Are You Starting a Drone Business (or considering it)? ... How's it going?

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I've been pondering stepping up my drone hobby into trying to make some income from it. I know there is lots of info around on what it takes to do that, but I'd love to hear from people who are actually doing it (in particular people who have gone from a hobby to a business or side business), or have tried to do that, or who are thinking of doing it, but haven't started yet.

If you've taken the leap (or tried and failed), what are the biggest challenges you've encountered and what kinds of things have been frustrating or difficult to overcome? Alternatively, if you're like me and are still thinking about it, what is holding you back from getting started?
 
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been told lic and insurance per year cost few thousand easy and lic for uhf and drone required most countries too , commercial flying comes with a price tag sadly ...
 
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My only advice would be to stand out - be your own worst critic and make your standards high from the get go.
Use a drone with a decent camera, have a pc capable of running at least Adobe Elements and/or daVinci and invest in Litchi.

And practice.

If you have a friend in real estate that helps! My realtor friend is a pain the a$$ who initially kept making me redo videos. The result was a few arguments and some great videos (not all, but some).

There are people out there who make money selling some pretty ordinary videos, but once your good ones have been seen you'll pick up work more and more - and you can charge more.

Don't figure on giving up the day job for a while though; I tend to go slowly and have fun along the way. Drives my wife nuts, but i did the same with computing and made a small fortune in the end and kept my sanity (although her opinion may vary).

Others are more driven (BigAl07 i suspect might know a bit about computer - related stress) but then everyone i know is more driven than me. (i would retire, but i don't know how to do less and have more fun!)

I also approached a local strawberry - growing business who let me practice videos, orthomosaics, 360s etc, and who ended up buying stuff, posting some on their Web page and mentioning me to some useful contacts..
 
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been told lic and insurance per year cost few thousand easy and lic for uhf and drone required most countries too , commercial flying comes with a price tag sadly ...
Not here in NZ. They don't distinguish between hobby and commercial use, bless the powers that be! Can't get cheap insurance though..
 
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been told lic and insurance per year cost few thousand easy and lic for uhf and drone required most countries too , commercial flying comes with a price tag sadly ...
Yes, in the U.S., you definitely need the Part 107 Remote Pilot certification, so have to pay a couple of hundred bucks and pass the test. I think there are some inexpensive insurance options here though.
 
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My only advice would be to stand out - be your own worst critic and make your standards high from the get go.
Use a drone with a decent camera, have a pc capable of running at least Adobe Elements and/or daVinci and invest in Litchi.

And practice.

If you have a friend in real estate that helps! My realtor friend is a pain the a$$ who initially kept making me redo videos. The result was a few arguments and some great videos (not all, but some).

There are people out there who make money selling some pretty ordinary videos, but once your good ones have been seen you'll pick up work more and more - and you can charge more.

Don't figure on giving up the day job for a while though; I tend to go slowly and have fun along the way. Drives my wife nuts, but i did the same with computing and made a small fortune in the end and kept my sanity (although her opinion may vary).

Others are more driven (BigAl07 i suspect might know a bit about computer - related stress) but then everyone i know is more driven than me. (i would retire, but i don't know how to do less and have more fun!)

I also approached a local strawberry - growing business who let me practice videos, orthomosaics, 360s etc, and who ended up buying stuff, posting some on their Web page and mentioning me to some useful contacts..
Good advice ... yes, I'm thinking a side business unless it grows. What features of Litchi do you find helpful for this kind of work?
 
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Good advice ... yes, I'm thinking a side business unless it grows. What features of Litchi do you find helpful for this kind of work?
My competitors fly by hand and are left with 5 second clips which they either just stitch together or insert stills. This one is probably one of the better ones I've seen; they are usually much worse.
I use the Waypoint mode with points of interest and let it run. This for example took an hour to set up on the litchi hub and just 7 minutes to run - I sweated like crazy cos a lot was over hills and I had no video feed but it worked out fine. (There is a bit of stuttering which i think is because i was doing 30mph and filming at 24fps but next time will be better and I'll refilm that part again.) Value: $650. Probably could have asked for more.

Focus and orbit are also invaluable..

Edit to change the first link to the correct video :rolleyes:
 
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I wonder if Japan has licensing requirements? I hear they don't require registration for drones. I'm planning a move to Japan and might consider using a drone professionally if the occupational burden isn't as severe as the US.
 
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Do you have a business plan (I mean a real plan)? Have you identified your customer base? Do you understand the customer base well enough to know what they want? Can you deliver what will make them happy? Will they pay you enough to make your business viable? Have you identified your competition? Do you have a plan to outperform your competition? Do you know how much your competition charges for the same service? Do you have enough paying customers to support your business?
Personally, I started doing aerial photography for money in 1992, and I feel that it is one of the best part time jobs around.
 
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I am a professional photographer and videographer and added drones to my business about 4yrs ago. I still would not say I'm in the 'drone business', I'm in the photography and videography business who happens to have equipment that lets me get aerial video and photography when needed. In my opinion if all you offer is aerial video and aerial photography more than likely neither one will be very good since you skipped the steps that professionals take which is to truly understand how to create good videos and good stills, and you will lose a lot of customers to your competition who offers it all.

I have many customers that come to me because they find my business while searching for drone companies, and by the time I have finished identifying their requirements the aerial work is maybe 10% of the final project. Drones are great at the big picture, but it is the details that tell the story, without regular video and photography footage you will not end up with a professional product.

In my opinion and in my target market, real estate photography in general is a race to the bottom, I have a core group of real estate agents that I work with that are willing to pay my prices for top quality, but overall that makes up less than 5% of my business. Residential RE videography and photography are some of the lowest paying projects in the business. RE agents don't want to pay a dime more than is required to get "just good enough for MLS" and they want you to spend hours filming their listing, then hours more editing and processing the footage.

To be successful in most markets you have to be proficient at regular photography, regular video, audio, lighting, etc. etc. and occasionally you will need to lift your camera into the air which is where drones come into the picture. Approaching it any other way typically means it will never be more than a side hobby that pays every now and then.
 
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I took the leap many years ago and have learned a tremendous amount in that time. It's a very lucrative business but it all is contingent on your work being good. If you have a good editing workflow to produce pro-quality images in an efficient amount of time, and have the rest of the business operations fine tuned and systematic, you will do amazingly. Once you learn all the components and how to combine them in the most efficient way, you will become very happy with the business. On the contrary, if you don't have systems in place or good processes in place, it will be extremely challenging and frustrating. I put together a full course on how to get started properly and get all these processes in place so you're business is profitable and easy to manage. I seriously recommend you check it out before making any moves on the business! Course Linked Here
 
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I took the leap many years ago and have learned a tremendous amount in that time. It's a very lucrative business but it all is contingent on your work being good. If you have a good editing workflow to produce pro-quality images in an efficient amount of time, and have the rest of the business operations fine tuned and systematic, you will do amazingly. Once you learn all the components and how to combine them in the most efficient way, you will become very happy with the business. On the contrary, if you don't have systems in place or good processes in place, it will be extremely challenging and frustrating. I put together a full course on how to get started properly and get all these processes in place so you're business is profitable and easy to manage. I seriously recommend you check it out before making any moves on the business! Course Linked Here
My bet is there would be more money in offering the courses than in being successful in getting a business running. Those in the game early are sweet but new entrants have slim pickings. Especially now when so many think they can do it themselves.
 
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