From Hobby to Drone Business?

Discussion in 'UAS Business Operation' started by SteveK, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. SteveK

    SteveK New Member

    Hi, I've been pondering stepping up my drone hobby into trying to make some income from it. I know there is lots of info around on what it takes to do that, but I'd love to hear from people who are actually doing it (in particular people who have gone from a hobby to a business or side business), or have tried to do that, or who are thinking of doing it, but haven't started yet.

    If you're doing this (or tried and failed), what are the big challenges you've encountered and what kinds of things have been frustrating or difficult to overcome? (or, if you're like me and are still thinking about it, what has held you back from getting started?).
    roger jones likes this.
  2. roger jones

    roger jones Well-Known Member

    Interesting topic. Just learning to fly, so its a no from me.

    What area are you interested in considering?

    1. Photographing peoples houses?
    2. Film making?
    3. Industrial surveying?
    4. Agricultural work?

    Or do you have another idea?
  3. SteveK

    SteveK New Member

    Not that succeeding in any business is "easy", but it seems like the easiest drone business to start would be real estate photography. The technical skills needed are not too great (though, of course, you have to be a competent pilot and be able to take quality images). It's also something that is easy to find the people who need the services (real estate agents). I think inspection and 3d mapping services would be interesting too, but seem like they'd be harder to break into.

    You read a lot about business ideas for drones, but not a lot from people who started out with a drone as a hobby and then transitioned to a business, so I was curious to hear about what kinds of challenges and frustrations people ran into in trying to do that ... or what kinds of things hold people back if that interests them, but they aren't doing it. I suppose for me the first obstacle is just taking the time to study for and get the Remote Pilot Certification (Part 107).
  4. ringolong

    ringolong Well-Known Member

    I am a professional real estate droneographer(<- that should be a word if is is not :D) on the side of my day to day job so I give up a part of my weekend for this.(Principle Software Engineer)

    I started flying for hobby, but I turned into a profitable hobby that soon turned into a job so I rarely fly for fun these days since I fly every weekend that the weather allows.

    The most undesirable part of the whole drone business is the editing. The filming is easy, but the editing is where the real work starts.
  5. SteveK

    SteveK New Member

    Interesting, that's great to hear you were able to make it profitable. Did you run into any hurdles along the way or did you find that your services were in demand right from the start? What software do you use for editing ... is it just that the software is complicated?
  6. Spork

    Spork There is no spoon

    I don't run a business, but I have done enough amateur photography to say that getting your 107 will be a lot easier than building the shooting and editing skills. You are correct that the basics are very easy to pickup, but developing "your eye" for the type of project takes time. If you asked me to shoot action sports, I can have 50 very nice shots pretty easily over a weekend. I may come nearly empty handed if I was doing wildlife photography for the same weekend.

    Editing can be a little complicated at first, but once you learn your tools, it gets a lot easier. The thing with editing is it takes time. Which do I immediately put in the trash? Which are almost awesome right out of the camera? Which ones could be awesome if they got some editing time. The total time starts with your shot volume and is driven mainly on your process and how much time it takes to edit single images. For example, when my daughter played volleyball on a travel team, over a typical 3 day tournament, I would end up with 3500-4000 shots. When I got home, the first hour was spent ditching the trash - I might be down to about 700-800 shots at this point. Take a break, come back and spend another hour getting them down to the 200-300 range. Then I'd spend another hour or so editing my favorite 6-10 shots. Maybe another hour or so playing with the remainder as a big group, generally setting the same couple of filters, etc. Your process might have different shot volume, but the flow will be similar and you will spend different amounts of time on different steps, etc.
  7. Jackson

    Jackson USA member at large

  8. ringolong

    ringolong Well-Known Member

    Editing is not difficult for me, but it takes more time than I like. I contacted a few realtors, and one just happened to need some drone shots.

    I run a hackintosh with fcpx, lightroom and adobe premiere pro.(I prefer fcpx)

    As @Jackson stated - you will need as much computer as you can afford along with a large amount of storage. My current system is an i7 4790k, 32GB of ram, gtx970, and 22TB of storage. I am thinking about upgrading the motherboard and cpu to more cores.

    And prepare to use some bandwidth also if you plan to use Youtube or some online hosting. Rendered videos can be 5GB - 60GB depending on the output.
    SteveK and Spork like this.
  9. ringolong

    ringolong Well-Known Member

    What I am doing right now o_O

    Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 2.12.37 PM.png
    Spork likes this.

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