Business Ideas for Drone Operators
If you don't know much about drones, get up to speed by reading Introduction to Drones.
Drones can be rewarding hobby and a way to include the whole family in some technology based fun. If your drone includes a mounted camera, things can get a lot more interesting. Besides some reports of operators capturing some unusual and unexplainable footage, drones also present a lot of business opportunities for the creative entrepreneur. Let’s take a look at how drones are being used right now, what you need to get started, and how you can use that information to your advantage – leveraging it into a home based business that you can work as much as you want: full time or part time.
How and Why to Use Drones
Camera-equipped drones give a unique visual perspective that other technologies do not. A drone operator can cover a wide land area in much less time than a human can, and get into places that people can’t. This increases the speed and reduces the costs of many exploration and observation activities across industries – making drone observation a fast growing business that the home based operator can become part of with little startup money and few ongoing costs. You don’t need an office, in fact you don’t need much more than an electrical socket to keep your drone charged up. You can easily run and work out of your spare bedroom, garage, or even your living room in many cases. Let’s take a look at some of the ways drones are being used right now.
Drones can get into difficult or impossible to reach places at lower costs than other means. A construction company may use a drone to inspect a roof for damage rather than have a worker climb high up where safety can be a concern. This is especially valuable in cold, wet, or icy conditions that present additional safety hazards. They can document the progress of an ongoing project, or inspect multistory structures quickly.
Mining and exploration companies, or even the oil and gas industries, can use drones to survey underground areas at risk of collapse and failure. Not long ago, several coal miners were trapped and lost their lives in a shaft collapse. Think of how many lives could potentially be saved by drone use.
Insurance companies may look to use drones for home inspections, or deploy drones in catastrophe areas to visualize and document physical conditions from above. That way they can see just how bad damages are and estimate how many adjusters they need on site. That’s why some are predicting that insurance companies will use a lot more drones, and a lot less insurance adjusters, in the coming years. FEMA and other federal agencies are already using drone technology as part of their disaster response programs.
Becoming a Licensed Drone Operator
Many people who are interesting in becoming part of the hobby are worried about the potential costs of licensing and registration. Don’t worry, all you need is an inexpensive drone operator’s license to start observing the neighborhood from above. For the small investment in the license, you can also start your own home based business using drones. We wrote a full guide on the rules, requirements, and potential legal and insurance implications that you can read by clicking here. Now let’s take a look at some ideas for starting up your own business.
Business Ideas for Drone Operators
Evaluating soil conditions and field inspections
Crop inspection and spraying – especially after harsh weather conditions like hail
Monitoring and herding of livestock or stay up to the minute of weather conditions
Inspection of cell towers
Finding cellular signals and searching for wireless hot spots in remote areas
Observing project progress and conditions
On multistory buildings, inspection of building envelope
Observing worker activity; accident investigation and documentation
Inspection of pipelines, infrastructure, utility lines, etc.
Inspection of rigs, flare stacks, and operational assets
Oil spill and disaster assessment, cave exploration, etc.
Insurance and Fire
Roof inspection, wind farms, unusual locations
Inspection of otherwise inaccessible locations or hazardous properties
Survey and assess large buildings, unsafe structures, condemned buildings
Wildfire observation to assess speed, path, potential impact to life, etc
Damage assessment following a catastrophe event
News and Entertainment
Providing footage for live events, such as sports broadcasts and concerts
Capturing local traffic and news as it happens, before reporters can respond
Film production: many movies and TV shows use stock forage for landscape, chase, and action scenes, and wide crowd or audience shots
Photography and Sports
Landscape photos for sale to the public
Event photography and video recording of weddings, graduations, and ceremonies
Marketing and public relations photos for clients
Sports photography and filming of practices or tryouts for review
Survey and appraisal of properties
Marketing through videos and virtual tours of properties
Data collection for weather, sea patterns, glacier movement, flood mapping, migration pattern of wildlife, etc.
Locating archaeological sites, and exploring these locations
Amazon has implemented drone deliveries of many orders. This isn’t something you can do alone, but retail companies are bound to need local operators to partner with and help in delivering of their goods and services. If you master the hobby, you could be in a prime spot when these opportunities become available in your area.
That’s just a few ideas we had, but as you can see - the possibilities of a home based business for the drone operator are nearly endless. Start out by thinking of ways you could approach local business and offer them your services using some of our ideas as a guide to what you can do.
As we have mentioned, getting a drone business started doesn’t need to be expensive. A smaller drone is all you need to start, along with a steady supply of batteries and the ability to recharge them. As you gain customers you may want to invest in a better quality drone with longer ranges and runtimes – but we recommended starting small and letting your business decide what level of investment you need to make.
Don’t forget, if you’re going to drone inspections as a living, even part time, you should consider your need for additional liability insurance. Sometimes things can go wrong, and you want to protect your personal accidents in the event of an accident. We talked about insurance concerns for drone operators in this article.
What to charge for drone services can vary by location and the difficulty of the spot being explored, but a good starting point based on some research we have done is $50 per hour. That’s a fair price to make your offer attractive to a local business who may only need occasional drone work. They may also find additional ways to use the technology in their business and become a returning customer.
Do you have any ideas for a home based drone business?
Already have one? Comment below.