When you first purchase a drone you have the opportunity to see the world like never before (if you have bought a camera drone). A lot of people who buy drones are attracted by what they have seen on the Internet and want to replicate that for themselves in their home city. But, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there is a lot that you can do with your drone whether or not it is a camera drone or a racing drone. You can even make money with it! In this article, we are going to answer the question: what can I do with my drone? And take a look at all of the ways that your drone can enrich your life.
You can use your drone to record videos, take photographs, race through obstacle courses, participate in scientific studies, make new friends and you can even use it to make money selling your footage!
There are so many things that you can do with your drone that sometimes it can be hard to choose exactly which part of drone you are interested in. If you are interested in the creative side of drone flying it is almost certain that you would focus on taking photos and capturing awesome cinemagraphic footage. If you are more into the speed and agility of a drone you should look into obstacle course and drone racing. There are plenty of online communities where you can find a local meet up to share your passion and also learn and grow as a drone pilot. There are so many places to meet other people online that I am certain that there will be an appropriate group for any interest as long as you live in a big enough city.
Also, your drone can also earn you money. You can rent out your drone, you can also sell your drone images and stock footage and you can also become a pilot for rent. All of these opportunities give you the ability to earn money using your drone and offset the cost of the purchase of your drone.
Let’s take a look at the most obvious thing that you can do with a camera drone which is take photos and videos.
Take photos and record videos
Drone photography allows you to capture images which, only very recently, you had to rent and fly a helicopter to get. The technology is common very quickly and it allows people to send a high definition camera many hundreds of metres into the sky to get a viewpoint that was once reserved for the rich and those with wings.
It is getting easier and easier to capture stunning footage with drones. Their technology allows the user to frame the shot, adjust the (just like a DSLR camera) and the technology is allowing for bigger sensors to be sent up with a drone.
If you want a full rundown on drone photography, check out my other article – drone photography for beginners – click here to be taken to the ultimate guide for new photographers.
Just like land-based photography, the quality of your photos is only limited by your imagination. There are so many awesome ideas and creative drone photographs online that you will almost certainly be able to find a style which you want to replicate and manipulate to create your own.
I have written a long article on drone photography ideas – I go through 20 drone ideas which allow you to level up your drone shots and provide creative inspiration for your very own shots.
One of my favourite creative drone photos is when your perspective is shifted and it gives you the opportunity to use the ground like a canvas:
Drone photo tips:
- enable gridlines – enabling the gridlines allows you to perfectly frame your photo using the rule of thirds.
- Turn on overexposure warnings – turning on the overexposure warnings will allow you to retain detail in your photo which you can bring out in post-editing.
- Stick to the lowest ISO possible – this will create the most noise-free image if you have enough light.
- Understand what a neutral density filter is – they are like sunglasses for your drone and starting with an ND16 filter while filming during daylight may help.
If a picture paints a thousand words then a video with a frame rate of 25 frames per second paints 25,000 words in 10 seconds.
Taking awesome videos with a drone is incredibly simple. Manufacturers have developed a range of quick shot settings which allow you to capture common drone shots at the push of a button.
Get out in your city and capture as much footage as possible. Learn how to edit the footage properly, which includes basic editing such as trimming and transitioning as well as more advanced editing techniques such as colour grading – that can make your drone footage really pop.
Drone video tips:
- hold the shot – I often find when I am editing the video that I do not hold the drone shot as long as I need to edit cleanly. Don’t make that mistake!
- Combine multiple movements – When you are creating cinematic panning shots you should combine 3 movements (two minimum for the perfect shot).
- Get used to all the smart modes to help you – understand how the drone software can help you to create smooth footage. Cinematic mode and course lock is an example of software that can help even the most experienced drone pilot.
Being a super meticulous with lining up shots and capturing videos is in everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, when I am flying my drone sometimes I just want to fly around as quickly as possible and push the drone to its limits.
I guess I also want to test my skills as well – by turning on sport mode (my DJI Mavic air) and whizzing around as safely and controlled as possible.
If you feel you just want to blow off some steam you can set up an obstacle course in your back garden, local park, or other open area where you’re allowed to fly drones. You can even build, or buy, drone hoops to fly through.
The great thing about this is you do not need a dedicated first person view drone and you can use any camera drone that has a forward facing camera.
Drone racing takes drone obstacle courses to a whole new level. Drone racing is typically performed by specially, custom made drones which are light, agile, and incredibly fast. These are not typically camera drones which are used as raising drones.
Drone racing gets incredibly serious and competitive but you can do some incredible stuff. There are a number of YouTube channels dedicated to drone racing and one of the best is Mr Steel!
If you take this idea to the extreme your find the world’s first $1 million drone race which was held in 2016.
The great thing about drone racing is that you will be able to find a community of drone races need you – later on in the article I will talk about some of the best places to find common interest groups to find friends to go drone racing with.
Record your adventures and hobbies
Recording your adventures is one of the reasons why a lot of people by a drone. Sometimes, people by a drone just before heading off on the trip of a lifetime so that they can capture some of their memories just like they would in a photo album.
You may be recording a hobby that is fun to watch. Drone footage is used a lot in skiing, mountain biking, surfing, and other high adrenaline sports – a good way to work out if a sport is good for drone fitted is to see it is sponsored by Red Bull.
What I have said in other parts of this blog – drone footage is only as useful as where you have an outlet for it.
For those with an interesting hobby or are about to start an adventure I highly recommend that you start a YouTube channel.
Start a YouTube Channel
A YouTube channel doesn’t have to be for collecting subscribers, likes, or views. A YouTube channel could be a place where you store and collect all of your memories from a trip of a lifetime always you share your passion for a hobby which others may also find interesting.
Starting YouTube channel gives you a reason to record drone footage and also a place for friends and family to check out what you are doing.
If you forget about the vanity metrics of YouTube and actually use it as a place to store your photos and videos it can be a fantastic vault of memories. You can even set your YouTube channel to private or turn the videos to private so that people can only access them with a link.
I know that my YouTube channels have benefited greatly from drone footage and that the drone footage I have collected now has a place where it can be viewed by other people rather than just sitting on my computer being wasted.
Participate in studies
You can also use drones to participate in studies.
Drones are used in scientific research for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, drone regulations are constantly changing and because science moves so slowly sometimes the grant applications can be completely out-of-date which means they can no longer fly their drones.
Virginia Tech’s David G. Schmale III told C&en:
“You’d be surprised how many grant proposals I’ve seen where the researchers don’t have the legal means to do the experiments,”— Virginia Tech’s David G. Schmale III
This is where you could help!
By being a drone owner who has all of the appropriate licenses you may be able to help scientists and researchers capture images and footage of certain environmental protection areas and collect data on other environments which are hard to get to by foot.
Recheck to some of your local universities who you know do environmental monitoring and ask if they need a drone pilot to help collect data for their studies.
This will almost as they not be a paid opportunity but research always relies on enthusiastic volunteers to collect data and drive the research mission forward.
You can help scientists by doing a range of different things such as:
- environmental monitoring
- capturing samples from sea life
- livestock monitoring
- volumetric analysis
- longitudinal change studies
- bushfire regeneration
- drought monitoring
- and much more…
If you want to know how you can be a help reach out to your local university and I’m sure that they are to give you a lot more information about who is doing what.
Make new friends
The one thing I love about my drone is that continually brings people to me. When I am flying people love drones and always want to know more about them. The good thing about drones is that there are always places where you can meet up with people and become part of a community that shares your love for drone activities.
Whether or not it is photography, racing, or other stuff there is a community out there for you – I guarantee it.
It is particularly useful when you are moving to a new city or picking up a new hobby to search the Internet for people that meet up near you. This gives you the opportunity to make friends and in my experience the common interest groups that I have joined have ended up creating lifelong friends.
There are a few places where you can find, metre groups which includes:
- Eventbrite – Eventbrite brings together people through live experiences. This is full of free and paid meet ups.
- Meetup – Meetup is a service which is used to organise online groups that host in person and virtual events. Just go in and type drone into their search engine to find out what you find.
- Facebook groups – Facebook has groups which allow you to congregate online with people that share similar interests.
Go ahead and reach out to some of these groups I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how friendly every drone group is! I love them because if you end up short on things to talk about you know exactly where to drive the conversation – towards drones!
You can also usual drone to make money. There are plenty of ways to make money with a drone such as selling your drone footage, becoming a pilot for hire, and even renting out your drone.
Let’s take a look at selling your drone footage.
Sell your drone footage
Selling your drone footage is surprisingly simple because there are plenty of drone stock sites that allow you to upload your content and get access to people who are looking for shots and videos just like yours.
For a complete rundown on how to sell your drone footage check out my other, in-depth, article – how do I sell my drone footage- click here to discover all of the options for making money with your drone.
Here is a quick rundown on how you can sell stock footage.
You can upload to a number of different stock sites such as Getty images, Shutterstock, Pond five, drone stock, and many more.
Each stock site requires that you have particular aspects of your footage covered off and that it is of a certain quality. For example, if you have any logos, or people in your footage you need to get permission for their use.
Each stock site will also take a certain percentage of the revenue so be sure to choose one with a revenue share that you are comfortable with.
Create your own website
You can also create your own website where you can showcase your drone footage and photos. You have to learn to drive traffic to the website to make it profitable for you and you can also use it as a portfolio site for potential clients.
You should become familiar with topics such as search engine optimisation and learn basic web maintenance skill so that your website will be fast and load efficiently when people visit it.
A website is a fantastic way to bring people to your services whilst also showing up all of the best shots you have ever collected.
Showcase on YouTube
Lastly, you should consider uploading your footage on YouTube and search engine optimising it for searching.
Simply head out into your local city and capture shots which showcase your city in the best light. Go to common areas where people navigate and also be sure to record any iconic sites that your city has – if you are allowed to within the local drone regulations.
Offered to license these two people for between 100 and $400 and earn yourself a nice little bit of passive income.
Pilot for hire
If you get well known and recognised for drone videography and photography you can rent out your time for weddings, real estate, and other commercial entities that need drone footage.
Rent out your drone
The last way you can make money with your drone is to rent it out. There are a number of places online which offer peer-to-peer equipment rentals. Some of these include:
Some sites have the ability to use their rental agreements and insurance whilst for other options such as private listings on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace you will need to come up with your own rental agreement and make sure that you take a security deposit in case they do not return the drone to you.
Here are the sorts of prices that you can expect to get for common DJI drones per week.
Example weekly rental prices
|Drone||Dollars per week to rent ($)|
|DJI Mavic 2 Pro||250|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||210|
|DJI phantom pro||300|
|DJI Mavic Air||190|
|DJI Mavic Mini||135|
|DJI Mavic 2 Zoom||250|
You can see that you can earn a fair amount of money even from relatively old drones such as DJI Mavic air and any of the phantom or Mavic series drones. A lot of drone enthusiasts have a number of drone sat around and it could be the perfect way to make a fair bit of money.
in this article we have covered all of the things that you can do with a drone. Ultimately, it depends on what your interests are and what sort of skills you are willing to learn alongside piloting your drone.
If you are creative, consider photography, if you want the fast-paced and high speed drone experience you should consider drone racing and creating obstacle courses in your garden.
If you are social, you should consider joining a Meetup group where you can share all of the fun things about flying and piloting a drone. Also, a Meetup group is a fantastic place to learn more skills.