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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Droge

How to Make Money with Drones:



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There is much to be gained by owning a drone!

When it comes to making money with a drone, it doesn't matter what model you own. 2022 was a great year for both drone technology and drone enthusiasts. New advancements in technology combined with reduced cost of parts and labor make drones a great way to earn extra income as a side job, or even as a full-time career! In this list, we will go over many possible ways to earn money by piloting a drone.


Starting with a smaller, cheaper drone is a great way to earn some money and start saving for upgrades or new purchases. While most drone jobs will be possible with a cheaper model of drone, some will require special equipment, such as thermographic sensors. This may seem daunting, but with the ever-increasing demand for drones, affording necessary upgrades should only be a matter of time!


In this list, we will cover many ways to make money with a drone. While some are easier than others, they can all lead to a decent income. One thing to think about is whether you want to do multiple things with a drone or focus on becoming good at one specific job. Before doing anything, though, you will be required to have an FAA Part 107 License.




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Getting the license is the easy part!

Requires FAA Part 107 License:

The most important step before starting a business or joining a business involving drones will be getting the FAA Part 107 License. While anyone can fly a drone, making money with one requires a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. This may sound daunting, but it is a fairly simple and straightforward process.


The entire process, from start to finish, is explained on the FAA website. You can expect to spend between 21-33 days on this process, according to this article from www.pilotinstitute.com. Most of that time will be spent preparing for the knowledge test. A few hours of studying a night is not a bad trade for the money-making opportunities that a drone can provide!


Once you have passed the test, the FAA will send you a permanent license in the form of a certificate. This certificate is what you will present to clients to show that you are licensed to fly a drone under FAA regulations. According to www.faa.gov, it takes approximately six to eight weeks to process and send your permanent certificate.


In order to stay up-to-date, all licensed pilots must retake their certification every 24 months. This helps to ensure that all pilots are following the most current laws and regulations, and is done through an online training course.


Getting a license from the government is an intimidating thought, but the money-making opportunities that it provides can be amazing! Is a month of studying a sacrifice you could make in exchange for being able to make money in a field that some can only dream of?



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A drone collecting stock images to sell!

Stock Aerial Photos and Videos:

With drones being able to capture high-resolution shots from a distance, selling photos to stock image websites has become a great way to make income! Drones can maneuver through areas that would not be possible with a fixed camera, or even a helicopter, meaning that areas that could not be easily photographed before are now a potential gold mine for pictures.


There are many stock image and video sites, such as Shutterstock or Istockphoto, that will buy images from photographers. These images are then uploaded to their websites for use by their clients.


While each photo will not generate a lot of income by itself, having many photos or videos to sell to stock image companies is a way to make some consistent income every month. Over the past 15 years, Shutterstock has paid out over 1 billion dollars to photographers!


The next time you are taking photos or videos with your drone, think about taking a few extra shots for use as stock images. It's an easy and consistent way to make money in the long term. This, in addition to the number of sites selling photos and video, makes stock photography and videography almost free money!


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Making a digital map of an area is easier than ever with the use of drones!

Aerial Mapping:

Aerial mapping is the term for taking high-resolution photos or videos from a distance and turning them into a digital map using software. This form of mapping has become more common over the years in many industries, from construction to real estate and beyond! An accurate 3D, or even 2D, map can cut out a lot of guesswork around a job site.


With more and more companies adopting this technology, it has become a new way of generating income! Any company that utilizes these maps could always use more trained drone pilots, so contact every one that you might want to work with. Some might be hiring full-time employees, while some might want independent contractors, so keep that in mind when applying.


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Passing your knowledge to the next generation of pilots is a great way to make money!

Teach Others How to Fly:

Once you are confident in your flight abilities, and you have your FAA Part 107 License, you could begin training others how to fly! In Seattle, for example, there are multiple drone training courses taught by local drone companies or even the airports themselves!


Working with one of the accredited drone training companies in your area is a great way to make money! Galvin Training and DartDrones are both examples of Seattle-based drone training options. Being employed by such a company could become a consistent income stream.


Whether working for a big company or as an independent contractor, getting the FAA Part 107 License and keeping up with all the rules and regulations is important. Safety is always important, and training the next generation of drone pilots to fly will lead to drones becoming even more popular and useful!


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A drone takes wedding photography to the next level!

Wedding and Event Aerial Photography:


Any event or gathering could be a potential way to make money! Weddings, family gatherings, and holiday parties are just a few examples. Ideally, the party organizer would hire you to photograph the event, then you would film the photos and videos and give the digital footage to the organizer. Some may want the footage edited, so discussion with the organizer beforehand is encouraged.


A drone has many advantages over traditional photography, such as height and maneuverability. Drones are very quiet during flight, so would not be super distracting during any music or speeches.


Filming events alone, or as part of a company, can lead to a constant income source. Contact local event organizers and photographers and see if they have a need for your drone pilot skills. People love events, so even if this isn't your main source of income, it can still be a consistent one!



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Many local businesses would love some unique drone photography for their advertisements!

Advertise Local Businesses:

Every business in your area would love some low-cost advertising! Drones can provide this by taking many high-resolution photos (and videos) which can then be edited into something marketable. A quick drone flight could provide the footage for an entire marketing campaign, let alone a single commercial!


While some clients might want to edit the footage themselves, some would be willing to pay more if you can also edit the footage yourself. So having even basic editing skills is a great way to add a little more income over the year.


While getting into advertising might be intimidating, drones can take footage that is not possible from traditional photography or videography. The ability to record from a long distance on a set course puts drones in a new league when it comes to advertising potential!


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Shots like this are why real estate agencies love drone photography!

Estate Agency Photography:

Drones have seen a large increase in use in the real estate industry in the past few years. While traditional photographers take pictures from ground level, a drone can take pictures from almost any angle or height! This versatility has led to their popularity amongst real estate agencies.


Their ability to provide 360-degree panoramas, for example, would only be possible with a drone, an expensive helicopter, or a very very tall ladder! Using a drone is a lot cheaper than a helicopter, and also safer than a tall ladder extending to the heavens.


While these are just a couple of ways to use a drone in the real estate industry, there are many more! With there being so many uses for drones, their popularity is only going to grow. With this knowledge, how many real estate agencies in your area could use a drone pilot on their team?



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Drones provide a unique vantage point of the worksite!

Construction:

From inspections to thermal mapping, drones have become an amazing tool for the construction industry! The cost-effective nature and reliability of drone data can save money during every step of construction. This data can then be used by planners to fine-tune the creation process and streamline efficiency.


One of the most common ways of making money with a drone in the construction industry will be inspections. An inspection is not generally a lengthy process for a drone and several could be done by a single pilot in a day.


While inspections might be the most common job available in this industry, contact any construction companies in your area and see if they might have use for a drone pilot on the team. Whether full-time or freelance, being a drone pilot in the construction industry is a great way to make money!



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Telecommunication towers require regular inspections which would be nearly impossible without drones!

Energy and Telecommunications:


In this field, drones are mainly used to inspect large infrastructures, such as cell towers, pipelines, or electrical transmission lines. Using a drone is not only cheaper but also safer than sending a team of workers to do the same job. The ease of collecting this inspection data has made drones a very popular option in these industries.


The three main problems that clients will be looking for are environmental hazards, structural integrity, and damaged components. Environmental hazards, such as a gas leak or potential fire, require time and effort to contain or resolve, thus costing more money. Finding damaged components or breaks in structural integrity is made easier from a quick flyby by a drone.


Capturing photos and videos of the infrastructure can help to identify the problems so that solutions can be made. These jobs can be a lot more large-scale than the others on this list, meaning that they can take more time to complete. Using drones for these tasks is a safe and easy way to make money.



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A single drone has the same, if not greater, surveying capabilities as this much equipment!

Aerial Surveying:


Surveying land is another great way to make money with a drone! The fast and reliable nature of the data collection makes surveying a perfect career path for a pilot. With the need for surveyors growing rapidly every year, it is no wonder that drones have become more popular than ever.


While this path might be the most difficult, the effort pays off in the end. Becoming a certified surveyor is a lengthy process, requiring many tests and at least 8 years of training with a certified surveyor. Because of these barriers to entry, surveyors are always in high demand by companies.


Eight years of training is a daunting thought, but if you can do other drone work while training, it will be over before you know it. Working while training will also look better on a resume when applying for future jobs! If you can handle the training, the income is basically guaranteed.


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Youtube has quickly become part of everyday life around the world!

Create a Drone Youtube Channel:

Producing content for a youtube channel can be another great source of income! With drone technology advancing so fast, youtube videos have become an amazing way to convey a lot of information quickly. While getting rich from youtube is very rare, making a reasonable income from producing videos is very achievable.


The money you make does not come directly from the consumer, but instead from advertisements. Millions of youtube videos are uploaded to the site every day and advertisers are willing to pay to put their ads on those videos. These ads do not generate much income on their own, but with ads on multiple videos, they can quickly add up over time!


Finding advertisers is the easy part. The hard part is going to be consistently producing quality content that will keep watchers engaged. Teaching people how to fly, how to do repairs, and creating overviews of new products are all great ideas for content. Look at what other drone youtubers are doing and give it a try!



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A single drone shot could be used to create some amazing marketing materials for a sports team!

Capture Sporting Events:

Drones are one of the best ways to get high-quality footage of sporting events. The ability to fly makes them a lot more versatile than a stationary camera. Flight speed and aerial recording can lead to some amazing shots that would not be possible to capture without a drone.


Becoming the official drone photographer for a major sports team is only one of the many ways to make money capturing sporting events. Start recording local games to get pictures and videos to sell as stock footage. Edit some photos to sell as prints or posters. Some shots can be sold to advertisers to be used in commercials.


Before recording, make sure to check the local flight and photography rules. While every sports team will benefit greatly by having a drone to record footage, some teams might have rules about recording/selling videos or taking pictures. The FAA, as well as the city/county, might have additional flight/photography rules, so that is something else to be aware of before flight time.



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Being able to fix a drone can be a consistent moneymaker!

Repairing/Reselling Drones:

Repairing and reselling drones can be a very good way to make money! Any time a drone goes up into the air, there is a chance something goes wrong. While they have become more sturdy and survivable in recent years, drones can still suffer damage. Knowing how to make even basic repairs to a drone can be a very lucrative business.


Knowing about more advanced repairs and upgrades could lead to more business. If there is competition for drone repair services in your area, standing out is important. See what services they can and cannot do and try to offer something better. Carrying equipment and upgrades that the competition does not offer is another great idea for more income!


Buying old or broken drones to fix and resell can also be an excellent revenue stream. Browse online marketplaces, such as amazon or ebay, for drones with problems that you know how to fix. Once the repairs have been made, the drone can be sold at a higher price!

Staying competitive with prices is another thing to remember. If there are other drone repair services in your area, price your services in a similar fashion. Pricing things too high OR too low could give potential customers the wrong impression and cause them to go elsewhere for their drone needs.


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Drones can now be used to make deliveries faster than ever!

Drone Deliveries:

Advancements in drone technology over the past few years have allowed them to carry more weight. Because of this, many delivery companies are starting to take advantage of this relatively new method of transporting goods.


There are many delivery companies already utilizing this technology, so finding a job as a professional drone pilot is becoming more of a reality! Having the FAA Part 107 license is a good first step in finding any drone job. Larger companies might require you to become a trained employee, while some smaller companies might allow you to do freelance jobs.


With unpredictable fuel costs and some places being hard to reach by land, drones are becoming a more popular (and cheaper) method for delivering goods. The object's weight is something to consider when offering delivery services. While the goods need to be relatively light, a drone can still carry a decent weight for its size!


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Providing real-time video footage makes drones great for surveillance!

Surveillance, Private Investigation, and Video Monitoring:

In recent years, drone use has become more popular among police and security forces. While some are resistant to the new technology, many agencies are employing drone pilots to provide added security and monitoring capabilities.


The Washington State Patrol is estimated to have the largest fleet in the nation, with over 100 drones. While they may have the largest, they are not the only ones realizing the versatility and ease of use of drones.


Police departments and SWAT teams would be able to fly over a crash site or an ongoing crime to get more detailed information. Private investigators and security teams could use this technology to better locate and identify criminals and prevent further harm or damage. On-site surveillance is also made easier with preplanned flight paths and by providing photos and video from multiple angles. Drones make these jobs safer for all the people involved.


These kinds of jobs can have a lot of specific rules about what you can and cannot record, so you might want to contact your local law enforcement agency to find the rules for working with them. With drone technology being adopted by so many police departments and security teams, they might have a training program or even a job opening for a trained drone pilot!


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A firefighter rescuing a baby-doll from a fire!

Search and Rescue / Disaster Relief and Training:


While most search and rescue work will be volunteer work, there are still ways to make money in this field. There are times when a drone pilot may want to help out in an emergency, but their presence might actually hinder the firefighters and first responders. The government has rules for firefighters, and the FAA has rules for things in the sky. If an unauthorized drone is flying in the airspace, the firefighting helicopters will not be able to fly. The chance of losing a helicopter in a crash is too risky for the firefighters to take.


With certain permissions from the fire departments involved, you might be able to fly in a limited manner, but your best bet for making money in this field is by training new pilots how to fly a drone and how to deal with emergencies. Knowing the rules will help you teach future pilots not only what the rules are, but why they exist.


With more and more fire departments hiring and training new drone pilots, now is a great time to get involved with the training process. All that is required is the FAA Part 107 license, and you are set to train the next generation! Contact your local fire department and see if they have any use for a drone pilot on their crew.


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Drones can be programmed to spray pesticides on targeted areas, reducing waste from overspray!

Precision Agriculture:


With their ease of operation and low cost, it is no wonder that people have found many uses for drones in the agricultural industry. From a simple flyby scan at a certain height to a detailed thermal readout, drones can provide a lot of data in a quick and easy-to-digest manner.


Checking solar panels for damage or livestock monitoring does not require much more than the basic drone camera, while other options, such as crop spraying, will require some special equipment. Most drones have a very versatile design, being able to be equipped with a number of tools for more specific tasks. Special tanks and nozzles can be attached to spray pesticides on targetted parts of a crop, for instance. Drones can also be equipped to drop seedpods to grow a new crop.


Thermal cameras have been a very popular new addition to the drone toolkit. Being able to read the heat signatures from a distance provides farmers with the ability to not only see where heat is leaking from a structure but also to view heat and moisture levels in the dirt and monitor crop growth over time.


Seeing all the options available for drone equipment, it is easy to get overwhelmed, but ask your local farmers what technologies would make their jobs easier. With so many uses, it shouldn't be difficult to find many ways to make money with a drone in the agricultural industry.


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With advancements in technology, drones can now have cameras powerful enough for filmmaking!

Filmmaking:


With the ability to take high-quality video footage, drones offer many options for filmmakers. Shots that used to require a costly helicopter to capture are now possible from even the most basic of drones. Now is a great time for a drone pilot to enter into filmmaking!


Costing roughly $600 an hour (plus tax), a Robinson 44 helicopter rental in Seattle can accommodate a pilot and up to 3 passengers, with room for camera equipment. If something goes wrong during the filming, or a scene needs to be reshot, these rental charges really start to stack up.


Hiring a drone pilot is a simple solution that filmmakers are utilizing more and more. Being a fraction of the price per hour, a drone makes it cheaper and easier to film scenes from a long distance or at great heights. The video being in digital form makes it easier for film editors to modify and store than conventional film.


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A beautiful shot from a drone!

Conclusion:

In conclusion, there are a variety of ways to use drones for money, including aerial photography and videography, real estate marketing, inspections, and delivery services. As technology continues to advance, the possibilities for utilizing drones in various industries are endless. However, it's important to remember that while drones can be a valuable asset, they also come with a set of legal regulations and safety concerns that need to be adhered to.


For those looking to make money with drones, it's crucial to do your research and understand the legal and safety guidelines in your area. It's also important to invest in quality equipment and stay up-to-date with the latest drone technology. By understanding the various ways drones can be used for money and being aware of the regulations, you can turn your passion for drones into a profitable career.


What is your favorite footage to record and how many ways could you get paid for recording that footage?



Bibliography:


How to Make Money With Your Drone, UAV Coach, Youtube, 2021


Atomic Helicopters.com, 2022


"How to Make Money with a Drone: 10 Ways That Will Surprise You", www.financebuzz.com, 2022



"How to Make Money with a Drone: 10 Ways to Make Profit", www.mydronelab.com, 2022


"10 Incredible Ways To MAKE MONEY With A Drone You NEED to Know", Mattheww Brennan, 2022


"Police drone use expanding around Western Washington", www.kiro7.com, 2019

"Certificated Remote Pilots including Commercial Operators", https://www.faa.gov/uas/commercial_operators, 2022

"How Long Does It Take to Get a Part 107 License?", www.pilotinstitute.com, 2021


"Become a Drone Pilot", www.faa.gov, 2022


"Share your work and start earning.", www.shutterstock.com, 2022


"Learn how to fly a Drone", www.galvinflying.com, 2022


"Enroll in one of our Basic Flight Training classes in Seattle", www.dartdrones.com, 2022


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