How to Make Money With a Drone

The beauty of flying drones is that there are so many uses for them. Some people fly them just for pleasure. It’s fun to go outside and fly your drone around, be it by yourself or with your family. Others like to fly their drones because of a hobbyist reason. Someone may want to take photos just for their pleasure, or make cool videos for social media.

Another reason for flying drones, which has become more and more popular, is the emergence of using drones for commercial purposes. There are many ways you can use a drone for your full-time job or as a side gig. And with quality drones becoming more and more affordable, many people with many budgets can make money using a drone.

In this post, we will look at ways to make money, look at different tips and tricks, and more.

Get a Good Drone at first!

There are many drones for many budgets. You can find drones for less than $50, even. However, if you're going to use a drone for business, you don’t want to get a drone with a camera that looks like it was taken from a low-quality webcam.

While you shouldn’t pay thousands of dollars on your first business drone, you should spend a few hundred to get a drone that can fly high, go fast, can withstand the elements, and be able to take high quality photos and videos. You can find drones that shoot 4K and have crisp photos as well.

With any business, you have to spend money at first, and you shouldn’t cut corners. Luckily, this should all cost less than a grand to start up. You can find a quality drone for a few hundred, and then upgrade the drone later on as the jobs get more demanding. This applies to any photography career, where you gradually upgrade as you get better.

Let’s Look at the Legal Stuff

As you probably know, you can’t just buy the drone, fly it, and make money. There is a legal process you have to go through.

  • First, you should register the drone

The Federal Aviation Administration needs you to register for your drone. If you fly your drone without it being registered, you may be fined massive amounts of money, and you may even go to jail. Would you rather be fined up to $27,500, or spend five bucks to register your drone? We thought so.

First, you should check its weight. If it’s under 0.55 pounds, you don’t need to register it. If it’s over 55 pounds, you need to register it using a paper form. If the drone is in-between, you can use an online form. Odds are, that’s where your drone fits.

Your drone will get an ID number, and the registration will last for around three years. Make sure you renew your license whenever.

  • Now for the License!

If you're just using a drone for personal use, this is where the process ends. However, you’re using a drone to make money, so you need to get a license for commercial use. There are some requirements by the FAA for you to do so, and here they are:

  • Be 16 years old or older. If you’re a young entrepreneur, you’ll have to find somewhere else to make money.
  • Pass a written test about your knowledge of aeronautical science. These questions involve parts of the law and what you need to do with emergencies.
  • You need to go to the TSA and pass a background check. They have to make sure you aren’t going to use the drone for malicious intent.

While registering your drone is cheap, taking the test is a little more expensive. You may pay around $150 for the test. If you complete it, they will give you a temp certification and you will receive one in the mail later on.

  • Other Guidelines

When you're flying for profit, there are more guidelines you must follow. If you want to stay in good standing with the law, you must:

  • Not fly the drone over 400 feet
  • Only fly during the daytime
  • Fly the drone in G class airspace. In other words, don’t fly it near an airport or at fly level.
  • Don’t fly more than 100 mpg
  • Aircraft vehicles that are manned take priority over drones. Make sure no one is flying by you when you’re flying.
  • Don’t fly over people or vehicles.

Make sure you're looking up the laws, both local and federal, to make sure you’re in good standing. With that said, we hope that in the future, these laws can be more relaxed. In particular, flying only in the daytime can be a problem if you want to do night photography. Not only that, but with the days getting shorter, that’s even more troublesome. But the law’s the law, and you need to work with what you have.

Work for Yourself or for Someone Else

Now that you're in the clear, you want to think about how you can make money. You can work for yourself, creating your own photography company, or you can try to be hired by someone.

Yes, people who know how to fly drones are in high demand. You can go to any job website and find gigs, both freelance and full-time, from people who need drone photographers. People who need a wedding photographer. People who need aerial shots for their real estate. Mappers. The list goes on.

If you're inexperienced, take some great photos and use them as a portfolio. Find some jobs that don’t pay well, but will give you the experience (on the other hands, don’t work for exposure or sell yourself too short!) It can take a bit to make money with your drone, but as you build up your portfolio, you can be able to get better gigs and perhaps quit your day job.

Some Jobs You Can Do for making money with a Drone

There are many different jobs you can perform with a drone. Here are some ways you can make some money:

  • Sell Aerial Footage

Many people, especially in your local community, want to see what their community looks like from above. Now, it’s easier than ever, but not everyone has the skills to take a good aerial photo or video. As mentioned before, your drone should be high enough quality.

Many attractions are looking for aerial shots. That carnival that’s coming to town may want an aerial view. A golf course will want a good aerial shot of their courses. There are many places that are in demand, and you can help out by giving them the footage.

  • Monetize a YouTube Channel

Thanks to sites like YouTube, you can build an audience, a portfolio, and make money while doing it. Make some videos showcasing the aerial views, behind the scenes footage, and anything else pertaining to your business. If people like it, they will flock to your videos and you can monetize your videos and make some extra money. And people who are looking for jobs will be attracted to your channel and inquire about opportunities. It’s a win-win for all!

  • Wedding Photography

Everyone wants the best photo of their special moment. For a long time, people just needed a photographer on the ground, but with drones, people are interested in seeing what their wedding looks like from above, or get a unique picture from a unique angle.

If you’re skilled in traditional and drone photography, even better. Many people will be flocking to you because of your skills!

With that said, wedding photography is a bit challenging. Don’t fly over people, and avoid the sun, as it can ruin your photos. But if you’re willing to try it, you can make some bank from it.

You may be like, A Beginner’s Guide to Photography

  • Real Estate

Many real estate companies are needing drone photographers. When selling a house or land, having an aerial view is useful. Offer your services to real estate companies and see if they want to have you on their team. Chances are, you can be able to make money from them.

  • Aerial Surveying

People are in demand of surveyers who can record footage that is hard for people to reach otherwise. Mappers, topographers, and archaeologists need drone photographers, and you can offer their services all while contributing to society by surveying land that was unable to be surveyed beforehand.

  • Inspection

Electrical lines, cell phone towers, gas lines, they all need inspection to make sure they’re running properly. Drones are helping make this process easier. No longer does someone have to go close to a gas line and pray they don’t get blown up. No longer does someone have to fear falling off a tower. A drone can do all the work for less, and many companies are realizing this. You can contribute your services to them and allow yourself to make more money as a result.

  • Surveillance

While no one likes to be watched, surveillance is important. Private businesses need cameras so that no one steals from them. However, security cameras have limitations. Many businesses and government facilities are employing drones as a way to combat this, and you can be a part of the revolution. If you can get a job where you are involved with surveillance, it can pay quite a bit.

Detective agencies, especially private detectives, can use drones as a way to tail their leads. Talk to them as well if you want to make some more money from drones.

  • Selling Drones

If you become experienced in flying drones, people may flock to you as an authority on them. Consider selling drones as well. Having a store is a bit more of a challenge, and it’s more expensive. However, if you can buy drones for cheap, or can fix up drones, you can sell them for a much higher price and make some more money.

  • Agriculture

Used to, a farmer would have to inspect each crop manually, and this could be a waste of time. With drones, they can look at the crops from a distance and be able to inspect them while saving time. There are many bigger farms that are looking for drone flyers, and you can play your part.

  • Deliveries

Drones are starting to replace mail trucks when it comes to delivery. A drone can deliver something you ordered to your house, and it’s cheaper and faster for that to happen. Amazon is one such company that is incorporating drones to make delivery easier, but there are many more companies as well. This includes hospitals, which may use drones for medical supply delivery. Drones can go places vehicles can’t, and use much less energy to do so. While drones can’t deliver some of the heavier goods, more drones are being used to deliver stuff that they can carry.

As the online marketplace grows, drones will be essential in delivering everything in a speedy and affordable manner. Be part of this change.

  • Disaster Relief

When disaster strikes, time is important. When there is a hurricane, earthquake, or any other natural or manmade disaster, you need to find the survivors and rescue them. A drone can help by providing an aerial view of the damage, and looking for people in places that humans may not be able to reach. When a disaster hits, or is about to hit, look for a job that requires a drone. Chances are, you can be able to make some money and help save some lives in the process.

With that, these are some ways you can make money on drones. Now is a good time to be a pilot. A quality drone is affordable, yet the market isn’t oversaturated with them just yet. Strike the iron while it’s hot. If you want to leave your day job in a fun manner, flying a drone may just be the job you’re looking for. Look into drones and see if it’s right for you.

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