How to Make Money with a Drone

Drones have become increasingly popular and versatile tools in recent years, opening up new opportunities for making money through aerial photography, videography, and other drone-related services. Here are some ideas on how to make money with your drone:


1. Aerial Photography and Videography


How to sell drone photography and videography

Aerial photography and videography are among the most popular ways to make money with a drone. You can offer your services to various industries, such as:


  • Real estate: Capture stunning aerial images and videos of properties to help real estate agents showcase listings and attract potential buyers. You can Charge $250+ an hour for real estate drone photography and videography.
  • Weddings and events: Offer aerial coverage of weddings, parties, and other events, providing clients with unique perspectives and memorable footage. You should be charging $1000+ for add-on services of using a drone at a wedding.
  • Commercial advertising: Work with businesses to create eye-catching aerial visuals for marketing campaigns, product launches, or promotional materials.
  • Tourism and travel: Collaborate with hotels, resorts, and travel agencies to capture breathtaking aerial shots of destinations and attractions. You could be charging $250+ an hour as a certified drone pilot.


2. Drone Inspections


drone inspections

Drones can be used for inspecting hard-to-reach or dangerous areas, such as rooftops, bridges, cell towers, wind turbines, and solar panels. Offer inspection services to construction companies, engineering firms, and utility providers, helping them save time, reduce risks, and cut costs.


Types of Drone Inspections


  • Real Estate Inspections: Real estate agents often need aerial photos and videos to showcase properties. Drones can also inspect roofs, chimneys, and other hard-to-reach parts of a property to identify potential issues.
  • Construction Inspections: Drones can monitor construction sites, inspect the quality of work, ensure safety protocols are followed, and provide progress reports.
  • Agricultural Inspections: Farmers use drones to monitor crop health, irrigation systems, and overall farm management.
  • Insurance Inspections: Insurance companies use drones to assess damage after incidents like storms or fires, speeding up the claims process.
  • Infrastructure Inspections: Drones can inspect infrastructure such as bridges, power lines, wind turbines, and pipelines, which can be dangerous and time-consuming to inspect manually.


Drone inspections can be a lucrative business venture for those willing to invest in the necessary equipment and skills. As always, remember to operate within the legal and safety guidelines in your area. Happy flying!


3. Mapping and Surveying

Drones equipped with specialized cameras and sensors can capture high-resolution aerial data for mapping and surveying purposes. Offer your services to industries such as agriculture, mining, land management, and environmental monitoring, providing valuable data for analysis and decision-making.


4. Agriculture and Crop Monitoring

Drones can help farmers monitor crop health, identify issues, and optimize agricultural practices. Offer drone-based crop scouting and monitoring services, using specialized sensors and software to analyze plant health, soil conditions, and irrigation needs.


5. Search and Rescue Operations

Drones can play a crucial role in search and rescue missions by quickly covering large areas and locating missing persons or animals. Collaborate with local authorities, emergency services, or volunteer organizations to provide aerial support during search and rescue operations.


6. Drone Training and Education

As the demand for drone pilots grows, so does the need for training and education. Offer drone training courses, workshops, or one-on-one coaching to help aspiring drone pilots develop their skills, learn safety regulations, and prepare for certification exams.


7. Selling Stock Drone Video and Photos


sell stock drone video

Aerial footage and photography captured by drones can offer unique and breathtaking perspectives. This makes them highly desirable in various industries, from advertising and film production to real estate and tourism. If you’re a drone operator, selling stock drone video and photos can be a lucrative way to monetize your skills and equipment. Here’s a guide on how to get started.



Quality is Key: The quality of your footage or photos can make or break your success in selling stock content. Invest in a drone with a high-resolution camera and learn how to use it effectively. Understand the basics of composition, lighting, and color grading to produce the best possible content.


Variety Matters: Try to capture a wide range of subjects, such as landscapes, cityscapes, landmarks, and various weather conditions. This will increase the chances of your footage or photos being suitable for different buyers’ needs.


Legal Considerations: Ensure you have the necessary permissions and licenses to operate a drone commercially in your region. Also, respect privacy laws and avoid flying over private property without permission.


Selling Platforms

Several online platforms allow you to sell your drone footage and photos. Here are some popular ones:


  1. Shutterstock: A well-known platform where you can upload your photos and videos for customers to purchase.
  2. Getty Images: Known for high-quality content, Getty Images attracts professional buyers willing to pay premium prices.
  3. Adobe Stock: Integrated with Adobe’s suite of design tools, Adobe Stock is a convenient option for many creatives.
  4. Pond5: Pond5 has a large marketplace for video footage, including drone footage.
  5. Storyblocks: This subscription-based platform allows unlimited downloads for subscribers, providing a steady revenue stream for contributors.


Tips for Success

Understand Your Market: Research what kind of drone footage or photos are popular or trending. Knowing what buyers are looking for can help you plan your shoots and increase your sales.


Optimize Your Content: Use relevant keywords, titles, and descriptions for your content to make it easier for potential buyers to find.


Be Consistent: The more content you upload, the higher your chances of making sales. Aim for consistent uploads over time to grow your portfolio.


Selling stock drone videos and photos can be a rewarding way to earn money while doing something you love. With the right approach and persistence, it can become a significant source of income. Learn more about selling stock footage.


8. Drone Racing and Competitions

If you have exceptional piloting skills, consider participating in drone racing events and competitions. Many of these events offer cash prizes for top performers, and you may also attract sponsorship deals from drone manufacturers or related companies.


9. Custom Drone Services

Offer custom drone services tailored to specific industries or clients’ needs. Examples include wildlife monitoring, environmental research, or even drone-based entertainment, such as light shows or aerial performances.


10. Making Money with Drone Footage on YouTube and Social Media


make money with a drone on youtube

In the digital age, sharing unique and compelling content is a powerful way to generate income. When it comes to visually stunning content, drone footage stands out. Here’s how you can monetize your drone footage on platforms like YouTube and social media.



Monetize Your Channel: Once you meet YouTube’s eligibility requirements (1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months), you can apply for the YouTube Partner Program. This allows you to earn money through ads displayed on your videos.


Creating Videos with Ariel footage: If you have high-quality drone footage you can make a drone channel or you can use the footage as B-Roll in your YouTube video. If you are in the USA you can not use drone footage on your YouTube channel unless you have a commercial Pilot license or risk going to jail and fined. Find out more about permits and regulations below.


Sponsorships and Partnerships: As your YouTube channel grows, you may attract businesses interested in sponsoring your videos or partnering with you. This could involve showcasing a product or service in your video in exchange for payment.


Social Media

Instagram and Facebook: On these platforms, you can leverage sponsored posts to make money. Brands might be interested in having their products or services featured in your drone footage.


TikTok: TikTok’s Creator Fund allows creators to earn money based on the engagement of their videos. High-quality drone footage can generate substantial views and engagement.


Tips for Success

Create Unique Content: The more unique and visually stunning your drone footage, the more likely it is to attract viewers and potential sponsors. Try to capture footage that gives a new perspective or showcases beautiful locations.


Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and create a community around your content. The more engaged your audience is, the better your chances of making money.


Promote Your Content: Use SEO best practices to make your content discoverable. Use relevant keywords in your titles, descriptions, and tags. Share your content across your social media channels to reach a wider audience.


Follow Rules and Regulations: Always ensure you’re abiding by local drone flying regulations and respect privacy laws when capturing and sharing footage.


Using your drone to capture footage and share it on YouTube, and social media platforms can be a profitable venture. It takes time and dedication, but with consistent effort, it can turn into a significant income stream.


Permits and Regulations for Making Money with a Drone

Before you start making money with your drone, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the permits, certifications, and regulations in your country or region. These requirements ensure that you operate your drone safely, responsibly, and legally while conducting commercial activities. Here is an overview of some common permit and regulatory requirements:


1. Drone Pilot Certification

Many countries require commercial drone pilots to obtain a certification or license to operate their drones for business purposes. In the United States, for example, you need to obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This certification process typically involves passing a knowledge test, demonstrating your understanding of airspace rules, safety procedures, and drone operations.


2. Drone Registration

You may also need to register your drone with the appropriate aviation authority in your country. In the United States, for instance, the FAA requires all drones weighing between 0.55 lbs (250 grams) and 55 lbs (25 kg) to be registered. The registration process usually involves providing details about your drone, paying a registration fee, and displaying a unique registration number on your drone.


3. Operating Permits and Waivers

Depending on the nature of your drone operations, you may need additional permits or waivers for specific activities. For example, if you plan to fly your drone at night, above a certain altitude, or in controlled airspace, you may need to obtain a waiver or special authorization from the relevant aviation authority.


4. Insurance Coverage

While not always a legal requirement, obtaining liability insurance for your drone business is highly recommended. This coverage can protect you against potential claims resulting from property damage or personal injury caused by your drone operations.


5. Local Permits and Permissions

In some cases, you may need to obtain permits or permissions from local authorities to fly your drone in specific areas, such as parks, beaches, or protected wildlife zones. Additionally, if you plan to shoot on private property, ensure that you have the property owner’s permission.


6. Model and Property Releases

When capturing images or footage of recognizable people or private properties, it’s essential to obtain model and property releases. These releases are legal agreements that grant you permission to use the images or footage for commercial purposes and protect you from potential legal disputes.


7. Compliance with Privacy Laws

As a commercial drone operator, you must be aware of and comply with privacy laws in your country or region. Ensure that your drone operations do not infringe upon the privacy rights of individuals or violate any data protection regulations.


In conclusion, obtaining the necessary permits and adhering to regulations is a crucial aspect of making money with a drone. Ensure that you research and comply with all relevant requirements in your country or region to operate your drone business legally and responsibly.


The Best 4 Drones to Make Money

In the world of drones, certain models stand out for their advanced features and capabilities, making them ideal for money-making ventures like aerial photography, videography, and drone services. Here are the top five drones that can help you turn a profit.



1. DJI Mavic 3 Pro


Mavic 3 Pro

Buy the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Now


The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is an all-around top performer known for its exceptional video quality, flight performance, and ease of use. It boasts a Hasselblad Camera: 4/3 CMOS 20 MP Sensor, a Medium Tele Camera: 1/1.3″ CMOS 48 MP sensor and a Tele Camera: 1/2″ CMOS 12 MP sensor. With a long battery life and advanced obstacle avoidance technology, it’s perfect for professional aerial photographers and videographers.



2. DJI Air 2S Combo


DJI Air 2S 

Buy the DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S is a versatile drone with a compact size, making it great for both hobbyists and professionals. It features a 1-inch CMOS sensor, capturing stunning 20MP photos and 5.4K videos. The drone also has advanced features like subject tracking and obstacle sensing on all sides, making it a good choice for commercial drone services.



3. Autel Robotics EVO Lite+


Autel evo lite

Buy the Autel Evo Lite+ Now

The Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ is another top-tier drone with a strong camera performance. It offers 6K video and 20MP photo capabilities. With a robust flight time and range, it’s suitable for a variety of commercial applications, including real estate photography, inspections, and more.



4. DJI Mini 4 Pro


Dji Mini 4 Pro

Buy the DJI Mini 4 Pro

The DJI Mini 4 Pro offers unbeatable specs for its price. Despite being under $1000, it can provide 4K video and 48MP photos, making it an excellent choice for those just starting their drone business. Its compact size and light weight make it incredibly portable, which is a significant advantage for fieldwork.


Each of these drones brings something unique to the table, so the best one for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the type of work you plan to do. Always remember to comply with local regulations when operating drones for commercial purposes.


Earning Potential with Drone Services

The use of drones for commercial purposes has seen a significant rise over the past few years. From aerial photography and videography to inspections and surveying, drones offer a wide array of income-generating opportunities. However, how much you can earn from using your drone largely depends on the services you offer, your experience, and the market demand.


Drone Pilot Salary

According to data from various sources, the median annual unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot salary is around $81,201. The earning potential can fluctuate based on factors such as location, level of experience, and type of work.


Freelance Drone Services

As a freelance drone operator, you have the flexibility to set your hourly rate. A survey of 700 commercial drone pilots in the U.S showed that most freelancers make around $150 per hour, with top earners landing up to $500 per hour. This includes services like aerial photography and videography, real estate drone services, and more.


Drone Inspections

Drone inspection services are increasingly becoming popular in industries like real estate, construction, agriculture, and infrastructure. The average salary for a drone pilot doing inspections is around $85,000 per year. However, this can vary based on the complexity and risk involved in the inspections.


Selling Drone Footage

Selling stock drone footage or photos on platforms like Shutterstock, Getty Images, or Adobe Stock can also generate income. The amount you earn can greatly vary depending on the quality of your footage, the demand for the content, and the platform’s payout structure. Some creators report earning anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred per image or video clip.


Drone Training and Consultation

Experienced drone pilots can also offer training services or consultations, helping others learn to fly drones or start their own drone businesses. Rates for these services can vary widely, but experienced trainers can command substantial fees.


In Conclusion: How To Make Money With a Drone

The income potential from using your drone to make money can be quite lucrative, especially as demand for drone services continues to grow. However, it’s essential to invest time in improving your skills, understanding the market, and staying updated with the latest industry trends and regulations.