How much to charge for drone photography?
Today we will discuss a question that is very popular among experienced drone users. If you’re not a beginner drone pilot anymore and you have a decent drone you may have thought about getting some money from your beloved hobby. Which is okay. Maybe you have the proper piloting skill, editing skill, the right gear, to start, but you don’t know how much to charge for drone photography?
I’m gonna clear this from the start: there is no proper answer or magical formula for this. However, there are a lot of influences when you come up with a number. You should consider the geographical location of where you are, your concurrence, your gadgets/drones, your experience, and more. In this article, we try to give you a clear view of this aspect. After reading it you will know the exact elements you should consider.
First of all, you should clear some things. You have to decide if it’s just a part-time activity to get a plus income or if you want to make a career out of drone photography and photography itself. If you have a good job and drone photography it’s only your hobby then you don’t depend so much on whether you’re successful or not so you can have a lower price which will make you favorable towards others in the same industry. However, if you want to make a career or a business out of drone photography you should make sure you have the highest quality grades like a Phantom 4 Pro or at least a Mavic Pro, and besides this, you should be able to make good ground footage with a good Camera. Of course, there are exceptions as well, but there will be very few people who wish to have only aerial footages. If you go with this option you can have higher rates, and as your client’s number grows your price can grow too.
If you’re reading things you probably know what is an FAA registration. But there are other restrictions and fines regarding drones. For example in Canada if you wish to fly a drone you have to learn from a test, pass the test, and to report your flight sessions to the local flight administration services, every time! Not to mention that there are licenses that you have to buy. And if they cough you flying an unregistered drone without a license and report you can get a penalty up to $5.000. But this is just an example, these rules are different in each state, country, continent. So before you would start your career in drone photography make sure to make a proper research about the local restrictions and licenses and calculate your price regarding those aspects. If you have a friend who’s already in the business you can ask him too about the necessary licenses and registrations.
If you’re the new kid on the block you should spend some time studying your competitors on the market. After you found some of them, compare yourself to them. For example, if there is a business with better drones and more experience you can’t have the same price as them. Although you can nobody will choose you over them. So make sure that of all your competitors you find the closest to you and adjust your price regarding your skills, equipment, and experience.
Maybe you have only a good HolyStone drone, which can be as good as an inferior DJI drone, but that maybe doesn’t matter. What is really important is to have a profit in the shortest time possible. Therefore if you own a more expensive drone you can add a little percent to your initial price, the clients will understand. The same thing applies when you upgrade your set to make even better photos and videos.
If you are a newbie in the industry, then it makes sense to offer a lower price. If you’re just starting to take photos and videos with drones it might be a good idea to give a few free sessions. This way you can gather more experience, and clients. Just think about it, if your free clients will post their pictures and they tag you you may get new clients easier. Also, your first clients may return to you if they are satisfied with your work. I’m not saying to don’t have high expectations of yourself, but you should consider getting some experience before you’re getting money for your work. On the other side if you have other qualifications on top of being a licensed drone pilot, then you can higher your price.
You will worth as much for your clients as you are prepared for them. If you offer other services as well like photo shootings and your drone photography is just an extra you can charge them more. Also, if you can edit videos and photos that another plus on your invoice. For example, if you shoot in raw and you edit all your photos you should charge more, or if you make nice promotional ground videos and besides that, you add some aerial videos you can charge more. Or you can just add them as a gift, it’s up to you.
As you saw I didn’t mention a single price (except for some penalties). So everything is up to you and your environment you’re living in. Make sure to make a proper research about the fees, competitors, and how much your gear is worth in total. After that, it’s really up to you how much you’re charging per hour (with the editing included). Always be honest with yourself, don’t pretend too much about you, neither too less. If it helps, compare your photos next to other aerial photos taken by other drone photographers.
Another important thing is to always invest time and money in marketing. You can be the best photographer, but if nobody heard about you it’s worthless. Make sure to be active on social media platforms, all of them. And post regularly your best footages. With the number of the people you’ve worked with you can increase your client’s number and your payment/hour. So always invest in yourself and your talents!