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People who fly drones for a hobby often become expert drone pilots. Their enthusiasm drives them, and before long, they can operate the drones with astounding control and maneuverability, good enough to consider making money by flying drones.

Combine the expertise of taking aerial photos and videos, and your hobby provide additional income or even become a full-time business. Isn’t that everyone’s dream to have a job that is as much fun as their hobbies and interests?

We have compiled a list of ideas on how to make money with drones. Although aerial photography and cinematography are the obvious way of making money with your drone, there are ideas in the list below for those who like flying drones but not necessarily taking photos.  

Preparation Overcomes The Competition

You are not the first person who wants to make money with drones, and you are not going to be the last person either. If you can stand out from the crowd of competitors, you are off to a good start. Preparation is key to being successful. Setting up your drone business correctly may save you lots of time and money later and possibly give you a head start when competing with others in your industry.  

Drone Pilot as Hobbyist

Becoming an outstanding drone pilot is key to making money with drones. You can start by improving your flying skills as a hobbyist and becoming an expert drone pilot. It may surprise you how easy it is to improve your flying skills and maneuverability techniques while having fun piloting the drone as a hobbyist. Those hours and procedures you accomplish as recreation may serve you well in your part-time (or full-time) drone business.

The more control you have maneuvering the drone, the better the service you can offer to potential clients: practice hovering, flying square patterns, and figure-8 patterns with and without yaw. As an outstanding drone pilot, you should be able to complete targeted takeoffs, landings, and 180-degree inverted landings.

Familiarize Yourself With the Regulations

Making money with your drone could mean flying in unfamiliar territory or zones with specific rules, regulations, and licensing requirements. Even operating in a common area means familiarizing and adhering to the standards and getting the required licenses. Flying your drone commercially requires passing FAA required tests to show you understand airspace rules. You may also need to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations of the specific state.

Be Accountable

Flying drones as a hobby may often seem as if the drone pilot is flying ad hoc, but usually, the pilot has a flight plan. Serious drone flyers have a flight plan before takeoff; they know where they are going to fly, how long, and come prepared. If they are going to fly in remote areas, a drone flyer must prepare for the hike and excursion.

Flying your drone to make money requires more accurate planning, logging, and accountability.

  • The pilot needs to prepare the flight plan beforehand, including where to launch and land the drone.
  • Ensure the drone is fit for flying and repair or replace any parts that may cause possible failures.
  • Another safety precaution is to ensure the flight area is clear and no pets or people are in the area. If necessary, clear out the area from animals and people. Explain to them the danger of flying over them and that it is for their safety that you need to clear the area.  
  • Note everything, including the hours and the flight plan, manually in a logbook or digitally.  Logged hours show clients that you know what you are doing and that you are not wasting time or their money. Documenting everything is a professional way to approach your drone business.  

Choose Your Specialty

Making money with your drone is lucrative, but you do not want to spend all your profit on equipment. You also want to come across as an expert. Therefore, identify how you want to make money with your drone and ensure you have the necessary equipment and the right kind of drone for the job.

If you specialize in a field, you are perceived as an expert, and your potential client knows you have the experience in their industry. If you use your drone to make money in too many ways, you cannot become a specialist in a field because your time and money are spread out, and you become a generalist. An architect wants to know if you know how to take aerial phots of buildings, not crops, and vice versa; the farmer, wants to see if you can help him with his crops.

By specializing, clients know you can transform the data you captured into a product they can use and makes sense to them. A heat map is not going to help a realtor sell a home; they need a real estate video that helps them close a sale.

Buy the Right Equipment

Most opportunities to make money with a drone requires a camera. Ensure you have a high-quality camera that does what is necessary for the job you plan on doing. You do not need a camera that takes infrared photos for a wedding celebration, but you may need it if your business focuses on surveillance and security.

It is the same as the type of drone needed. A commercial quadcopter should be sufficient for many drone jobs, but you require a stronger drone for delivering packages, for example.  

Make sure you know how to operate the fancy equipment too. Practice and master the techniques to transform the data your drone captures into usable and quality products for clients.  

Don’t try to do the job with a toy – even great science kit drones like one might get from Kiwico aren’t proper tools for these jobs.

Determine Your Rates

Do your homework before you approach a potential client regarding the rates for the job and industry. Decide beforehand what your minimum and maximum rates are so that you may negotiate your rates with confidence.

Calculate your expenses and include your costs when doing the rates math. Fees may consist of the drone price, maintenance, wear-and-tear, camera and digital equipment, individual licenses, and so forth.

12 Ways How to Make Money with Drones

Aerial photography and cinematography can be used in various ways to earn money with your drone. If you enjoy taking photos, you like flying a drone, or both, then this list is for you.

Photography and Videos

It is not that difficult to be an amateur photographer and turn your hobby into a money-making business. There are many stock photos sites where you can sell your photos taken with the drone camera. Many photographers can take beautiful pictures, but not all of them fly drones too. The combination is the winning recipe for making money with your drone and camera.

Online Print-on Shop

As an amateur and professional photographer, you can upsell and expand the ways to sell your photos. By changing your photos into prints, you can sell the copies online. You can also print your pics on objects and sell the print-on T-shirts, cups, bags, and more on an online shop.  

If you do not want to sell your products directly to customers, you can use affiliate marketing techniques to sell through third parties. They earn a commission for the products they sell.

Wedding Photos and Videos

Wedding photos are always popular, and couples are reminded of that special day by looking at their wedding photographs or videos. Brides want their wedding day to be unique. Taking aerial photos and videos of the happy couple adds a special and unique touch to the wedding.

Be mindful not to fly over the guests; you can avoid accidents and scaring the guests. Use the drone with a camera to take photos at the venue and offer other scenic locations nearby for additional photoshoots from the air. The couple could be aerial photographed standing on a bridge, with a waterfall in the background or at a famous sight.  

Advertising Businesses

Your drone can take pictures of buildings, landmarks, construction sites, or projects for companies who want to advertise their business. Here are some examples and ideas on how companies use aerial photos for advertising purposes.

  • Realtors and real estate companies can advertise properties with aerial photos and videography. It gives potential buyers a view of a property that they would not typically experience.
  • Architects and builders may use aerial photos for their portfolios to market their expertise.
  • Hotels and resorts use drone photography for advertising their services.
  • Special events and sports events may require photos taken by your drone camera.
  • News reporters and newscasters find aerial photos and videos helpful content, especially current events.
  • Music concerts, outdoor plays, and cultural events may appreciate aerial footage of the game or show. They can use it for promotion or remind people of a memorable occasion.

Aerial Mapping

If you know how to utilize photos taken by the drone camera for mapping, you may build a lucrative business. Many industries like forestry, mining, archeology, landscaping, and construction need aerial photos to map areas too large to visualize.  

Security Surveillance

You can make money with your drone in the surveillance industry. Government offices or private companies may hire a drone pilot for security reasons. Drones can help guard properties or events by feeding surveillance information to the security company.

If you are serious about using your drones for surveillance, you will need a 4K camera to take HD photos and videos. Security companies may require thermal imaging cameras in some circumstances.  

Agriculture and Farming

Drones that can take specialized infrared videos may help farmers diagnose and verify their crops’ health. A farmer who suspects an issue with the crop could hire a drone pilot to take surveillance footage to confirm they are suspicious or to keep up to date with the crop health overall.

Drones can also be used to deliver the necessary treatment to the crops when spot treatment is needed.   

Selling Drones Online

If you want to make money with drones, but photography is not your gig, then selling or reselling drones could be your business. As a drone hobbyist, you are already an expert in drones. By creating an online store, you can provide a service to potential buyers. Add valuable informational content or buyer guides to the store to help your clients with their purchase.

You could also buy drones and resell them at a physical store, allowing you to have a face-to-face conversation with your potential buyers.

Search and Rescue

Drones may assist in disaster relief situations to provide video services. Drones may also help to find missing people that people on the ground cannot find so easily. The drones can save search and rescue time by finding the missing people and then guiding the rescue team to the right place.

Training or Coaching Other Drone Pilots and Photographers

You can hire yourself out as a coach or trainer to photographers or drone enthusiasts. A professional photographer may want to expand their business, or amateur photographers may decide to make money selling their photos. As an expert drone pilot, you can teach photographers how to fly drones and take pictures with their drones to sell. 

The opposite is also a way to make money. Expert drone pilots may not have the skills to take quality aerial photos and videos. If you have the experience of flying drones and taking photos, you can teach them how to choose the best pictures to sell and transform their images into practical products clients want.

Inspection Jobs or Utility Companies

If you are an expert drone pilot and have aerial recording experience, you could consider flying your drone for utility companies. Inspection jobs are highly profitable jobs but require a more significant investment initially. Although commercial quadcopters are sufficient for most ways of making money, you need a more stable and higher performing drone for inspection jobs.

Oil and gas pipelines, bridges, cell towers, roofs, and power lines all require inspection, regular checkups, and damage assessment. A drone operator could assist utility companies by flying their drones close to the damaged areas and photographing the problem.

Delivery Services

Another lucrative way to make money with your drone is offering delivery services. You will also need a heavier drone than the commercial quadcopters for this task. Many companies use drones to deliver products, especially to remote areas where vehicles cannot reach. Drone delivery services may help with humanitarian service safely delivering medical supplies, water, and food to these remote areas.

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