Drone's are the craze these days. It seems that almost everyone of my friends have one or at least talk about getting one. Getting a quality drone will cost you between $500 to $1,000 US, so I thought there should be some way to make money with the investment. In fact, Goldman Sachs forecasts a $13 Billion market opportunity for commercial drones by 2020. For this reason, I researched and provide this guide of top 5 ways to make money with your drone. Drones come different shapes, sizes and capabilities. For all of these money making ideas, you'll need a drone with a camera. Most come with cameras, but I wanted to be very specific from the outset. First, let's talk about what type of drone you need.
Good Quality of Drone necessary to make money
Question: Do I need an expensive drone to make money?
Answer: No, but because the really inexpensive ones will most likely not be as durable and not last long, a good quality drone is necessary. I turned to WebByWebb.com's Drone Buying Guid - How to buy a drone in 2018 to get a better idea. Before you go buy a drone for commercial use, however, there are a few things you should know. We ask and answer these questions for you.
Question: Do I need a commercial certification to make money with a drone?
Answer: You absolutely do in the United States. On June 21, 2016 the FAA released the rules governing non-hobbyists use of drones weighing over 55 lbs and for commercial use. This is a link to the fact sheet detailing the rules, and here's the FFA's study guide for the exam. Most important to note here is that it requires a certification. Online classes to prepare for the test can be found online. The certification is called FAA Part 107, and testing is done at an approved testing center which can be found in most major cities.
Question: Do I need insurance for my drone business?
In the United States, yes, you do need insurance. If you are in a different country, please check with the authorities. Depending on what your niche is, your costs for liability and drone costs coverage may vary. I would set aside $1000.00 US per year for liability coverage up to $1 Million. You can get insurance through many of the drone manufacturers, but there are also companies that offer coverage for drone commercial use.
Before you go off and start your studies to get your certification, it makes sense you start your drone commercial career as a hobbyist, and you need no license to enjoy your drone as a hobby. Either as a hobbyist preparing for certification or armed with your certification, we now look at the top 5 ways you can turn your drone hobby into money.
The top 5 ways to make money with your drone
- Weddings: The easiest way in photography is contact wedding photographers in your area and work out an arrangement. Wedding arial photography & video at weddings have become quite popular, so this could be a great way to get some side work. Contracting out to several in the area could get you a gig every weekend during season.
- Arial photography/video of houses and land: Again, there are no shortage of realtors anywhere in the US, so contracting with several realtors could be a lucrative endeavor.
- Sporting events: While the bigger events are probably not ideal, contact the athletic departments at high schools in your area. In particular, football and baseball could be good events for your drone footage.
2. Teaching, Renting and Reselling Drones
Imagine how many kids get drones as presents from their parents. Some of these drones are expensive, so targeting parents in a good neighborhood to teach their child how to safely fly a drone should not be a hard sell. Additionally, if you have the capital to pick up a few drones and rent them to students who don't yet have one, you might even pick up a buyer of the rental that way. Additionally, the realtors and wedding photographers may already have experience or a pilot and need to rent an additional drone for a job.
- Roof inspections: Contact insurance agencies in your area. Detailed aerial imagery of roofs for measurement and or damage can be a good gig.
- Agriculture inspections: Paired with the right software, drones can make it easier to count plants, monitor field performance. Contact your local farm bureau or even individual famers. Advertise at any local feed stores that service farmers in the area. They can also check for standing water in fields and assess flood damage.
An up and coming opportunity for commercial drones is advertising. Just like planes carry banners horizontally behind them while flying over a crowd, you could sell flight time of your drone to carry a vertical banner over a crowd at a carnival or some other outdoor gathering. Contact your local chamber of commerce and look for sponsors of upcoming outdoor events.
5. Product Delivery
Who says only Amazon can do this? Check with the establishments who deliver items to their customer homes, then come up with a pitch on how you can do it more effectively. Try doing it for free as a trial, and then it could easily turn into a full-time opportunity.
I just listed these quick 5 ideas, but there are many more than this. The people I know who have drones are pretty passionate and really, really enjoy piloting their drones. Why not make a business out of it?