Drones have been soaring in popularity, not only as a hobby for tech enthusiasts but also as powerful tools in various industries. These high-flying devices are capable of capturing stunning aerial footage, making them a favorite among photographers and videographers. However, their use extends far beyond recreational purposes.
From telecommunications to agriculture, real estate to construction, drones have proven their effectiveness. According to PwC, drone use in the construction and mining industries could become a $28.3 billion global market. In 2023, 63% of drone registrations were for recreational purposes, while 37% were for commercial applications. The global commercial drone market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.9%.
Given these promising statistics, it’s no surprise that drones are becoming a lucrative source of income. If you’re a drone enthusiast looking to turn your hobby into a money-making venture, this guide is for you.
10 Ways to Make Money from Drones
Here are 10 proven ways you can turn your drone hobby into a lucrative drone business opportunity or side hustle.
1. Aerial Photography and Videography
With drones, photographers and videographers can shoot from unique angles and perspectives that are otherwise difficult to achieve. This service is high in demand in several sectors like real estate, where aerial shots of properties can significantly increase their marketability; events such as weddings and festivals, where aerial footage can add a dramatic effect; and tourism, where scenic vistas can be captured in all their glory.
To start this venture, invest in a high-quality drone with a powerful camera and gimbal for stability, learn advanced flying techniques to capture smooth footage, and master editing software to produce professional-grade photos and videos. It is also essential to create a portfolio to show prospective clients your work.
2. Drone Delivery Services
The convenience of home delivery is becoming increasingly popular, and drones can make the process even quicker and more efficient. Drones can bypass traffic and difficult terrain to deliver small packages, food, or medical supplies. Starting a drone delivery service requires substantial investment in reliable drones capable of carrying weight and navigating accurately, obtaining necessary permissions and licenses, and establishing collaborations with businesses willing to innovate in their delivery process. Insurance coverage for potential accidents should also be taken into account.
3. Drone Inspections
Drones can inspect various types of infrastructure, including wind turbines, power lines, bridges, and buildings, with less risk to people and more thorough data being obtained. This service could be valuable to construction and maintenance companies, utility providers, and insurance companies needing regular inspections. Invest in a drone equipped with high-resolution and thermal imaging cameras for detailed inspections. Knowledge of the industry you are inspecting for is also beneficial.
4. Aerial Mapping and Surveying
Drones can generate detailed aerial maps faster and more economically than traditional methods. These maps are useful in construction planning, land and wildlife conservation, archaeology, and disaster recovery. To offer this service, you’ll need a drone equipped with GPS and Geographical Information System (GIS) technology, and expertise in mapping software to interpret the data collected.
5. Drone Sales
The growing interest in drones for both recreational and commercial uses opens up opportunities for drone sales. You could sell various drone models, accessories, or even used drones that you’ve repaired. To succeed in this venture, you’ll need to understand your customer base, establish relationships with reliable manufacturers, and create an effective marketing strategy. An online store can expand your reach.
6. Drone Rentals
Not everyone who wants to use a drone needs to own one. If you have drones that are not always in use, you could rent them out to filmmakers, photographers, surveyors, or hobbyists. Create a platform or collaborate with existing rental platforms to list your drones, stating specific rental terms and conditions. It’s essential to have a system in place to verify the condition of your drones before and after each rental.
7. Drone Training
As drone usage increases, so does the demand for knowledgeable instructors. Offering drone training classes can range from teaching basic flying skills to preparing students for the FAA certification exam. In addition to comprehensive knowledge of drones and regulations, having strong communication skills and a love of teaching are essential. Depending on your resources, you could offer these courses online, in a suitable outdoor space, or in a rented venue.
8. Drone Repair Services
Drones are complex devices that can sometimes break down or require routine maintenance. Starting a drone repair business can be a lucrative venture if you have electronics expertise. Learn about the various drone models and the common problems they have. Additionally, you will need to buy tools and maintain a supply of standard replacement parts.
In agriculture, drones can help monitor crop health, track livestock, and assist in planting. Farmers can use data gathered by drones to make informed decisions about their crops, improving efficiency and yield. To offer this service, you’ll need drones equipped with specialized sensors that can capture specific data about plant health, soil condition, and hydration levels.
10. Real Estate
In real estate, a bird’s eye view of properties can give potential buyers a unique perspective and detailed understanding of the property. Real estate agents and developers may hire your drone services for promotional videos or virtual tours. This kind of work requires a drone equipped with a high-resolution camera. Additionally, skills in video editing software will allow you to produce polished final products that can impress clients and help properties sell faster.
Getting Licensed: Your First Step Towards a Profitable Drone Business
To kickstart your business venture involving drones, the first crucial step is to become a licensed drone pilot. With this certification, you can increase your credibility while also ensuring that you adhere to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) operating regulations.
To obtain a remote pilot certificate or FAA Part 107 Drone License, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Be able to read, write, understand, and speak English.
- Pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
The process involves preparing for the test, registering at an FAA-approved testing center, and passing the exam. After passing, you’ll obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.
If you’re already a manned aircraft pilot, you can take a free online training course from the FAA and submit your application on IACRA.
Do not forget that drone pilots must finish a free online recurrent training course every 24 months in order to keep their certification. This replaces the previous requirement of taking an in-person test.
Now that you have your license, you are prepared to investigate the many opportunities that drones present. From aerial photography and delivery services to mapping and inspections, the sky’s the limit. Start your journey now and watch as your drone business soars.