How to Make Money with a Drone: 10 Ways to Make Profit

How to Make Money With A Drone
Written by Jack Brown

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UAV technology has come a long way in recent years, and as a result, there are many great drones on the market that cater to all skill levels. Most people use these drones solely to have fun and take sky-high photos or make aerial videos, but there are also plenty of ways to make a profit from drone piloting.

Are you interested in finding out how to make money with a drone? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

As long as you’re creative enough, the possibilities to make money with drones are quite numerous. Just keep in mind that you have to abide by local regulations regarding drone flying in your area before you start. 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.

Various training companies can help you to become drone certified, and we’ve identified 3 that stand out above the rest. They provide training for the primary certification in each of the 3 countries mentioned above to get you licensed and start making money legally, so keep reading to learn more.

Once you’ve found the right training and licensing, the next step is to learn how to turn your passion into a lucrative business and earn money with your drone. We’ve outlined some of the most common methods to make money flying drones, ranging from basic aerial cinematography to more creative money-making endeavors.

#1. Earn Money Selling Aerial Photos & Footage

One of the most common profitable uses for drones is by selling aerial photos and videos to people who want footage from a unique perspective. 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 that is capable of capturing crystal clear videos/photos from the air.

A great option is to use a drone equipped with a GoPro camera that captures 4K Ultra HD videos. These drones are suitable for both outdoor and indoor footage, so you won’t be limited on where you can work.

Aerial photos and footage

There are 2 common money-making methods when it comes to pursuing a business in aerial photography/cinematography. The first is to find attractive and unique places with outstanding natural beauty, like breathtaking landscapes, tourist attractions, or 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 skills are in high demand through social media, you will be in a great position to promote your business.

The next question is, where can your sell your work? Well, you can start by selling at places where people are likely to spend money, such as beach resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, or city squares. Even better, you can advertise your pictures and videos online and ship purchased products to buyers through sources like Etsy, eBay, or your website. It’s best to start locally in the beginning to gain customers and credibility, and once you’ve accomplished that, you can focus on expanding.

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 channel, gain a following and subscribers, and be a part of YouTube’s partnership program to start earning money online. Not only can you make money doing this, but you can make your work visible to the world.

These are just a few ideas for turning a profit from your drone’s camera. You can also 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 on how creative you are willing to get, how skilled you are at cinematic editing, and how much effort you want to put into perfecting your craft.

#2. Open a Private Company & Offer Services in Aerial Surveying

Small UAVs, like drones, can take photos from above and record terrestrial places that are impossible to reach and measure from the ground. Today’s drones have impressive flight capabilities and can be remotely controlled, which makes them suitable for aerial surveying in the most difficult areas to survey.

Because of these features, it’s no surprise that drones have replaced helicopters and other aircraft for many surveying needs, and it’s no surprise that you can make money doing it!

Drone aerial surveying

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

If you want to earn money from surveying, you have to offer the best quality photography services to your clients. That means you must be an expert in aerial photography and also have the necessary knowledge, expertise, and certification to perform surveying work as a consumer service.

From there, it is all about promoting your business to the best of your ability. Run some ads, get some referrals, post online, post to your social media… Anything you can do to make sure customers think of you before the competition. Aerial surveying 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 & Photography

Wedding photography and videography is a very popular, and more importantly, very profitable business. People want to get outstanding photos of their weddings that will remind them forever of this special day. Why not use your drone to help capture these memories?

Aerial wedding videography

The competition is tough in this field, so you have to offer unique wedding videos and photos taken from an awesome perspective. Here are some tips for excelling in wedding photography with drones:

  • You need to fly your drone close to the venue. Do not fly a drone directly over the guests; 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.
  • Choose 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 or in places where the photos could be blurred.
  • Offer your clients both aerial videos and photos at the wedding.

By following these tips and tricks,  you will excel above other wedding videographers/photographers and maybe even “steal” their clients. All you need to do is buy an advanced small drone, buy a high-resolution camera supported by that drone, and practice flying the aircraft while capturing footage.

If you are a beginner in this craft, you should start as a secondary videographer or photographer, and offer your services with a beginner’s discount. From there, build your business and make sure to get referrals from all your satisfied customers!

You can find more details about Wedding Photography here

#4. Reselling Drones

Reselling drones is a very lucrative business, which is why it’s next up on our list of ways to make money with drones. All the strategies that apply to the reselling of other goods will also work with drones, so if you’ve ever resold anything, you can apply those strategies and methods to your drone resale business.

The entire premise of this business model is to purchase popular new drone models at a low (preferably wholesale) 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 and take a look at the drones in popular online stores, like Amazon and eBay.

Reselling drones

This business may seem simple at first glance, but you will have a lot of upfront costs and fees to open and maintain a store. The same goes with all online stores, but the fees are a little bit different from one store to the next, so you must keep this in mind if you are thinking of opening an online drone shop.

If you already have a store for electronic devices, gadgets, computers, and the like, why not add drones to your offering? This is a big advantage because you already have experience in the business and a client base. On the other hand, you can have a specialized store where you can sell UAVs as well as all necessary equipment and drone accessories for them.

There are many ways to sell drones, and the key is finding the method that works best for you. If you do the right amount of competitive research and offer quality products, you may find the drone market to be very lucrative!

A final tip: If you are thinking of a rental business with drones, you may want to think again. These aerial devices are vulnerable to damage, especially with first-time users, and you are likely to have problems with renting out drones to clients.

#5. Inspection Jobs

Many utility companies have used helicopters and airplanes to inspect electrical lines, remote substations, pumping stations, and other similar facilities. This method is very dangerous for the pilots involved, and even worse, it’s extremely expensive! That’s why drones have been very useful when it comes to inspection jobs.

These small unmanned aerial vehicles have been replacing other aircraft, and why not? They are equipped with powerful cameras and video transmitters and require no onboard pilot.

Drone inspects pannels

Drones can quickly and easily reach water or gas outlets, and capture quality video footage while doing it. This is of great help for utility companies when performing their regular checkups and damage assessments. Besides utility companies, other types of businesses also use drone operators for the same purposes, such as construction and insurance companies.

It’s also possible to make money doing various inspection jobs for different companies worldwide. For instance, a well-equipped drone with a 4K camera may be useful to asphalt repair and resurfacing businesses to inspect their prospects’ properties. Today’s small drones are even used in power line inspections, cell tower inspections, bridge inspection jobs, gas pipeline and oil inspections, roof inspections, etc.

To start in this field, it’s 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 that could benefit from aerial footage and introduce yourself to those you think would be interested in your services.

If you want to do this type of work, you must have 1 or more advanced drones that are higher-performing and more stable than the simple commercial quadcopters. 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. So while this business does require a very professional drone and pilot to do the job, it can also be quite lucrative if you do it right.

#6. Advertise Real Estate, Resorts, Hotels & More

Lots of companies have started using aerial footage for marketing since drones are the perfect tool for effective advertising, specifically in real estate. If you are an entrepreneurial filmmaker with a lot of experience in drone piloting, you can make a great deal of money working on advertising for real estate, resorts, hotels, and more.

The aerial videos captured by drones may sell private estates more quickly and even raise the selling price. That’s why many real estate agents hire UAV video companies when advertising properties for their clients. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out our article on the best drones for real estate.

Drone Advertising real estates

Aside from private real estate videos, small drones with high-resolution cameras are also used for aerial footage of hotels and resorts. This is a great way to show off a hotel/resort and all that it has to offer in terms of its amenities and grounds.

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, but it also shows that the owners have nothing to hide! If a resort is located right on the beach, a drone can capture aerial footage of the water as well as the resort itself. This will make that particular resort much more attractive to potential visitors, increasing the number of bookings in the long run.

Another option for making money with your drone is by working on low-altitude banner advertising. This is a great commercial opportunity for drone owners. How do you do this? Start by mounting a camera on the bottom of your drone and flying it over the appropriate place. While flying your drone, you’ll be able to send the video promotional feedback to a monitor that is attached to its controller.

Today, many travel marketing agencies, real estate agents, and vacation properties require unique photos and videos for advertising. Grab this great opportunity to earn some cash – 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 industry, and 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 and have incorporated deliveries by drone into their services. Medical facilities, national institutions, and charity organizations also use drones for delivering various supplies in hard-to-reach places.

Some locations are unreachable for ground vehicles, and in those areas, drone deliveries come into play. Plus, the trips by ground vehicles could be too expensive or difficult for logistical reasons.

You can deliver a variety of goods using a drone, and this method of delivery is fairly quick and very safe. Unfortunately, small commercial drones cannot deliver heavy loads while flying because of their low weight, so keep this in mind if you’re interested in offering this service. However, larger drones can be used by various humanitarian services to safely deliver food, water, medicine, and so on.

For more insight on this topic, we suggest taking a look at our article about delivery drones.

#8. Surveillance, Private Investigation & Video Monitoring

Many large companies around the globe have already hired drone pilots to perform air surveillance. The main reason for this is that it’s more cost-effective to employ 1 person who owns a drone and can do quality surveillance than to pay for constant camera surveillance.

Drone Surveillance

In addition to surveillance, drones have practical applications in aerial monitoring and private investigation. The small unmanned aerial vehicles make these jobs easier and less dangerous. Compared to other devices that are used for surveillance, drones are less noticeable and can reach almost any location. While cameras are limited because they can only be used in 1 location, drones ensure that every area of an investigation site is under surveillance.

For aerial monitoring and surveillance, you must have an advanced drone with a 4K camera that is capable of capturing HD videos and photos. Thermal imaging cameras are even better, and they are extremely effective in some scenarios relating to this field. This can be a very profitable business; the professional surveillance operators in the United States earn up to $50,000 per year.

If you think that this might be a good opportunity for you, learn more about this by reading our article on surveillance drones.

#9. Search & Rescue in Disaster Relief

Drones can be an amazing tool for search and rescue efforts in affected areas. Traditional search methods like helicopters and trained dogs are often unsuccessful and result in the rescuers not finding the missing person/people.

On the other hand, drones can find the location of a missing person (or whatever is being searched for) from the air with ease. This is why more and more drone operators are being employed to provide their video services for disaster relief. Freelance UAV pilots are well-paid for this job, not only making this an excellent opportunity to use your drone and make some money but to help people as well.

Search and rescue

Smart remote UAVs can provide video footage to public safety officials in real-time, thus saving many lives in areas affected by natural disasters. These aircraft are widely used today in locations affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Unlike more traditional search methods, they are suitable for areas that are too dangerous or impossible to reach by land.

It used to be very difficult to find and save people in disaster scenarios, but nowadays, it is much easier thanks to drones. Even if you’re just interested in volunteering and you own a drone, you can give back to the world by offering your help to rescue companies.

#10. Precision Agriculture

Lastly, you can make a profit by using a drone for precision agriculture. Just as drones are helpful in other surveillance fields, they’re a great tool for agricultural crop surveillance and they significantly reduce the costs and time required for this type of job.

Drone in agriculture

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

All these operations can help farmers reduce plant damages, cut costs, and get a higher yield with each crop cycle. On the other side, drone pilots can make a lot of money working for them. There is a mutual benefit for both sides, making drones a very powerful tool in the agriculture industry.

Start Making Money with a Drone Today!

As you can see, there are many ways to turn a profit after acquiring a drone and getting the proper license based on your area’s regulations; you just need to put your mind to work and get creative! Many people are starting drone businesses of their own, so if you want to beat the competition, focus on effective advertising and superior customer service. And of course, your drone-flying skills need to be top-notch as well!

If you know other ways to make money with a drone that we didn’t cover, please don’t be shy – let us know about it by commenting below!

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About the author

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.