9 Best Ways to Make Money with FPV Drone: Your Ultimate Guide

RCHobby Lab’s Author: Kristen Ward
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson
Updated on
Reviewed by Daniel Henderson
Blog cover: how to make money with FPV drone

Drones have evolved from military tools into mainstream gadgets for hobbyists and professionals alike.

And while flying your drone recreationally is fun, wouldn’t it be even better if your hobby could also make you some extra cash each month?

I’m talking $500 or more per month. And you don’t need an expensive drone like the DJI Mavic 3 to get started.

In this post, I’ll outline eight realistic ways you can start making money with even an entry-level FPV drone. These methods range from simple side jobs to establishing yourself as a professional drone service provider.

So let’s dive in and explore how your drone can do more than just capture epic selfies.

1. Offer Drone Services for Friends and Family

When starting any business, you usually need to rely on personal connections for that initial client boost. Drone services are no exception.

Offering basic aerial photography and videography services for friends, family, or mutual business connections is a simple way to gain experience and make some cash. I like to categorize this as your local business.

For example, a friend once connected me to someone running a commercial real estate company. I produced a aerial showcase video for one of their properties.

Fast forward a few months, and this contact wanted expanded drone services for more of their commercial properties. This ultimately led me to establish an official drone services company, hiring pilots around the country to meet demand.

Building out your starting portfolio and skills through personal connections is an important first step before offering paid drone services more broadly.

This idea might sound simple, but I promise you, this is where it all begins.

2. Offer Real Estate Marketing Services

One of the most popular commercial uses for drones is taking listing photos and videos for residential and commercial real estate properties.

And while it is a somewhat saturated niche, smart drone pilots can still command $75 to $400 per listing if you connect directly with real estate brokers instead of the public MLS home listing sites.

Residential real estate listings typically only need a basic fly-around video and a dozen or so high resolution photos. But you can charge a premium for editing the visual media and even combining it into a promotional “lifestyle” video.

For commercial listings, clients may request detailed aerial photography of facilities, surrounding grounds, local area, roof condition, environmental issues, and more. These additional value-added services allow you to increase your fees.

You don’t need fancy gear or skills to get started:

  • Offer basic photo/video for a local business owned by someone you know.
  • Check residential real estate connections for home listing photo/video opportunities.
  • Tap friends working in landscaping, construction, events, etc. where aerial visuals would add value.

And with more practical experience under your belt, you can then start to command higher pricing: $100+ per residential real estate listing and $300+ per commercial property depending on products delivered.

PS: Your Part 107 certification is essential for any tips I will give you in this article.

3. Offer Specialized Aerial Inspection Services

Expanding beyond just pretty pictures, you can offer drone inspection services to enterprises that manage properties, extensive equipment, land or infrastructure.

These commercial inspection jobs leverage drones to cover substantially more territory with greater detail compared to onsite human inspection.

Some examples would include:

  • Water tower, cell tower, wind turbine inspections
  • Railroad track, pipeline, power line surveys
  • Commercial/industrial roof inspection
  • Solar farm vegetation management surveys
  • Storm damage assessment for insurance adjusters
  • Construction site surveys for contractors
  • Agricultural crop health inspection
  • Coastal erosion monitoring
  • Environmental studies

The key is connecting with companies needing frequent routine inspection of expensive critical infrastructure, equipment, land or buildings. Offer drone services as a safer, faster and lower cost alternative to traditional methods.

This is admittedly an advanced niche requiring you to have LiDAR sensors, photogrammetry software, pilot training and drone equipment capable of carrying specialized cameras and sensors. You will also need a Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 commercial operators license.

But specialized inspection work pays very well per job site. And enterprise inspection clients provide year-round recurring revenue since monitoring needs to be done continuously.

4. Work as a Freelance Drone Pilot:  Subcontracting for Drone Service Providers

Instead of running your own drone services company, an alternative is to simply freelance as a contractor pilot-for-hire under a local full-time drone services provider (DSP).

Having a portfolio of your previous aerial work and any FAA Part 107 or specialty certifications can help land these types of freelance drone pilot gigs.

For example, last year I had drone mapping and modeling projects for commercial clients in multiple states. It would have been physically impossible for me to complete all the projects solo in the timeframe expected.

So I ended up hiring several remote freelance drone pilots in places like New York, Texas and Illinois to complete projects requiring data capture at properties in those locales.

These types of freelance contracting situations arise more often than you may think for busy drone services companies juggling multiple clients across many areas.

While the pay per project may be less than running your own drone services company, freelancing does provide these advantages:

  • No sales, marketing, client account management required
  • Less equipment investment since gear often provided by DSP
  • Opportunity to gain high value commercial drone experience
  • Flexibility to work gigs in between other commitments

Check job boards like Upwork and LinkedIn for one-off contract drone pilot opportunities. Having niche skills like LiDAR capture or inspector certifications can increase your chances here.

You can also proactively reach out to local drone services companies in your area letting them know your availability for freelance drone jobs requiring a subcontractor pilot.

5. Entering the Drone Economy with Upwork

The another easy​ way to monetize your drone skills is to sign up for Upwork – a platform that connects freelancers with clients seeking various services.

Aerial photography is in high demand, particularly in fields like E-commerce, high-end hotel, construction, and marketing.

Professionals in these industries require captivating overhead shots and videos to showcase their products and projects. Take a look at individuals earning $78 per hour or more for their drone photography services – a clear indicator of the potential within the drone economy.

6. Exploring Fiverr for Quick Gigs

If you’re looking for more immediate gigs, Fiverr is a fantastic platform to consider.

A simple search for “aerial photography” reveals that people are willing to pay $200 or more for quality drone images and videos. Just a few gigs a week can translate into a substantial secondary income.

Scaling up to a daily gig could easily net you $100 daily – a promising start for a beginner.

While many drone pilots prefer working independently, subcontracting for Drone Service Providers (DSPs) can be a fruitful path. DSPs often require additional pilots to meet the demands of their clients.

By collaborating with DSPs, you not only gain access to a consistent flow of projects but also expand your industry connections and skillset.

7. Transitioning to Education & Digital Products

As the drone industry evolves, digital products and educational content emerge as profitable avenues.

Creating courses that teach people how to effectively use their drones can become a sustainable income source. By sharing your expertise, you empower others while earning income passively.

Transitioning from B2B (business to business) to B2C (business to customer) and selling courses can lead to consistent revenue growth.

8. Join an Online Drone Service Provider Network

Once you’ve honed your drone skills with friends and family, you can expand your client possibilities by joining an online Drone Service Provider Network (DSPN).

DSPNs are essentially gig marketplaces connecting pilots like you to bigger commercial clients needing aerial services across multiple geographical locations.

Why Should You Join DSPNs?

First, instead of chasing down individual clients in your area and convincing them to hire you, the DSPN handles the lead generation and contracts with large enterprise clients across many states and cities.

As a drone pilot member, you simply review and bid on job listings in your local area posted by the DSPN. Jobs may range from basic aerial photography to advanced mapping, inspections, and survey work.

Secondly, the DSPN takes care of managing the enterprise client, licensing and insurance requirements. You then just need to show up and capture the aerial data required per the job specifications.

Payment terms vary but often you are compensated by the DSPN directly upon satisfactory completion. This saves you administrative hassles with invoicing and collecting payment.

Some well known DSPNs to check out include:

  • FlyGuys
  • DroneBase
  • DroneUp
  • Aerobo
  • SkySkopes

The variety of job opportunities and built-in client access offered by DSPNs make them an efficient way to scale your professional drone services.

9. Niching Down for Success

While starting broad can help you gain traction, the most successful drone entrepreneurs thrive by niching down. As the saying goes, “The riches are in the niches.” Identifying deep-seated pain points that your aerial photography can address is key.

For instance, Drone photography is increasingly popular at weddings; the drone can capture the stunning ambiance of destination weddings in one seamless shot in ways a videographer can’t.

E-commerce is another goldmine, with product photography in high demand to create captivating listings for online marketplaces like Amazon.

FAQs About Make Money with FPV Drone

Final Words: Ready to Make Money With Your Drone?

I hope these drone side hustle ideas have inspired you with possibilities beyond hobby flying. Drone services require some effort but it is realistic to make an extra $500+ per month even in your spare time.

And as enterprise adoption continues to accelerate, having commercial drone pilot skills will be increasingly valuable and in demand.

To go deeper on these topics and advance your professional drone services, bookmark my website for tutorials covering areas like FPV drone equipment reviews, aerial cinematography, drone insurance, FAA regulations, and more.

What niche drone services appeal to you the most? Or what other drone monetization models would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

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Written By Kristen Ward

My name is Kristen R. Ward. I’m an adventure Filmmaker and I run a production company based out of New York. FPV drones are integral to my business. I'll be teaching you everything I've learned over the years creating videos for clients.

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