Drones are awesome, aren’t they? Whether you’ve been a hobbyist for years, or have a new passion for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), we bet you’ve thought about how you can make money from drones.
The great thing is, it’s entirely possible! Anyone can train as a commercial drone pilot, and as the industry is new, ever-changing, and greatly expanding across all sectors, the demand for pilots is high. You know what that means? You can command great rates!
You need to put the work in first: a commercial drone pilot qualification is absolutely essential if you want to hire your services to businesses. You’ll need to learn to confidently fly drones in both GPS-assisted and manual settings, understand and develop your own flight plans, and create operational manuals. Despite feeling like fun, drones are a serious business: you’re flying in the same airspace as other aeroplanes, helicopters, and UAVs! So make sure you are completely confident with the rules and have fully completed your training before working for other companies.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at ways you can specialise to really make some money as a commercial drone pilot…
Even if you’d never thought of becoming a wedding photographer before, now is the time! Drones offer a new way to show off the Big Day, and the novelty factor combined with the flexibility of great photos AND a wedding video all in one makes it an attractive option.
Drones are great for weddings as they’re less intrusive than a photographer snapping away in your face all day long; they also provide unique angles and the ability to swoop down from that stately home roof in one shot for a dramatic group photo or film shot.
Corporate Film Making
Businesses of all kinds are opening up to the realisation that corporate videos – whether for marketing or internal training – are the way forward. Visual content is more easily shared online, which makes it ideal for creating stunning films to promote products or services.
Create a business showreel, show off properties for an estate agent, or film an advertisement for TV: the options are endless. The great thing for you is that any business wanting to use drone footage has to film it via a commercial pilot: they are not allowed to just buy a drone and film it themselves. A wide market open to drone footage, but limited pilots available, makes this a particularly nice money-making venture.
Drones aren’t just for film and photography, oh no. They are capable of carrying highly technical payloads of sensors and specificcameras, making them ideal for surveys. You can also set repeat paths thanks to pre-plotting with GPS, so the same area can be recorded time and again for survey overlays to see how the landscape has changed over time, or to set together different data sets such as soil erosion and land moisture levels.
While a more technical nature, aerial surveys are essential for many business types and a lucrative venture for any drone pilot. The ability to interpret data sets or build 3D models from the survey results would really help you snap up those top-notch clients, too.
Precision Farming Surveys
Along the same line as aerial surveys, precision farming is big news in agriculture. The detailed topography and land analysis available through specialised drone surveys enable farmers to work out the best crop rotation and location, manage changes in soil and land, and perform regular crop health analyses that traditionally take days to complete.
Drones are faster than people! Offering your drone services as a security option at an event or as a regular part of a large estate security team is a great way to make use of your commercial drone pilot license. You’re able to deploy your drone within minutes, and get it to the location of suspicious activity well before your ground team could arrive.
While a drone can’t exactly take down a tresspasser, it can provide valuable live-feed footage to help direct a ground team, and also provide evidence for prosecutions at a later date. (Due to the recorded footage, not from putting the drone on the stand – that wouldn’t go down well in court…).
That’s not all! Keep an eye out for Part Two of this series to learn some more ways you can make some serious money having fun with drones…