Drone Business 101

Drone Business 101: How to Make Money With a Drone

Many drone pilots start flying for fun but quickly realize that they want to learn how to make money with a drone. Whether you want to fly drones full-time or make a side hustle out of it, the options are limitless.

Drones have become captivating tools with a large variety of capabilities and use cases. Many drone pilots start flying for fun but quickly realize that they want to learn how to make money with a drone. Whether you want to fly drones full-time or make a side hustle out of it, the options are limitless.  

Consider your interests and passions when looking for ways to make money with a drone. Do you like photography, filmmaking, real estate, construction, etc.? Having an area of focus and interest will make it easier to turn your drone hobby into a lucrative business.

While drones are more accessible than ever, there will be a learning curve with your drone and creating the deliverables. It takes time to get good at flying, editing, and running the day-to-day aspects of a drone business. Don't be disheartened if the phone isn't ringing off the hook after posting your first drone photo. Persistence and patience are key; given some time, clients will look for you.

In this guide on how to make money with a drone, we'll dive into six ways to start making money:

  • Drone Real Estate Services
  • Drone Photography & Videography
  • Utilizing Your Memory Cards to Make Money With a Drone
  • Aerial Surveying & Mapping
  • Aerial Inspections
  • Agriculture

1— Drone Real Estate Services

Many of the early drone services companies started their business by offering residential and commercial Real Estate services. Today, it remains one of the most popular drone applications. If you love photography and videography, it's a great place to start, and different properties will present new challenges and experiences that will allow you to diversify your portfolio.

Looking at any listing today, it's becoming more uncommon not to see aerial photos and videos showing off a property. According to the MLS, properties with drone footage are 68% more likely to sell than listings without. Not only is this good news for aspiring drone entrepreneurs, but it's also a great selling point when pitching your services to potential clients.

Flying around your own house, a friend's house, or offering some free work to a local Real Estate agent can be a great way to build up a portfolio and make money with a drone. If you have a background in photography or videography, offering ground and aerial services can also set you apart from the competition.  

Another great way to start in Real Estate is to team up with another photographer or videographer in your area that might not offer drone services. Allowing them to offer their current clients additional services for you both to mutually benefit.

2—Drone Photography & Videography

Besides the Real Estate applications, you may be curious about other ways to make money with a drone. While going through every option would be exhaustive, here are some of them:

  • Marketing
  • Construction
  • Insurance
  • Weddings/Events


To stay on the cutting edge, brands are always looking for new exciting ideas for marketing campaigns. Aerial imagery in the past was reserved for big-budget productions because manned aircraft had to be used to achieve the shots. However, it's quite the opposite now, as drones continue to replace manned aircraft camera crews.

What does this mean for drone pilots looking to make money with a drone? It means there is a huge opportunity for you to sell your drone skills to companies that can now afford to bring an aerial perspective into their marketing efforts. Whether it's a tv commercial, social media advertisement, or advertising an event, the creative possibilities with a drone are remarkable.

Look for an upcoming event in your area to reach out to. Offer your services to them as a way for them to document the event and get awesome content from a perspective that they might not have thought about yet.


Having an aerial perspective has become an invaluable tool for construction companies in collecting data, monitoring progress, keeping contractors informed, and ultimately creating a dynamic portfolio of their projects.

What are drones being used for in the construction industry?

  • Pre-Construction Planning
  • Mapping & Surveying
  • Site Progress & Reporting
  • Stockpile Monitoring
  • Marketing

There are numerous benefits to using drones in construction, and it is a great way to make money with a drone.      


Traditional protocols and practices in the insurance industry are time-consuming, costly, and often dangerous. In the past, roof inspections had to be conducted by getting on the roof to assess for damage. Now many insurance companies are turning to drone pilots to gather high-resolution data. Not only does this reduce safety issues, but also the need for additional equipment like ladders and safety gear.

Drone pilots can also make money with a drone by offering other insurance services like fraud prevention and monitoring. Drones also assist in rapidly increasing claim turn-around times which is a huge selling point for insurance providers.

Weddings & Events

Most people will spare no expense when planning their wedding day. So why not offer them drone services? Drone photography and videography for outdoor weddings are a great way to capture all the special memories and provide a stunning perspective that will last a lifetime.

Many wedding photography companies will either employ drone pilots or learn how to fly a drone and offer it as an add-on to their normal services. Doing so could be a great option if you already provide ground-based wedding photography services.  

One thing to note is while wedding pictures are important, understanding videography principles will be crucial to succeed in this industry.

Other special events like reunions, parades, holiday celebrations, and sporting events are different ways drone pilots can make money with a drone as well.  

While there are many different ways to make money with a drone, these are just a handful of the photography and videography opportunities that drone pilots can explore.

3—Using Your Memory Cards to Make Money with a Drone

One thing that many drone pilots are guilty of is letting unused footage sit on our SD cards. It's easy to forget about it after selecting the shots you need for a specific project.

There are many stock footage websites where you can earn royalties on your photos and videos. This method is known as Licensing, where brands or individuals pay a small fee to use your footage for marketing, social media, or other purposes.

Always choose photos and videos that have broad appeal and are not super niche. Doing so will increase the chances of someone paying a licensing fee to use your work. While selling stock footage to make money with a drone is not the most lucrative sales channel, it can bring in some extra revenue. Be sure to select clips that haven’t been used before and don’t have any copyright infringement.

4—Aerial Surveying & Mapping

Using drones for surveying and mapping applications has increased in popularity due to their accuracy, efficiency, and various sensor configurations.

3D aerial models help collect distance and volume information of numerous subjects on a site. Aerial surveying and mapping are achieved by equipping RGB, LIDAR, or multispectral camera sensors that collect the data required to build 3D maps and models. Some programs used to create the deliverables include DroneDeploy, Pix4D, and SimActive.

Getting into this service will require more education, time, and money, as the drones and software needed for this line of work are more expensive. However, because this service is more complicated, it commands a higher price than other drone services.

Drone inspections save time, money, and reduce many occupational hazards associated with inspection work. Some industries using drones for inspections include:

  • Utility companies (including wind and solar energy)
  • Insurance
  • Construction
  • Property Management

The renewable energy sector, like wind and solar, offer excellent opportunities to make money with a drone. Wind turbine inspections, for example, allow turbine inspectors to detect surface and structural defects without having specialized rope technicians climb up the structure.  

As renewable energy continues to grow, the demand for more drone inspections will increase, meaning more jobs for drone pilots. This type of work is more specialized and will require training and more expensive drones.  


As farming becomes more demanding, challenging, and expensive, many agriculture operations are turning to precision farming technology. A recent report by Market Research Future projects the Agriculture Drones Market value will reach a whopping value of $22.1 billion by 2030.

Large amounts of acreage, lack of labor, and a struggling global supply chain are driving farmers to integrate more efficient farming techniques into their operations. Precision agriculture uses drones and special NDVI sensors to assess crop health, growth soil conditions, and irrigation systems.  

Of all the drone services listed throughout this guide, Agriculture is typically more expensive and time-consuming to get into. The good news is most farmers do not have the time to learn how to fly a drone and run the programs. So even if you're not a farming expert, you can provide a great service.

One last takeaway is that food is necessary for life, so regardless of current economic conditions, there will always be a demand for this line of work.

Starting a Drone Business & Making Money With a Drone

Initially, it is normal to feel overwhelmed when trying to start a drone business. Which is why we have built our drone business platform to help drone pilots stay organized and scale their business. Now that you know the different industries where drone services are growing, it's time to start exploring which niche interests you.

Learn more about DroneAdair and all the features that will make your drone business thrive.

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