10 Ways to Make Money with Your Drone

Piloting a drone is a great hobby as well as a helpful tool. For those interested, though, it can be more than that. There are a lot of drone pilots who have turned their passion into real money.

There are many industries out there who need footage from a professional drone pilot, and they are willing to pay a lot of money for it. Getting the accounts does take some work, though.

Before you can get started making money, though, you have to be a certified FAA pilot. That's already something commercial drone fliers need anyway. Click here if you would like to join the top training program to pass your 107 exam.

Below is a list of ten ways people like you made a side job or career out of their drones.

Please share this post with anyone you know who has a drone or has interest in drone photography – and happy flying!

1. Wedding Drone Videos

Below is a video of an outdoor wedding ceremony shot entirely with a drone. The footage shows off a unique view of the wedding. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone for a wedding video.

Weddings are huge occasions where people go all out. Families spend thousands of dollars on the venue, flowers, food, photography, videography, and everything else. It makes sense that many brides and grooms to be would want to invest money in drone footage as well. That's where you come in.

In this case, you will likely deal directly with the families or the wedding planner. Your footage will likely be used later along with other sources. This means you will need to be able to take key shots at the right moment. There likely won't be many opportunities to get crucial shots, like the first dance. Any small hiccup could spell disaster. That means a skillful hand is an absolute must here.

You will probably find the most business with outdoor weddings. Photographs and video footage from the ground often cannot capture the scenery like a drone can. Drone pilots offer a unique shot no one else can deliver. Even if the bride doesn't want a drone buzzing around during the ceremony, there are plenty of opportunities left.

Getting shots of the ceremony site, surrounding landscape, and reception would all make fantastic additions to a wedding video. But be warned, you'll be dealing with people at their most stressed and anxious.

2. Real Estate Drone Videos

Below is a video of a home for sale that uses several different pieces of drone imagery. The footage shows off both the indoor and outdoor areas. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone for real estate purposes.

Every single real estate listing needs aerial imagery for some reason or another. It is the only way to get the entire property in one shot. Also, it is much easier to analyze the site and its surroundings. It solves disputes with property lines as well. The imagery is an absolute must. You, as a professional drone pilot, can handle the task with ease and less money.

Capturing video for real estate comes in two varieties. The first is with residential real estate. Here, you would be hired by a real estate company or agent. There a couple of different reasons why they would need a drone pilot. The most common is to showcase the property. For that, they'll need footage of the structures and yard to show home buyers. Aside from that, they may need a drone to view property boundaries and check for potential issues for inspection.

The second variety is commercial real estate. Shooting footage for commercial brokers is much more straightforward. They need aerial imagery to create maps and other deliverables for clients and investors. Drone images have much better quality than simply pulling the site from Google maps. And when million dollar contracts are on the line, companies are more willing to pay for that quality.

Both residential and commercial real estate benefit from using drones. A single property isn't worth hiring an aerial photographer from a plane or helicopter. It makes much more financial sense to trust the job to a drone pilot.

The best news is that these companies could offer consistent work. Each one is moving onto different properties constantly. Every time, they need a new set of images and video. Forming a solid relationship with real estate companies can bring work for years to come.

3. Destination / Tourism Drone Videos

Below is an advertisement for the Maldives. It includes many different shots from a drone to show off the landscape, amenities, and activities. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone to advertise tourism.

We've all seen aerial shots of a beach or mountain range to advertise a trip destination. These can be still shots, action shots, or slow pans. They come with an overlapping voice over and are spliced together with various other footage. There are many different ways to get those kinds of high angle shots. However, none of them are as economical or safe as hiring a drone pilot.

Any business that relies on tourism can benefit from drone footage. Shots of the beach, ocean, mountains, foliage, or city are useful for a lot of purposes. An area's tourism department is the first that comes to mind, but there are so many more. Hotels and resorts, shopping malls, retail centers, boat rentals, ranches, nature preserves, zoos. The list is nearly endless. Each one could use typical shots of the general area as well as footage of the location in question.

Usually, a single company will not provide consistent business for tourism footage. But if your area has a high volume of tourists, several different companies will need your help. Also, it can be easier to keep a portfolio of tourism based images and videos to sell a la carte. You can capture a sweeping shot of a city or coastline and sell it later.

Given, you won't be able to sell those for as much as a custom flight. Also, you'll have to make sure you don't sell anything that you've already sold. Even if exclusive rights weren't agreed upon beforehand, doing so could hurt your reputation and your business.

4. Construction Company Drone Videos

Below is a video shot by a drone to show the progress of the Shelby Farms construction site. The drone is used to fly around the entire site. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone for a construction company.

Just like real estate, construction companies rely on drone footage as well. First, initial shots of the construction site can help them decide on where to start. It shows the condition of the land so that they can plan accordingly. After that, consistent footage is the best way to show how a job is progressing. Hiring anyone other than a drone pilot costs a lot more money, time, or resources.

An early flight for a construction company would help them get a clear idea of the project. This helps them decide the best way to start. It also gets your foot in the door. Especially when you're first starting out, getting your foot in the door is extremely important. Once you show your worth there, they will likely hire you for more work later.

The best case scenario is that they will hire you for multiple sessions to track the progress of construction. Construction companies can use this progress footage to attract more accounts. These videos can also help stop catastrophe as well. Upon close inspection, a trained eye may be able to spot trouble during the building process. In such cases, this gives them a chance to fix the issue before it becomes a huge problem.

Another bonus with construction companies is that they are likely to offer return business. After capturing drone footage at the start of a project, you may be hired back to capture more footage as the project continues. And upon doing a good job, you could be brought back in for the next project. This way, you get paid for another job, and both of you have more portfolio entries to show potential clients.

Below is a follow up video to the previous one. It features the same site, Shelby Farms, but much further along in its construction. It's a solid example of how to show progress with drone footage.


5. Oil Company Drone Videos

Below is a video outlining many different uses for commercial drone imagery. Among them is the use for oil and gas refineries and pipelines. It serves as a great example of many different uses of drone footage, including for oil companies.

Oil companies have a huge need for aerial imagery. In the past, they have always had to fork over the money for a plane to fly over the sites in question. That can easily cost more than double the money than hiring a drone pilot. And by the end, the drone imagery is everything they need.

Filming for oil companies is all about inspections. They are required by law, so there's no getting around them. In order to operate, they need to capture aerial footage of their sites. Unfortunately, these regulations also mean you'll need specialized equipment. Specifically, you'll need a FLIR camera to get the job done.

Most commonly, you would be taking shots at pipelines. Oil companies constantly need images of different stretches of pipeline. They are likely to hire a drone pilot for this, because they can operate at a fraction of the cost of a plane. In most cases, they can usually even charge half as much. Considering that, there's no reason they'd refuse to hire a drone pilot.

Getting in good with an oil company can pay really well. While business is good, the work is definitely plentiful. It would be a good idea, though, to have a few other contracts lined up. As profitable as oil is, it is also fairly unreliable. One day it's booming, the next it's not. It's smart to have a backup plan.

6. Farming Speculation Drone Videos

Below is a video of a farm land survey. A drone captures all of the footage and includes the entire property. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone for the farming sector.

Farming in general has a lot of regulations involved. This starts even before land becomes a farm in the first place. It takes a lot of consideration to make a tract of land into a farm. There is a list of official procedures that have to be followed. One requirement is an in-depth survey. The land has to captured and documented properly. There is no getting around that. A drone makes that task much easier

When looking at potential farmland, a hired drone pilot can scan the extent of the property quickly and easily. This is far cheaper and faster than doing the job on foot. And your client can still see property borders and the condition of the land. The GPS tracking of the drone can also come in handy. You can use that function to document coordinates of points of interest. This includes anything from boundaries to problem spots.

A drone can do more than surveying a farm. It can also be used to quickly check an existing field of crops for any issues. A drone can spot many different problems. It can see where animals have been getting past the fence. It can more easily point out places where blight or disease is taking over. The possibilities are endless. Using a drone makes sure a farm runs more efficiently. Not only is this good news for your clients, but it also means you get more business.

7. Wind Farm Drone Videos

Below is a video of a wind farm inspection. The footage shows how a drone easily gets a close look at the turbines and blades. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone to inspect wind farms.

Clean energy is becoming more and more popular. This means wind farms are popping up all over the place. Wind turbines are pretty complicated machines. They often need inspection or maintenance. When they do, it's hard to get a good look at whole setup without wasting a lot of time. That is, unless you have a drone.

A drone can get up close and personal with the whole structure. It can take a look at the boxes and blades with ease in no time. Without a drone, that whole process would take a lot of time and a lot more money. Also, checking a turbine personally could be dangerous. Using a drone makes the entire situation much more pleasing for everyone. And if the job is to inspect an entire wind farm, that means steady of work and thousands of dollars for you.

There is one thing to look out for, though. Some wind farms invest in an expensive and powerful camera that can also handle inspections. These cameras serve as direct competition to drones. It may not be able to fly right up to them, but it does the job. In such cases, you're better off focusing your efforts elsewhere. You won't be able to convince them to hire you.

8. Sporting Event Drone Videos

Below is a video featuring water-skiing. The drone footage is able to closely follow the action. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone to capture a sporting event.

All kinds of sporting events like to have a bird's eye view. It's why professional football games have used blimps for decades. It gives an alternate viewpoint of the action. In some cases, a bird's eye view is the only way to really follow certain sports at all. And, like most situations, using a drone costs far less money than anything else.

There are several sports that are really difficult to film traditionally. This is especially true with water sports. Water-skiing, boat racing, wake boarding, surfing, and more can't just be filmed from the ground. And though you could just film from a boat, a drone is more steady and won't get in anyone's way.

Drones are also a great way to film mountain sports, like snowboarding. Drones can follow the action and get closer than other methods. And, again, it's cheaper and faster than using a plane or helicopter. It is also much safer. A drone can get the best shot without worrying about falling off a cliff or getting too close to the ground. Even if the drone strikes something, the unmanned device doesn't put anyone's life in danger doing so.

Considering the battery life of a drone, there won't exactly be a chance to film an entire sporting event. A lot of the work will mostly be for promotional purposes. That means capturing highlights that can be edited alongside other imagery.

9. Corporate Marketing Drone Videos

Below is a video of a True Manufacturing distribution center. Among the footage used are several drone shots of both the indoor and outdoor areas. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone for making a corporate marketing video.

Promotional material from corporations commonly use video shot from drones. The result could be to attract business, employees, investors, or anything else. Regardless of the purpose, drone footage can make the final product more pleasing.

Most commonly, the drone would take video of the corporation site. This includes both indoor and outdoor shots. It could also have action shots of employees or customers. It is also common to see a shot or two of the city hosting the corporation.

In the case of large warehouses, a drone can easily show off the space and operation of the building. As in the video above, viewers can get a clear sense of how large the space is. No other method could handle the job as well as a drone.

A drone could also be used in training purposes. Having drone footage of the facilities can work as a virtual tour for new hires. It can make sure everyone is caught up to speed with the general layout of the corporate building. On top of that, it can be used to show the general, day-to-day operations. The bird's eye view of a factory floor can easily show how all of the different stations work together.

10. Event Marketing Drone Videos

Below is a video advertising the Tulum Summit. Several shots of drone footage are used to show off the area. It serves as a great example of how to use a drone to advertise for an event.

Events from music festivals to marathons can use drone footage for marketing. Often, they'll need video and images of one year's event to advertise for the next. They will likely use the footage for commercials and other promotional material.

Most common, the client will need footage of the crowds and main events. Keep in mind that these videos and images are going to be edited along with others. There will only be time for highlights. That means the shots you take need to be just right. You can't come back another day to make up for poor work.

A client might also want footage of setting up. It is common to see a time-lapsed video of volunteers getting the site ready. This may require more time on-site. However, this is less intricate. You would pretty much just set up the same kind of shot over the days they set up. Ideally, they would hire you for both before and during the event.

11. How to Get Started Making Money With Your Drone

Before you can make money with your drone, you'll need the basics.

  •  You'll first have to own a drone with at least a 2.7K camera (4K preferred). If you intend to use it for business, you'll definitely want to use 4K. Then, you'll have to become very comfortable with it. It is crucial to have a full understanding of the hardware and software involved. This requires tons of practice with months of daily flying.
  • You'll need your FAA certification as per Part 107 (click here for training). There is no way around that if you're making money with your drone.
  • From there, you need to pick the right niche/industry. Find out what companies are around you. Find out what their needs are. Scout our their physical location. Read up on the VPs. Anything that gives you an edge.
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A final point to make is that the new Part 107 requirement is less than a month old. There is no better time to start making money with your drone than now. Anyone without that certification will have to take those steps in order to move forward. Jumping on this now can help keep you far ahead of the competition.

The process is pretty straightforward, but the FAA did implement Part 107, a set of new certification protocols, this month. You can't move forward without this step.

To get your certification, you first have to pass the official aeronautics test. This can only be done in approved FAA testing sites. After that, you will need to be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration.

Then, you have to obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate with a rating for small UAS. The good news there is that certificate lasts forever. Even after all of that, there are requirements you have to meet in order to stay qualified.

You will have to take the aeronautical knowledge test every two years. You will also need to conduct appropriate inspections of your drone.

The FAA may still request to inspect your drone themselves. Of course, you'll need to cooperate with them. And finally, you'll need to make sure to alert them to any drone related incident that causes harm or more than $500 worth of damage within 10 days of occurrence.

After you get properly certified, you're almost ready to make money. First, you'll have to attract customers. To do that, you'll need to be a skillful pilot with a high quality drone and camera. A portfolio of example videos can also help potential clients see what you're capable of delivering. Then, it's all about marketing and reaching out to your customers!

Thank you so much for reading! Did we miss anything? What are the different ways you're making money with your drone? Let us know about it in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

Please share this post with someone who has a drone or any interest in drone photography!

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