Have you ever thought about making some money on the side with your drone and build a profitable side hustle? In this article we present different ideas how to turn your hobby into a little money on the side and maybe even into your profession.
Sell drone photos and drone videos
Have you ever heard of stock photography? You take a few pictures with your drone or camera “on stock” (instead of on order). The motifs can be landscapes, people, objects and everything else imaginable. Now you can make these pictures available on platforms on the Internet either for free use by everyone (royalty-free). Or you can decide to sell the photos and videos on a stock photo platform.
Other users of these platforms can then purchase your images. In return, they will receive a license to use them and may use them for advertising purposes, for example. This is an exciting side effect: Imagine you take a picture of a landscape which is then broadcasted nationwide in a TV commercial!
What platforms are there?
There are very many stock photo platforms. Some like Pexels or Pixabay allow you to offer your aerial photos royalty free. Two well-known platforms where you can earn money are:
How much can you earn with drone stock photography?
That depends on the quality and the demand for your shots. Shutterstock states that the exact earnings depend on the type of subscription the customer has on Shutterstock and the level of your contributor’s account. If the customer downloads your image once without having a Shutterstock subscription, you can earn from $0.81 to $2.85. The situation is different if the customer has a subscription. In this case, you earn at least $0.25 per download. The higher you advance in the level, the higher your earnings will be. Later you can earn up to $0.38 per download.
Offer aerial photography with drones as a service
For many scenarios, drone shots are a popular way to capture a special moment or to put something well in scene. Two examples:
A wedding couple wants to celebrate their wedding in the open air and has hired a wedding photographer to take pictures of the guests, the bridal couple and the landscape on the ground. Another way to capture great memories of this special day is to hire a drone pilot to take aerial photos of the wedding party, the surroundings and special moments.
Another scenario: Someone wants to sell his house and takes photos with his smartphone for the sales portal on the Internet. Particularly large solar panels are installed on the roof, which the person is unfortunately unable to see from the ground. This solar system would of course attract potential buyers and it would be nice to have it as a picture in the sales portal. Therefore the house salesman or real estate agent hires someone who has a drone to take nice pictures of the house including the solar panels on a sunny day.
You could create your own website or easily offer your services on classified ads (e.g. Craigslist) in your area.
Who has a demand for drone imagery?
A few examples of who you could address with your service:
- Wedding couples
- Real estate salesmen
- Owners of industrial plants
- Homeowners who want to check their roof for problems (e.g. leaks)
UAV reselling (resale of drones)
Some of the reputable drone manufacturers come from China or other distant countries. Ordering articles from these regions can involve long delivery times. For example, the 4K drone Xiaomi FIMI X8 SE can be ordered at a low price on Banggood, but delivery time can be up to several weeks. Therefore it can be profitable to resell such drones for example on eBay or eBay classifieds. Many people are willing to pay a small premium if they do not have to wait weeks for delivery in return.
It should be noted that frequent reselling may lead to the obligation for paying taxes and that customs duties may apply. It is therefore also worth it to visit price comparison websites in your country and look for good offers to use the discounts as a margin.
You could advertise your drone reselling business, for example, with your own Instagram account or a YouTube channel on which you publish photos and videos of your drones. You can then write a link to your offer in the photo’s or video’s description.
Drones can often be quite expensive. Cheap drones such as the Ryze Tello are suitable entry-level models, but do not offer the range of possibilities offered by 4K drones with GPS, mechanical image stabilisation and their own controller with a mile-wide radio link.
For this reason, it may be interesting for newcomers to the world of drones to “get a taste” of flying drones and borrow a drone for a day or two. A business model is imaginable in which you amortize your one-time investment of several drones over time by lending them to interested parties. Another possible value proposition could be a “recharged guarantee”, for example. This means you can promise people that they can start using the drones immediately after renting them and don’t have to wait at home for the battery to be charged.
To initially advertise your service free of charge, you can again use classified ads like Craigslist, Instagram or YouTube.
Start your own YouTube channel about drones
Successful drone recordings attract many clicks on YouTube and can be rewarding for you.
In addition, your video recording activity means that you spend a lot of time outdoors and collect great impressions. If you get a lot of hits and subscribers, YouTube offers you an advertising partnership and you can earn money from the ads YouTube places in and next to your videos.
Drones are not only a great hobby, where you travel a lot in the nature and take home beautiful footage. With drones you can also earn money and build a profitable business model. Some ideas, such as selling your aerial shots on Dreamstime or Shutterstock, can be realized without a significant initial investment. You could simply put successful shots you already have in stock online and see if customers are interested in your images.