Have you thought about going into the drone business but are worried you’ve already missed the boat?

If so, don’t.

While drones have increased in popularity over the past several years, making money with a drone is still growing.

In fact, the drone industry is expected to grow by almost 16% in the next five years.

Pair this with the fact that only 8% of Americans own a drone, and you can find many money-making opportunities.

Here are the top ways to make money with a drone.

Do I Need a License to Make Money with a Drone?

Before we get to the drone business ideas, it’s important to know that you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA to use your drone to make money. This license ensures that you know how to safely operate a drone or UAS (unarmed aircraft system.)

To obtain this license, you need to be at least 16 years old, able to read, write and speak in English and have the ability to fly a drone safely. You’ll also need to pass the Part 107 knowledge test and pay the testing fee. (The cost is less than $200.)

Ways to Make Money with a Drone

  1. Provide Drone Wedding Photography Services
    2. Try Real Estate Photography
    3. Look Into Agricultural Spraying
    4. Resell Drones
    5. Offer Aerial Surveying
    6. Try Drone Delivery
    7. Offer Surveillance
    8. Take and Sell Stock Photography
    9. Perform Search and Rescue Services
    10. Create Drone Training Courses
    11. Offer Inspections
    12. Offer Drone Repair
    13. Use Your Drone for Marketing and Advertising

1. Provide Drone Wedding Photography Services

Provide Drone Wedding Photography Services

Provide Drone Wedding Photography Services

One industry that is definitely popular for a drone business? Wedding photography. 

I now see more wedding pictures that have drone shots versus those that don’t. This is because drones take the most amazing wedding pictures, not only capturing the bridal party from above but getting full aerial views of the venue.

To get started as a wedding photographer, you’ll need plenty of practice to build your portfolio. Once you’ve created your portfolio and obtained drone insurance, you’ll be ready for work.

Drone wedding photographers can earn $500-$800 per wedding. Videographers can make even more.

2. Try Real Estate Photography

Not much into filming people? No problem. 

You can still use your drone to take pictures by breaking into the real estate photography niche.

This involves working with realtors or real estate brokers to take photos and videos of homes for sale. 

The good thing about this gig is that it doesn’t take too much time and can still earn you a good bit of money – perfect for a side hustle.

While the amount you earn will depend upon your experience and location, it’s not crazy to charge a couple hundred dollars per photoshoot.

3. Look Into Agricultural Spraying

Look Into Agricultural Spraying

Look Into Agricultural Spraying

Surprisingly, one of the businesses that have benefited the most from drones is the agriculture industry. Drones are now used for crop inspection and crop spraying.

Since drones can’t spray an entire crop, they’re typically used to spot treat. For instance, a drone can easily look for and treat areas with a pest invasion, drought qualities, or weed overgrowth.

Of course, you can’t just have any drone for this – you’ll need one that is equipped with a sprayer and has a long enough battery life to do the job. In addition, you’ll need to obtain a special certification (Part 137) if you want to use your drone for agricultural spraying. 

4. Resell Drones

Who says you have to fly a drone to make money?

If you’re into drones, you can always buy and sell.

There are a few ways to go about this. First, you can find deals and resell them at a higher price. Secondly, you can fix broken drones and sell them refurbished. Lastly, you can get a sales license and buy directly from a manufacturer at wholesale prices.

You can resell at places like eBay or Amazon or start your own online store.

You could even start a local retail establishment if you’re in an area with a lot of interest. 

(However, this would require a significant investment on your part. It’s best to start small and make sure the drone business is right for you before going all in.)

5. Offer Aerial Surveying

Offer Aerial Surveying

Offer Aerial Surveying

Aerial surveying is a way of collecting topographical data through aerial photos. It is often needed to obtain measurements, survey land, prepare land for development, and more.

Architects, new homeowners, real estate agents, and construction site owners are just a few groups of people who may need aerial surveying.

If you want to get into this business, any drone won’t do. Instead, you need a drone with a high-resolution RGB camera. You’ll also need digital mapping software and the knowledge to use it properly.

Other requirements include determining the land’s property lines, pitch, and slope, depending on the job. So, while this gig can bring you a good income, it also requires a lot of knowledge and skill on your part.

6. Try Drone Delivery

Drone delivery is a service that many businesses can benefit from – especially if they need to deliver important items to customers in hard-to-reach areas. 

Of course, there are a couple of limitations. First, you can’t deliver heavy items. And second, you’ll need to check local laws and regulations to see if drone delivery is legal in your area.

If there are no laws in your area prohibiting drone deliveries, you can begin marketing your services to local business owners.

7. Offer Surveillance

Offer Surveillance

Offer Surveillance

Probably one of my favorite ideas for making money with a drone is surveillance. 

Drones equipped with high-quality cameras are great for performing surveillance services. And in dangerous situations, they’re much safer than having people on staff.

Possible customers include businesses that have been susceptible to break-ins, prisons or jails, daycare centers, and more.  Pretty much anywhere a security breach can be made, your surveillance services are needed.

You’ll need a drone with a high-quality camera, decent range, and long flight time for this job. 

8. Take and Sell Stock Photography

If you enjoy taking photos, you can sell them on stock photography sites.

And let’s be honest, if you’re great at taking drone photos, you have a massive advantage in the stock photography game. Since drones are small and often go unnoticed, you can take pictures of wildlife, hard-to-reach areas, and beautiful aerial scenes.

Here’s a list of places to sell the photos you take.

9. Perform Search and Rescue Services

Perform Search and Rescue Services

Perform Search and Rescue Services

Want to do some good with your drone? Offer search and rescue services. 

These services are especially in need after natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes.

Your drone can aid in finding natural disaster victims, help assess the damage, and provide a live feed of video, helping first responders save more lives.

10. Create Drone Training Courses

If you’re an experienced drone pilot or have knowledge of a specific area (like commanding top dollar for real estate photos, for example), you can create and sell an online course.

If you’ve done a Google search for any drone-related topic, I’m sure you’ve come across several courses teaching drone-related skills. This is an excellent sign – it means there is a market for this type of content.

You can teach your course through video or text. Find a list of our recommended course platforms here.

11. Offer Inspections

Offer Inspections

Offer Inspections

When it comes to inspections, the options are unlimited for drone pilots.

As a drone pilot, you can inspect roofs for homeowners or roofing companies, telephone lines, power lines, gutters, and more. 

If you wanted to niche down even further, you could do agricultural inspections. This involves taking photos and videos of crops that would be too difficult to check out on foot.

To offer inspection services, you’ll need a drone with a very high-quality camera.

12. Offer Drone Repair

It’s not a secret -drones are easy to damage, especially when new drone pilots operate them.

If you live in an area where flying drones is a popular hobby and you’re good at fixing them, you can offer repair services.

Obviously, the amount of time you spend making repairs and the complexity will factor into what you can charge. However, since drone repair is a pretty specialized service, you can make a decent part-time income from your work.

13. Use Your Drone for Marketing and Advertising

Use Your Drone for Marketing and Advertising

Use Your Drone for Marketing and Advertising

There are a couple of ways to make money with your drone in the marketing and advertising niches. Both are pretty easy.

For marketing, you can use your drone to display small billboards or banners at events. While this won’t be the highest-paying gig, it certainly is easy.

For advertising, you can take videos of resorts, hotels, amusement parks, or fun centers. Then, you can sell these to companies who need them for marketing purposes. For this job, you’ll need a drone with a high-quality camera.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in ways to make money with a drone, there are plenty. Some of these ideas will require more expensive drones and extra licensing, while others may be suitable for the equipment you have now.

However, no matter which idea you choose, you’ll need to get your drone pilot license and look into securing insurance for your business.

Once you have those in place, you’ll be on your way to a profitable drone business.

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