Is a drone a good investment? Insider tips!

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There is no doubt that buying a drone can get expensive. Consumer level drones can go anywhere from as low as US$25 to several thousand dollars. Therefore, you need to make sure that when you are buying a drone it can do exactly what you want and give you a return on your investment. Here, we will go over the question – is a drone a good investment? There is a myriad of reasons why people buy drones but here we will cover the most common and how you can make it a good investment. It all comes down to being cognisant of why you want a drone.

Is a drone a good investment? It all depends on why you are buying a drone. If you are buying a drone to add an extra service to your business – it could be a wise business investment. If you want to buy a drone to start a video and photography service – depending on your business acumen it may be one of the best investments, you can make. You can charge many thousands of dollars for aerial photography and videography as well as surveying. This covers the cost of a drone many times over. You may have to get different licenses and passive courses. Each will come with its own cost. You will need to factor this into the question of whether a drone is a good investment for you.

There are many awesome reasons to consider buying a drone, whether it’s for business, education, research, surveying, racing, or just plain fun. Investing in a new business capacity or a new skill that you want to learn can be a fantastic investment. It just comes down to you working out exactly why you want a drone.

Let’s cover the most common reasons of buying a drone and how you can turn it into a good investment.

What is the point of having a drone?

Working out exactly why you want a drone in the first place is how you can make sure it is a good investment. When we talk about things being a good investment we are talking about return on that investment. The return we are talking about can be anything from a monetary return, an increase in our knowledge or skill base, a fun hobby that we can use to relax, and a whole range of other things.

These are the steps you need to take to make sure that a drone is a good investment for you:

  • list the top three reasons why you want a drone – this is the most important step. Making sure that you understand WHY you want to drone will allow you to determine whether or not a drone will give you what you want.
  • what does success look like from buying this drone – for example, it may be that you have increased revenue for your business, it may be that you get out more often, it could be that you are learning a new skill, it may be that you make new friends via a common hobby. Determining what success looks like will allow you to make sure your drone is a good investment for you.
  • Set a budget for your drone – a good investment is one where the monetary outlay is able to be recouped in some way. Making sure that you don’t spend a fortune on your drone and that it gives you the return you want comes down to setting a firm top budget.
  • Consider buying a second hand or refurbished drone – a good investment is about spending as little amount of money as possible to get the desired effect. Buying a second hand drone is one way of keeping costs super low but still having the functionalities and capabilities that are drone gives you. For a full run down on buying a second hand drone go check out my other article – click here – it is a massive article that gives you everything you need to be a confident secondhand drone buyer. It even includes a free download checklist to take with you.
how to buy a second hand drone

Follow these simple steps and I’m in no doubt that a drone could be a good investment for you. Now, let’s take a quick look at the reasons why you may want to buy a new drone and how you you can make sure it is a good investment.

A new service offering for your photography business

if you are considering buying a drone to support an existing business – you will have to work out exactly what your potential clients are willing to pay for and how much they are willing to pay. A good business decision is one where the customers are at the front and centre of the decision.

What do your customers actually want from a drone service offering. Do they want real estate photography? Do they want high definition footage to support television commercials? Do they want surveying capabilities? These are the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself before you even consider what sort of drone capability you will invest in. The only way to get a real answer to this question is to start approaching potential customers and selling them services to see what they are willing to buy. I have found during my many business ventures that the responses are not often what I expect them to be.

After you have worked out what your customers want from a drone service offering, you need to work out what they are willing to pay for it. This, quite honestly, is where most businesses decide not to invest in drone services. Quite often, clients do not have the budget to afford a professional drone service. They like the idea of it more than their budget allows.

Also, if you are using a drone as a commercial venture different rules and regulations apply to you. You should check out your local jurisdiction and country civil aviation laws to find out what differs from hobby drone flyer to professional service. You may need to take some expensive courses, invest in insurance, and keep your licenses and registration up to date. Each of these comes at a cost which will impact your return on investment.

Take all of the above into consideration before buying a drone as a service offering. It’s not until someone parts with their hard-earned money for a service that you can be really sure they are telling you the truth.

Keep monitoring the increase or decrease in revenue and stay responsive to the results. Asking for constant feedback from your customers will make sure that your investment is a good one.

Arguably, most people do not buy a drone to try to add a new business service offering or to start a side hustle – they just do it for fun! Let’s take a look at how you can make sure that buying a drone for fun is a good investment.

For fun

Most people buy a drone because it looks fun! And that reason is good enough. It is the one reason why I was first drawn to drone flying and footage. It just looks so cool and watching famous YouTuber’s flying their drone just looked fun. However, little did I know there was much more to flying a drone than I thought.

To make sure that your drone purchase is a good investment if you are primarily flying for fun you need to make sure that you are getting something beyond a monetary return on your investment. This could include:

  • learning a new skill – there is an argument to be had in learning for learning’s sake. I love learning new skills and flying and piloting a drone was a perfect skill to build. It was fun, I felt good about learning new things, and I had concrete evidence and outcomes to show off my new skill (like cool footage and photos).
  • Making new friends – making new friends from flying a drone and joining a common interest group can be its own reward. There is something awesome about becoming part of a new community and is a fantastic way to make genuine new friends.
  • Learning to teach – buying a drone will result in you learning a whole new range of skills. It may be that your desire is to teach other people how to fly drones. There are plenty of awesome ways that you can teach people to flyer drone such as, YouTube, start a blog (like this one), or offer drone flying lessons to your community. Teaching others is a fantastic outcome for your investment. It may even lead to a little bit of a side hustle for you.

Of course, if you are flying for fun the question becomes – do drones get boring? Let’s take a quick look at that question to make sure your investment isn’t damaged by initial excitement that slides quickly into boredom.

Do drones get boring?

There is no doubt that when you buy a new gadget you are initially very excited for it. This could mean that you are using it away more often the new wheel in a couple months time. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad investment. No one can blame themselves for getting carried away with a new gadget. Making sure you know your purpose or reason why you have bought a drone will mean that it will not get boring.

In my experience, my drone usage dropped off dramatically after I stopped using the footage for my LinkedIn vlog.

The LinkedIn vlog was a reason for me to carry my drone with me every day and Should be role footage. So my drone flying experience didn’t get boring, I just had no reason or purpose to fly anymore. I’ve used my drone for a few community events since but not nearly as much as I did for the year I was filming my vlog. Let’s take a look at that right now.

If you want to get out and about

One of the side benefits of buying a drone is that you have to go out into nature and find some cool places to fly. During my 16 month LinkedIn vlog creation I forced myself to go to some beautiful places in my home town of Adelaide. My partner joked with me that she liked having a drone as it forced us to do cool activities.

So, if you are buying a drone because you want to get out and about more – away from Netflix and the TV – it could be a perfect investment. Before you buy the drone, write down a list of 10 to 20 places that you would want to fly the drone. If you ever get uninspired or need to get out of the house you can look at that list and take your drone with you. Some of the best places for flying a drone are:

  • the beach – the contrast between the water and the sand, all the rocks, is just an awesome place to take drone shots.
  • Onto farmland – the ruggedness of the countryside allows for some beautiful contrasting colours and earthy tones in your shots.
  • The edge of the city – one of my favourite places to fly was the edge of Adelaide CBD. I was able to get some pretty cool shots of the buildings and the skyscrapers to include in my LinkedIn vlog.

Create your own list of your favourite places to go – and invest in your drone to motivate you to visit new and exciting places.

Add a new dynamic to your social media presence

There is no doubt that we live in a social media first society at the moment. Buying a drone will allow you to stand out on social media for all of the right reasons. There are plenty of really cool Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts that show off their drone flying skills. You could become one of them!

To make this reason a good investment your motivation has to go beyond the dopamine hit from new likes and shares. Using the drone to stand on social media goes hand-in-hand with practising your photography, composition, and videography skills. They may result in more likes and shares but really you are investing in your creative education.

Standing on social media is a fantastic way to get known and once you have built a loyal following and audience new opportunities will open up for you. You may find that you are able to sell prints and other merchandise or you may be an in demand teacher for drone photography. That brings me to another reason why you would want to buy a drone for investment purposes – to start a new side hustle.

Start a new side hustle

It’s pretty trendy these days to have a side hustle. Call it a side effect of late stage capitalism or just the natural movement of a generation trying new things, it doesn’t matter – people are starting side hustle is quicker than ever. Before you start a new side hustle these are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Will it make money? – It may seem like a pretty silly question but it’s the reason you are starting a side hustle. It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement but is there a market for this service? Where are your customers hanging out (online or in person)? How much of your service do you need to sell every month to make it worth your while? All of these questions are going to clarify the vision for your side hustle. And there is no harm in finding out it won’t work and moving on to another opportunity.
  • Do you actually need the extra income? – Starting a new side hustle can be a lot of work. It’s nice to have the extra income but that extra free time you have away from your main job is there for you to maintain your health. Filling that time with another side hustle could adversely affect your health. So, make sure you take this decision seriously!
  • Is it something that you will enjoy? – There’s no point starting a new drone side hustle if you just won’t enjoy doing it. My recommendation is to start doing it for fun and if people ask for you to do a service, and you enjoy it, go for it. That doesn’t mean you will enjoy every moment of it – but remember the reason you are doing it is because it is the perfect overlap of something you enjoy, something the world needs, and something that people will pay handsomely for. If you’re like most people, you already have a day job that you don’t really like – there’s no point in including another activity that you don’t really like in that mix.

If, after all of these points you still want to go ahead with your side hustle here are some ways that you can make some extra income from a drone and make it a great investment for you.

How can I make money with a drone?

There are a variety of ways that you can make money with a drone. Here we are just going to go over the most common ones. But to use your imagination and always look for new opportunities to monetise your services or knowledge during the growth stage of your side hustle. Use these for inspiration to start:

Earn money selling photos and footage

Buying a drone with a camera results in some awesome photos – photos that people are willing to invest in. One of the most sensible ways of earning money from a drone investment is to sell photos and footage. Set up a simple website and social media presence to show off your latest clients work – and start networking with potential clients. There are lots of people doing this but with the right amount of hustle and luck you should be able to find the perfect customers for your drone photo and photography services.

If you need to fill in a gap in revenue, consider uploading your drone footage to a stock video site like story blocks, pixabay, pond4, and Getty images. You may not get much but it is better than it sitting on your hard drive where it will definitely earn no money.

You have to make sure that you stand out from the competition when you are selling drone photos and footage. Consider niching down into a particular field or service area so that you become an expert in one field and the go to person for that marketplace.

Offer services in aerial surveying

professional drone aerial surveying is something that a lot of businesses need. In the past they would require a helicopter and photographer to look at stockpiles, survey land, survey property, and other surveying activities. Now, with a drone and a high definition camera you can save them a lot of money.

Offering services in aerial surveying requires you to understand an industrial pain for surveying certain assets. If you are selling your services to other businesses, B2B, you will need to have all of the appropriate checks, licenses, and insurances to do the job properly. This is an added expense but the work is much better paid and will quickly provide a return on your investment.

Start by looking for other services in the area and look to see if there is a gap or if you can offer a service for a cheaper or more comprehensive service.

Real estate footage

Real estate footage is a really powerful selling point for real estate agents. Particularly in a post-COVID-19 world (where prospective buyers cannot enter a property due to infection control), video footage of properties for sale is becoming much more important.

Also, there is just something really cool about drone footage and houses. It is a viewpoint that not a lot of people have, it makes even the most boring suburbs look awesome. Reaching out to your local real estate agents and asking if they have a reliable drone photographer for their marketing purposes will be the best thing you can do to start down this path. You will have to have a good portfolio before reaching out so you may have to do three or four jobs for free to build out credibility. Do not do any more than that for free – people always want free stuff but there is a moment where you have to just do it for the money and nothing else.

Drone reseller

One of the last ways that you can make money with drones is to become a drone reseller. Getting contact with manufacturers of drones and asking if you can be a reseller of their latest drones requires you to lay out money and invest in stock. However, if you have the right online presence which is easy to do with a tool like Shopify it could be the best way to earn money through drones.

Like with all of the business opportunities here, you will need to work out what success looks like. You will have to balance the books so to speak. There is no point investing in stock that you cannot sell. And, you will have to work out how much you need to sell per month in order to break even. All of this seems pretty scary but with the right advice from the right business mentors you could be on tour winner.


Is a drone a good investment? Ultimately, buying a drone comes down to making a sound decision and looking for return on an investment. That return on investment can be money, the ability to learn a new skill, getting out and about more often, starting a side hustle, or making new friends.

Making sure you understand the purpose of your purchase and what success looks like for your investment will mean that you can pull the plug if you are not making sound investment decisions. Or, it will allow you to see your purchase objectively if you are too emotionally invested.

This can all sound pretty serious but if your drone is not super expensive and you are having fun maybe that is enough investment for you!

Happy drone flying my friends…

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.