Putting Your Drone to Work
Making money from your drone can be fun and provide extra income or even be a full-time job, but there are a few things you need to know before you start.
The good news: your first job just might pay for the drone and all the trimmings like extra batteries!
Here are our suggestions:
(1) Write out what you want to do with a drone. These could include:
- Marketing real estate from homes to hotels,
- Covering sporting events,
- Property inspections,
- Checking a construction jobsite,
- Agricultural mapping or images over time to monitor crop health,
- Infrastructure inspection and looking into difficult-to-see places like gutters and rooftops,
- And wherever your imagination takes you.
(2) Write out what you want in a drone. Drones take pictures so it should definitely have a 4K camera and Smart Hover,™ i.e. the ability to stay in place even in winds. It should also have autoflight capability so it will return home automatically if the battery runs low or if it loses the signal from your controller. Look at what others have done and consider if you want to, too.
(3) Use your own, or buy, a smartphone or a tablet.
Use a smartphone if you’re going to use a dedicated controller. It will display the video and still images from the drone, and overlay this with important flight information like altitude, direction, speed, etc. A dedicated controller generally offers a greater range and a greater degree of precision in flying over using a mobile device alone.
If you want a big screen, use a tablet as a standalone controller.
(4) Make sure to check any regulations or restrictions in your area, for example no-fly zones or if you need a pilot’s certificate.
(5) Practice, practice, practice:
- Read the owner’s manual front to back. Learn the drone’s auto flight capabilities so you’ll know exactly what it will do under different circumstances.
- Consider buying a nano-sized drone to practice with first. You’ll learn basic flying skills without any risk of damaging your more costly aerial camera.
- Fly your work drone in little baby steps in a large safe area until you know where each control is and are comfortable using it.
(6) Create a great sample reel showing off your drone skills to post to your company page on Facebook or elsewhere. Consider approaching at least one business opportunity as a loss leader so you can acquire this footage for your reel. (7) Make lists of your target opportunities. If a business, show them your reel and tell them how much they can save over more costly and riskier manned inspections. If a wedding or other personal photography, show them dramatic shots of people having fun, lifetime memories they couldn't get any other way. Seeing is believing: if possible, offer to fly your drone then and there so they can see for their selves. There are a ton of ways to earn money by putting your drone to work. You just need to put your mind to work to imagine and go out after them.