How to Make Money With a Drone
To a lot of people, drones are simply an expensive form of hobby. This high tech equipment primarily serves as a source of entertainment, just like with smartphones and iPad. The popularity of drones is evident with its market growth rate. There are around 1.1 million drones sold in the United States as of December 2017 and this figure will reach 2 million by the end of 2019.
While drones are a great piece of technology that you can use to hone your skills or perhaps kill time, they can also be an excellent source of income.
That is right. There is more to drones than just its entertainment value. This article will show you several ways on how to make money with a drone.
History of Drones
Also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones are flying robots with or without the need of a human pilot. They use GPS to operate and control their paths. Their main purpose is to give visuals to areas where human eyes can’t see.
Let’s take a look back and see how drones were created and developed.
1907 – Created by the Brequet brothers, Gyroplane No.1 was the first quadcopter to lift itself off the ground.
1915 – Elmer Sperry, Charles Kettering, and Orville Wright designed “The Kettering Bug“. This pilotless aircraft was computerized to drop a bomb on a pre-set target.
1920 – Etienne Omnichen designed Oehmichen No.2 which managed to hover in the air for a few minutes and made more than 1000 flights.
1939 – Reginald Denny created Radioplane OQ-2, the first remote-controlled aircraft.
1973 – Mastiff was an Israeli Military UAV with the most advanced capabilities of transmitting high-quality video.
1986 – USA and Israel joined forces and produced RQ2 Pioneer which was an upgraded version of Mastiff.
2001 – This was a crucial moment in the history of drones when a Predator drone launched the first combat attack in Afghanistan to assassinate a suspected Taliban leader.
2006 – First commercial drone uses were recorded this year. Corporations use UAVs to spray pesticides on farms and inspect pipelines.
2010 – The parrot AR Drone was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2010 and became an instant hit. This drone can be controlled by a normal iOS or Android phones.
2014 – Amazon drone delivery came to be. These drones carry more features and are much smaller than military drones.
2018 – Ehang 184, the first passenger drone, was unveiled. It uses 8 electric motors to power 8 propellers and has the capacity to carry a person with up to 100kg in weight.
Things to Do Before You Get Started
Before you can start your business of making money with a drone, you must tick these important factors off your checklist first.
Know What Equipment You Need
A lot of people make the mistake of deciding to make money with a drone after they have purchased it. This move limits your options and you could end up not getting the best value out of your UAV.
The first thing that you must do is make a list of the possible drone businesses that you would like to venture to. From this list, research what type of drones you need for each business type. You must choose a drone depending on how you can make money with it. Below are some of the best drones that you can purchase depending on its uses:
Agriculture – Agriculture drones are advanced data-gathering tools that range from $1,500 to well over $25,000.
DJI Agras MG-1 Agriculture Spraying Drone is an advanced UAV for precision variable rate application of herbicides, fertilizers, and liquid pesticides.
Mapping, Inspection, topological surveys: $25000 up
Film making and action sports: $1000 up
Real estate and other types of video, wedding photography and advertising: $600 – $ 1000
Similar to the drone, the accessories that you need to purchase will also depend on your chosen niche.
If you want to make money with a drone, then it’s important that you comply with the laws and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You must complete a pilot certification test first to gauge your skills in operating the drone. You must also register your drones.
Completing your drone certification is an indication that you mean serious business. You can easily gain the trust of your clients when they know that you are following all the right steps.
Regardless of what type of business you’d want to have with your drone, one thing is for sure – you would need to spend money on your drone. You are expected to shed out a few hundred and several thousand dollars just to purchase a quality drone.
You may have created an intricate plan with your drone business, but a few things can still get out of hand. Secure your drones by getting insurance. This insurance policy can cover drone damage and can help you get back to business in no time.
How to Make Money with a Drone
Now that you know what preparations you need to make, it’s time to turn your passion into a business opportunity and start making money.
Below are some of the most popular and effective ways on how to make money with a drone.
Aerial Photos and Footage
This is obviously the most popular way of making money with drones. This side hustle is perfect for beginners as you don’t need expert skills to capture stunning photos and videos. You should own a drone that is equipped with a quality camera for you to be able to take high-quality photos and videos from the air. Your drone should also be suitable for both indoor and outdoor footage.
You have two options to make money with your drone photos and footage. First, find unique and attractive places and capture its beauty. These places may include mountains, beach resorts, amusement parks or museums. Another option is to look for clients and take custom photos or footage by order.
If you have a collection of images and footage that you are proud of, you can sell them as prints. You can either sell them online through several websites like Etsy or you can print them on objects like calendars and sell these products.
Furthermore, there is a high demand for aerial photographs and footages. You can tap into these markets and offer your services:
- Sports Events
- Real Estate
- News Reporting
Several years ago, airplanes and helicopters were utilized by many companies to inspect pumping stations, remote substations, and electrical lines. Not only does it cost a lot of money, but it was also a dangerous job for the pilots.
Drones have now replaced other aircraft when it comes to inspection jobs. This small UAV is perfect for the job as it is equipped with video transmitters and powerful cameras. Drones provide huge help to utility companies when doing regular check-ups and inspections.
If you have been flying your drone for a while and has developed an advanced skill in flying, making money with a drone doing inspection jobs is a great idea. If you go this route, you will be working in the following kind of areas:
- Building inspections
- Cable and power line inspections
- Rail line monitoring
- Antenna and cellphone tower inspection
- Pipeline monitoring
- Bridge inspections
- Wind farm inspection
While the pay doing inspection jobs with a drone is lucrative, you must only take these jobs if you are confident with your flying skill. This gig is not something a beginner should take on. The risk of liabilities is higher. You certainly don’t want your drone to crash into a power line.
Stock Photography is widely used in all kinds of editorial, commercial and artistic endeavors. It’s a potential source of income especially if you have a collection of high-quality photos that you have taken.
Create a profile with some stock photo websites and submit your images for review. Some of the most popular ones are Shutterstock, Getty Images and iStock. Once your photographs are accepted, you get paid for each accumulated download of your photos.
Selling your stock photos may not be a way to make a living, but it’s a decent way of earning a passive income.
Effective advertising needs captivating videos and images and this is where your drone service comes in. You can make money with a drone if you advertise hotels, resorts, real estates and more.
Here are some tips on how you can use a drone in an advertisement:
- Real estate – Take aerial photos and videos of private estates. This affects the selling price and gets them off the market quickly.
- Hotels and resorts – Private hotels and resorts often hire drone photographers to take photos and videos of the location. It’s a great way of showing off the property and promoting the services and amenities.
- Travel marketing agencies – A good advertisement is needed to attract customers. Many travel marketing agencies use captivating photos and videos when advertising a travel package or destination.
The uses of drones have expanded over the past few years. It’s no longer used exclusively in taking aerial photos and videos.
Many companies such as AliExpress and Amazon are now using UAVs in the deliveries of their services. In addition, several charity organizations, national institutions, and medical facilities utilize drones to deliver supplies in places that are hard to reach. Some of these places are simply unreachable for ground vehicles and this is where drones come into play.
Make money with a drone by offering drone delivery services to organizations and companies that need it. Keep in mind though that you need larger drones that are capable of delivering medicine, water, food and so on.
Open a Private Company and Offer Drone Services
While getting hired by companies for certain drone jobs is a good way of making money with a drone, why not take it to the next level? If you are confident in your skills and experience, you can start building your own company and offer drone services. Once you have already established a solid portfolio, it’s easier to market your brand and attract new clients.
Of course, having your own company means that you need to invest in higher quality drones that can provide better output. You may also need to hire several people that can help your business grow. Regardless of how challenging it may sound, especially at the initial stage, opening your own drone company is a brave and smart move.
In addition to the services mentioned above, you can also offer these drone services and build your list of clients.
Surveillance and Private Investigation
Large companies across the globe hire drone pilots to perform air surveillance. It’s a cost-effective alternative to hiring someone who can do quality surveillance with a drone than to pay for constant camera surveillance. Drones can do a good job of surveying the premises and making sure that everything is in order.
Additionally, drones can also play an important role in private investigation. Hiring private investigators may cost a lot. Using small UAVs, on the other hand, makes the job easier and less noticeable. More importantly, drones can easily access locations that are harder to reach.
Search and Rescue
Drones are also helpful in search and rescue operations. While using the traditional search method is always the first option, utilizing drones can expedite the operation.
UAVs can access areas that are hard for rescuers and dogs to reach. Their areal view gives them the advantage of finding missing people faster and easier. A lot of disaster relief or search and rescue operations employ drone operators. Saving other people’s lives while earning money at the same time is a win-win.
Drones are now widely used in agriculture too. They are helpful for crop surveillance because of their ability to significantly reduce the time and costs required for the job. Moreover, drones can help farmers verify and diagnose any problem in the fields. Some drones are even used to deliver spot treatment.
Using drone service is beneficial to both the farmer and drone operators. Drone pilots make a lot of money offering their service while farmers produce a higher yield in their crops.
Sports teams are becoming big businesses and each team tried to differentiate itself. Filming players during practices and games is a great way for coaches to help improve technical game play. Drones can be used to film from above and show the development of plays on the fields and help players, coaches and teams improve their decisions making and skill levels.
This can be a very lucrative business and for a sports aficionado, can be a lot of fun as well.
When it comes to making money with a drone, it literally means the sky is the limit. You can take full control over how you can use your drone to increase your income. From occasional wedding gigs to scoring a lucrative contract with big companies, the decision is all yours to take.
Aerial photography and videography are in demand right now. Almost all industries are in need of drone service. What’s even great is that the drone service market is not saturated yet. So why not take this opportunity to be ahead of the race and get started with your drone business.
To get you started with your journey, learn everything you need to learn about drones in Ben Rupert’s book Drones (The Ultimate Guide): How they work, learning to fly, how to fly, building your own drone, buying a drone, how to shoot photos.