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How To Make Money with a Drone – 10 Tips and Tricks

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hand catching a landing drone

Nobody can dispute the fact that UAV technology has exponentially grown over the past couple of years. And thanks to that, we now have many drones introduced to our markets to ‌satisfy an insatiable hunger for new innovation.

The majority of the people we’ve talked to say they often buy drones to make cinematic videos, generate high-caliber images, or just have fun. And while that’s cool and all, a drone can do a lot more.

If you’re interested in learning how to take advantage of this relatively new technology to make money, you’re in the right place!

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What’s Expected of You as a Drone Pilot?

They often say starting or managing a business can be taxing in so many ways. And they are right. It even gets worse if you’re a beginner with no idea of what to expect. One of the first things that you’ll realize is that there will always be several paths to explore.

Needless to say, it’s just not about the time and money. You also have to put in the work and develop a mental fortitude that will save you anytime you feel like crumbling. Because we want to make your journey less bumpy, here’s a list of prerequisites for making money with a drone:

DJI Mavic Pro drone camera

Image Credit: Josh Sorenson, Unsplash

License

You’ll never be considered a commercial drone pilot until you get yourself a license. And the process of obtaining one will depend on your location. We don’t know about the kind of hoops that you’ll have to jump to get one in other countries, but in the United States, pilots are being authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Formally, we call that type of license “Part 107.” In order to secure one, you’ll have to answer a series of questions in a test meant to assess your knowledge about various critical procedures, safety drills, and flight patterns. If you pass it (and we know you will) you’ll be requested to register your drone by the same institution, and that’s it. You’ll be good to go.

Don’t expect a skill test because they never administer it. That also means you’re allowed to just take an online course to get a license.

Equipment

You cannot make money using a drone if you don’t have a drone! You first have to do your due diligence, research the market, find a good drone, and then swipe that credit card. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Even if you have some level of experience, you’ll still feel overwhelmed by the choices.

We often encourage newbies to focus on only two primary factors—budget and usage. So, if you’ll only be taking gorgeous pictures of archaeological sites, buy a drone designed to do just that. If it’s all about mapping or surveying, we still have models fashioned for that purpose.

Insurance

Yes, accidents do occur a lot in the “droning” community. Especially if you’re a beginner with no level of experience. Insurance is supposed to provide you with cover, should you find yourself in a real mess.

Training

Flying a drone is not the same as riding a bicycle. In fact, it’s even more difficult than playing using the controller input of a video game console. There’s a learning curve, and you’ll only be able to get the gist of it all if you have an open mind.

And that takes us back to those online courses that we mentioned earlier. Make sure you learn everything there is to learn while taking them, seeing as the success of your business will hinge on your comprehension of those concepts. You could also hone your skills with the help of a mentor or by enrolling in a community college.

drone photography

Image Credit: Halfpoint, Shutterstocck

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The 10 Ways to Make Money with a Drone

It’s now time to get to the heart of our discussion today. So, without further ado, here are some of the ways you can add more zeros to your bank account by using a drone.

1. Teaching Stunting & Racing

Anyone who’s able to fly a drone is usually regarded as a cool and talented person. Because like we said, it’s not everybody’s forte. Potential pilots will want to hang out with you so that they can learn a thing or two about drone piloting. You could teach them for free, if money has never been an incentive, or charge a few bucks to render those services.

For that to happen, you’ll need an agile and fast drone, and an elaborate course. The course will make you look professional and more importantly, like someone who truly understands what he/she’s doing.


2. Wedding Videography

Photography and videography are skills that can only be acquired in school or through mentorship. Of course, many online sources provide information on everything you need to know, but it’s not the same as having someone to help you personally.

So you’ll have to go back to school before offering such services. And we know it’s going to be an investment capable of high returns because you’ll be able to add a unique perspective in that field. The guests at the wedding will be entertained and the aerial shots captured will be stunning.


3. Renting Out Your Drone

This is an option that can help to offset your drone’s cost. So many videographers know how to fly drones even though they can’t afford one. They are constantly searching for renters in places like Craigslist, but unfortunately, the supply doesn’t meet the demand. We’re almost 100% certain that you’ll earn good money in that market.

white drone with camera

Image Credit: Thomas Griesbeck, Unsplash


4. Blogging

Have you ever tried content creation? If you haven’t, you should. Those guys are making so much money through advertisements and endorsements. And you’ll have an upper hand since the drones will help you make your videos stand out.


5. Real Estate Photography

We’ve had a few conversations with agents in the real estate market and realized that selling a house is not about the features that come with it. It’s about how the realtor markets the property. If they cannot find ways to be innovative with their listings, potential buyers won’t even take a second to scroll through the listing to see what it has to offer.

Conventional real estate photography has always been effective, but nothing trumps drone photography. Create a portfolio, build a website, and upload those property images with the right captions.


6. Aerial Surveys

When it comes to aerial surveying, drone technology is applicable in so many fields. You could use it while working on GIS applications, digital mapping, feature recognition, or even topography.

The point is, you’ll always find an organization looking to hire an aerial surveyor. That gap in the market is your opportunity to open a company that specializes in aerial surveys.

drone for surveillance

Image Credit: Davizro Photography, Shutterstock


7. Inspection Gigs

Your target market, in this case, is the utility firms. People providing electricity and those who work on cell towers, etc. They are the ones who like to hire helicopters anytime they have an inspection coming up. The whole process is usually dangerous for the pilots involved, so we’re sure they’ll appreciate working with an unmanned aerial vehicle.


8. Making Deliveries

This type of delivery is an innovative solution for the people trying to move products to remote areas. More often than not, we’ve seen companies such as AliExpress and Amazon rely on drones while delivering Medicaid & Medicare products during emergencies. They never seem to have enough drones, though.


9. Precision Agriculture

It’s safe to say that agriculture needs drones more than drones need agriculture. Just look at all the surveillance capabilities of these machines and tell us we’re wrong. As long as you understand what the crops need, you could use the drone to deliver spot treatments, during irrigation, while spraying pesticides, and even in soil health evaluation.

drone spraying sugar cane

Image Credit: Herney Gómez, Pixabay


10. Disaster Relief

For the record, we’re not saying that you should exploit the good men and women who are running points on search and rescue missions. We’re talking about bringing those people up to speed beforehand so that they can be better prepared for any scenario.

Nonprofit organizations like to contract drone fliers from time to time to offer their members drone flying courses.

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Conclusion

The drone business is a profitable gig, but only if you have the right equipment and software. The costs are usually not that high, as they mostly go toward repairs, maintenance, marketing, and insurance. You don’t have to fret about the starting capital, as it’s relatively low. Just go out there and do your best with the skills you have!


Featured Image Credit: Diana Măceşanu, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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