If you love the footage and reels that FPV drones make and would like to make it your career by starting an FPV drone business, you’re in the right corner of the internet!
In theory, to make money with FPV drones, you’ll just need a suitable FPV drone and a solid portfolio of your work.
Starting an FPV drone business can be slightly harder than starting a normal drone business because FPV drones have only recently hit the mainstream, and so not many businesses see themselves using that type of footage.
Currently, there are a few businesses that need FPV drone services and we’ll get into all of them in this article.
We’ll also look at all the different parts of starting a drone business in general – what licenses you need, what kind of insurance you need, what business structure should you opt for, etc…
So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Besides it being one of the coolest careers out there, and probably your passion, why should you consider starting an FPV drone business anyways?
Well, various reasons, the most important one is the current demand.
Many sectors are starting to prefer FPV drone reels and footage as it makes marketing much easier. These sectors include museums, private schools, real estate, and extreme sports.
That, and the fact that drones in general are in HUGE demand right now!
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) released an economic impact report on the integration of drones in the U.S. The full report lays out all economic benefits including the impact each U.S. state will have. The main economic changes include:
So as you can see, starting your own FPV drone business isn’t just a pipedream – it’s a solid business plan that can be very profitable if done right!
That’s the cool thing about starting a drone business, there is practically no barrier to entry – you only need some expertise and a good enough drone.
Starting a drone business is accessible to everyone. Two things to note when starting are the part 107 test and the local drone laws, which are easily manageable.
The first step to starting your drone business is to be FAA certified. You’ll need to pass the Part 107 test with a score of at least 70% to become a commercial drone pilot.
The regulatory laws will depend on where you live, so make sure to research your local laws to determine whether starting a drone business is viable.
You’ll find the drone laws of basically every state within the USA on dronesgator.com.
You’ll also need skills and expertise, which are easily acquired either through drone courses or through on-field experience.
But there IS something else you’ll need…
Get yourself a reliable FPV drone – any good and known drone will do, but if your budget allows, get yourself something like a DJI Avata.
If you’re on a tight budget however and want to keep your FPV drones as light as possible, just get an analog FPV drone setup.
But, you get what you pay for… analog FPV drones have several limitations that can make it hard to take good footage in some circumstances.
I’ve said it before, it’s harder to find gigs for an FPV drone business than it is for a normal/general drone business – but hard doesn’t mean impossible.
In fact, since flying FPV drones usually requires more skill, you can often get paid higher for those gigs (plus, it’s just way cooler than flying a normal drone!).
Commercial real estate is a booming industry, and they’re starting to prefer FPV drones over normal drones more and more!
There are several things that make FPV drones so special for commercial real estate marketing.
FPV drones can showcase commercial properties in a way that is unique, interesting, and engaging for potential buyers.
Commercial real estate drone videos are cost-effective – making them the go-to for any commercial real estate company!
I have also discussed How Much Does Drone Real Estate Photography Cost in another article.
Sports are also a sector that is starting to increase its demand for FPV drone services, especially extreme sports.
For example, live-streaming events with FPV drones are becoming popular.
Even Formula 1 has recently used FPV drones to add a new angle to their broadcast, and it made it much more immersive for the fans.
Livestreaming with FPV drones has even been used to stream coverage during a baseball game.
In my opinion, I think the streaming sector (especially in sports) is one of the biggest opportunities for any FPV drone enthusiast right now!
I mean, just check this out…
If the video above doesn’t leave you speechless, I don’t know what will.
It’s even more astonishing when you realize this wasn’t taken by a $100,000 high-grade cinematic camera… but just a small FPV drone.
Hollywood is already starting to use FPV drone tech in some scenes, and it wouldn’t be long before many producers start jumping on the bandwagon.
If you’re a cinema nerd like I am, and also love FPV drones – this is the best industry you can work in right now.
You’ll need to know a thing or two about filming though, and editing. But these are all things that can easily be learned!
I’ve already written a detailed article about this which you can check over here. But here’s a quick rundown:
All professional drone pilots require Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to obtain a remote pilot certificate. In the U.S., you need to be at least 16 years of age before you can apply for one. The cost to take this certification is relatively low, typically around $150. It’s possible to take it either online or in person.
Specifically, you’re looking for training in unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Once you’ve passed the training, you’re a certified drone pilot.
That’s the money question… and it’s also the most important thing!
Having a license, a good drone, and insurance is great and all, but at the end of the day getting clients for your FPV drone business is the most crucial thing!
Once you’ve decided which sectors you want to approach, you’re going to need to network with people and businesses in those sectors and make it clear to them what FPV drones can do for them.
One of the best and fastest to get clients with your FPV drone business is to make them come to you.
To do this, you’ll want to create a showreel or portfolio to show off your FPV skillset.
Keep in mind that not many people are familiar with FPV drones, which means you might need some salesmanship and patience to educate businesses if you’re going to them yourself.
I know this is not something people usually recommend, and for good reason, but I’d also consider doing work for FREE.
Yes, free… but hear me out before you roll your eyes…
This is a quick way to build up your portfolio and develop your skillset, and those businesses could actually decide to move forward with you for paid projects.
Which means you’ve got nothing to lose, yet something to gain.
To do this, you could try reaching out to local businesses or getting some friends together to work on some projects using your FPV drones.
This can work particularly well when it has mutual benefit to you and a local business, friend, colleague, or peer.
Then try to get a testimonial from them, and a referral if they can (provided you’ve wowed them with your skills).
Here is a great video I’ve found:
It covers everything, from reaching out to local businesses to just working solo and selling your stock footage online (more on that here).
There is no right or wrong way to price your drone services, it all depends on how much YOU value your time and skills, and how much your client is willing to pay. Your final price is usually a compromise between both ends!
The common advice is to look at how much everybody is charging in your area or region, and price accordingly.
You can choose to price by hourly or daily rates. Or you may want to charge per project or go on retainer with a regular customer (I personally prefer this).
Long-term service contracts can provide your own business advantage because you will have work you can count on and you’ll be able to staff and grow the business.
You’ll also want to decide on a billing cycle and communicate that to clients in a clear and regulated way.
Yes and no, because while it’s not exactly illegal to not have insurance if you’re running a drone business you’ll most likely have to.
There is no law that requires you to have drone insurance if you use one for business or recreational purposes. But if you’re using a drone for work-related purposes, you’ll want to consider getting the best drone insurance policy.
The reason why drone insurance (especially liability insurance) is important is that if you cause accidental property damage or injuries to someone else while operating your drone for work, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs, medical bills, and lawsuits – if you’re covered however, you won’t need to have a thing (in most cases).
And let’s be honest, FPV drones are way more prone to injuring people than normal drones.
You should also keep in mind that most of your clients WILL require you to have FPV drone insurance if you use a drone for a project. If you don’t have drone insurance, they won’t hire you.
So there is that too!
If you want to read up more on this, I’ve written a full guide about drone insurance over here.
As you can clearly see if you’ve read through all of this, starting an FPV drone business is a lucrative venture – if you’re passionate about FPV drones, there is no reason why you can’t consider turning that passion into a business.
There are a plethora of ways to make money with FPV drones. The most important thing is to master the art of flying FPV drones as it’s vastly different than flying normal drones.
Once you do that, just remember to be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to network with other FPV drone pilots.
Networking is very important in the drone world. It helps you both improve your skills and could open up opportunities for you to partner up on larger projects.
Finally, starting and running an FPV drone business is no easy thing, but if done correctly can allow you to make big bucks!