As drones became more popular over recent years, many pilots have started their own drone businesses. This was the case for me 5 years ago when I started my own business offering aerial video and photo services.
Apart from the obvious struggles of starting a business, which every entrepeneur goes through, one of the things I had most trouble with was getting customers. In my opinion having looked at thousands of drone businesses on Airstoc, this is still the case for drone businesses today.
So let’s set the scene. These things may apply to you roughly:
- You started this business on your own or with one other person
- You’ve got a small ammount of cash investment or you’re using your own money for now
- Because of the above you have around 6 to 12 months to turn it into a profitable business (at which point you can’t afford to try anymore)
- You probably already spent a fair amount of that money and time in things you “needed” for the business:
- the latest drone gear
- a website
- a logo
- business cards, branded clothing, etc (we all want to look professional)
- all the logistics of having a license and registering a company
So now you’re finally ready to go! But… where are all the customers? No one is calling you or emailing you. You’re only doing a couple of jobs a month (and struggling to get them).
What should you do to get more customers then? Email customers? Cold call them? send them a clever present in the mail? Adwords? Facebook ads? etc.
Most operators in time end up trying a bit of everything, but from my experience all of those have limited success because the most important thing has been overlooked – the quality of your product.
For those in the drone media business (almost everyone, until construction and agriculture take off) the thing that you sell is not your time, or your expertise, or even the rental time of your drone in the air. What you’re really selling are your images. How good are your photos? How good are your videos? Be honest with yourself.
If your answer is “they could be better” (which is the answer for everyone btw, because even the pros always try to get better) then the single most imporant thing you should be doing is taking many many many more photos and videos. That’s the only way that you’ll become excellent at it. And amazing photos and videos is the #1 reason why clients will hire you over someone else and even the reason why they will know of you in the first place.
There is a lot of choice out there, you’re not the only guy with a drone in your city anymore, so the best marketing you can do is to do what you love and have fun. We’re not talking about a moderate type of fun though, like taking a day off and going to fly in the local park.
We’re talking about BIG fun and BIG projects. Find something you would really love to do and then multiply it by 10 and try to pull it off.
You’ve always been into nature and landscapes? Take a 1-2 week trip to that place you always wanted to go. Get up early and capture the sunrise. Do it 10-100 times until you get really good at it.
Take a 30 day challenge to fly every day for 30 days. Start with low expectations but try to better yourself with every shot every day.
Do a photography or videography course. Read and practise as much as possible. There are so many free courses and tips online that the biggest asset you have is your persistance. Shoot for the stars and stick with it until you get there.
I know I know, you don’t have enough money for that trip to Iceland. Or you can’t get up early in the morning because you have to drop the kids off at school. But you can look at ways where you can do these things as long as you’re willing to compromise and put the effort in. Otherwise you’ll just be at home or in the office, waiting for that phone to ring, or that email to come in. And that’s not free either. If you’re just sitting at home, you’re still eating, you’re still paying the bills, you’re still using your time.
Do a local trip instead of international. Camp instead of staying at a hotel, spend $100 in a week instead of $1000. You’ll soon see that your photos and videos will get better and better, and your social media posts for your business will be a lot more interesting and engaging than the classic “I’m a drone operator, hire me now”. This then because content marketing in the best way. Look at who you follow on instagram and youtube? People or companies that mindlesly tell you to buy their stuff or instead people that keep coming up with interesting and innovative projects?
You have it in you. You have the possibility to do something amazing that no one has ever done before. That thing that you’ve always wanted to do. That crazy project that you’ve never had to time to get to. Right now is literally the best time in history to start a drone business. Don’t sell yourself short, dream big. Adventure awaits.