Happy New Year Pilots!!! Thank you for all the knowledge you impart here on a regular basis!
I have been providing construction and real estate mapping services for about a year now and typically charge $150 per onsite hour, which also includes post-processing and deliverables. A friend recently told me I'm not charging enough so I'd love to know how you guys structure your billing.
Thanks in advance!
For construction progress, I charge a $500 setup fee. This covers building the waypoint mission and then test flying and tweaking that mission onsite. This way if the client changes their mind, I'm still paid for my time.
From there, as of this writing, I'm charging $300-$400 per job (up to 10 acres, but most jobs are about 5 acres). Next job my prices are going up. I do two flights per construction job. I do a POI shot of the entire site and then a Nadir strafe shot for forensics. Once I have the 4K footage I run it through Adobe Premier Pro, do some minimal color correcting and exposure correcting (I don't use auto settings on the drone, so I ballpark exposure and white balance) and down-res it to 1080p. I put it up on the cloud and send a link to the client so they can download the footage. I then send an invoice to their accounting department. 30-60 days later a check shows up. I never see the client unless he just happens to spot me out on the jobsite and says hello. As of this writing I'm doing a job/week, which is netting about $1400/month residual income. It's not a lot of money but it's consistent income that I can count on for about 18 months per job. Plus, I get to use my Inspire 1. I prefer the Inspire 1 because to construction clients, it just looks like enterprise, professional equipment. I could probably get away with using a Mavic Pro if I wanted to. But I use the Inspire 1.
If you're interested, here's the last shot I did of a Santa Fe property September of last year.
I actually got my first break working in the film industry. While the money was good, the days were LONG and hard. We billed those days out at $5k/day. $2K was my share. My business partner got $2K and we paid our battery/data(Mod Repmoved}$500/day. The remaining $500 went for incidentals, expenses and consumables. We did that for about a year before getting tired of it. Once that industry went to RAW aerial footage, we decided to get out instead of investing in more equipment. They're very disorganized. Not my cup of tea.
Mapping is a whole different beast. Up to now I've been doing photogrammetry with my P4P
, but recently got into LiDAR mapping (Matrice 300 with YellowScan Mapper+ combined with Sony A6000(?) camera. Mapping is really my bread and butter. Those incomes are doing very well. Obviously, invoices vary depending on the size of the job. These jobs bill out at $1K-$2K per day. I get 1-4 of these jobs per month. I'm not getting rich, but nobody is knocking on my door for money.
Traffic analysis has been a good income, as well. For this kind of work I use my P4P
. The work is very tedious, but the income is good. Because of the 4K files are very large, they have to be hand delivered to the client. These bill out @ $2K/day. I get 0-3 of these jobs per month.
Like you, I started off charging by the hour. But it's honestly hard to make a living that way. I billed out that way for a couple years before discovering other markets that paid better.
I have to be honest that I lucked into these other markets. I'll spare you the details, but these are markets that I never would've pursued. So now that you know these markets exist, you can pursue them in your home town.
One of the best pieces of advice I got was this. If you're not losing out on half your bids, you're bidding too low. The other awesome piece of advice I got was this. Sell value. Don't sell "cheap." I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all my work. So far, after roughly 8 years of doing this, my delivery record is perfect. I've never left a client hanging. I've never been late with a delivery unless cleared with them ahead of time. This makes my service reliable, which makes it valuable. Sell that value.
Best of luck.