Wondering how much to charge for drone service? Check out our guide for pricing your aerial photography and videography services. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you get started.
Professional drone piloting can make an exciting business. Since drones have changed how some crucial tasks are done, the demand for drones is growing exponentially across multiple industry domains. Therefore, during the present times, I will certainly approve of your passion to make a career out of this idea.
If you have passed the Part 107 test and have got your drone pilot license, you are ready to start your drone services business.
The next step is to sell your services. Before you start presenting your business to prospective clients, you must first do the groundwork on the packages you will offer and the pricing strategies you will adopt.
You must consider many things before fixing the charges for various drone services you will provide. In this article, I have given my findings that will guide you on how much to charge for drone service.
How Much To Charge For Drone Service?
Here you will understand the current trends in average hourly rates for drone services. We will also discuss the right pricing strategy to enhance your competitive worth.
Average hourly rates across different industries
Depending on the industry, the charges for commercial drone services range from $100 to $500 per hour. However, the most common average rate is $150 per hour.
While the drone photography services per hour for the real estate sector is charged around $150, the charges tend to touch the higher side of the range when it comes to serving the oil & gas sector.
The survey results of an industry study conducted by Drones Pro has revealed that the drone service charges for industries like agriculture, infrastructure development, emergency management, solar power, surveying and mining fall in the midway between these two values in the same ascending order.
Many drone service providers have started charging on per project or per day basis rather than adopting an hourly rate.
While understanding the current pricing trends will guide you with a bare idea of how much to charge for drone service, the pricing structure must consider many other important things we will list and discuss at length below.
What to consider while setting the rates for drone services
While landing the pricing structure for your drone services, you must consider a few things like your credentials and the level of expertise, the clients who buy your services, the equipment you use, the kind of insurance package you have purchased, the distance you need to travel on your assignment, and the deliverables of the given project.
Though you can start your drone services business with low investment, there is an immense scope to scale up your equipment and education.
The amount of investment you will bring in in due course can be a deciding factor for how much you will charge for your services. In the next few points, we will cover some of the variables that can influence your pricing strategy.
Certification and training
As a bare minimum, you must have spent around $160 to pass your Aeronautical Knowledge Test, and between $150 and $300 on the training courses leading to the test.
To learn the drone flight skills, you would have spent on several hours of flight time and on the training in some exclusive kind of drone applications. Depending on the industry, the cost of some of these trainings must have ranged between $300 and $2,500.
If you have spent a considerable time, effort, and money on developing your advanced technical skills, you must consider that while deciding on the pricing strategy for your drone services.
Investment in equipment
You cans tart your drone services business by investing in a drone costing you $500. Though this is a sufficiently reasonable investment you can think of, you will be able to increase your competitive value only when you can deliver photos and videos of higher resolution.
For instance, investing in a $2,000 drone with better camera specifications can men you will charge more for the same work. Also, you can expect more professional results when you have invested in a $10,000 drone and in this case, the clients will be willing to pay you more.
When your training level and equipment quality meet their standards, clients in some specialized domains like mining will be prepared to pay you a premium price for your drone services.
Industry and client
The industry you are targeting and the kind of clients you are serving can be a huge factors that will impact your charges.
While a real estate client will not be prepared to pay a premium price for some aerial pictures or video clips, a mining industry client will be prepared to do so on projects involving tasks like measuring the volume of stockpile and planning the layout for road planning.
In the latter case, the client needs results that are more technical and complicated and hence they are prepared to pay a higher price for your drone services.
Most deliverables in drone services do not cost you on raw materials, but they cost in terms of the time you spend, equipment you have invested in, and the level of expertise you have acquired.
These inputs will decide what you are capable of delivering and consequently will have a bearing on how much you can charge. While the deliverables needed by different industries significantly differ, this is a crucial factor deciding the cost of your services.
Insurance covers for drones
Purchasing an insurance cover has been mandated for professional drone pilots. The level of coverage you have purchased can impact how much you will charge.
Most professional drone pilots typically go for a $1,000,000 policy. Higher level of insurance cover is advised for taking up more risky projects like utility inspections for instance. When you have purchased higher value insurance cover or when you confront higher level risks, you need to charge more.
Location and travels
Your willingness to travel far can land you on some lucrative assignments. In these cases, the distance you will travel will decide the pricing.
In remote locations with limited populace, you cannot charge high price, whereas in densely populated areas, there would be more demand for drone services and you can charge higher in these cases.
Nevertheless, if you confront more competition in the locality where you offer your services, you need to consider how much your competitors are charging.
If you are a start-up, you may have to consider aspects like the equipment cost, training expenses, software purchases, and others you have incurred. The other significant category many drone owners tend to overlook is the cost of replacement parts, photo editing software and software subscriptions.
Also consider the cost of forming the company, website creation and hosting, business promotional materials, publications to update your knowledge, administrative expenses, and cost of association memberships.
Only when you have worked in detail with the pricing strategy considering all the options discussed above, you can hope to make a comfortable profit that will stand you in the business in the long run and grow as you move forward.
Working with different pricing options
Though there is never a rigid pricing model you will need to follow, understanding the ways to develop a logical, profitable and practicable pricing model is necessary to make your business more efficient and turn your venture a lucrative one.
Also, this is necessary to let your prospective clients appreciate how much you charge and what you offer and thus land several new projects.
Different pricing models you must know
The pricing model you can follow can have several variables depending on the deliverables of a given type of project. For instance, you can go for a tiered pricing structure like 10 photographs and 1 short video for a given fixed price or 20 photographs and 1 short video for a higher fixed price.
You can also adopt different pricing structures like charging hourly, for half a day or for a full day. It is also bring in different approaches to pricing by combining time bound rates and deliverables.
However, the best approach for startups is to go for hourly rates in the beginning and then move to per project type models or charging for the deliverables.
Other ways to charge for drone services
There are also some other ways to charge for drone services if you want to escape the rigid pricing models. Think of a custom quote depending on the type of client and the project in hand. For instance, here are the different types of projects you can think of.
A construction survey project involving several variables for each project can be a typical example for deliverables of more value, where you can charge proportionately.
In another example, we can think of drone services in the agriculture domain where in you will tend to factor in the crop’s market value expected before deciding on the pricing structure.
The bottom line here is that you need to go by a clear methodology when it comes to giving custom quotes for your drone services.
The cost of your services can also be based on the turnaround time of your deliverables. For getting the end products quicker, the clients may be willing to pay a higher price. By charging more for delivering the projects quickly, you can earn more from the same amount of work.
When you want to charge a higher amount for shortening the turnaround time, it is wise to include a longer turnaround time in the basic package.
This will motivate the clients to become willing to pay more when they can get the deliverables much earlier by going for the pricier package.
Adopting a custom quote can also consider equipment based pricing model especially when you have more than one drone. Based on which model you are using for the project, the charges can also vary.
The point here is that more expensive drones will be able to assure a higher quality deliverable and will therefore entail you for raising your charges.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.