Starting a drone business is an exciting opportunity to turn your drone skills into a profitable income stream. To be successful in any industry, you must build a strong foundation, network, and be able to market yourself.
Starting a drone business is an exciting opportunity to turn your drone skills into a profitable income stream. To be successful in any industry, you must build a strong foundation, network, and be able to market yourself. With the value of the drone services industry projected to hit $97 billion by 2031, it has never been more important to stand out among the competition.
As with any new venture, starting a drone business is overwhelming and often leaves drone pilots with many questions.
These questions only scratch the surface but provide a good idea of questions many new drone business owners ask themselves.
In this guide on how to start a drone business, we’ll dive into the following topics:
Drone business ideas should always center around your interests. There is an abundance of drone applications to choose from. What you want to avoid is trying to offer too many services or a service that does not align with you. By focusing on only a few industries, your skills and expertise in those areas expand quickly.
It can be easy to chase the money, because, like any industry, certain specialties demand a higher price. Understand that it might take some trial and error before finding your specialty.
When trying to narrow down the services your drone business will offer, ask yourself:
While the list of industries using drones grows by the day, here are some applications to consider:
When clients are looking for a drone business to work with, they will choose someone who is invested in their line of work. With so many options, it can be tempting for new drone business owners to try and do it all. However, it’s best to focus on a few niches and become extremely knowledgeable within those spaces.
For example, a film set is looking to hire a drone pilot to record some aerial footage for an upcoming movie. The potential client visits your website and sees all services offered: mapping, insurance, weddings, cinematography, etc. They get distracted and go to a competitor’s website that focuses on cinematography and features a stunning portfolio.
What drone business do you think they are going to hire? Probably the laser-focused competitor. The point is not to stretch yourself too thin and don’t chase something for money alone.
Well, this is a loaded question, but let’s dive into the basics of what you need to start a drone business.
In the United States, drone pilots who use their drones for non-recreational purposes must hold an FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification. To get the certification, you will take a 60-question multiple-choice exam covering over 120 aviation concepts, including radio communications, weather, emergency procedures, drone laws, etc.
The Federal Aviation Administration offers free study materials, or there are various online courses that help you prepare for the exam. If you would like a more guided approach, we recommend the Part 107 Test Prep course at Drone Launch Academy.
The equipment needed for a drone business will ultimately depend on your services. Most 4K camera drones will be more than sufficient for marketing, construction, Real Estate, weddings, etc. You will also need additional accessories, including ND filters, batteries, and extra props.
Software is also a crucial component of any drone business operation. On the business side, you will need a way for people to pay you. Online billing and invoicing will not only offer convenience to your clients but also keep you organized.
Here are some of the best payment methods for small businesses.
You will need a few editing programs if you plan on editing your photos, videos, and other deliverables in-house. The most popular photo editing software includes LightRoom and PhotoShop from the Adobe Photo Editing Suite.
For video editing, Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X are considered the industry standard. Although Final Cut is only compatible with Apple computers, Premiere Pro works on Windows and Mac operating systems.
Drone insurance is not required by law in the United States. Still, many drone pilots have insurance policies in the event of a mishap while operating a drone for non-recreational applications.
When working with big companies, some require drone pilots to carry liability insurance. Here at DroneAdair, we highly recommend SkyWatch.Ai or Verifly for Liability and Hull insurance. They both offer flexible annual, monthly, and hourly plans for drone pilots.
SkyWatch.AI and Verifly offer numerous drone insurance plans that fit the needs and budget of any drone business.
One of the keys to good marketing is to have a strong social media presence that’s quality, consistent, and, most importantly, visually appealing. Instagram has been a pivotal marketing tool, allowing drone pilots to share a curated feed of their latest work. Think of an Instagram feed as a living portfolio that continually evolves alongside your drone business. With so many people on social media, a new drone business cannot afford not to be posting content to attract new clients.
It is becoming more common for someone to come in contact with your brand through social media before they ever land on your website. An area of marketing that has taken off is creating short-form content. This content typically consists of videos that are under one minute, although some videos are a few minutes long. Businesses have flocked to Instagram Reels and, of course, TikTok to capitalize on promoting engaging and organic content.
Facebook is also great for a drone business because it helps reach a multitude of demographics. It can also be connected to share your Instagram posts, direct messages with clients, and display key details about your business.
One platform we recommend not focusing on is Twitter. While Twitter can be a great communication tool, getting and maintaining strong engagement requires more effort. When starting with social media, focus on one or two platforms and build from there.
A website can be a great marketing tool to showcase your work and your drone business’s services. The good news is various website builders make it easy for anyone to create a drone business website. Platforms like Wix and SquareSpace allow you to create stunning websites and can even walk you through each step of the process.
If you don’t feel like building an entire website, another great option is using DroneAdair. The platform is an end-to-end sales and marketing platform that helps drone pilots scale their drone business. One of its features is a website builder, which focuses on the important aspects of a drone business. Easily upload a portfolio, link to socials, create packages, and more within minutes. OR if you already have a website, you can even tie DroneAdair’s platform into your current site with the link inside a “Book Now” or “Schedule a Mission” button.
Setting up a Google My Business account is an effective SEO and lead generation tool that every drone business should take advantage of. Google My Business lets you manage your business profile on Google.
Google My Business is simple to set up and can profoundly affect generating new business. Photos, reviews, website links, contact information, and more are displayed when you click on a company. For example, if you search ‘Drone services near me,’ Google will automatically populate any drone service businesses within your local area.
Every drone pilot needs to have a portfolio because, at the end of the day, a client will look at your previous work when deciding whether or not to hire you. Your drone portfolio needs to reflect you and represent the caliber of work you do. An effective portfolio will be broken up into the services that you offer.
Having sections by services allows potential clients to easily find your work that’s related to their industry. Here is a great example of having a drone portfolio integrated into the services offered by Midwest Aerial Productions.
When you’re starting, it will take time to get comfortable with your drone. You won’t get publication-worthy images your first go around. With practice, you will develop your craft; before you know it, you will be looking for reasons to show off your drone portfolio.
The key is to always practice; flying for friends and family is a great way to get started with your drone business. When not flying, work on the business, practice editing, and vis versa.
Promoting drone services on your own can be a challenging task, especially when you’re starting out. Although drones have been around for several years, there is still a learning curve in educating people on the value drones will bring to their businesses or industry. Many new pilots turn to drone pilot networks to find clients, only to be disappointed in sporadic work and low commission payouts by the time the network takes its cut.
For any drone business to succeed, you need an automated workflow, drone mission management, and a database hub to store your files. At DroneAdair, we have built our platform on those three pillars to help drone pilots stay organized and scale their business.
Learn more about DroneAdair and all the features that will make your drone business thrive.