable for the average person. Aside from being a lot of fun, a drone can also be an excellent tool that opens up a lot of money-making opportunities.
In this article, we’ll show exactly how to make money with a drone. Whether you already own one, or whether you’re looking to invest in one so you can use it to make some extra cash, these opportunities should give you an idea of what’s possible as a drone pilot.
Of course, it’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations related to drones to be sure that you’re operating with the laws. We’ll look at licensing requirements later on in this article.
This online course teaches you how to use your drone (any drone) to take amazing photos and videos you can sell. Free access to the course is available for a limited time.
How to Make Money with a Drone
Here are 15 specific ideas or ways to make money with a drone.
1. Take Real Estate Photos and Videos
One of the best ways to make money with a drone is to offer services for taking photos and videos for real estate listings. There are always going to be people selling homes, and they’re always going to need quality photos and videos to help them market their properties.
Aerial photos and videos are extremely effective for creating a listing that truly stands out. And with a drone, it’s very easy to get these types of shots. With just a few hours of your time, you can capture and process photos and video footage that will help the listing to get more interest from potential buyers.
While aerial photos and videos can be useful for any home, they’re especially effective for homes that have great outdoor space that’s worth showing off. They’re also very effective for large lots and properties, so people who are browsing the listing can get a better feel than would be possible with a typical ground-level photo.
To get started as a drone photographer, simply reach out to some real estate agents or companies in your area and see if they’re interested in your services. You could also list your services on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. If you don’t yet have a portfolio, you could offer free or discounted services to get some experience and samples that you can use to attract other clients.
If you do a good job, the realtors who wire you will be extremely likely to work with you again in the future. As your network grows and you establish connections with several successful real estate agents or brokers in your area, you should see a steady flow of business coming your way.
This is an opportunity that could be done part-time, or it could grow into a full-time business. If you really want to scale up, you could even purchase multiple drones and hire others to operate them for you.
2. Create Stock Photos and Videos
Another great way to make money flying drones is by creating stock photos and videos that can be sold or licensed online. This is a growing market as the demand for quality aerial photos and videos continues to increase.
There are many different sites that you can sell your photos and videos on, such as Shutterstock, iStock, and Depositphotos. The process for submitting photos and videos to these sites is relatively simple and straightforward.
To get started with your drone photography business, simply create an account on one or more of these platforms and start uploading your best shots and footage. Each site has their own specific requirements for what types of photos and videos they’re looking for, so be sure to read their guidelines before you start submitting anything.
It’s also important to note that most of these sites operate on a royalty-basis, which means you’ll only earn a small commission whenever someone downloads or purchases one of your photos or videos. However, if you’re able to build up a large portfolio of high-quality photos and videos, you could potentially earn a decent amount of money over time.
Stock photography and videography is a competitive industry, but since drones have only become popular and readily accessible within the past several years, the market isn’t yet as saturated with these types of photos and videos.
Alternatively, you could also sell or license aerial photos and videos from your own website instead of relying 100% on stock marketplaces. Selling from your own website will require additional work because you’ll need to attract visitors to your site, but it will give you far more control and you won’t have to split the revenue with a marketplace.
Please note: If you’re photography or recording scenes on private property, you’ll most likely need a signed property release to submit your content to a stock marketplace.
3. Wedding Photography and Videography
Wedding photography and videography is another great way to make money with your drone. Of course, wedding photography is a lucrative market, and drones have become an increasingly significant part of the industry.
To get started, simply reach out to wedding planners or photographers in your area and see if they’re interested in hiring you to capture aerial video of weddings that they’re working on. You could also list your services on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
And if you’re a photographer, you could offer complete wedding photography services in addition to simply offering drone photography and videography. Of course, in this case you would market your services to brides and grooms rather than marketing to wedding photographers.
4. Event Photography and Videography
Aside from weddings, there are many other types of events where drone photography and/or videography are common. This includes everything from birthday parties and anniversaries to corporate events and music festivals.
To get started, simply reach out to event planners or photographers in your area and see if they’re interested in hiring you to capture aerial footage of events that they’re working on. You could also connect with venues that host a lot of events.
For example, if there’s a popular concert venue or arena in your city, you could reach out to them and see if they’re interested in hiring you to capture aerial footage of events that take place there.
5. Start a Marketing and Advertising Company
Many businesses are now using drones to market and advertise their products and services.
One way to make money with a drone is to start your own marketing and advertising company that specializes in creating aerial videos and photos for use in business advertisements.
In this situation, you’d be doing more than simply capturing photos and videos, as you would be creating full advertising campaigns. You would use the drone to create custom photos and footage that would be used in the advertisements and marketing materials you create.
To get started, you’ll need to create a strong portfolio of work that you can show potential clients. Once you have a portfolio, you can start reaching out to businesses in your area and see if they’re interested in hiring you to create aerial videos or take photographs for them.
6. Aerial Surveying Services
Another way to make money with a drone is to start an aerial surveying company. Aerial surveying involves using drones to capture photos and videos of land, properties, and other outdoor areas.
This type of work is commonly used for things like mapping, land management, and search and rescue operations.
To get started, you’ll need to obtain the proper licenses and certifications (if required in your area). Once you have the necessary licenses, you can start marketing your services to businesses and individuals in your area.
7. Inspection Services
Providing inspection services with your drone is another option. This type of drone business involves inspecting hard-to-reach areas, such as the roofs of buildings, the exteriors of bridges, power lines, and more.
Inspection companies are often hired by businesses and governments to conduct regular inspections of their properties and infrastructure.
To get started, you’ll need to obtain the proper licenses and certifications. Once you have the necessary licenses, you can start marketing your services in your local area.
8. Surveillance and Investigation Services
If you’re looking for a more unique way to make money with your drone, you could start a surveillance and investigation business. This type of drone business would involve using drones to conduct surveillance and investigate crimes or other suspicious activity.
Surveillance could involve safety and security at businesses and other large properties that would benefit from having an eye in the sky. Investigation would likely be conducted for things like insurance companies, law firms, or even private individuals.
9. Reselling Drones
Another way to make money with drones is to resell them. This could involve buying drones at a discount and selling them for a profit, either online or locally.
If you’re interested in reselling drones, you’ll need to find a good source for buying them at a discount. You can often find discounted drones on online auction sites, classifieds websites, and even some retail websites.
You could sell them on eBay, Amazon, or even start your own website or blog dedicated to selling drones.
10. Rent Drones
If you have multiple drones, you could start a business where you rent them out to people who need them. This could be businesses that need them for a one-time project or event or individuals who need a drone for personal use.
Rental businesses provide excellent income opportunities (see our list of things you can rent out) because you’ll be earning money based on the assets that are rented, rather than trading your time for money.
To get started, you’ll need to create a website or online presence where people can learn about your business and rent drones from you. You’ll also need to develop a process for renting drones, such as requiring a deposit and providing training on how to operate the drone safely.
Alternatively, you could use a platform like Fat Llama that allows you to list things you want to rent out.
11. Create an Online Course on Drones
If you’re an expert on drones, you could create an online course teaching others how to become a drone pilot. This could be a video-based course that includes hands-on footage and training to show how to fly and operate a drone in the field.
Creating an online course is a great way to make money with drones because it allows you to share your knowledge and expertise with others while earning money in the process.
To get started, you’ll need to develop your course material and determine how you want to deliver it (e.g., video, text, audio). Next, you’ll need to create the course website so students can purchase and access it. Platforms like Teachable and Podia make it easy to set up and manage the website for your course, including payment processing and a dashboard for your students.
Possibly the best thing about creating an online course is that it may generate revenue for years to come. With a topic like drones, you’ll need to update the content from time to time, but the majority of the work will involve creating the course the first time. You can even create several different courses if you want to maximize your income potential.
To learn how to create and sell an online course, see Online Course Masters.
12. Start a Blog or Niche Website on Drones
If you like to write, you could start a blog or niche website devoted to the topic. This would involve creating and publishing content on a regular basis about drones, such as how-to guides, product reviews, news, and more.
A blog or niche website is a great way to make money with drones because it gives you the opportunity to build an audience of people who are interested in the topic. You can then monetize your site through advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products and services.
The income potential of your content-based website will be unlimited. It will take some time and effort to build up your audience, but there is no limit to what you can make long-term.
For more details, please read my Guide to Building a Profitable Niche Website.
13. Start a YouTube Channel
If you’re interested in making videos, you could start a YouTube channel devoted to drones. This would involve creating and publishing videos on a regular basis about drones, just like you would do with a blog, except you’d focus on video-based content.
Just like content-based websites, YouTube channels also offer unlimited income potential. You’ll need to be willing to dedicate 6-12 months, or more, to establishing your channel and building an audience. But once you have some momentum, you can make money with ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
Get one month of free access to this course created by a full-time YouTuber who built a popular channel with more than 5 million subscribers! You'll learn everything you need to know to set up for success with your own channel.
14. Create an Aerial Photo Book
If you’re a good photographer, you could create an aerial photography book featuring pictures taken from drones. This is a great way to make money with drones because it allows you to showcase your photography skills.
To get started, you’ll need to take a lot of high-quality photos from different angles and perspectives. Once you have a selection of photos, you can then put together a book using a platform like Blurb or Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
Creating a drone photo book is a great way to combine your passion for photography with your love of drones. Not only will you be able to make money with your book, but you’ll also be able to share your knowledge and experience with others.
15. Precision Agriculture
Drones are being used more and more in agriculture for tasks like crop mapping, yield analysis, and field scouting. This is called precision agriculture, and it’s a great way to make money with drones.
If you have experience in agriculture or farming, you could start offering your services to farmers in your area. You’ll need to be familiar with drone technology and how to use it for agricultural purposes. But once you have the skills, you can start making money by helping farmers increase their yields and improve their operations.
Precision agriculture is a growing industry, and there is a lot of potential for those who are knowledgeable about drones and how to use them. If you’re interested in making money with drones, this is definitely an area you should consider.
What You Need
If you’re interested in starting a drone business, here are the basics of what you’ll need.
Of course, you’ll need a drone. There are a lot of different options on the market, so it’s important to do your research and find one that’s right for you. Consider factors like price, range, camera quality, and flight time when deciding which drone to buy.
You don’t need the most expensive drone on the market, but you should get one that meets your needs and has good reviews. Once you have your drone, be sure to read the manual and familiarize yourself with the controls before taking it out for a spin.
It’s best to have an idea of how you want to use the drone before you choose a specific model. If you know what type of business you want to start, you can be sure that you’re buying a model that is ideal for that specific use.
License to Operate a Drone
Depending on your country or state, you may need a license to operate a drone. In the United States, for example, anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial purposes must obtain a remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, you don’t need to pass a skill test to obtain the license.
The requirements for getting a license vary from country to country, so it’s important to research the laws in your area before you start flying. In some cases, you may need to take an exam or complete a training course before you can get your license.
It’s also important to be sure that you follow local laws related to where drones can and cannot be operated. In many cases, you’ll need to stay away from areas where there are people or animals. You should also avoid flying near airports or other sensitive areas for public safety.
While you don’t need to be an expert in drone technology, it’s helpful to have some experience as a drone operator. This will make it easier for you to start your business and ensure that you’re using the drone correctly.
If you’re not familiar with drone operation, there are plenty of resources available to help you learn. There are many online forums where you can ask questions and get advice from other drone users. You can also find several books and websites that cover the basics of drone technology.
In addition, there are several training courses available that can teach you everything you need to know about flying and operating a drone. These courses usually last a few days or weeks, and they’ll give you the skills you need to safely and effectively use a drone.
If you’re operating a drone for business purposes, it’s important to have insurance. This will protect you in case of an accident or if your drone causes damage to property. There are a few different companies that offer drone insurance, so be sure to shop around and find the best rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s no easy answer to this question, as it depends on a number of factors. For example, if you’re operating a drone for agricultural purposes, your income will likely be based on the size of the farm and the number of crops you’re able to fertilize. If you’re providing photography services, your rates will depend on the type of work you’re doing and the clientele you’re able to attract.
In general, though, those who are able to start a successful drone-based business can make a considerable amount of money. With the right skills and knowledge, there’s potential to earn a six-figure salary from flying drones.
It depends on your location. In the United States, for example, any drone pilot who wants to fly for commercial purposes must obtain a remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, you don’t need to pass a skill test to obtain the license.
No, you cannot fly your drone anywhere. Be sure to check the local laws and regulations before flying.
There are a number of businesses you can start with a drone. Common examples include agricultural services, real estate photography services, stock photography and videography, and inspection services.
Yes, you can make a living flying drones. However, it’s important to note that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll need to put in the work and build up a client base before you can start earning a significant income.
There is a growing market for drone footage. Many businesses and individuals are willing to pay for high-quality images and videos.
There are a few different ways to sell drone footage. One option is to work with a stock photography website. Another option is to start your own website and sell the footage directly to customers. Finally, you can also approach businesses and individuals who may be interested in purchasing your footage.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Money with a Drone
There are numerous ways to make money as a drone owner. Whether you’re providing agricultural services, photography services, or inspection services, there’s potential to earn a good income.
Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the local drone laws and regulations before flying, and always operate your drone safely and responsibly. With the right skills and knowledge, you can turn your drone into a nice side hustle or even a full-time income.
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