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Starting a Drone Aerial Photography Business – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting an aerial drone photography business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting an aerial drone photography business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample aerial drone photography business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample aerial drone photography marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for aerial drone photography companies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a aerial drone photography business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Table of Content

  1. Industry Overview
  2. Market Research and Feasibility
  3. Drone Photography Business Plan
  4. Business Name ideas
  5. Licenses and Permits
  6. Marketing Plan
  7. Cost of Starting a Drone Photography Business
  8. Marketing ideas & Strategies

There are loads businesses that an entrepreneur who is looking at starting a business can successfully start and make huge success from and one of such business is to start a publishing company. The drone technology industry over time has continued to evolve in order to meet the changing trends in our world.

Why Start a Drone Aerial Photography Business?

Drone technology is rapidly gaining prominence in the globe beyond the military circuit. Drones are unmanned but controlled aircraft (aerial vehicle or unpiloted vehicle) used in the military during war to attack the enemy’s camp and also are used by the military for surveillance and to gather intelligence.

Drones are also used by the military to deliver foods to front line troops during war. Drones come in handy when the risk and difficulty involved in any military operation is high and unsafe for soldiers.

In recent times, the civilian community has started developing and making use of drones to carry out tasks such as surveying of vast farm lands (plantation), for delivery of parcels, to monitor and count wildlife and livestock, for  geographical mapping, for search and rescue operations, for monitoring pipelines, for road patrol and for general commercial photography and motion picture film-making.

What Does It Take to Start a Drone Aerial Photography Business Successfully?

There are a lot you need to know and learn about drone technology before making up your mind to go into aerial drone photography. Therefore, if you have decided to start an aerial drone photography business, then you should gather all the available materials you can get on drones and ensure that you read them up.

Your research will provide you with information of where to attend aerial drone photography training, how to source for aerial drone photography contract, the required tools and license for aerial drone photography business, aerial drone photography billing administration et al.

Since your intention of acquiring aerial drone photography training is to start your own aerial drone photography business, then you should make plans to write a comprehensive business plan. There is no point bothering yourself writing your business plan if you are not trained to do so, you can contract it to professionals whose job is to write business plans for business owners. All you need to do is to furnish them with all the required information and then pay the fee you are charged.

Just like every other business there might be challenges here and there and also competition in the industry, but if you are determined and dedicated towards growing and expanding the business, chances are that you will achieve your aim. So if you are thinking of building a successfully publishing company, you must be deliberate, determined and dedicated towards building the business to your set goal.

Starting an Aerial Drone Photography Business – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Aerial photography is the taking of photographs of the ground from an elevated/direct-down position. Generally the camera is not supported by a ground-based structure. Platforms that are used for aerial photography include fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones” as they are commonly called), balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, pigeons, kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles et al.

  • Interesting Statistics About the Drone Photography Industry

In all countries of the world where private investors are involved in aerial drone photography business, there are laws governing the industry. For example, in the United States, FAA guidelines stipulate that drones and other model aircraft must stay less than 400 feet above the ground and not within 3 miles of an airport or air traffic.

Some states in the US are strict when it comes to trespassing laws as well. Steering a drone over someone’s apartment and property could be considered a trespassing violation. Because anything capable of being viewed from a public space is considered outside the realm of privacy in the United States, aerial photography may legally document features and occurrences on private property.

On September 26, 2014, the FAA began granting the right to individuals and organizations to use drones in aerial film-making. Operators are required to be licensed pilots and must keep the drone in view at all times and it is important to note that drones cannot be used to take pictures or film in areas where people might be put at risk.

The photography industry of which aerial drone photography business belongs to is indeed a very large and growing industry and pretty much active in the United States of America, Russia, Germany, Japan, China, South Korea and in most developed countries of the world.

If you are looking towards starting an aerial drone photography business, then you should consider purchasing a 3D Robotics’ Iris or more popular models like DJI’s Phantom series. Generally, the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is the standard when it comes to aerial videography and photography. It weighs only 73 grams and can record video (2,704×1,524 pixels) at 45Mbps.

It also features built-in Wi-Fi for downloading your footage and maximum compatibility with OEM and third-party accessories. You may want to see where you’re flying while steering a drone from the ground, for instance. To achieve this, you can use a tool like a video transmitter, such as the Immersion RC 5.8 GHz 600mw, which greatly increases the range of a 5.8GHz link, and then you can pair it with a Duo5800 or Uno5800 receiver on the ground to get noise-free video.

Despite the fact that the aerial drone photography industry appears to be green in the United States, there is a positive outlook for the industry especially when it comes to leveraging on the changing trends in technology. People are encouraged to go into aerial drone photography business because of the vast opportunities that are available in the industry and also because the industry is indeed a thriving and profitable one especially when it is well positioned and promoted.

Over and above, the photography industry and the aerial drone photography line of business is a profitable industry and it is open for any aspiring entrepreneur to come in and establish his or her business; you can chose to start on a small scale working for just a private company or you can chose to start on a large scale working for both government establishments and large corporations who are into research and related businesses.

Starting an Aerial Drone Photography Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition for those who need the services and products of aerial drone photography companies is all encompassing. It is a fact that there are some forms of photography that can’t be carried out except with the use of aerial drones or similar equipment / tools.

As a matter of fact, you can market your drone photography business to Businesses in the Agriculture Industry, Film Makers, Surveyors, Government agencies and of course every other organizations / businesses and individual who would need the services of an aerial drone photography company to work for them on their special projects.

List of Niche ideas Within the Drone Photography Industry That You Can Specialize in

Although there is a limited niche ideas in the aerial drone photography industry; but that does not stop a drone photography company to combine all the niches in the industry; a company can successfully handle all forms of drone photography.

So also, if you are interested in starting a drone photography company, you can decide to carve a niche for yourself. Whatever niche you choose to go into, just ensure that you have done your market research and survey and you are certain that you will be able to generate enough business deals from it.

Here are some of the niches you can specialize in if you want to start a drone photography business;

  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for property analysis
  • Orthophotos, alternatively known as orthophotomaps (Orthophotos are commonly used in geographic information systems)
  • Cartography services particularly in photogrammetric surveys, which are often the basis for topographic maps, land-use planning, archaeology, movie production, environmental studies, power line inspection, surveillance, commercial advertising, conveyancing, and artistic projects

The Level of Competition in the Drone Photography Industry

The competitions that exist in the aerial drone photography line of business may not be stiff simply because the business requires some level of technical skills and certifications and of course because the business is new. Although, the aerial drone photography business requires some form of trainings, certifications and expertise, it does not stop any serious minded entrepreneur to start the business and still make good profit out of this business.

No matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you position your business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you have what it takes to handle complex aerial drone photography and you know how to reach out to your target market.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Drone Photography Industry

When it comes to done photography, you can be rest assured that there are world class drone photography companies scattered all across the world; drone photography companies that can favorably compete for drone photography contracts in any part of the world.

Here are some of the well – known drone photography companies in the United States of America and in other part of the world;

  • FLYFILM is an Australian leader in drone based aerial photography
  • Aerofilms Ltd
  • The Thornton-Pickard company
  • The Drone Company, the go to aerial filming and photography specialist’s in the UK.

Economic Analysis

If you are planning to successfully launch a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Drone photography is relatively new which is why the gadgets seem to be expensive. So if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of the required drone photography gadgets and other equipment needed to successfully run the business.

Over and above, if you are considering starting a drone photography company, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of setting up the business and securing publishing contracts but also on how to build a robust distribution network. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust distribution network, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

Starting a Drone Photography Business from the Scratch vs Buying a Franchise

Unfortunately, you can hardly find a franchise of a drone photography company to purchase meaning that if you want to own a drone photography business, then you must be ready to start from the scratch. This is so because the business is still pretty much green and there are loads of opportunities available to aspiring entrepreneurs that are interested in the industry.

The truth is that it will pay you to start your drone photography company from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a niche to major in. For example, after conducting your market survey and feasibility studies and you realize that the market for drone photography business is large and profitable.

Please note that most of the big and successful digital marketing agencies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedications, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own digital marketing brand to become a successful brand in your area of specialization and even go ahead to work for clients both at the national level and global stage.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will face When Starting a Drone Photography Business

Just like any other business, some of the threats and challenges that you are going to face are the presence of a well – known drone photography brand within same location where you have yours, economic downturn, unfavorable government policies and to some extent technology advancement especially if you don’t know how to leverage on new technology to take your business to the next level.

Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Drone Photography Business

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own drone photography business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Imagination Drone Photos, Inc.
  • Wide West Photography, LLC.
  • Peter Chaps Drone Photography Company
  • Wide – Spread Pictures® Aerial Drone Photography Company
  • Kingston Research and Photos, LLC

Writing a Business Plan for your Drone Photography Business

Starting a drone photography business especially if you have plans of going international or working for clients all over the globe requires a detailed business plan. There are loads of major players in the industry and for you to be able to compete favorably with them; you should be able to come up with good and workable business plan.

A Business plan is the blue print of your business; it is a business document that can aid you to successfully set up a business and also administer / manage the business effectively. It is not enough to just write a business plan for the sake of writing one, your business plan should be able to pass reality check; you must put relevant facts, figures and statistics into consideration when writing your business plan.

The truth is that, the main aim of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to have a detail guide on how to effectively set – up, run and manage your business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to operate your drone photography business.

When writing your business plan, ensure that you are moderate when it comes to setting projections on income generation et al. It is better to be on the safer side which is why when you are calculating your future income you should make use of the lower range figures as against the upper range.

These are some key factors that you should also consider when drafting a business plan for your drone photography company;

Executive summary and Company’s descriptions: you are expected to write about the concept of your business – the niche of drone photography services you want to major in, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, and mission statement, where your company will be located, your management team, your mode of carrying out your job and perhaps why people should patronize your services amongst other key factors.

Other key components that should not be missing in your drone photography company business plan are your service offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, management techniques, expansion strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.

Choosing a Location for Your Drone Photography Company

When it comes to choosing a location for your drone photography business, the rule of thumb is that, you should be guided by the demand for such niche of photography in the location you so desire to start the business. Of course if you are able to secure a central location for your drone photography business, it will enable you cut the cost of transporting your jobs from your photo lab to the various locations and pick up points as requested by your clients.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your drone photography company, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out. This is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set – up your own drone photography business.

These are some of the factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your drone photography company;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for such customized photography services in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residence of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The numbers of drone photographers in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community / state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

Starting a Drone Aerial Photography Business – Technical & Manpower Details

If you are considering setting up a drone photography company, it means that you should be prepared to purchase drone photography gadgets such as aerial drones, cameras and accessories (a 3D Robotics’ Iris or DJI’s Phantom series, GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, built-in Wi-Fi for downloading your footage and maximum compatibility with OEM and third-party accessories, a video transmitter, such as the Immersion RC 5.8 GHz 600mw, which greatly increases the range of a 5.8GHz link, and then you can pair it with a Duo5800 or Uno5800 receiver on the ground to get noise-free video.

This is the basic technology needed to launch the business. If you don’t have enough cash, you can start with fairly used gadgets but if you are financially buoyant, then you should go for brand new drone photography gadgets. Other technicality that you should be concern about when setting up a drone photography company is relevant software applications; with the appropriate photo software, you can be able to come up with detailed job.

As regard leasing or outright purchase of an office facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location / facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard drone photography company, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (Owner, Admin and Human Resources Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager, Aerial Drone Photographic Specialist / Operators, Accountant, and Client Services Executive. These are some of the key employees that you can work with. On the average, you will need a minimum of 7 key staff members to run a drone photography business.

The Service Delivery Process Involved in the Drone Photography Business

Basically, drone photography business consist of the following business process; bidding for a drone photography contract, mapping out strategies on how to carry out a drone photography project, deploying men and machineries to the field to carry out a drone photography project, collect and analysis the data / pictures gathered on the field, print and packaged the print – out of the pictures as requested by the client and then deliver the project to the client.

It is important to state that a drone photography company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated drone photography business process is not cast on stone.

Starting a Drone Aerial Photography Business – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies for a drone aerial photography business

Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to run a drone photography business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your drone photography business;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to corporate organizations, businesses in the agriculture sector, film makers, research organizations and key stake holders throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Print handbills about your aerial drone photography business and its locations and drop them in public facilities.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across, so that those on the social media or those who read blogs can know where to go when they need the services of an aerial drone photographer
  • Creating a basic website for your business, so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your aerial drone photography business.
  • Join local photography / aerial drone photography associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise our business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Factors That Will Help You Get the Right Service Pricing for your Drone Photography Business

The factors that will help you get the right pricing for drone photography business is to cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting digital photo publishing (e – albums / online photo sales).

Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, and get the right pricing for your business, it will also help prevent global warming. This is so because the more people get used to digital photos (soft copies as the case may be), the less hardcopy photos that will be printed and of course the less trees that will be cut down.

So also, if you are able to secure pretty high volume drone photography jobs, you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits.

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors in the Drone Photography Industry

The quality of the pictures, your business process and of course your pricing model et al is part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry. If your clients are always looking towards working with you on a project and if they are comfortable recommending your services to others, then you will be able to survive the drone photography industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust business network. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned; key members of your team are highly qualified and certified digital marketing consultants.

Possible Ways to Increase Client Retention for your for a Drone Photography Business

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customers’ retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.

Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality. If you can continue to improve on the quality of your pictures and customer service delivery and also give your customers options, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.

When it comes to managing your customers and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick survey, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

Strategies to Boost your Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity for your Drone Photography Business

If you are in business and you are deliberate about boosting you brand and communicating your corporate identity, then you must be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of big corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity.

If your intention of starting a drone photography business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are operating from to become a national or international drone photographer, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.

Another strategy is to sponsor relevant TV and radio programs, and also to sponsor events both locally and internationally. You can also brand all your official cars, your workers should be encouraged to wear your company’s branded shirt and you should install your billboards in strategic locations where your target market exist.

Tips for Running a Drone Photography Business Successfully

The success of any business is the combination of the daily activities that takes place in the organization. In order to run a successful drone photography business it is important to create standard operating processes that runs on autopilot and your website must always be available and user’s friendly.

Every day’s job should start by reviewing the previous day’s job, reviewing all the set targets and goals before setting a new target or goal for the day. If an organization must succeed, all hands must be on deck; everybody should be involved in promoting the brand of the organization. It should not be left to the PR or marketing and sales department.

The management of the organization should ensure that they review the operating processes from time to time in order to develop better and faster ways of doing things. If it is possible, they can hire the services of business consultants to look into the process and then make recommendations on how best to carry out a job description et al. Recommendation could mean suggesting a customized software for a specific process in the drone photography and production processes.

The truth is that, no matter the kind of business you run, your ability to get all the members of your team on same page at all times is one of the keys you need to successfully run the organization.

As the chief executive officer of the business, it is you responsibility to give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedbacks, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week or once in a month.

Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Lastly, you should keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team and be willing to reward excellent performance as at when due.

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