How To Make Money With Your Drone: 15 Ways To Fill Your Pocket Up

Drone photography is on the cusp of becoming an essential took for industrial applications and several businesses.

There are a very well renowned photographers that have added a drone as an add on to their professional day-to-day equipment.

For those of us who love drones, the hobby is a reward in itself. But who wouldn’t want to get paid for doing their favourite thing? There are many ways to turn a hobby into a paying gig that, maybe, could support the hobby itself or even an entire life. Yes, there are plenty «fool» ideas floating around. And yes, there are lots of people trying to fund those ideas and ramp up their business. Only a few make it.

But there’s still room for direct and simple businesses where only two things are necessary: oneself and a drone.

Let’s have a look to them!

#1 Drone Rental Business

This is the most obvious one. Drones are expensive devices that, for some applications, only need to be used occasionally.

Most of the times, the customer does not want to be involved in flying it as the learning curve, for professional use, is steep if we compare it to hobbyists. Also, it’s not the best idea to rent out a drone to just anyone who can pay, unless they’ll fork out for some pretty serious insurance!

The main downsides to this business idea come down to the capital you need to get started and how many pilots you can get. Obviously most people would get going with a single highend drone and themselves as the pilot. However, as soon as demand goes beyond what you Copyright can handle alone you’re looking at doubling your investment. So be ready for the pains of quick growth at the outset.

#2 Real Estate

Let’s face it, 50% of buying a house is not just knowing how many bathrooms there are, but figuring out how close your future annoying neighbours are to your front porch. Drone photography is the saviour of real estate agents who make (sorry) kind of lousy photographers. They’re only edged out by people on Craigslist who apparently have an ongoing contest to take the worst picture of an item for sale known to humanity. In any event, drone photography can do what real estate listings and Google Street View just can’t, give the prospective buyers an excellent vantage of a potential future property via the internet. You can see how large the pool is, how much room the kids will have to play in the backyard, and how close you are to that rusty mobile home next door that is almost certainly a meth lab.

#3 Become A Cinematic Drone Operator

Anyone can learn to do some basic drone photography. All you need is solid flight skills and the ability to point the gimbal in the right direction.

drone-camera-operatorBeing a drone camera operator for professional, cinematic projects on the other hand is a whole other ball game. To be a cinematic drone pilot you not only have to be a drone pilot, but be a bona-fide cameraperson.

You need to understand videography and the technical instructions that come from a director. Being a cinematic drone operator for hire means taking a list of technical shot requests from a storyboard, planning their execution and getting them captured on film. This is a technically-demanding service to provide, but nothing stops you from starting an agency that hires out such people to the local film industry.

Outsourcing is the name of game when it comes to film projects, so even if you aren’t the right person to actually do the job you can be a comfortable middleman! The main downside of this business idea is that you need to get in with someone from the local film industry, which can often be a small club of people who only work with each other. That’s apart from the skillset which you need to cultivate or find in other people.

#4 Weddings

News flash: PEOPLE LOVE TAKING PICTURES AND VIDEO OF THEIR WEDDINGS. It’s a thing. Unfortunately, with only a photographer at ground level, you’ll never be able to convey the scope of your destination wedding on the beach in Maui.

Drone photography solves that problem and opens a whole new world of possibilities for wedding photography and video. Does your wedding party have 14 bridesmaids and groomsmen? You’ll never get them all in a picture unless you shoot them from a quarter-mile away.

Drone photography can get the right angle to get everyone in one shot, and drone videography opens the door to all kinds of crazy videos of your wedding party jumping off seaside cliffs or running from an invading zombie attack. So take the banana slicer off your registration and ask for a drone instead.

#5 Sell Stock Photos And Videos

Every minute that drone of yours is sitting on the ground is a minute that it’s not making you any money. So what can you do while you wait for the next person to commission a job from you?

Why not get out there and make some great photos and videos? Content is king on the web today and if you build up a good library of quality images and clips to load onto stock sites you can earn a steady passive income. It help to define your niche or style. Perhaps you’ll focus on nature, or architecture.

Make the best of your particular skills and the unique opportunities around you. If something special or notable is going to happen in your town or city, cover it and sell the stock footage or photos to news outlets or anyone else willing to pay.

The downside of this is that you have no guarantee that you’ll sell your content consistently, which is why I would not recommend doing this as a mainline business, but as a way to keep your drone productive when it’s not being paid for directly.

Advice let’s be straigth: there a many websites selling stock pics and vids which makes prices decline. Thus, the comssion you’ll get in the event of a sale won’t be fair. You’re warned!

#6 Be A Drone Instructor And Consultant

With drones being in vogue at the moment there are plenty of people who have suddenly developed the urge to get into the game. If you’re a qualified or experienced professional drone pilot, why not train these people for a reasonable fee?

drone-instructorThis is an especially important role since many countries have begun to formalize and regulate the drone industry. For a newcomer it can be daunting to both learn how to operate a drone safely and comply with all laws and regulations.

So why not provide a one-stop business that can help sort out all the red tape, get someone trained up and perhaps even help them buy the right equipment? If you’re local or national government is providing drone certifications it’s also a great opportunity to get a licence as someone who can officiate that process.

The downside to this is that you have to deal with the red tape and hassle of teaching newbies. That’s literally what you’ll be paid to do, so make sure that sounds like the sort of thing you can handle. This isn’t a job for anyone without the patience of a saint!

#7 Sports

It is only about time before the major networks start hooking up drones with live-streaming cameras and broadcasting DroneCam feeds of all major sporting events. They’ll do it for the novelty factor, to begin with, but the masses will soon come to expect this type of access as a part of their cable subscriptions, and then it’ll be standard. Not to mention drones dropping t-shirts, prizes, or even your nachos.

#8 News

Your local news station will do a 20-minute segment on how a rubber ducky can kill you while you sleep, do you think they’re going to miss out on the drone bandwagon if it brings in one more viewer? HECK NO.

Get ready for drone coverage of traffic jams, house fires, or live video of reporters standing on dark street corners where something exciting happened earlier in the day. Why do they do that? No one knows. But they’ll be doing it by drone sooner than you think.

Get ready for Thanksgiving Day parade coverage via drone too. Now you can see the parade AND listen to the annoying semi-celebrity announcer.

#9 Become A Professional Inspector

Drones have revolutionised the world of infrastructure inspection.

drone-inspectorWith high-resolution cameras, special sensor packages such as gas detection or infrared cameras units and longer flight ranges than ever, it’s now possible to quickly inspect all sorts of things for damage or malfunctions. Tall structures, wind turbines, power lines, pipelines and many other inaccessible places can now be regularly checked to make sure everything’s still fine.

That does not mean the companies that perform these inspections will employ and maintain their own drone corps. It’s a great opportunity for professional drone freelancers to get regular gigs performing a valuable service. The downside is that you either already have to be a certified inspector in a given field or work with one, since proper inspection is likely to be regulated in your country.

So before you get too excited about being an outsourced inspector, make sure that the paperwork is not too onerous.

#10 Drone Mapping

Speaking of which, drones are also an excellent way to create aerial maps, something which is needed much more often than you’d think. Despite satellite imagery and Google sending their cars into every apparent corner of the globe, local businesses still need mapping services.

Using a technology known as photogrammetry and the right software it’s possible to create detailed maps quickly and easily. These maps can be topographical or capture all sorts of other data. These software packages can create 3D models of buildings and other structures and much more.

Aerial surveying is also a service that’s in demand where construction companies are doing their prep work before breaking ground. For a good example have a look at Drone Deploy and all the fancy things it can do with nothing but a plain old DJI drone.

#11 Event Coverage

Do you know what Millennials love more than getting sloshed on craft beer while sitting around at a indie band music festival? It’s watching videos on the internet of them doing that later.

drone-eventIf there’s some big event going on in your part of the world, why not offer your services as a flying event coverage pilot. The event managers themselves may want to resell the footage later or just use it for marketing their next event. Either way, you could be the one to commit all the tomfoolery to tape.

The downside to this is that you might have to travel quite a lot and, let’s be honest, you should take your money in advance or have a good down payment, since events organisers are notoriously bad at paying their bills.

#12 Drone Racing

Drone racing is one of the most exciting and quirky parts of the drone world. The basic idea is pretty simple. A bunch of people get together and race their drones around a marked track. First one to cross the line wins.


In practice there’s a lot of variety when it comes to racing. There’s racing of off-the-shelf drones, modified drones and then the big boys with their totally custom carbon fiber speed demons. FPV racing is the darling of the sport, although some people do race with line-ofsight.

The obvious way to make money here is to be a drone racer and compete for sponsorships and prize money. Racing goes far further than that though. You could start your own team, become a part of a team or organize your own local racing venue or even league.

What about building or modifying drones for racing. You could even run a drone racing school. Honestly the drone racing world can be sliced into so many lucrative niches that it almost doesn’t seem fair. Drone racing is still in its infancy, but think of all those other things that you wished you could have gotten into early. The downside to the drone racing route comes from how hard it is to make consistent money.

This is not a sure bet by any means and as with most competitive sports you could be flying high one day and down in the dumps the next. The bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff, but it might be a better idea to target the more reliable income streams in the racing world first.

#13 Make Drone Content On Youtube

Starting your own drone YouTube channel is a popular choice and you’ll find plenty of examples online. Don’t be discouraged by everyone who is trying this though. If you concentrate on making good content that can stand out from the crowd it doesn’t matter how many other pretenders there are in the game. Figure out what your strongest contribution to the drone community can be and build your channel around that.

The same things that make YouTube channels in other niches successful apply here as well. The money can also come from multiple streams at the same time. There’s direct advert revenue from YouTube itself, sponsorship and endorsements and of course community crowdfunding through platforms like Patreon. Y

ou can even make your own merchandise or resell drone related products by pairing your channel with an online shopping platform. Also don’t forget about affiliate revenue from outlets like Amazon! The main downside of this business idea is the same as it is for YouTube fame in general.

Only a small number of people get to the point where you can make a decent living from your content and an even tinier percentage make it to the big time.

#14 Build Custom Drones

Are you a drone genius who knows every component of a drone inside and out? Can you roll your own custom drones or modify the heck out of existing ones? So why keep that talent to yourself?

If you have the technical chops to be a drone builder then you might be sitting on a goldmine, since most companies and individuals really have to put up with whatever they can buy off the shelf. Bespoke drones could be your way into the big leagues.

#15 Offer Repair Services

If you don’t want to (or can’t) build custom drones, why not fix ones that other people have banged up. There’s nothing that says “big money” like expensive equipment that can be trashed in a single moment of inattention.


It’s not a question of if a crash is going to happen, but rather when it’s going to happen. You might as well be on hand to pick up the pieces, for the right price!

Bonus Tip: Create A Niche Website! 🙂

Creating niche websites can be profitable. If you’re head is just filled with great ideas and keen knowledge about drones, then you might be in a good position to create a website that shares your unique take and all sells drone-related products through affiliate links.

The main downside is that a niche website can be a slow burn, but if you keep at it and produce quality content it can become a nice little sideline.