10 Ways to Make Money with Your Drone

Doug Jenkins


I started my drone business as a side hustle, but this year I will make over $100,000 and you can too. The caveat is you need the right drone, and of course, you need to know how to operate it efficiently. Learning to fly a drone, just takes a little bit of practice. On our high school football field is where I learned. I have become an excellent drone pilot. It is a skill you can develop, just like learning to ride a bike or driving a car.

The Best Drone for the Money

I recommend the Phantom 4 Pro, this is my go-to drone. It is just the most versatile drone. The Phantom 4 Drone has the best photo or video quality without spending more than two thousand dollars.  It is by far the best drone for the money.

I don’t think those that want to make a profit with their drone should spend more than $2,000 on their drone, but you don’t want to go cheap or your customers will not be happy with the quality of your pictures and videos. The Phantom 4 is the way to go, that is what all the experts told me, and I am glad I listened to them.

I was broke when I started my drone business. So, $2000 is a good budget to start with, thankfully I had a credit card I could get my Phantom 4 purchased with that I found out at the end of the year was a tax deduction.

Step #1 is to buy the Phantom 4 Pro. You can also use it for mapping and other things now if you want to go lighter you could go with the Mavic 2 pro although the image quality I find is a little better right out of the box with a Phantom 4 Pro Plus as a mechanical shutter and it shoots 4k up to 60 frames per second which is a Mavic Pro doesn’t and if you have a little patience you could also go with.

Many people that say that want to start making money with a drone get hung up on the gear there are so many other things you need to work on to make money with your drone and having the right drone is just one part of the equation. One thing for sure until you go ahead and bite the bullet and buy your drone you will never make a dime as a drone pilot.

You’re also going to need a commercial license at some point if you’re in the  United States. Every state has different requirements so you can look up the state you live in, for many, it is just a matter of paying a small license fee.

So, you’ve got your drone, you paid your license fee, it is time to make some money.


The first way to make money I’d recommend is doing real estate photos. This includes any type of building residential or commercial. I just sent a message to my friends and family on social media asking them that if they know anyone who would like an aerial photo or their home or business to send them my way, I was starting a drone photography business on the side, and my phone started ringing off the hook, I was shocked.

People that are thinking about selling their house and those that just wanted a picture of their house or business from the sky started calling me. The referrals got crazy in my third month as people started showing their friends the photos of the homes I took and they called me wanting me to take a picture of their home.

Another thing I did that got me clients was I just reached out to real estate agents and other photographers and videographers who already do real estate photography. There is an entire business just doing drone photography for real estate agents. Within 90 days, I was meeting people, collaborating with other photographers, and making money. I quit my retail job 90 days into what I thought was going to be a part-time gig, and had the credit card paid off that I bought my Phantom 4 with.

2. Wedding Event Photos

My second way of making money with your drone is wedding event photos. Now when it comes to real estate or weddings people want an entire package they don’t want just one aerial image, they want an entire package so if you already have photography or video skills you can sell it as an entire package.

If you don’t like what I said, you’re going to need to reach out to a videographer or photographer and collaborate with them, so it all depends on your skillset. Many weddings in the spring, summer, and fall are held outside, and people love drone shots of their outdoor wedding. They of course are going to want ground shots as well.  Currently, I work with the top 4 wedding photographers in my town and when he books their wedding package he makes drone photography something they can add to the package. They take a cut and then hire me to do the job. It is a win-win situation for all of us.

3. Chamber of Commerce

Contact your local cities Chamber of Commerce and attend one of their meetings and hand out your business cards and meet people. I live in a small town but this got me, 3 new customers, after my first visit.

4. Set Up a Business Website

I set up a very simple WordPress website for my business using BlueHost Hosting and WordPress. I had it set up and operational, doing it myself on a Saturday. I just wanted to make sure that if people went to google and search Drone Photography in my city, I would show up in the search engine rankings. 

You don’t need to hire a web developer to do this, it is easy. I pay less than $4.00 a month for my WordPress website hosted on BlueHost. I had a new customer call me from finding me online within two weeks after my website was set up and this one client will cover my website hosting fees for the next 4 years. This is something I wish I had done earlier.

5. Sell Stock Video Footage Online

What are the landmarks in your town?  Is there an old bridge, a river, a sports stadium?   You can take video clips that are historical or popular and sell you video footage online.

People are looking for videos of let’s say and old statues to add to different films or promotional clips, and they go to these stock video websites and buy your footage to include in their project.

The Stock Video Footage website gets a percentage because they bought you the customer and then your cut is deposited directly into your PayPal, Vemmo, or they will cut you a check. This is a great way to make passive income with your drone photography business.  Earlier this week someone in China purchased a short clip I did of the courthouse in my small town. How cool is that?

 6. Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business

When I shot footage to upload to different stock video websites, I also started my website and uploaded videos of all the landmarks in my area. I also included a link to my website, and many of the clients I work with found me first on Youtube.

7. Drone Inspections

Another way I make great money with my drone is doing drone inspections. So, you’re going to need a good thermal camera. I would recommend a FLIRcamera and then, you also need a drone like a Mitrice 200 or you could also use the Maverick 2 Enterprise or even the Inspire One. You need a drone that makes it easy to install the FLIR THERMAL CAMERA.

With this camera, you can inspect things like roofs, pipelines, and other situations that in the past people had to do using physical manpower. With drone photography and the right equipment, you can do it quicker and safer. This is a huge growing niche in the drone industry.

I invested in the equipment because there was a demand and many people were asking for this type of service, plus this was probably six months after I started my drone business and I was already making money hands-on. You can make stupid money with your drone business offering this service.

8. Construction Site Videos

There are many different types of contractors involved in large construction projects, electrical, HV, Plumbing, and I have worked with all of them on various needs they have had with their projects. This is another niche that has provided great word-of-mouth advertising for me.

9. Google Adsense

I thought I would include this in this article. This is something else I wish I had discovered earlier. Two months ago I ran across a video on YouTube talking about adding google ad words code to your website and making passive income. It was free so I thought why not.

Basically, on my business website in a few select spots, I added code that allows Google to show ads. Then google pays me for every click the ads generate, based upon what they are charging to the advertiser. There are several videos on Youtube about this if you are not familiar with it.

During my first two months, I made $32.00. Not a lot but hey not bad for just adding some simple code to my WordPress website. It was enough to take my girlfriend to the movies and get some popcorn, so that was cool.


Another way to make money with your drone that is growing in popularity and very profitable is mapping.

The best mapping drone right now is the DJI Matrice 600 Pro Hexacopter. The metric is a high-end sophisticated unit that you can use with software like drawn deploy picks 4D  so the mapping industry is growing and you can take pictures of a construction site that’s going to be built or as it is being built.

In agriculture, there are so many things you can do with mapping. I would like to get involved in mapping. I haven’t done it yet but something I am getting involved with soon. I just invested in a new drone, the DJI MATRICE 600 Pro Hexcopter that I plan to use elusively for mapping.


Buying the Phantom 4 Drone with a credit card with the intent to make money with it is probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. I was able to quit my job 3 months from the day the drone arrived, and I end up making 3 times more money than I would have at my retail job.

This is my second year and I will make well over $100,000 this year. Honestly, I can’t say that without tearing up, it is just mind-blowing for me. I love being a drone pilot every day I get to do what I love to do. I have trained three part-time drone pilots that work for me. Two of my cousins and a friend from high school, and I see no end in sight for my business. I just invested in the Matrice 600 and Drone Mapping is the next thing on the horizon for my business.

If you are thinking about using your drone to make money or buying a drone to make money, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Without question, the Phantom 4 is the Drone you want. Good luck and Happy Flying!


How to Make $200 an Hour as a Drone Photographer