Learning how to make money with a drone wasn’t on anybody’s radar (pun intended) just a few years ago. But today, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are 870,923 drones registered in the United States.
Drones have become so popular in recent years with many people now using them to make money.
Drones, also called Unmanned Aircraft Systems, can actually be used to make an income. And, there are lots of different options.
Requirements for Flying a Drone
Okay, so before I get onto the list of ways to make money with a drone, I want to just cover some important things you need to do before getting started.
Get Licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration
If you plan to use your drone to make money, you need to get a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA in order to fly your drone under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107). The certificate shows that you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for flying drones safely.
You must be at least 16 years old to become a pilot. And, getting the certificate isn’t free either.
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- You can learn more about getting your Remote Pilot Certificate here.
Register your drone
You will also need to register your drone. Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, must be registered with the FAA unless they are .55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams), and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.
So if you want to make money from your drone, then you need to register it. If you don’t, the FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties can include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years. So do make sure you register your drone – it’s pretty cheap to do.
- You can register your drone here.
Know where you can fly your drone
Okay, so once you have your certificate from the FAA, and have registered your drone, it’s important that you know where you can fly your drone. You’ll need to know about any restrictions, like around airports for example. Handily enough, the FAA provides information on where you can legally fly a drone.
- You can learn about where you can fly a drone here.
Ways to Make Money with a Drone
Now you’re all prepared, you can start making from your drone. There are quite a few options available.
1. Sell aerial footage of weddings
One really popular way to earn money with your drone is to offer aerial wedding videography and photography.
While the wedding industry is a competitive one, there are tons of potential customers out there. Many couples now want drone footage of their big day.
2. Sell aerial footage of events
Weddings aren’t the only event where you can earn cash from your drone. There are lots of other events like sports games and state fairs where organizers want to get footage for advertisements.
So having drone footage can provide a nice competitive edge for event organizers’ ads.
3. Sell real estate photography & videos
Another good industry to get into is real estate. Real estate agents want to show off the properties or land that they are trying to sell. Many of them want drone shots that highlight a property that they are selling.
Aerial footage can help to show the size of the property and offers a unique perspective of it as well. So, you could provide this drone footage to real estate agents near you for a fee.
4. Sell stock photos & videos
If finding clients directly, as you do with the options above, doesn’t sound like it’s for you, then selling your photos on stock photo websites is a great option. You can upload images to stock photo sites, and then when people purchase them, you get a commission.
Although you may not get paid much per download, if you have a lot of photos to sell, then you could make a decent income from this. You could also sell stock drone video footage as well.
Here are some stock photo sites:
- Getty Images
For a bigger list and links to submission pages, read our list of sites where you can sell stock photos.
5. Share drone pictures on Instagrammer
Instagram is just a good place to share your photos and videos overall. So, it could help you to get connections that could lead to jobs in the future. It can function as a portfolio for your drone footage.
You won’t make money from Instagram immediately, but keep uploading great drone content on a regular basis and you will build an audience and get money-making opportunities.
Some people make money from Instagram through sponsored content and ads. However, this is one that takes a while to get going with and you usually need some sort of angle rather than simply uploading drone footage.
For example, there are travel Instagrammers who shoot aerial footage of the places they visit. Then, they partner with enterprises like travel websites and even drone companies to create ads, and they’re paid for this sponsorship.
6. Upload drone footage to YouTube
YouTube is another excellent platform for sharing your drone footage. You could use it to get clients for some of the other money-making options on this list, such as wedding videography or real estate photography and videography.
That’s not all though. You could actually make money on YouTube by uploading your footage. You could start your own YouTube channel and make money from the ads on there.
You can upload your drone footage to your channel or even offer reviews of drones or tips on how to get great drone footage. Once you reach a certain number of views, you can become a YouTube Partner and earn money from the ads that play on your videos.
Learn more about the YouTube Partner program here.
You could also get paid to create sponsored content for brands and companies.
7. Do inspection jobs
Many industries and utility companies hire drone photographers to inspect sites.
Some examples of industries and companies who use drones to inspect sites include:
- Phone companies
- Power companies
- Telephone companies
- Insurance companies
- Water companies
Inspections are carried out for a number of reasons such as to check cell towers or to check a site for any damages. This can be a good way for you to earn money with a drone. You could contact companies near you and ask if they would be interested in your drone services.
8. Take drone videos for hotel & resort ads
Hotels and resorts often want drone footage for their ads. So, you could get in touch with local resorts and hotels and ask if they need any footage for advertisements.
9. Offer surveillance & security
The surveillance industry is another good one to look into if you are wanting to make money from drones. Many industries hire people to operate drones to watch over their properties.
Look into working in security or surveillance by having a search for jobs online or locally.
How Much Money Can You Make with Drones?
The amount of money you make depends on factors like what type of job you do, and how much work you get. Reports suggest that by flying drones parttime, you could earn $500 to $600 a week. And if you fly them full-time, then you could make a six-figure salary annually.
Of course, it depends on which money-making option you go with – like whether you sell through stock websites or are hired by a real estate company to capture drone footage of properties. It really depends on the industry you’re in and the type of work you do – like being a self-employed wedding photographer vs. being hired by an insurance company to inspect sites.
There is a lot of money to be made though.
Flying drones can be profitable. Give these options a try to start making money. And, if you’ve ever had any experience in the field, please share your tips on how to make money with drones in the comments section below.