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What is the next level: Advancing drone business

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Hello everyone. I am going to warn you, this may get a little long winded. Understand that while I am not new to drones, I am new to running a business. I posted on the Phantom forums and got those guys opinions (in case you want some background: What is the next level: Advancing drone business , but the moderator sent me here. I guess that does make sense because most people with an Inspire platform arent gonna use it just for fun, like maybe a Phantom. So strap in, and enjoy the ride.


I am really not sure how to start this. So in about January of this year, I saw some videos of the Mavic and was really impressed. Its size and portability, coupled with its camera, made it a very appealing package. Having been flying racing drones and other RC devices for the better part of ten years, I thought the Mavic, with its laid back controls, would be a nice change from the norm. But tere is a kicker: I am 20 and in college.

Now those two things, "20" and "in college", bring back a myriad of different emotions from those older than me. "Oh when I was college I only cared about _________". While some people will judge me for my age, I must defend myself, while trying not to be arrogant, and say that I am "different" (to be polite) than others my age and may not live the same way others did when they were in college. I am not bashing them, just different life choices, but back on topic. With the $1300 burning a hole in my pocket, I tried to devise any way for the Mavic to be mine. I then stumbled across a video a guy did of a house for sale in the mountains using a Mavic. LIGHTBULB!

I have family in real estate that could help open doors for me. So I scrounged up the money for a Mavic, studied like CRAZY for the Part 107 (I studied too much), and I was on my way. After getting all the tax and legal stuff out of the way, I started making videos. My first job allowed me to pay off the Mavic, after a month, I had enough to a P4P, now I am getting a Lumix GH5 to supplement my interior videos. All this in just a few short months. While the money I made couldnt put a dent in some of yalls six figures salaries, I am doing good for a young college student. The issue now is this: Where to proceed?

From my basic knowledge of business and stuff like that, you can see a general formula. Lets take a real estate company for instance. You open up and sell a few listings, your name gets out, sell a few more. After awhile, you go get come commercial listings, then start working with developers, and going up more and more doing different things that make more and more money. But with drones, the path has not yet been paved. Small time guys like me either seem to stop doing it, or go into the movie industry. But we hear of stories of people doing cell tower inspection, and things like that, yet the path to get those jobs is hidden in obscurity. While I am not looking to make $60,000 year, I can make some more money before the IRS limits me.

So to the people who do this "full time" or make a decent sum of money from drones and the industry that surround it, where should I go next? I have hit real estate pretty good. The videos are simple but can be elegant. I have worked with some small time production companies to provide drone footage for their short film which will be shown at Sundance. Beyond that is world unknown. With hurricane Irma rolled through, I tried to work with insurance agencies, but got no response. I mentioned cell tower inspection, what is the process of contracting out those jobs? I am starting to expand into more of the general video production than just the drone market. With the price of the drones dropping, the market is maybe 7 months to a year from being over saturated with others "just like me" (dont get me started on skill or talent) which means I must differentiate myself so that when that occurs, I stay on top. The only other issue is with the Phantom 4 Pro. When people think of drones, they think of the Phantom. But when rolling up to a set or shoot with a white Phantom, it seems to give off an armature vibe (despite it being overkill for most things). One of my clients asked why I dont use the Inspire 1. I told him that the Phantom shoots better footage than the Inspire and he was baffled. Part of me wants to upgrade to something like the Inspire 2 or Matrice 200 just for the more professional vibe they give off, as well as the new opportunities they present just by owning them.

So whats next?
 
My suggestion is to start saving for an Inspire 2 or an M2xx series. They have the gravitas factor and can cary a selection of camera payloads. I have 2 Inspires and an entire fleet of Phantoms and I "sell" with the Inspire 2 or S1000 and shoot with the P4P which, in my opinion is the best overall platform for the money out there. I won't give away too much but, there are many revenue streams out there that people haven't started to touch in large part and they have been my target audience. Best of luck!
 
My suggestion is to start saving for an Inspire 2 or an M2xx series. They have the gravitas factor and can cary a selection of camera payloads. I have 2 Inspires and an entire fleet of Phantoms and I "sell" with the Inspire 2 or S1000 and shoot with the P4P which, in my opinion is the best overall platform for the money out there. I won't give away too much but, there are many revenue streams out there that people haven't started to touch in large part and they have been my target audience. Best of luck!

I totally agree. The Phantom 4 Pro is incredible. I think it's better than the Inspire 1 for most uses, besides thermal imaging. :D
 
P4P is better than the I1 with an X3 on it, but can't beat the X5 or X5R.
4 more MP doesn't outweigh the ability of the X5 in the right hands.
I have progressed to the I2 with the X5S and that is a step up from the X5 and the P4P. (Had one of those too along the way)
 
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P4P is better than the I1 with an X3 on it, but can't beat the X5 or X5R.
4 more MP doesn't outweigh the ability of the X5 in the right hands.
I have progressed to the I2 with the X5S and that is a step up from the X5 and the P4P. (Had one of those too along the way)
I agree, to an extent. I really like the 4k at 60fps. That opens up so many doors in post production. I really want a I2, but that $8-9k price tag can be hard to swallow.
 
5K gets the bird and the X5S. Add the licenses later. That's how I am doing it. The I2 is a beast, and quite the eye catcher!
People know you are dead serious when you show up with it.
 
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5K gets the bird and the X5S. Add the licenses later. That's how I am doing it. The I2 is a beast, and quite the eye catcher!
People know you are dead serious when you show up with it.
Is that with just the bird and X5S? Cause I would need extra batteries and stuff like that. As for licensing, what would I need besides a 107?
 
The bird is $2999. X5S is $1899. That gets you started. Licenses I mentioned are to unlock Pro res and Cinema DNG.
Out of the box, the X5S shoots leg & raw stills but to shoot raw video you need the licenses.
 
Plenty of used Inspire 1 Pros (X5) come up for sale on this site, often with several batteries, case, etc. so my suggestion would be to look at going that route at this stage as you're on a budget. The I2 is obviously more desirable but for most video commercials I find the X5 HD output perfectly acceptable (in the UK) and have yet to be asked for 4K. If things take off for you then you can always sell the I1 without too much of a hit and move on to an I2.
 
Plenty of used Inspire 1 Pros (X5) come up for sale on this site, often with several batteries, case, etc. so my suggestion would be to look at going that route at this stage as you're on a budget. The I2 is obviously more desirable but for most video commercials I find the X5 HD output perfectly acceptable (in the UK) and have yet to be asked for 4K. If things take off for you then you can always sell the I1 without too much of a hit and move on to an I2.
I agree that the Inspire 1 would be a cheaper route on paper, but I would rarely use it because of the inability to shoot video at 4k 60, which is a big selling point to my clients as well as opening up more options in post production. If I am going to spend $3000 on a drone, Id rather just save and get the I2.
 
I totally agree. The Phantom 4 Pro is incredible. I think it's better than the Inspire 1 for most uses, besides thermal imaging. :D
Except the Phantoms look like cheap toys!
I wouldn't be caught dead with one on a shoot!
Client could easily say, " I'm paying all this money for you to film and you show up with a consumer drone"?
It might be functional, it might do the job, it might not bother the client. But it bothers me.
I will only use an Inspire or Matrice.
Part of the TV or film industry is all about "Show"!
You "show" up with a mean looking professional drone, it will get you places. If you do a good job, you will go even more places!
 
Except the Phantoms look like cheap toys!
I wouldn't be caught dead with one on a shoot!
Client could easily say, " I'm paying all this money for you to film and you show up with a consumer drone"?
It might be functional, it might do the job, it might not bother the client. But it bothers me.
I will only use an Inspire or Matrice.
Part of the TV or film industry is all about "Show"!
You "show" up with a mean looking professional drone, it will get you places. If you do a good job, you will go even more places!
Yea I can agree that tho, though it does seem very ascetic. I think I may go for the I2 because I have seem to some good deals but one of my main questions in still unanswered.

Where other jobs can I do and how do I get into that jobs market? I know of things from what I have researched, but i just want some other opinions.
 
The phantom has nothing on the inspire 1 when it comes to functionality. Using a phantom is a joke if you're trying to be taken seriously IMHO. Don't get me wrong, it's a great bang for the buck. But if you really know how to take advantage of the 360 unobstructed view you would understand. I'm not going to tell you how to take advantage of it. But I assure you there is no comparison even if you're just using the x3. Throw in the fact that you can use m4/3 lenses on the x5 and x5r makes it valuable for for many more years.

The phantom just can't get the kind of dynamic shots I can get with the inspire. But you do need to be a decent and smooth pilot, it won't do it all for you. But it's a lot easier than a pitch only type gimbal platform for quickly and easily getting amazing and very dynamic shots.

I can't help but to cringe a little when I see people comparing phantoms and inspires for business. Lol.

Plus, most of your clients will know somebody who isn't operating a business that has a phantom, and it's probably someone's kid that has one. Or a knock off that looks the same that cost a couple hundred bucks and sports HD video. Many clients really won't see the difference and will not be impressed.

But to each there own. Just my 2 cents
 
Interesting discussion. Lots about the technical benefits of different drone setups, very little about business. Not surprising perhaps that those with successful businesses don't want to give away their 'secrets', but since innovation is that only true form of competitive advantage, that's not the right attitude IMHO. I don't own an Inspire or a drone business, but I know a thing or two about business, so I'll share a very small number of my thoughts. I could go on about this for weeks.

1. Customers want solutions, not drones. If you position yourself as a drone business, you're not likely to resonate with your buyers. Buyers have a problem they need solved, and you need to position yourself to solve that problem. The problem is usually not 'I need drone footage', but rather 'I need to communicate something/sell something/market something/capture an event" etc. Do some analysis to understand what your customers' need are, and you're half way there. This doesn't magically open up the channels you're looking for, but it's a very important foundation step. This then shapes you towards becoming a digital producer rather than a drone pilot. It seems you're already on your way with the GH5, but you need to re-frame your question from "where to next with drones" to "where to next with digital production".

2. Go niche. In business these days, niche is better than general. If you want to focus on real estate, focus on real estate. You'll then limit your opportunities to get work for events, sports contests, music videos etc., but that's ok. People with the money to pay some decent coin don't want a jack of all trades and master of none, they want the people that are the best at what they do. You can diversify later, but while you're establishing your reputation, it's better to concentrate on one core competency.

3. People do business with people. Ultimately the pathway you're looking for is opened up through referrals, so do a bloody good job, not just on the end product but on the service your provide (customer care, after sales, responsiveness, ease of doing business, ease of transaction etc.). This will build brand advocates, who will refer you organically, which is the ultimate marketing channel. You also need to leverage these networks - your customers know people with the same problems as them - so network your little arse off and get in front of those people.

4. Develop a channel strategy. The buyer journey starts with ignorance (that a problem exists) and goes through awareness, consideration, decision, transaction, after sales care and end with repeat buying. Often, people need a bit of help getting from ignorance to awareness, and so you need to develop a digital channel strategy that addresses that. There's tome's of information on the internet around how to do that.

5. Innovate. This is easier said than done, but always look for ways to break your own business model. Buying a drone isn't an innovation, but how you use it can be or the way you approach business can be. It doesn't matter, but the only true form of competitive advantage is to innovate constantly, even when you're ahead of the curve. The beauty of being a sole trader is that innovation can happen in real time because you don't need to account for organisational change.

If you can do those five things, you'll find doors opening up. I know you said you're not looking to make $60,000 a year, but here's the biggest secret in business: the rules for small business and the rules for big business ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. So many small businesses fail because they put all their stock in building an instagram following or they think they don't have the capability to replicate what large organisations do. But the only difference between small and large businesses is scale. The same rules still apply, and if you can get these fundamentals right, you'll open the doors into areas you didn't know existed.
 
Well said kdog.

My business is about capturing images or telling a story, not the tools I use to do it.

The end requirement is the main controller that determines when I use handheld, a tripod, slider, dolly, crane, steadicam or drone.

The output quality requirement may determine the camera that I mount on any of those systems.

The client says "I want this kind of shot in this location". They don't care how I get it.
 
Interesting discussion. Lots about the technical benefits of different drone setups, very little about business. Not surprising perhaps that those with successful businesses don't want to give away their 'secrets', but since innovation is that only true form of competitive advantage, that's not the right attitude IMHO. I don't own an Inspire or a drone business, but I know a thing or two about business, so I'll share a very small number of my thoughts. I could go on about this for weeks.

1. Customers want solutions, not drones. If you position yourself as a drone business, you're not likely to resonate with your buyers. Buyers have a problem they need solved, and you need to position yourself to solve that problem. The problem is usually not 'I need drone footage', but rather 'I need to communicate something/sell something/market something/capture an event" etc. Do some analysis to understand what your customers' need are, and you're half way there. This doesn't magically open up the channels you're looking for, but it's a very important foundation step. This then shapes you towards becoming a digital producer rather than a drone pilot. It seems you're already on your way with the GH5, but you need to re-frame your question from "where to next with drones" to "where to next with digital production".

2. Go niche. In business these days, niche is better than general. If you want to focus on real estate, focus on real estate. You'll then limit your opportunities to get work for events, sports contests, music videos etc., but that's ok. People with the money to pay some decent coin don't want a jack of all trades and master of none, they want the people that are the best at what they do. You can diversify later, but while you're establishing your reputation, it's better to concentrate on one core competency.

3. People do business with people. Ultimately the pathway you're looking for is opened up through referrals, so do a bloody good job, not just on the end product but on the service your provide (customer care, after sales, responsiveness, ease of doing business, ease of transaction etc.). This will build brand advocates, who will refer you organically, which is the ultimate marketing channel. You also need to leverage these networks - your customers know people with the same problems as them - so network your little arse off and get in front of those people.

4. Develop a channel strategy. The buyer journey starts with ignorance (that a problem exists) and goes through awareness, consideration, decision, transaction, after sales care and end with repeat buying. Often, people need a bit of help getting from ignorance to awareness, and so you need to develop a digital channel strategy that addresses that. There's tome's of information on the internet around how to do that.

5. Innovate. This is easier said than done, but always look for ways to break your own business model. Buying a drone isn't an innovation, but how you use it can be or the way you approach business can be. It doesn't matter, but the only true form of competitive advantage is to innovate constantly, even when you're ahead of the curve. The beauty of being a sole trader is that innovation can happen in real time because you don't need to account for organisational change.

If you can do those five things, you'll find doors opening up. I know you said you're not looking to make $60,000 a year, but here's the biggest secret in business: the rules for small business and the rules for big business ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. So many small businesses fail because they put all their stock in building an instagram following or they think they don't have the capability to replicate what large organisations do. But the only difference between small and large businesses is scale. The same rules still apply, and if you can get these fundamentals right, you'll open the doors into areas you didn't know existed.

KDog is spot on. And to add onto your concern with Real Estate I have actually stayed away from that market all together. While it can be good for a quick buck it will be small. And doing Real Estate full time will be way more work for MUCH smaller payout. Going for a niche market that has regular commitments will help. Also look what is around you. Meaning I live in the midwest, so there is no point in me putting in work for mapping the everglades or something. Instead I have focused on the mining industry. There are quite a few mines in the area which I can setup monthly/quarterly scans with annual contracts. Also since I can do these scans about any time i don't have to quit my day job which is amazing so far!

As Far as the bird of choice goes: While i would love to have a Phantom clients really like to see the Inspire 1. And quite frankely for me it get's VERY little airtime and the Mavic does all the work. However use what you got! Again the tool is not the most important part. The delivery is what get's you paid!
 
The phantom has nothing on the inspire 1 when it comes to functionality. Using a phantom is a joke if you're trying to be taken seriously IMHO. Don't get me wrong, it's a great bang for the buck. But if you really know how to take advantage of the 360 unobstructed view you would understand. I'm not going to tell you how to take advantage of it. But I assure you there is no comparison even if you're just using the x3. Throw in the fact that you can use m4/3 lenses on the x5 and x5r makes it valuable for for many more years.

The phantom just can't get the kind of dynamic shots I can get with the inspire. But you do need to be a decent and smooth pilot, it won't do it all for you. But it's a lot easier than a pitch only type gimbal platform for quickly and easily getting amazing and very dynamic shots.

I can't help but to cringe a little when I see people comparing phantoms and inspires for business. Lol.

Plus, most of your clients will know somebody who isn't operating a business that has a phantom, and it's probably someone's kid that has one. Or a knock off that looks the same that cost a couple hundred bucks and sports HD video. Many clients really won't see the difference and will not be impressed.

But to each there own. Just my 2 cents

IF a client only wants to use me because I have "insert drone", then I really dont want to work with them because they dont care about quality, just something superficial. You say using a Phantom is a joke, yet it shoots better footage than the inspire 1 in many cases (besides thermal or some crazy zoom shot). Yes, M4/3 is a larger sensor and ability to change lenses is great, that is a great driving force for me wanting to get the I-2. I have played with the Inspire 1 and it's great, but the Phantom has more of what I need.

When shooting 4k footage, 90% of the population does not have a device that can discern between 4K and 1080p. So why shoot in 4K? Bitrate. Since YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc, grant 4K footage a higher bitrate than 1080p or 2K, you see less artifacts in the video. The other major difference, 30 vs 60 fps. While not all screen can show the difference between resolution, they all can show frame rate differences which is a big selling point for me. Being able to make shots look smooth as a glass is key. AND, YouTube grants 4k 60fps footage almost 95 mb/s which is just below the 100 that the P4P shoots on. The I-1 can not give me 4k at 60 fps to give me more options in post (speed ramps, slow motion, etc) nor allow me to have that higher bitrate on YouTube so my footage looks good. I dont care if the footage is 8k RED footage, if the bitrate is low, their is nothing you can do to make it look good.

One time I was showing some 4k footage on my Mavic to a customer, before I knew about bit rate and stuff. When watching the video, the footage looked muddy with artifacts. I was puzzled. The video was shot at 4k, why did it look worse than HD? The bitrate Youtube allotted wasnt allowing the video to be shown in full glory. I did a test on the P4P with 4k footage at 60 and 30, and the 60 looked better because of the higher bitrate. Yes, technically the 30 fps footage has more data per frame than the 60, but YouTube grants a MUCH higher bitrate to the 60 which makes it look better.

Finally, I have yet to have a client look at my footage and compare it to something coming from another drone, especially something cheaper. Some of my clients have had drone work with people flying the I2, and like mine better due to my piloting and color grading. Now, I am not in a big city so maybe that is why. Just cause you sit in a garage all day doesnt make you a car, having an Inspire doesnt make you a Pro. It's about the Indian not the arrow.




Interesting discussion. Lots about the technical benefits of different drone setups, very little about business. Not surprising perhaps that those with successful businesses don't want to give away their 'secrets', but since innovation is that only true form of competitive advantage, that's not the right attitude IMHO. I don't own an Inspire or a drone business, but I know a thing or two about business, so I'll share a very small number of my thoughts. I could go on about this for weeks.

1. Customers want solutions, not drones. If you position yourself as a drone business, you're not likely to resonate with your buyers. Buyers have a problem they need solved, and you need to position yourself to solve that problem. The problem is usually not 'I need drone footage', but rather 'I need to communicate something/sell something/market something/capture an event" etc. Do some analysis to understand what your customers' need are, and you're half way there. This doesn't magically open up the channels you're looking for, but it's a very important foundation step. This then shapes you towards becoming a digital producer rather than a drone pilot. It seems you're already on your way with the GH5, but you need to re-frame your question from "where to next with drones" to "where to next with digital production".

2. Go niche. In business these days, niche is better than general. If you want to focus on real estate, focus on real estate. You'll then limit your opportunities to get work for events, sports contests, music videos etc., but that's ok. People with the money to pay some decent coin don't want a jack of all trades and master of none, they want the people that are the best at what they do. You can diversify later, but while you're establishing your reputation, it's better to concentrate on one core competency.

3. People do business with people. Ultimately the pathway you're looking for is opened up through referrals, so do a bloody good job, not just on the end product but on the service your provide (customer care, after sales, responsiveness, ease of doing business, ease of transaction etc.). This will build brand advocates, who will refer you organically, which is the ultimate marketing channel. You also need to leverage these networks - your customers know people with the same problems as them - so network your little arse off and get in front of those people.

4. Develop a channel strategy. The buyer journey starts with ignorance (that a problem exists) and goes through awareness, consideration, decision, transaction, after sales care and end with repeat buying. Often, people need a bit of help getting from ignorance to awareness, and so you need to develop a digital channel strategy that addresses that. There's tome's of information on the internet around how to do that.

5. Innovate. This is easier said than done, but always look for ways to break your own business model. Buying a drone isn't an innovation, but how you use it can be or the way you approach business can be. It doesn't matter, but the only true form of competitive advantage is to innovate constantly, even when you're ahead of the curve. The beauty of being a sole trader is that innovation can happen in real time because you don't need to account for organisational change.

If you can do those five things, you'll find doors opening up. I know you said you're not looking to make $60,000 a year, but here's the biggest secret in business: the rules for small business and the rules for big business ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. So many small businesses fail because they put all their stock in building an instagram following or they think they don't have the capability to replicate what large organisations do. But the only difference between small and large businesses is scale. The same rules still apply, and if you can get these fundamentals right, you'll open the doors into areas you didn't know existed.
You put my thoughts into words. Thank you for that. I have discussed alot of ideas about what drone for what job, but that is banking on me having jobs that need that drones capabilities. I really want to know beyond just general advertising for local businesses and stuff like that, is out there. Like inspection work, surveying, etc. How do you get into those markets? What is the process? Is it worth it?

But I really like your first point. I am currently taking some online classes on building a business to help learn some more. I know I dont know everything. Heck, I dont know alot. But what I do know is that what I am doing right now can be done more efficiently and effectively.
 
You certainly have some valid points about drone comparisons. I personally have never had any complaints from the quality of videos from the x5 and x3. The x3 does do 120 frames in 1080! Lol

My main point is about the dynamic shots utilizing the 360 degree camera rotation. Using the autopilot app unleashes that power. Phantoms just won't beable to do smooth rudder pans while changing directions and orientations all while keeping a subject in the frame. And I promise I can tell the difference between an inspire and other non 360 gimbal platforms if the pilots are attempting dynamic flight paths with a subject staying in the frame.

I'm just hard headed maybe, and some things you're taking out of context. I never said clients buy services based on what drone you use. But anytime a comment is made it's like "wow, that looks expensive" or "that's a lot different than so and so's"..

Sorry to have focused so much on equipment. I wish I had some things to say about business. But I'm likely less knowledgeable than anyone else on the forums.
 
You certainly have some valid points about drone comparisons. I personally have never had any complaints from the quality of videos from the x5 and x3. The x3 does do 120 frames in 1080! Lol

My main point is about the dynamic shots utilizing the 360 degree camera rotation. Using the autopilot app unleashes that power. Phantoms just won't beable to do smooth rudder pans while changing directions and orientations all while keeping a subject in the frame. And I promise I can tell the difference between an inspire and other non 360 gimbal platforms if the pilots are attempting dynamic flight paths with a subject staying in the frame.

I'm just hard headed maybe, and some things you're taking out of context. I never said clients buy services based on what drone you use. But anytime a comment is made it's like "wow, that looks expensive" or "that's a lot different than so and so's"..

Sorry to have focused so much on equipment. I wish I had some things to say about business. But I'm likely less knowledgeable than anyone else on the forums.
I mean yea, the Inspire platform is great and does have many options. Being able to have multiple people controlling the drone is a big plus for me. As for the quality, yea with the right lens, the Inspire can do things the Phantom cant (
)

But yea. It is not like the Inspire doesnt "inspire" people (ba doom tish). It's a beautiful piece of engineering that I hope to own. So if it does help convey to a client that I am a """"""professional"""""" (I use that lightly) then so be it.
 
Hello everyone. I am going to warn you, this may get a little long winded. Understand that while I am not new to drones, I am new to running a business. I posted on the Phantom forums and got those guys opinions (in case you want some background: What is the next level: Advancing drone business , but the moderator sent me here. I guess that does make sense because most people with an Inspire platform arent gonna use it just for fun, like maybe a Phantom. So strap in, and enjoy the ride.


I am really not sure how to start this. So in about January of this year, I saw some videos of the Mavic and was really impressed. Its size and portability, coupled with its camera, made it a very appealing package. Having been flying racing drones and other RC devices for the better part of ten years, I thought the Mavic, with its laid back controls, would be a nice change from the norm. But tere is a kicker: I am 20 and in college.

Now those two things, "20" and "in college", bring back a myriad of different emotions from those older than me. "Oh when I was college I only cared about _________". While some people will judge me for my age, I must defend myself, while trying not to be arrogant, and say that I am "different" (to be polite) than others my age and may not live the same way others did when they were in college. I am not bashing them, just different life choices, but back on topic. With the $1300 burning a hole in my pocket, I tried to devise any way for the Mavic to be mine. I then stumbled across a video a guy did of a house for sale in the mountains using a Mavic. LIGHTBULB!

I have family in real estate that could help open doors for me. So I scrounged up the money for a Mavic, studied like CRAZY for the Part 107 (I studied too much), and I was on my way. After getting all the tax and legal stuff out of the way, I started making videos. My first job allowed me to pay off the Mavic, after a month, I had enough to a P4P, now I am getting a Lumix GH5 to supplement my interior videos. All this in just a few short months. While the money I made couldnt put a dent in some of yalls six figures salaries, I am doing good for a young college student. The issue now is this: Where to proceed?

From my basic knowledge of business and stuff like that, you can see a general formula. Lets take a real estate company for instance. You open up and sell a few listings, your name gets out, sell a few more. After awhile, you go get come commercial listings, then start working with developers, and going up more and more doing different things that make more and more money. But with drones, the path has not yet been paved. Small time guys like me either seem to stop doing it, or go into the movie industry. But we hear of stories of people doing cell tower inspection, and things like that, yet the path to get those jobs is hidden in obscurity. While I am not looking to make $60,000 year, I can make some more money before the IRS limits me.

So to the people who do this "full time" or make a decent sum of money from drones and the industry that surround it, where should I go next? I have hit real estate pretty good. The videos are simple but can be elegant. I have worked with some small time production companies to provide drone footage for their short film which will be shown at Sundance. Beyond that is world unknown. With hurricane Irma rolled through, I tried to work with insurance agencies, but got no response. I mentioned cell tower inspection, what is the process of contracting out those jobs? I am starting to expand into more of the general video production than just the drone market. With the price of the drones dropping, the market is maybe 7 months to a year from being over saturated with others "just like me" (dont get me started on skill or talent) which means I must differentiate myself so that when that occurs, I stay on top. The only other issue is with the Phantom 4 Pro. When people think of drones, they think of the Phantom. But when rolling up to a set or shoot with a white Phantom, it seems to give off an armature vibe (despite it being overkill for most things). One of my clients asked why I dont use the Inspire 1. I told him that the Phantom shoots better footage than the Inspire and he was baffled. Part of me wants to upgrade to something like the Inspire 2 or Matrice 200 just for the more professional vibe they give off, as well as the new opportunities they present just by owning them.

So whats next?


As a professional Aerial Cinematographer I own them all and have been on many a professional movie sets and I can tell you that the sad truth has been spoken by White Air Wolf. The PH4P is usually more than good enough for most shots, but it is all about show. Here is a real-world example that you will totally understand. As a GH5 owner, I can tell you that it's quality is overkill for most projects, yet what the producer and or client what to see show up is a RED or ARRI Alexa. And I would stack my reputation on the fact that if you showed them the identical seen shot on each, they could never tell what shot what. Hell, I am a Davinci color grader as well and sometimes it's hard for me to tell! In closing, if you are truly serious and can get the cash I would drop the money on an inspire 2. First off all of the inspires will allow you beautiful camera moves that you can't always achieve with the Phantom lineup, but most importantly as long as the Aerial platform is maintained in good working order you are basically flying a GH4 but with better mbs per second and with interchanable prime lens. It would be hard to understand how you could ever professionally outgrow it.

My 2 cents,
rb,

PS. I am not advertising my real, but it is old and does not contain any Inspire 2 footage. I say that cause if you take a look you will see nothing but Phantom 4 (not Pro) and inspire 1 and I believe at least 50% of those shots are still sellable. Good luck to you, and if nothing else, please fly safely!
 

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