How to Make Money With a Drone

As more advancements are made in drone technology, we’ve seen the use of drones expand from something simply done as a hobby to something much more serious with plenty of commercial applications. UAVs were initially used by the military as a safer alternative to manned aerial vehicles, but thanks to new commercial and government applications, drones are forecast to grow to a $100 billion market by 2020. Practical government uses range from security to firefighting, but there are loads of opportunities for entrepreneurs as well.

Modern drones are equipped with GPS features, data encryption, data logging systems, and are capable of recording HD and 4k aerial footage. Even better, thanks to new technology constantly driving competition, it’s quite affordable to have your own drones. While the thought of starting your own business with drones is no doubt exciting, you’ll first need to learn about the safe use of drones and all the regulations to prevent any issues with law enforcement. Then you can decide the type of business you want to run and start looking for a drone business opportunity.

FAA Guidelines

Before becoming a drone operator, you’ll need to know about the Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for drone owners. For commercial use, operators with small drones (5.5 pounds or lighter) will need certification under Part 107 rules. Requirements include learning the right way to fly in certain airspaces as well as how to safely fly over people. To receive your certificate, you’ll first need to pass the Knowledge Test. After that, you can register your drone with the FAA, and you’ll be good to go.

The guidelines are similar for instructors planning to use drones for educational purposes. They can either be certified under Part 107, or they can register their drones with community organizations. For drone operators looking to perform advanced actions, like package delivery, there is a slightly longer path to obtain a license. These drone pilots will need to go through the Part 135 certification process, which includes pre-application steps, a formal application process, and multiple assessments before receiving a remote pilot certificate.

Drone pilots must exercise caution at all times, as drone mishaps can result in property damages, injuries, or other disasters that could send pilots looking for attorneys. Once you’re certified, you’ll be ready to put together a business plan and start looking for customers. Depending on your goals, you can go all-in with an expensive drone model, or you can look for the best drones on a budget. Luckily, the drone industry offers a wide variety of options for any niche. The following are just a few different ways you can start a new business with drones.

Photography

One of the best areas to start a drone business is in is professional photography. In particular, aerial shots are uniquely suited to drones, and they used to be incredibly expensive before drone services. These days, it shouldn’t be too hard to find new opportunities to use a commercial drone to cover social events like weddings, sports events, landscapes, and more. The versatility of drones makes it easy to capture photographs from practically any altitude, and many drone cameras are also capable of adding cinematic effects to shots.

Another great idea is to use photography to advertise for real estate. Competition is fierce in the real estate market, and it can be hard to stand out as a photographer. Drones give you an advantage in that you can easily sweep the area at a fast pace and get aerial shots that many competitors won’t be able to. While drones aren’t necessarily great for interior shots or shots at close distances, the unique views they can catch will likely make it easy to build an impressive portfolio.

Of course, photography is just one of your potential drone business opportunities. The camera gives you instant access to another best money-making option.

Surveillance and Security

Videography is a great tool that you can bring to the table with a drone business. This is one of your biggest strengths, and it’s well suited for security purposes. The aerial perspective offers self-explanatory advantages, and a drone’s remote control capabilities ensure you can quickly cover all angles to capture footage. Applications for these commercial drone operations go far beyond home or business security as well.

Law enforcement and military teams regularly have drone operators survey areas before entering a scene. Drones are quick to deploy and far more cost-effective than helicopters. UAVs also make it easier to perform civil operations such as surveying traffic or looking for specific persons of interest. Modern drones offer long flight times, are quick and easy to use, and are versatile enough to handle nearly any security situation.

Land surveying

From agriculture businesses to construction companies, a drone company has plenty of potential customers in land surveying and mapping. Drones offer several benefits for land surveyors including greater efficiency, a cheaper budget, and convenience. Drones offer fast mobility and cheaper tools to gather 3D data and are quickly becoming the preferred method for land mapping. Architects can even use this land data to aid in the creation of their 3D models for structures and begin building faster than they could otherwise.

Drones are also great for agriculture, as their sensors and cameras make it easier than ever to collect data about soil hydration and pests. This makes planning tasks like irrigation, fertilization, and deploying pesticides much simpler. A drone business could offer services to farms all around the state and possibly the entire country.

Inspection Services

Inspection jobs can be a bit risky and require experienced drone pilots. Still, industrial inspection is a lucrative business, and there are plenty of applications for drones. Drone pilots can save a great deal of time and money by performing building inspections quickly and reliably with thermal mapping and other technology to discover any leaks, corrosion, or other issues that could affect building integrity.

Film Making

On the more creative side of things, you could always offer filmmakers your drone services. Drones have become a great tool in filmmaking due to their ability to capture difficult aerial shots much cheaper than a helicopter could. Of course, as filmmakers have gotten more creative, we’ve seen many more uses for drones in movies. Drones cameras can travel much more rapidly than a cameraman, not to mention get into much more difficult areas, which means shots that could only be dreamed of are now entirely feasible. Thanks to drone pilots and drone technology, cinematography is only limited by the imagination.

These are just some of the many drone business opportunities that are out there. Like with any new business, you’ll have to determine the best way that works for you. You’ll naturally need a financial plan to purchase your drones, whether you’re planning to pursue your opportunity full time or part-time. You’ll also need to research any additional legal issues you may need to be aware of in your niche, particularly if you’re using drones to deliver anything. The more prepared you can be in the beginning, the more likely your venture is to be a success.

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