How to Make Money With A Drone: 10 Ways to Make Profit

How to Make Money With A Drone
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

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UAV technology is quite developed these days, and as a result of this, there is a broad range of great drones on the market. Most people usually use these drones just to have fun, to enjoy flying and to take photos or make aerial videos.

However, although most people use drones just recreationally, there are various ways that drones could also be used to make a profit. Are you curious to find out how to make money with a drone? We believe you are!

The possibilities to make money with drones are quite numerous if you are creative enough. However, you should keep in mind that you have to explore local regulations regarding the drone flying before you start, since there are certain limitations in every country.  In many countries, including the U.S., U.K. and India, you need a license to legally earn money with a drone! So before you head out and try to make some cash, be sure to check up on the law first.

There are various training companies to become drone certified, and we’ve identified 3 that really stand out above the competition.  Check them out below.  They provide training for the primary certification in each of the three countries mentioned above to help you get licensed and start making money legally.

Once you’ve found the right training and licensing, read on to learn about how to turn your passion into a lucrative business and earn money with your drone in 10 different ways. This article will outline some of the most common ways to make money flying drones.  You will find that most are based on aerial photos and aerial cinematography, but there are also some other ways we will cover you may not have thought of!

#1. Earn money selling aerial photos and footage

One of the most common ways to make money with drones is selling the aerial pics and videos to people. Drone photography can be quite a profitable business and it is very popular nowadays. However, if you want to do this job, you must have a drone that is equipped with a gimbal and a quality camera which is capable of making crystal clear high-quality videos/photos from the air.

For instance, you can use a drone that is equipped with a GoPro camera and takes 4K Ultra HD videos. These drones are suitable for both outdoor and indoor footage.

Aerial photos and footage

There are two common options when it comes to pursuing this business. The first one is to find the attractive and unique places like various places of outstanding natural beauty with nice landscapes, tourist attractions or some popular landmarks. On the other hand, you can make custom aerial footage and take photos by commission. In either case, social media sites are a great way to promote your photos.  If you can show that your photos are in high demand, you will be in a great position to promote your business.

Where can you sell the products of your work? Find appropriate places such as beach resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, or city squares. Even better, you can advertise your pictures and videos online. For the beginning, you should start local and show your work to people in order to gain customers and credibility.

Another possibility to earn money with aerial footage is to launch your own YouTube channel and post the videos captured by your drone. Publish your drone footage on your YouTube channel and be a part of a partnership program of the website in order to start earning money online. This way you can gain numerous subscribers that will follow all of your work.

But of course, there are other ways to turn a profit from your drone’s camera. For instance, you can increase traffic to a certain website or online store featuring your photography, sell in-video advertising placement, promote your products through ads, and much more. There are many ways to make a profit this way, it just depends how creative you are willing to get and how much effort you want to put into perfecting your craft. 

#2. Open a private company and offer services in aerial surveying

Small UAVs, like drones, can take photos from above and thus record terrestrial places that are difficult or impossible to reach and measure from the ground. Today’s drones have great flight capabilities and can be remotely controlled, which makes them suitable for aerial surveying in the most difficult areas. Therefore, they have replaced helicopters and other aircraft in surveying in many instances.

Drone aerial surveying

Aerial surveys have applications in different fields, including topography, digital mapping, archaeology, feature recognition, different GIS applications, and so on. Actually, a lot of professional organizations around the world have a need for aerial surveys, and this is a good opportunity to open a private company and offer services in aerial surveying.

So, if you want to earn money from surveying, you have to offer the best quality photography services to your clients. To offer this service, you must be an expert in aerial photography, and also have the necessary knowledge, expertise, and certification to perform surveying work.

From there, it is all about promoting your business the best you can. Runs some ads, get some referrals, post online, post to your social media, anything you can do to make sure customers think of you first! Drone businesses are a highly competitive space, but with proper advertising and promotion, you can carve out a successful niche for yourself.

#3. Aerial wedding videography and photography

Wedding photography and videography is a popular and, most importantly, very profitable business. The competition is really tough in this field, and therefore, you have to offer unique wedding videos and photos taken from an awesome perspective. People want to get outstanding photos of their weddings that will remind them of this great day forever. Why not use your drone for this purpose?

Aerial wedding videography

Here are some tips for excelling at this job:

  • You need to fly your drone close to the venue. Do not fly a drone directly over the guests because you can hurt someone by accident, or scare those in attendance.
  • Find the best perspective to take photos or shoot footage while flying a drone.
  • Chose an outdoor wedding venue at a spectacular location where you can profit from the gorgeous scenery.
  • Avoid recording towards the Sun, as well as in the dark and other similar places where the photos could be blurred.
  • Offer your clients both aerial videos and pictures at the same wedding.

By following these tips and tricks,  you are going to be different from other wedding videographers/photographers and maybe even “steal” their clients. All you need to do is buy an advanced small drone and a high-resolution camera supported by that drone, and practice every single day. If you are a beginner in this craft, you should start as a secondary videographer or photographer, and do a few weddings on a beginner’s discount. From there, start your business and make sure to get referrals from all your satisfied customers!

#4. Reselling drones

The next business that can help you with making money is reselling. In fact, all the strategies that apply to the reselling of other goods also will work with drones.

You should purchase the popular new drone models at one price, and later sell them at a higher price to your customers. You can do this with an online store, through online marketplaces, or even with your own drone store. All you need to do is find a supplier who sells drones at affordable purchase prices. Take a look at the drones in popular online stores such as Amazon and EBay.

Reselling drones

It looks simple on first sight, but you will have a lot of upfront costs and fees to open and maintain a store. The same goes with online stores, but the fees are a little bit different. So, you must bear this in mind that when thinking of opening a shop for this purpose. There are many ways to sell drones, and the key is finding the method that works best for you. However, if you do a proper amount of competitive research and decide on your offering, you may find the drone market to be very lucrative!

If you already have a store for electric devices, gadgets, computers, and the like, why not add drones to your offerings? This is a big advantage because you already have an experience in such a business. On the other hand, you can have a specialized store for drones, where you will sell these UAVs as well as all necessary equipment for them.

A final tip: if you are thinking of a rental business with drones, we do not recommend it. These aerial devices are vulnerable to damage, especially with first time users, and you will have problems with your clients potentially breaking your drones.

#5. Inspection jobs

Many utility companies have used helicopters and airplanes to inspect electrical lines, remote substations, pumping stations and other similar facilities for years. It was dangerous for the pilots to reach these places, and very expensive too! In recent times, drones have been very useful when it comes to inspection jobs. These small unmanned aerial vehicles have been replacing other aircraft as they are equipped with powerful cameras and video transmitters, and thus are more suitable for this job.

Drone inspects pannels

They can quickly and easily reach the water or gas outlets, and make quality video footage. This is of great help for utility companies during the regular checkups and damage assessing. Besides the utility companies, other companies also need drone operators for the same purpose. Just to mention a couple, construction and insurance companies use drones very regularly.

You can also make money doing various inspection jobs for different companies worldwide – this is another way to use your drone smartly. For instance, a well-equipped drone with a 4K camera may be of help to asphalt repair and resurfacing companies to inspect their prospects’ properties.

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Also, today’s small drones are used in power line inspections, cell tower inspections, bridge inspection jobs, gas pipeline and oil inspections, roof inspections, etc. All these jobs give you a great chance to earn good money using a drone.

It is important to make these companies aware of your offering through proper advertising and networking. It might be helpful to get a directory of the businesses in your area and introduce yourself to those you think would be interested in your services.

So, if you want to do such jobs, you must have one or more advanced drones that are higher performing and more stable than the simple commercial quadcopters. Therefore, you need to invest in the expensive drones and the additional equipment, but the payback period is quite short if you manage to develop your business. In addition, you have to be well trained in RC flying and aerial recording as well. So while this business does require a very professional drone to do the job, it can also be quite lucrative for you if you do it well. 

#6. Advertise real estates, resorts, hotel and more

Yes, the drone is a perfect tool for effective advertising. If you are an entrepreneurial filmmaker with a lot of experience in flying drones, you can make money working on advertising the real estates, resorts, and hotels, and more.

The aerial videos captured by drones may sell private estates more quickly and affect the selling price. Therefore, the real estate agents often hire UAV video companies when advertising real estates for their clients. If this sounds interesting to you, you might also check out our article about the best drones for real estate.

Drone Advertising real estates

Aside from real estate videos, small drones with high-resolution cameras are also used for aerial video footage of hotels and resorts alike. It is a good way to show off and advertise a certain hotel, for example, that is located in a perfect area of a property. This way, the particular resort hotel will be more attractive for the visitors and potential customers. People are often more willing to commit to a hotel if they can get a view of the entire property. Not only is this visually appealing and gives them a great idea of what to expect, it shows that the owners have nothing to hide!

In addition, you can earn money working on low altitude banner advertising. This is a good commercial opportunity for drone owners. How do you do this? You should mount a camera on the bottom of your drone and fly it over an appropriate place. While flying a drone, it sends the video promotional feedback to a monitor that is attached to its controller.

When you want to sell something, you must have a good advertisement and stand out from others on the market. Thus, it is very important to make an impressive ad that will attract the attention of people. Today, many travel marketing agencies require unique photos and videos when advertising something. Grab this great opportunity to earn money, just beware that it is a very competitive space!

#7. Drone deliveries

Another way to make money with a drone is to use it for different delivery purposes. Drone delivery is an innovative solution in the world of drones. If you are willing, you can offer drone delivery services to companies and organizations that need it.

Drone deliveries

Many companies (like Amazon, AliExpress, etc.) already use UAVs for this purpose, incorporating deliveries by drones in their services. Also, medical facilities, national institutions, and charity organizations worldwide use drones when delivering various supplies in hard-to-reach places. Some locations are unreachable for ground vehicles, and in those areas, done deliveries come into play. Moreover, the trips by ground vehicles could be too expensive sometimes, or difficult due to logistics in some areas.

You can deliver a variety of things in this way. Such a delivery is fairly quick and very safe as well. Unfortunately, small commercial drones cannot deliver heavy loads while flying because of their low weight. Keep this in mind if you want to offer this service. However, the larger drones can be used by various humanitarian services to safely deliver food, water, medicine, and so on. For a better insight on this topic, we suggest taking a look at our article about delivery drones.

#8. Surveillance, private investigation and video monitoring

Many large companies around the globe already hire drone pilots to do air surveillance in some areas. In fact, it is more cost-effective to employ one person who owns a drone and can do quality surveillance than to pay for constant camera surveillance.

Drone Surveillance

In addition to surveillance, drones also have practical applications in aerial monitoring and private investigation alike. The small unmanned aerial vehicles make these jobs easier and less dangerous. In comparison with other devices that are used for surveillance, drones are less noticeable and can reach almost every location. While cameras are sometimes limited because they must be placed in one location, drones can ensure that every area of a premises can be under surveillance. 

For aerial monitoring and surveillance, you must have an advanced drone with a 4K camera which is capable of making HD videos and photos. Even better, thermal imaging cameras too. These cameras are even more effective in some circumstances for aerial surveillance and monitoring.

This can be a very profitable business. For example, the professional surveillance operators in the United States earn up to $50,000 per year. If you think that this sounds like an opportunity for you, then find out more on this topic by reading our article about surveillance drones.

#9. Search and rescue in disaster relief

Drones can also be of great help for search and rescue in affected areas. Traditional search methods, which use helicopters and dogs, are unsuccessful in some cases and rescuers often can’t find the missing people.

On the other hand, drones have the ability to notice missing people, or whatever you are searching for, from the air with ease. Therefore, drone operators are often employed for disaster relief to provide video services. The freelance UAV pilots are well-paid for this job. This is an excellent opportunity to use your drone to make some money, but also to help people as well. A job is always more rewarding when you know you are helping people!

Search and rescue

These smart remote UAVs can provide video footage to public safety officials in real time, and thus, save many lives in areas affected by natural disasters. Therefore, they are widely used today in areas affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and the like. They are suitable for huge inhabited areas which are too dangerous or even impossible to reach by land.

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It used to be very difficult to find and save people in such disasters, but nowadays, it is much easier with the use of drones. Sometimes, you don’t have to work this job just for the money. If you are interested in volunteering and you own a drone that you think would be good for this job, there are plenty of rescue companies who would be more than willing to accept your help.

#10. Precision agriculture

Lastly, you can make a profit using a drone in precision agriculture. Drones are very helpful for crop surveillance in agriculture because they significantly reduce the costs and time required for such a job.

Drone in agriculture

When using a drone in precision agriculture, it must be equipped with a specialized camera for the infrared video that can capture the specific wavelengths. These cameras produce specific contrasting colors while shooting, and based on these recordings, the operators can see the overall health of crops in a certain area. Also, drones help farmers with verification and problem diagnosis in their fields. In some cases, they can also be used in delivering spot treatment.

All these operations can help farmers reduce plant damages, cut costs, and have the higher yield with their crops. On the other side, drone pilots can make a lot of money working for them. There is a mutual benefit as both sides get to profit from this deal. Drones are actually quite the powerful tool in agriculture, although that probably was not what you first thought of when thinking of a drone.

In conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to turn a profit after acquiring a drone; you just need to put your mind at work. There are many ways to offer your drone services, and the common denominator is often effective promotion and superior customer service! So no matter how you choose to use your drone for profit, be sure to do your research and ensure that your drone skills are excellent before starting your business. 

If you know other ways and we didn’t cover them, please don’t be shy. Let us know about it in your comments!

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About the author

Jack Brown

Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.