Flying a drone as a hobby is one thing, but making money from it is a different ball game altogether!

Irrespective of whether you aim to earn a few bucks here and there or start a full-fledged business with excellent revenues, you hardly know how to go about it. And if you are like me, you started just to capture the beauty of Nature while traveling.

But the last decade has seen an exponential rise in the number of drone pilots all over the world. So, it should come as no surprise that a lot of them have started making money from it. When I say making money, I mean enough money to lead a good life without another source of income.

Hello! I am Dhia. And today, I will tell you everything you need to know about making money with drones.

Ways To Make Money With Your Drone

For the sake of brevity, I have discussed four crucial aspects of each of these money-making options. Being the perfectionist that I am, I had to ensure that you get all the deets in a crystal-clear manner.

So, are you ready for takeoff?

  1. Wedding Photography

Prerequisites | How to start?

Wedding photography or videography is extremely competitive and dynamic. And the last thing you need is a dead battery right when you need to capture a moment. So, you’d need to keep one or even two standby batteries, and some additional investment is required here.

Once you have set up your drone wedding photography business, get in touch with bridal shops and place ads online so that couples can easily find you.

Earning Potential | What to expect?

The amount of money you can make in this line of work could range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousands per wedding. No wonder it is one of the most sought after revenue streams for drone owners!

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • You need not acquire a license for it
  • It is fairly easy to find clients if you can offer something different
  • Great profit margins

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • Highly competitive
  • Suitable only for outdoor, lavish weddings
  1. Real Estate Photography

Prerequisites | How to start?

When it comes to real estate photography or videography, your drone must be capable of taking high-quality, steady shots. If you want to cover large properties like golf courses, you may have to keep a couple of standby batteries as well.

If you are a beginner in this field, you may find clients by signing up with any reputed drone pilot network.

Earning Potential | What to expect?

You can charge anywhere between $250 to $1,000 for short aerial videos of up to five minutes duration. As far as still pictures are concerned, you can make up to a couple of hundred bucks for ten aerial shots taken from your drone.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • High payout and profit margin
  • Huge demand for both residential and commercial real estate properties
  • Real estate agents are willing to pay more because of better conversion rates

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • You need to be a licensed commercial drone pilot
  • Requires considerable skill and experience
  1. Selling Photos & Videos

Prerequisites | How to start?

All you need is a reliable drone with an excellent camera, and the possibilities are endless here. I recommend beginners to use social media platforms to create that much-needed initial buzz. And then you could start a YouTube channel or make money from your photos and videos on any of these websites:

  • Getty Images
  • Shutterstock
  • DroneStock
  • AES
  • Pond5
  • Dissolve
  • VideoHive
  • VideoBlocks

Earning Potential | What to expect?

Although selling photos or videos (stock or individually) is relatively straightforward, you cannot expect to make a lot of money from it initially. It takes a lot of patience, and you’d have to consistently offer some unique content to create a name for yourself. That being said, you can expect to make a couple of hundreds from 4 to 5 commercial photos.

Some websites also pay you money based on the number of downloads of your photos or videos.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • Negligible additional outlay or entry barriers to get started
  • Unparalleled flexibility and growth potential
  • Established platforms with a multitude of potential buyers

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • Irregular and volatile revenue stream
  • Websites may charge high commissions
  1. Filmmaking

Prerequisites | How to start?

Unlike other options I discussed earlier, getting into filmmaking requires a substantial investment of both time and money. You see, if you want to make it big in this sphere, you’d have to offer the best quality, preferably 4K resolution videos. So, that calls for a heavier camera on a bigger (more expensive) drone.

Furthermore, post-processing of these videos is more challenging and would require you to use complicated software.

Earning Potential | What to expect?

Since filmmaking qualifies as one of the most complex uses of drones, it pays more as well. You can expect to earn approximately 300 to 500 dollars per hour of flight time. And when you gain a strong foothold in the industry and bag more large-scale projects, it could very well go up to thousands.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • High earning potential
  • Rapidly growing demand
  • No need for a prior license

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • High initial outlay
  • Longer payback period for beginners
  1. Racing Sponsorship

Prerequisites | How to start?

For those of you who want to ace a drone race, the biggest prerequisites are good reflexes and flying skills. Certain race organizers require racers to have a specific type of drone, so you may need to modify yours a bit. To get started, you may join the international league of pilots-racers, more popularly known as the Drone Racing League (DRL).

Earning Potential | What to expect?

Drone racing involves big money and how! I was surprised to know that sponsors may pay up to 100,000 dollars to a top pilot. But that’s not what every pilot makes on average. If you manage to bag a decent sponsorship, you can expect to earn at least $10,000.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • Can be immensely profitable
  • No major investment needed
  • Luxurious sponsorships and fame

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • High level of skills and reflexes required
  • Cut-throat competition to be the best
  1. Inspection Jobs

Prerequisites | How to start?

Based on my research, I found three types of companies that look for drone pilots to carry out their inspection jobs – construction, insurance, and utility. Although the exact requirements will differ from one job to another, most of these inspections need a very powerful drone. So, you cannot expect to do this work with just about any average drone out there.

Apart from a more expensive and advanced drone, you may have to spend on some accessories too. Also, getting your first project could be difficult as you may have to market your business a lot for large companies to hire you.

Earning Potential | What to expect?

Companies can avoid huge costs and risks by opting for drones in place of a climbing and inspection team. As such, they are willing to offer lucrative amounts to drone pilots. You can expect to make anywhere between $250 to $500 per hour of inspection flight.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • High profit margin
  • Growing demand among insurance, construction and utility companies

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • Requires expertise
  • Higher initial investment
  1. Delivery

Prerequisites | How to start?

To be honest, I would not advise you to start in this field now. Instead, you should be on the lookout for news and the latest developments in the drone delivery segment. When the technology has developed enough to be launched commercially in a viable manner, you could be among the first few pros at it!

Earning Potential | What to expect?

Since this is a rather undeveloped niche, I cannot predict a reliable earning potential. But seeing how all the big companies have their eyes on drone deliveries, it should offer significant earnings whenever it is rolled out across the globe.

Advantages | What makes it tick?

  • The next big thing in terms of drones
  • Successful test runs by Amazon in the UK and the Zipline company in South Africa

Disadvantages | What are its challenges?

  • A niche segment without viable technology for large-scale deployment
  • May require a high initial investment

Final Words

Now that you’ve gone through my top seven recommendations for starting a business that could help you monetize your drone flying skills, I have some general tips to share before signing off.

Like any other business, you need to make sure that you are offering something different and somewhat unique. Irrespective of the type of work you choose to do, if you are offering the same thing that your clients can get from a dozen others, they wouldn’t likely risk going for someone without much experience.

Moreover, I strongly believe that creating your brand and enhancing its reach and impact should be the most important part of your marketing strategy. As a rule of thumb, always ask satisfied clients for referrals and reviews. After all, nothing works quite like word-of-mouth!

And on that note, I will take your leave. Go and make some money with your drone; the sky’s the limit!