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15 Drone Business Ideas
Written by: Natalie Fell
Natalie is a business writer with experience in operations, HR, and training & development within the software, healthcare, and financial services sectors.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on May 29, 2023
15 Drone Business Ideas
- Real Estate Photography
- Drone Sales
- Drone Flying Courses
- Drone Racing
- Wedding and Event Photography
- Agricultural Monitoring
- News and Media Footage
- Mapping and Surveying Services
- Utility Inspections
- Inventory Management
- Drone Repair Services
- Sports Footage
- Drone Delivery Services
- Surveillance and Security
- Drone Insurance
Ever since drones hit the market, people have been coming up with innovative ways to use them. From big companies using drones for security and surveillance and inventory management, to amateur drone enthusiasts making a name for themselves as professional racers, the possibilities are endless.
As a result, the US drone services market was worth almost $14 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at an explosive annual rate of 23.8% through 2026. If you’ve been wanting in on the action but don’t know where to start, check out this list of exciting drone business ideas and let your entrepreneurial spirit fly to new heights!
1. Real Estate Photography
Real estate listings for residential and commercial properties rely on stellar photos and videos for their online listings. Potential buyers are drawn to the most attractive looking marketing. Drones have the ability to capture angles and footage that regular cameras cannot. Partner with real estate agents and commercial developers in your area to generate leads. Expand your business and increase revenue by including video and photo editing in your services.
2. Drone Sales
If you’re a seasoned drone operator and are intimately familiar with the way the machines operate, consider starting a drone retail business. You can sell exclusively online to keep overhead costs low, or go all out and design a state-of-the-art brick and mortar shop. Drone technology is always changing, so drone enthusiasts are always looking to upgrade their equipment. You could also accept trade-ins to give customers discounts on new models, allowing you to resell the used models for additional profit.
3. Drone Flying Courses
Many people purchase drones with no idea how to operate them, which could lead to accidental crashes and expensive damage. Offering drone flying courses to new drone owners can be a lucrative business venture. For drone operators looking to monetize their hobby, you could offer commercial drone flying courses. Consider creating a certification program to establish credibility and draw in business. You could even create and run online courses and cater to customers all over the world!
4. Drone Racing
Drone racing is becoming increasingly popular and with that comes a variety of business opportunities. If you’re a skilled drone racer with a track record of success, you could begin seeking out sponsorship opportunities. Races like the World Drone Prix in Dubai have grand prizes of up to $250,000! If you prefer to host events instead, you could put together your own drone racing events and charge for admission. You could also partner with local food and entertainment vendors, making it fun for the whole family.
5. Wedding and Event Photography
Couples are always looking to capture their wedding day in new and unique ways. In addition to regular video, drone footage is used to record a bird’s eye view of the event. Aerial drones provide breathtaking video of impressive outdoor venues, really showcasing the landscape. Competition within this niche can be pretty extensive, so you’ll need to set yourself apart. Consider partnering with established standard wedding photographers in your local area.
6. Agricultural Monitoring
If you live in a rural area, local farmers may need your drone skills to keep an eye on their crops. Busy farmers can’t keep their eyes on everything at the same time, which can sometimes lead to damaged plants and ruined harvests. With drone footage, farmers are able to get a comprehensive view of what’s going on at the farm. You could also rig your drone to spray pesticides on crops, saving farmers time and money on labor.
7. News and Media Footage
It can be tough for journalists and photographers to get close to dangerous happenings, especially in crowded cities. Drone footage of an event is not only a safe alternative, but you often get a clearer, broader picture of the situation at hand. Some news outlets even use drones to capture real-time traffic footage instead of using helicopters. The media can pay a pretty penny for excellent coverage, but you’ll need to spend time networking to get your work in the right hands.
8. Mapping and Surveying Services
Surveying companies often struggle to obtain accurate measurements of terrain that’s hard to access. In the past, they had to rely on helicopters to get the data they need, which are expensive to operate. Drones provide high-quality data with more precision and are much more affordable. Outside of surveying businesses, government agencies, energy companies, and construction firms may be interested in your services as well. Research relevant trade shows in your area and consider making an appearance to meet potential customers.
9. Utility Inspections
In the past, the only way to inspect potentially problematic power lines was to have a technician climb up and take a look. Today, more and more energy companies are relying on drones to do this work. Organizations looking to cut staffing costs may be more inclined to pay a drone operator instead of hiring a full-time inspector, which could land you a high-paying contract. In addition to power lines, utility companies may also need inspections of water pumping facilities and substations in remote locations.
10. Inventory Management
Big companies like Amazon and Walmart are investing heavily in drone technology to keep track of the extensive inventory in their warehouses. Storage facilities with products stacked high to the ceiling are tough for employees to access. Drones can be used to both monitor stock levels and retrieve hard-to-reach items. While large corporations typically have in-house drone capabilities, network with local businesses in your area who may need your expertise.
11. Drone Repair Services
As more people become drone owners, the need for reliable repair services is increasing as well. If you’re a mechanical genius with a knack for bringing drones back to life, a drone repair business can be a wildly profitable venture. Repairing a drone requires very specialized skills which are sought after by everyone from professional drone racers to the military. In addition to repairs, you could also offer customization services and upgrades.
12. Sports Footage
Both professional and amateur athletes love to have footage of a great performance. Many work with drone operators to capture them in their winning moments. Athletes can use the footage to obtain sponsorships. Aspiring college and pro football players may also use drone photography and video to create highlight reels they then send to scouts and agents. Network with local schools and sporting organizations in your area to find customers.
13. Drone Delivery Services
As big name retailers and logistics companies move towards using drones to deliver goods, there’s never been a better time to learn how to operate a drone. As this phenomenon becomes more popular, small and mid-sized businesses will want to get in on the action, which could turn into major opportunities for local drone enthusiasts. A big selling point you could use for marketing is that the cost of using traditional delivery methods like vans and trucks is significantly higher than drone delivery services.
14. Surveillance and Security
Drones can fly about in the skies with little to no obstruction, making surveillance of properties and businesses highly efficient. Drones can be equipped with high-powered cameras that can pinpoint security breaches from afar. Additionally, advanced security systems that incorporate drones are often linked to smartphones, providing property owners with a convenient monitoring system. Network with local security providers in your area to see if they have interest partnering with a skilled drone operator.
15. Drone Insurance
If you have a knack for finance and an intimate knowledge of insurance policies, you could start a booming drone insurance business. Drone businesses in some states are required to carry comprehensive insurance to run their operations. Drone insurance covers things like liability in the event the person’s drone is involved in an injury or causes property damage. To stand out from any competition, market to a specific niche, like drone photographers or businesses that use drones in everyday operations.
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