How Do I Make Money With My Drone?

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by Andrew Soucek, Digital Copywriter
on Sep 15, 2017

It seems everyone has their own side-hustle these days. Many people sign up for ridesharing services, others walk dogs in their free time, some rent out their homes to strangers. But you? You’ve got a drone. You have the best kind of potential side-hustle!

Once you’ve bought your drone and you’re absolutely confident you’ve mastered the art of flying it, you can get ready to start making money with your new skills and hardware.

A quick note first. As tempting as it may be, you can’t just begin selling your services with your drone right away. You could find yourself in legal trouble and be fined over $1,400 if you don’t have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate!

While hobbyists are now exempt from registering their drones, commercial pilots still have to register (a $5 fee) and need to have that Airman Certificate, which requires passing the aeronautical knowledge exam (it costs about $150 to take). Once you’ve paid up and passed the test, you're good to go. If you’re creative and motivated, you’ll likely end up finding that initial investment well worth it.

Here are a few ideas to get your drone up and flying for profit.

Hobbies

Sell Your Photos or Footage

Like all of the entries on this list, you’re going to want to make sure you have the right equipment for your new venture. Sorry, but there isn’t much demand for footage shot from a $30 drone in today’s competitive market. You’re going to want one that can shoot video in 4K Ultra HD.

Instead of beginning your new venture by scrambling to look for clients to sell your work to, you can first check out a website like Shutterstock or Pond5. They will pay you for footage or photos shot from your drone. No matter where you live, someone out there is looking for images from your area. Not every commercial or marketing project is in need of exotic beaches or a dense forest. Some jobs call for an open field in Idaho. The video clips don’t even need to be that long. Often 5-30 seconds will suffice to sell.

This is a great way to fly your drone for fun, while still being able to make a profit from what you’ve captured. Of course, make sure your footage looks slick before submitting it. No shakiness. Nothing out of focus. Just upload, and if it’s approved, you’ve found yourself a new revenue stream.

Shoot Wedding Videos/Photography

In 2016, the average wedding cost over $35,000! That means there are a lot of couples out there who have absolutely no problem splurging money on some great photography.

Everyone wants their wedding photos to look unique, but most people still rely on a traditional approach for their big day. For couples looking for something more modern and exciting, they can hire a drone pilot to capture incredible shots to help make one of the most memorable days of their life even more special.

Besides being a relatively easy venture to get into, wedding photography is also pretty lucrative one. Pilots have the potential to make up to $200 an hour for their services. Just make sure you have your weekends free!

Real Estate Photography

Most real estate businesses simply have generic photos of properties displayed on their website. You’ve likely seen countless examples of it. But when everyone does something so similar, nobody really stands out. This is where great looking pictures or video captured by drones help boost the appeal of any home. It can also make pilots quite a bit of money in the process.

More and more real estate companies are either using drones in-house, or are hiring pilots with more experience to do the work for them. It’s not hard to imagine that in the future, photography captured from a drone will become the norm in the industry. It’s best to get in on this growing trend now, so clients will be out searching for your services first.

For a one minute video and a dozen photos taken, you should expect to make $200-$500.

Professional Services

(Photo via Carlos Verso on Unsplash)

Agriculture

Technology in agriculture is growing at an accelerated pace, and drones are becoming increasingly vital for a farm to succeed in the face of growing challenges. As farmers can attest to, crop scouting is a time-consuming endeavor, and that time could be better used to attend to numerous other pressing matters on a daily basis.

From the sky, a drone can be incredibly beneficial to a farm. For starters, they provide detailed maps to deliver a view of the entire property. These maps contain data that can then be used to discover areas of the field that are too dry, so farmers will know the exact right amounts of water and fertilizer to use, which saves them valuable time and money. Drones can also be used to keep an eye on livestock, detect weeds, and will overall provide a much better picture on any day-to-day changes.

Simply, a drone is an invaluable tool for any farm to have.

If you’re looking to use your drone for agriculture, Botlink can get you up and running. With the latest technology, powerful processing, and unparalleled customer support, they provide the means for you to take your business to the next level.

Infrastructure Inspections

Take the danger out of major inspection jobs with a drone. They’re also a far more cost-effective approach that can save clients a ton of money and resources. For example, wind turbine inspections can be done in a fraction of time that a person can do it, and it will be far safer to do from the sky.

Flare stacks, pipelines, oil and gas facilities, bridges, cell towers, and mines can also all be safely and efficiently inspected with a drone. In the past, mine inspections could take weeks to survey. Now, it can be done in a number of hours.

Drones help prevent errors that could turn out to be incredibly expensive and time-consuming to fix.

Construction/Insurance Jobs

(Photo via Scott Blake at Unsplash)

The construction and insurance industries have an increasing demand for experienced drone pilots. This is because these professionals can help drastically cut down on time and save money on projects of all sizes.

Drones can be used in every step in the process on a construction project. From planning to completion, they’re incredibly valuable tools to have. For starters, they help keep clients and investors informed of a project’s progress by providing real-time data. And instead of hiring someone to risk injury on a roof inspection, a drone can be deployed to assess the area and provide developers consistent images and data to analyze. That way companies can discern potential damage, find key areas that require more attention, and have the property surveyed with fairly minimal cost involved. Putting data into a drone mapping app such as Botlink, allows pilots to create surveys, take measurements, share results with others, and export results to industry tools.

Work done with drones in the construction and insurance industries are sure to continue growing in the coming years. While special licenses and certification may be needed for larger projects, the investment will likely be worthwhile for those who are truly motivated. Some businesses charge up to $400 an hour for their inspection services.

Expert Operators

(Photo via Natalie Rhea Riggs at Unsplash)

Film Festivals

There are film festivals that have been built around various concepts like short films or specific genres. More recently, footage shot entirely from drones have found its own events. These festivals are held across the world in places like New York City, London, Toronto, and even Fargo.

Of course, the competition at the major festivals is going to be incredible. Most of the films that make the cut have breathtaking cinematography, or feature special effects, or possibly an intricate dance number or two. But even if you don’t claim the top spot, participating in one is a great way to enhance your photography and editing skills. It will also help to create an impressive demo to show to potential clients to land other drone-related jobs.

Start Up Your Own YouTube Channel

The YouTube channel FliteTest has over 740,000 subscribers. RCModelReviews has over 150,000. RCTestFlight tops 100,000. For these creators, this is good money being made on a continual basis.

You're probably not going to be able to quit your day job to make YouTube videos with your drone full-time to start. However, it is definitely possible to bring in some extra cash if your content looks professional enough and if you find the right audience.

What you’ll need is a unique angle in order to stand out and get noticed by viewers and potential advertisers. You’ll also need to know how to edit and shoot video. There are countless tutorials out there that can help you learn those skills. It’s well worth the time spent if you’re serious about starting up a channel. You could specialize in scenic photography, product reviews, how-to videos, or even racing to make your mark online.

Let’s talk a little bit more about that last one…

Drone Racing

Maybe you’re not interested in taking photos to make extra money with your drone. Maybe you have the need for speed!

Believe it or not, drone racing is big business. And it’s only getting bigger. Major sponsors like Mountain Dew and Dell have recently put up a ton of money to advertise in upstart leagues. The top racers themselves are able to take home incredible paydays. The World Drone Prix in Dubai handed out $250,000 to the winner in 2016 (which was won by a 15-year-old). Races also have aired on major TV networks like ESPN.

It takes incredible reflexes to race professionally, as you’ll be flying up to 60 mph while wearing FPV (First Person View) goggles. The drones that end up winning competitions are also custom-built, so you’ll need to have a bit of technical skills as well.

Of course, drone racing isn’t easy to get into, and if you want to stand any chance of winning an event you’ll be investing at least $1,000 on a drone and goggles. Still, one can certainly dream of making it to the top of this new, exciting sport.

These are just a few ideas for how to make money with your drone. As they become more integrated in businesses and entertainment fields across the globe, tons of new opportunities will continue to open up. There’s never been a better time to get a drone and start developing a new skill to increase your income.

Want to make money with your drone?

Botlink can help with that. Please visit botlink.com where you can chat with one of our specialists or sign up for a free trial or demo.

Author

Andrew Soucek

Digital Copywriter

Andrew uses multimedia to tell stories and show professionals and people how to put drones to good use. He's also our resident pro wrestling expert. Seriously, ask him anything!

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