MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR DRONE






1. Zero-in on your buyer persona, establish your niche, and design a website that makes it crystal clear what your company is about.

what I’m trying to say. As an expert drone pilot, you could make money in a variety of ways—landscape surveying, real estate photography, and wedding photography, to name a few. You may very well have completed a variety of these projects in your efforts thus far.

But the reality is, the sooner you can focus in on one particular type of service, the stronger your business will become, the easier it is to market, and the quicker you’ll scale.

Take a look at your website. Are you offering “aerial photography services,” or are you offering “residential real estate aerial photography for realtors in Nashville, TN?” All else being equal, if I was a real estate broker in Nashville, I’d much rather go with the second company.

I’m not necessarily saying you should ignore other business if it comes your way, but the more targeted and specific you can get with your marketing messaging, the easier it is for your prospects to identify with and to trust you.

2. Learn a bit about SEO.

At the end of the day, the fundamentals of optimizing your website for search engines, AKA search engine optimization (SEO), isn’t all that tricky.

First, you think about your target customers, then you brainstorm a list of potential keywords they might type into Google, and then you make sure those keywords are showing up throughout your website in an optimal way. Yes, it can take some time to learn the nuances of SEO, but those are the basics.

Keep in mind, many of you are likely focusing your business within a specific geography—in your keyword research, don’t forget that people may be typing in things like “aerial photography Nashville” or “hire drone video Las Vegas.” Use those local area terms to your advantage in your SEO strategy.

3. Use lead magnets to reel in business leads.

Very few people who visit your website are ready to buy. A “lead magnet” is something that you offer for free to your prospects in exchange for an email address (and maybe some other basic information).

As a small business owner, your contact database is your most precious asset, and you should be doing everything you can to increase the number of email addresses you’re adding to your list each week. Even if these folks aren’t ready to buy now, they might be sometime soon.

Examples of lead magnets include eBooks, checklists, case studies, webinars and email series. If you’re targeting real estate brokers, you could create a short, downloadable offer called 9 Ways Real Estate Brokers Can Use Aerial Videography to Boost Business. You’d deliver that offer to your readers in exchange for an email address.

4. Nix the “contact us” language.

I’ve never seen a “contact us” page perform that well.

Instead, use targeted landing pages to promote your marketing offers and to entice your website visitors to interact with your company. The sole purpose of a landing page is to convert your website visitors into leads, so make sure you’re creating a page without too much distraction, a page that promotes one particular action a user is supposed to take.

Over time, you’ll have different landing pages for different actions you want your users to take: “request a quote,” “ask an expert,” “download an eBook,” “register for our free email series,” etc.

5. Use email marketing to nurture your leads.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you get $42 back. That’s a heck of a return!

You’ve done all this work to capture the attention of your prospects. Now it’s time to keep the relationship alive, to stay top-of-mind and to continuously offer value with every email you send.

Share your successes, additional tips, fun news about the drone industry, special promotions or discounts. Send emails on a regular basis to your list, and monitor your open and click-through rates to understand which content performs best.

Oh, and don’t forget to register your company at JobforDrones.com!

Do you own an aerial photography or videography business? What tips would you add to this list?

Alan Perlman is a drone hobbyist and marketing consultant who runs UAV Coach, a website that helps to push the drone community forward with educational and inspirational content and training.

Create YouTube Videos  to Promote Your Business

Create an eBook on Amazon to Promote Your Services


Here are just a handful of ideas on how to make money with your drone to help you get started. From beginner to professional there are numerous opportunities out there for any pilot. Anyone seeking to use a drone for business purposes in the USA will need to receive a Section 333 exemption from the FAA.

Aerial Inspections

Many drone pilots are already offering aerial inspection services around the world. These range from cell towers to bridges and even gas pipelines. The bottom line is this: Drones give you the chance to reach places that might traditionally be pretty dangerous for a crew of inspectors.

But as well as being safer, drones armed with high definition cameras can often complete the job a whole lot quicker, too. Just think how much pipeline can be covered by a drone compared to a man, or how quickly a drone can reach the top of a cell tower.

Inspections of various structures are expected to be among the most lucrative opportunities for commercial pilots, so why not get your license, FAA approval and get involved?

Companies like Sky Futures offer inspection services for certain industries, such as Oil & Gas. They combine drone services with cloud software, allowing clients to access, analyse, host and share all of the information gathered during a flight.

Earning potential: $200/hr

Mapping

Drones can come with some pretty clever software these days, some of which allows for accurate 3D maps to be produced from aerial video footage. Mapping services are needed in the agriculture, mining and real estate sectors, and a birds-eye view offers a quick and effective way of doing things.

As software gets even smarter, it won’t be long before pilots are simply turning up, pressing a single button and watching as their drone gathers all the data – easy!

Keen to delve further into the world of mapping and aerial surveys? Check out Future Aerial.

Did you know?…

It’s not just about high definition video and imaging. LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping instead depends on a laser scanner mounted onto your drone. This technology is can measure the height of points on the ground below. Equipped with a LIDAR scanner, you can cover huge expanses in just a few hours, and use the data gathered to develop detailed digital models of landscapes. LIDAR sensors also have the bonus of being able to penetrate dense forests and vegetation, making it possible to scan ground that would be invisible to satellites or standard imagery.

Earning Potential: $250/hr

Banner Advertising

 “Hey, that thing can fly. Let’s attach a message to it and parade it over a large number of people!” This seems to be the logic behind drone banner advertising and, although it’s simplistic, there’s certainly a market for it. Having said that, regulations in many countries currently forbid flying drones over or near to crowds of people, so it’s probably going to remain a niche sector for now. But hey, that doesn’t stop you from charging your buddy a few dollars to strap “Will you marry me?” onto your drone and fly it over him having dinner with his girlfriend. Precision romance.  

Companies such as  DroneCast  are starting to spring up, dedicated to creating marketing campaigns and promotional moments with the use of drones. This can be something as simple as flying a banner with a message over an event, to managing an aerial light show above a music concert.
Precision Agriculture

Speaking of precision, farmers are making use of drones more than any other industry. On top of making the most of aerial mapping services to accurately mark out agricultural land, farmers have found a number of more ingenious solutions.

For example, drones can be fitted with a range of sensors and cameras that can accurately assess how healthy crops are. Heat, infrared light and levels of moisture can all be measured from the air, allowing farmers to make smarter decisions and target areas in need of attention.

Want to find out more about drones in agriculture? Read our feature here.

But that’s not all, as regulations are gradually lessened to include flights out of sight of the pilot, we may see a revolution of agricultural drones, such as the Agras M1 from DJI, which can spray crops with pesticides autonomously.

PrecisionHawk is currently leading the way, in terms of both hardware and software. The company’s software allows farmers to look at all of the information gathered in phenomenal detail, while it’s hardware can either be bought or rented as a service.

Want to make money with your drone? Why not offer package services to farmers, from aerial mapping to crop health assessment.

Did you know?…

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, along with several other industry research reports, has predicted that in the next ten years drone agriculture services could account for 80% of all commercial drone use.

Fishing

Okay, this one might be a little ambitious, but there’s definitely foundations to it. Fishing and drones don’t sound like they should mix, but it’s possible, honest. It also gives us an excuse to include the awesome video below.



Drones are already being used at an industrial level by large fishing vessels, to track shoals of fish and target areas of high fish concentration. But on a smaller scale, perhaps drones could help out amateur fishermen in the future, both by scouting out the water from above, and also by carrying bait out to where the fish are.

Pilot Training

As long as there is a market for drones with commercial applications, there is going to be a huge need for qualified drone pilots. Whether that’s flying for agriculture, search and rescue, real estate mapping or aerial photography. With regulations slowly being implemented, it’s likely that in the near future the rules will not change regarding the need to have a license if you’re flying for money.

Because of this, there will always be demand for skilled teachers who can share their experience and expertise with the next generation of flyers. Why not be one of those?

Professional photography

Obviously, there’s a huge market out there for professional photography. Being armed with a drone should be enough to help you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas to help get you started.

Weddings

Weddings are an absolute goldmine, and wedding photographers can expect to make hundreds of dollars an hour. Add in some spectacular aerial photography and you’ve got yourself a fun, varied and exciting job. Looking for some inspiration? Check out Sky Vantage, a company which combines aerial wedding shots with a team on the ground to make sure all angles are covered.

Did you know…?

Wedding days are supposed to be unforgettable, and this is proven by the hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars regularly spent on photographers. An aerial video will be appreciated for years to come, and could be the perfect way to elevate – no pun intended – memories of the day.

Sporting Events


Several sports events, particularly in the world of snowsports, have already embraced drone technology for filming purposes. Even coaches across the major European soccer leagues are using drones to film and assess training sessions from above. Interested in both sports and flying? Why not set up an aerial photography business dedicated to sports?

Did you know?…

This category doesn’t just apply to big media organizations looking for aerial camera operators. Sometimes smaller is better, and you’d be surprised how many amateur extreme sports fans would appreciate a few hours of awesome drone footage.

Real Estate

The world of real estate is quickly emerging as a go-to business opportunity for professional drone pilots. Not only are drones used to provide accurate aerial surveys for people buying and selling property. But they are also being used to help create incredible marketing videos, as naturally, views from above offer an ideal perspective for looking over luxury real estate.

Get a few luxury realtors on your client list and you’ll be making money in no time. American startup Above Summit is one company to check out for a closer look at using drones in Real Estate, although they also cover sporting events and corporate movies.

Did you know…?

It’s not necessarily just realtors that are keen to appeal to customers with aerial video of property. Your clients could include universities wanting to showcase the campus from above, or a local golf course looking for promotional media.

Security and Surveillance

Security services, police and private investigators could all be using drones in the near future. When it comes to staking out a building or surveying someone from above, drones provide an effective, unobtrusive way of doing so. It’s a niche market, but a market nonetheless.

Hotels and Resorts Marketing

Just as realtors are increasingly using drones to promote luxury property, hotels and tourism companies are a great bet for pitching your piloting services. Not only will they want similar, awe-inspiring video that only a drone can provide, but you might also get a few trips on the house!

News Footage

Just a photographers can build up freelance relationships with a range of media outlets, you can easily do the same from an aerial perspective. Alternatively, approach a local news station and see if you can provide them with some bird’s-eye footage. This is a market currently being held back by regulations due to privacy concerns, but it shouldn’t be too long before it’s a viable business opportunity.

Racing, obviously


The holy grail for many a drone pilot will be a professional contract as a drone racer. FPV drone racing is a sport beginning to take off around the world, with a number of domestic leagues in the US and international competitions springing up. As major TV networks such as ESPN begin to buy into the sport, you can bet that there’ll be some pretty big prize money for the best pilots.

Earlier this year a 16 year old from England won $250,000 at the first ever Drone Grand Prix in Dubai.

A top tip

JOIN A MARKETPLACE

More and more drone marketplaces are popping up on the web. They are places pilots can be hired, and customers can find just the video they are looking for or need shot. Some of the sites below are a few examples of places you can register as a pilot and show off your reels (if you’re selected) in an effort to be hired by potential customers. Most sites will review every pilot before approving them as a pilot to ensure they have obtained an FAA 333 exemption, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to commercially operate a UAV, or drone.

Under this exemption, the PIC (pilot in command) must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate. The 333 exemption is the backbone to the rule book on flying drones commercially. If you want to get paid, the FAA requires you obtain your 333 exemption. To learn more about the exemption, click here. If you are able to obtain it, you’ll have plenty of great opportunities at your fingertips!

The prices on drone marketplaces such as Droners.io can vary drastically. Customers offer everything from $300 for a promotional video to more than $10,000 for a professional gig for a TV show with editing. Droners.io makes money by taking a percentage from each transaction: 10% with a maximum of $1,000. You could even setup your own marketplace.


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Other rules in the FAA framework for small drones also make it hard to work in New York. A drone must keep 500 feet away from buildings, people or vehicles that are not part of the operation, and cannot fly above any people or buildings that have not provided permission.

Where can people fly drones legally in NYC?  MAP




As drone technology continues to improve in leaps and bounds, many industries are using them to create stunning visual content.

Drones are everywhere. Whether you love them or hate them, drones (also known as UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are surging in popularity and are increasingly being used in a wide range of industries. From the Real Estate industry to Wedding Photography, drones are are entering mainstream content strategy and into diverse marketing initiatives.

While there are a lot of UAVs on the market, models that offer 4K video and beautiful still photo capture technologies are helping marketers tell new types of stories. However, while drones may seem like an exciting new way to create content, marketers who are looking to break into aerial storytelling need to be aware of certain regulations.

Even though UAV regulation is in its stages of infancy, the FAA has some pretty clear cut rules about what drone operators can and cannot do. For instance, marketers will have to hire someone with a FAA Section 333 waiver, if they’re looking to fly drones commercially. The FAA also prohibits drones from flying within 5 miles of an airport and over an altitude of 400 feet. 

While you may be tempted to jump on the drone train, it’s important that you do your homework and familiarize yourself with local, state, and federal guidelines to avoid breaking the rules and accidentally injuring others in the process.

Drones vs. Helicopters
One of the main benefits of drones’ HD video transmission is allowing users to see video in detail. Unlike composite video, HD video is clearer, making it easier to get the shot you really want to capture.

Drone aerial video and photography is a great alternative to renting a helicopter, which can run anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars per day. Imagine having to spend that kind of money only to get in the air on a cloudy day. With drones, if you or your company owns one, rescheduling a shoot by a couple of hours or even a few days isn’t a big deal and won’t burn a hole in your budget.

Drone technology and its portability gives you a lot of leeway when it comes to moving shooting locations as well. It’s also easier and more cost-effective to reshoot scenes using a drone than it is with a helicopter. Given these benefits, you may want to consider purchasing a drone if you’re a freelance videographer or a creative agency.

Industries Using Drones to Create Exciting and Memorable Content

As drone technology continues to improve in leaps and bounds, many industries are using them to create stunning visual content.

Architecture


According to ArchDaily, drones are a cost effective solution for shooting aerial photography and video; certain drones give artists access to software that allows them to map an area and produce more accurate topographical visualizations.

Instead of performing costly surveys of hiring high-end photographers, architecture firms now have the option to incorporate drones into their visual mapping and marketing strategies.

After all, think about how much more of an impact an aerial, 360-degree view of a new apartment complex can motivate a purchase versus a floor plan or traditional static photos or video.

Real Estate


Zillow, a real estate site lists several drone applications for the real estate industry; an aerial camera can provide Birdseye view of a property or land,  detailed views of a neighborhood and local businesses in the area, property maps, and much more.

Just like with architecture, buyers want to get a real sense of the property and the area they’re looking to make a purchase in. Giving them broader views of the area can help them determine if a property is a right fit and help real estate agents connect with truly interested buyers, saving them both time and money.

Wedding Photographers/Videographers

One industry that’s seeing a huge surge in the popularity of drones is wedding photography and videography. This type of technology is being used to capture beautiful shots of outdoor weddings and other events in addition to traditional DSLR photography.

If you’re a photographer who wants to differentiate yourself from others in your field, you may want to consider adding an outdoor drone photography or videography option into your existing DSLR or video package.

Other industries like travel and tourism and sports are also using drones in their marketing initiatives. A leading figure in the drone marketing world, CEO, Chris Bonnet of Drone Dispatch talks about the various drone marketing initiatives that he and his company have helped take to new heights”

“We have done many types of marketing initiatives such as “dronies” from cruise ships, dropping swag from our drones, Under Armour and Bulleit Bourbon online video campaigns, livestreaming from our drones during a SXSW event, and many more. We receive all sorts of unique requests from great companies who are looking to spice things up with drones…

Using drones in your marketing initiatives allows for more out of the box creative content from brands. The dronie hands down is my go to favorite for engaging drone content. A dronie is a 15 second video that starts level with the participant’s head and then pulls out and up to hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds to showcase a festival, event, or a scenic backdrop.”

Travel and Tourism
What better way to give prospective travelers an idea of what your city or country has to offer than with a short aerial video? As drone technology becomes increasingly adopted by marketers and video production companies, we’ll be sure to see videos that not only capture the beauty of a hotel and its surrounding property, but also give travelers a sense of the place they’re visiting. 

The video below was created by Drone Dispatch and captures the Texan landscape, enticing visitors to check out beauty and experiences the state has to offer.

 Marketers are just scratching the surface of how drone photography and videography can be integrated into their current campaigns.

As multisensory marketing becomes more prevalent in the coming years, we can expect to see drone footage being incorporated into more national and international campaigns as well as virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer, and if you want to stay ahead of curve, it’s critical that you don’t let drones go under the radar.