How to Make Money With A Drone: 10 Ways to Make Profit

How to Make Money With A Drone
Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

UAV technology is quite developed today, and as a result of this, there is a broad range of great drones on the market. Speaking of which, most people usually use these devices only for fun, to enjoy flying and to take photos or make aerial videos. However, drones could also be used to make a profit. Are you curious to find out how to make money with a drone? We believe you are!

The possibilities to make money with drones are quite numerous if you are creative enough. However, you should keep in mind that you have to explore the local regulations regarding the drone flying before you start, since there are certain limitations in every country.

In the following text, you can read about how to turn your passion into a lucrative business and earn money with your drone in 10 different ways. These are some of the most common ways to make money flying drones, and they are based on aerial videos and photos, except for delivery jobs.

#1. Earn money selling aerial photos and footage

One of the most common ways to make money with drones is selling the aerial pics and videos to people. Drone photography can be a quite profitable business and it is very popular nowadays. However, if you want to do this job, you must have a drone that is equipped with a gimbal and a quality camera which is capable of making crystal clear high-quality videos/photos from the air.

For instance, you can use a drone that is equipped with a GoPro camera and takes 4K Ultra HD videos. These drones are suitable for both outdoor and indoor footage.

Aerial photos and footage

There are two options when it comes to this business. The first one is to find the attractive and unique places like various places of outstanding natural beauty with nice landscapes, tourist attractions or some popular landmarks. On the other hand, you can make custom aerial footage and take photos by order.

Where can you sell the products of your work? Find appropriate places such as beach resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, or city squares. Even better, you can advertise your pictures and videos online. For the beginning, you should start local and show your prospects to people in order to gain customers and credibility.

Another possibility to earn money with aerial footage is to launch your own YouTube channel and post the videos captured by your drone. Publish your drone footage on your YouTube channel and be a part of a partnership program of the portal in order to start earning money online. This way you can gain numerous subscribers.

But of course, there are other ways to turn a profit from your drone. For instance, you can increase traffic to a certain website or online store, sell in-video advertising placement, promote your products, and more.

#2. Open a private company and offer services in aerial surveying

Small UAVs, like the drones, can take photos from above and thus record terrestrial places that are difficult or impossible to reach and measure from the ground. Today’s drones have great flight capabilities and can be remotely controlled, which makes them suitable for aerial surveying in the most difficult areas. Therefore, they replaced helicopters and other aircraft in surveying.

Drone aerial surveying

Aerial surveys have application in different fields, including topography, digital mapping, archaeology, feature recognition, for GIS applications, and so on. Actually, a lot of professional organizations around the world have a need for aerial surveys, and this is a good opportunity to open a private company and offer services in aerial surveying.

So, if you want to earn money from surveying, you have to offer the best quality photography services to your clients. Of course, aside from aerial photography, you also must be skilled in surveying and have a specific license to deal with this job.

#3. Aerial wedding videography and photography

Wedding photography and videography is a popular and, most importantly, very profitable business. The competition is really tough in this field, and therefore, you have to offer unique wedding videos and photos taken from an awesome perspective. People want to make outstanding photos of their weddings that will remind them of this great day forever. Why not use your drone for this purpose?

Aerial wedding videography

Here are some tips in terms of this job:

  • You need to fly your drone closely with the venue. Do not fly a drone directly over the guests because you can hurt someone by accident.
  • Find the best perspective to take photos or shoot footage while flying a drone.
  • Chose an outdoor wedding venue at a spectacular location where you can profit from the gorgeous scenery.
  • Avoid recording towards Sun, as well as dark and the similar places where the photos could be blurred.
  • Offer your clients both aerial videos and picture at the same wedding.

Thus, you are going to be different from other wedding videographers/photographers and “steal” their clients. All you need to do is buy an advanced small drone and a high-resolution camera supported by that drone, and practice every single day. If you are a beginner in this craft, you should start as a secondary videographer or photographer, and do a few weddings on a beginner’s discount.

#4. Reselling drones

The next business that can help you with making money is reselling. In fact, all the things that apply to the reselling of other goods also go with drones.

You should purchase the popular new models at one price, and lately sell them at a higher price to your customers. All you need to do is find a supplier who sells drones at affordable purchase prices. Take a look at the drones in popular online stores such as Amazon and Ebay.

Reselling drones

It looks simple on first sight, but you will have a lot of costs and fees to open and maintain your store. The same goes with online stores, but the fees are a little bit different. So, you must bear that in mind that when thinking of opening a shop for this purpose.

If you already have a store for electric devices, gadgets, computers, and the like, why not add drones in your offer? This is a big advantage because you already have an experience in such a business. On the other hand, you can have a specialized store for drones, where you will sell these UAVs as well as all necessary equipment for them.

Just another tip: if you are thinking of a rental business with drones, forget it. These aerial devices are vulnerable to damage, and you will have problems with your clients.

#5. Inspect jobs

Many utility companies have used helicopters and airplanes to inspect electrical lines, remote substations, pumping stations and the similar facilities for years. It was dangerous for the pilots and very expensive, too. In the recent times, drones come into play when it comes to inspection jobs. These small unmanned aerial vehicles have been replacing other aircraft as they are equipped with powerful cameras and video transmitters, and thus, suitable for this job.

Drone inspects pannels

They can quickly and easily reach the water or gas outlets, and make quality video footage. This is of great help for utility companies during the regular checkups and damage assessing. Besides the utility companies, other companies also need drone operators for the same purpose. Just to mention construction and insurance companies.

You can also make money doing various inspect jobs for different companies worldwide – this is another way to use your drone smartly. For instance, a well-equipped drone with a 4K camera may be of help to asphalt repair and resurfacing companies to inspect their prospects’ properties.

Also, today’s small drones are used in power line inspections, cell tower inspections, bridge inspect jobs, gas pipeline and oil inspections, roof inspections, etc. All these jobs give you a great chance to earn good money using a drone.

So, if you want to do such jobs, you must have one or more advanced drones that are higher performing and more stable than the simple commercial quadcopters. Therefore, you need to invest in the expensive drones and the additional equipment, but the payback period is quite short if you manage to develop your business. In addition, you have to be well trained in RC flying and aerial recording as well.

#6. Advertise real estates, resorts, hotel and more

Yes, the drone is a perfect tool for effective advertising. If you are an entrepreneurial filmmaker with a great experience in flying drones, you can make money working on advertising the real estates, resorts, and hotels.

The aerial videos captured by drones may sell private estates more quickly and affect the selling price. Therefore, the real estate agents often hire UAV video companies when advertising real estates for their clients. If this sounds interesting to you, you might also check out our article about the best drones for real estate.

Drone Advertising real estates

Aside from real estate videos, small drones with high-resolution cameras are also used for aerial video footage of hotels and resorts alike. It is a good way to show off and advertise a certain hotel, for example, that is located in a perfect area of a property. This way, the particular resort hotel will be more attractive for the visitors and potential customers.

In addition, you can earn money working on low altitude banner advertising. This is a good commercial opportunity for drone owners. How to do this? You should mount a camera on the bottom of your drone and fly it over an appropriate place. While flying a drone, it sends the video promotional feedback to a monitor that is attached to its controller.

When you want to sell something, you must have a good advertisement and stand out from others on the market. Thus, it is very important to make an impressive ad that will attract the attention of people. Today, many travel marketing agencies require unique photos and videos when advertising something. Grab this great opportunity to earn money!

#7. Drone deliveries

Another way to make money with a drone is to use it for different delivery purposes. Drone delivery is an innovative solution in this job. You should offer drone delivery services to companies and organizations that need it.

Drone deliveries

Many companies (like Amazon, AliExpress, etc.) already use UAVs for this purpose, incorporating deliveries by drones in their services. Also, medical facilities, national institutions, and charity organizations worldwide use drones when delivering various supplies in hard-to-reach places. Some locations are unreachable for ground vehicles, and there, done deliveries come into play. Moreover, the trips by ground vehicles could be too expensive sometimes, or difficult due to logistics in some areas.

You can deliver a variety of things in this way. Such a delivery is fairly quick and very safe as well. Unfortunately, small commercial drones cannot deliver heavy loads while flying because of their low weight. Keep this in mind if you want to offer this service. However, the larger drones can be used by various humanitarian services to safely deliver food, water, medicine, and so on. For a better insight on this topic, we suggest taking a look at our article about delivery drones.

#8. Surveillance, private investigation and video monitoring

Many large companies around the globe already hire drone pilots to do air surveillance in some areas. In fact, it is more cost-effective to employ one person who owns a drone and can do quality surveillance than to pay for constant camera surveillance.

Drone Surveillance

In addition to surveillance, drones also have practical applications in aerial monitoring and private investigation alike. The small unmanned aerial vehicles make these jobs easier and less dangerous. In comparison with other devices that are used for surveillance, drones are less noticeable and can reach almost every location.

For aerial monitoring and surveillance, you must have an advanced drone with a 4K camera which is capable of making HD videos and photos. Even better, thermal imaging cameras too. These cameras are even more effective in some circumstances for aerial surveillance and monitoring.

This can be a very profitable business. For example, the professional surveillance operators in the United States earn up to $50.000 per year, and if you think that you can be one of them, then find out more on this topic by reading our article about surveillance drones.

#9. Search and rescue in disaster relief

Drones can also be of great help for search and rescue in affected areas. Traditional search methods, which use helicopters and dogs, are unsuccessful in some cases and rescuers often can’t find the missing men.

On the other hand, drones have the ability to notice missing people, or whatever you are searching for, from the air with ease. Therefore, drone operators are often employed for disaster relief to provide video services. The freelance UAV pilots are well-paid for this job.

Search and rescue

These smart remote UAVs can provide video footage to public safety officials in real time, and thus, save many lives in areas affected by natural disasters. Therefore, they are widely used today in areas affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and the like. They are suitable for huge inhabited areas which are too dangerous or even impossible to reach by land.

It used to be very difficult to find and save people in such disasters, but nowadays, it is much easier with the use of drones. Sometimes, you don’t have to work this job for money. You can help other people and save affected people’s lives with your drone in rescuing and be humane.

#10. Precision agriculture

At last, you can make a profit using a drone in precision agriculture. Drones are very helpful for crop surveillance in agriculture because they significantly reduce the costs and time required for such a job.

Drone in agriculture

When using a drone in precision agriculture, it must be equipped with a specialized camera for the infrared video that can capture the specific wavelengths. These cameras produce specific contrasting colors while shooting, and according to these recordings, the operators can see the overall health of crops in a certain area. Also, drones help farmers in verification and problem diagnosis in their fields. In some cases, they can also be used in delivering spot treatment.

All these operations can help farmers reduce plant damages, cut costs, and have the higher yield. On the other side, drone pilots can make a lot of money working for them. There is a mutual benefit as both sides get to profit from this deal.

In conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to turn a profit after acquiring a drone; you just need to put your mind at work. If you know other ways and we didn’t cover them, please don’t be shy. Let us know about it in your comments!

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • sarah spencer

    These jobs are so interesting. I would never have thought about the hobby turning into a career like that. The use of drone with the wedding was especially sweet.

  • Emily B.

    Never thought about using drones in agriculture. Meanwhile, they can save millions and greatly improve the quality of our products.

  • Correct. It would prove to be an asset.

  • Phil Nelson

    Yeah, drones in agriculture can be very efficient tools. They can surely make a lot of processes easier and more precise

  • Jim Clark

    Nowadays you can do almost anything with a drone. Surveillance, private investigation and video monitoring amazed me the most.

  • Daryl Lu

    The advent of drones is indeed a breakthrough in the photography and videography industries—bringing production to the next level at a cheaper cost. However, it has also become too common these days and a bit cliche. See how wedding photos and videos are never complete without a drone shot. I guess, having all the cool technologies and equipment easily available—at the the end of the day it’s a battle of genuine artistry. Viewers can surely tell. And maybe photographers and videographers should also use the drone card sparingly. 😀

    • Jack Brown

      Well, it all comes down to how good you are with a drone and if you can find some new angles that no one already used. I agree that nowadays every wedding photographer has a drone, but that doesn’t mean that they can all make great footage 😉 so, you are right, it is a battle of genuine artistry.

    • Funny how this never came up with traditional wedding photography. “Oh man, look how this dude took the same picture of their hands with their wedding rings overlapping. So cliche.” Yet that is the picture that must be taken at every wedding ever and always has since the first wedding was photographed. The logic here escapes me unless your point is more “Yawn, this is so five minutes ago.” -then I get it. It isn’t even close to mainstream, so I’m not sure how it could already be so old.

  • Pauline Smith

    What a nice and mindblowing article. Thanks Jack because you’ve just made me realize how profitable my DJI Phantom 3 can be so useful. I have already spotted a business opportunity of capturing local events here at Oklahoma. With the Gimbal for stabilization as well as its capability to capture 4K videos, I will definitely emerge as the unrivaled provider of crystal photography among all here.

    • Jack Brown

      Great to hear that we gave you the idea how to make money with your drone. Just make sure you get all the needed permits for such a business, otherwise, you might get in trouble with the law.

  • MLipenk

    The last “agricultural” drone picture is quite misleading. You would need a seriously large drone to be able to haul the weight of water for spraying applications. It would be very cool if you could do that, but it would need to be the size of a helicopter or larger to make spraying a typical field cost effective, unless your “spot treatment” is one plant among thousands.

  • Jack Brown

    You are actually not right. There are drones that are modified to be used for crop dusting. Also, the subtitle for that drone says “Precision Agriculture”, meaning that they are not meant for crop dusting the entire field, but only the spots that need special attention, and with specialized cameras, you will be able to spot that “one plant” among thousands. Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.

  • firepol

    Hi, some time ago I read in some FB group or somewhere that you can register as drone pilot in a website, potential clients can upload a Litchi mission and the drone pilots who can fly it, just fly it and get paid for it. I’m trying to find this website but can’t find it anymore. Maybe you may investigate this and similar services (websites where you can register as drone pilot and get jobs to collect footage or so) and update this good page accordingly.

    Also I think you may add “drone repair service”. There are hobby shops yes, but why not as private person offer the same, a bit cheaper? I’ve seen websites where people can send the drone and get a quote (damage assessment) for around 50-70 USD and then get the repair done or drone sent back… could be interesting at least for people who like to disassemble and repair them.

  • Jack Brown

    These are excellent suggestion Firepol! Thanks 🙂 I will definitely do some research on the Litchi mission site 🙂

  • wow! I don’t know a drone can make a lot of jobs and also can earn money! 🙂

    • Jack Brown

      Glad that you found out something new on our site 🙂 Yes, the drone uses are almost limitless and people find new ways to use them and earn money almost every day 🙂

  • Ben Masten

    I have been trying to find out what to charge hourly for Drone Services. Any suggestion here?

    • Jack Brown

      Oh, that depends on a bunch of factors… But, my advice is to find a few local drone pilots that are already in that business and see how much they are charging and create your price based on that.

  • I never thought about earn money with drone. I always use my drone for clicking images an recording videos. Well, you did a great job man!!!

    Well, I am not confident about delivery with drone.

    • Jack Brown

      Thanks! 🙂 Always nice to know the readers appreciate the effort 🙂 As for delivery with drones, that is still kind of a “Coming soon” topic, but I am sure that it really will be soon and that we will see drones buzzing around and delivering all kinds of stuff. Thanks for the comment Lisa!

  • Golf Loper

    Nice article. Now the first thing any US drone pilot needs is an FAA Part 107 license. Got my cert for $155. Simply watched YouTubes on aviation weather and airspace and used a $5 Googleplay app call UAS107 ( Done in less that two weeks of study. Get legal before you fly for money.

    • Jack Brown

      Thanks for sharing this information, I am pretty sure that all our future drone pilot readers will highly appreciate it 🙂