Consider your budget when starting out a drone business...
Starting out can be tricky, but what can you do to help make a successful flying career?
Often you hear the expression "If I had my time again I'd do things differently". Nothing could be more true than what many drone operators find. There's a lot of initial costs. So starting out with a budget plan is definitely essential.
"I put a lot of emphasis on the equipment I had when starting out" says Dronetec Chief pilot Harry Turner, "But really, 90% of our customers wouldn't really be able to tell the difference between the camera on a Phantom or the camera on an Inspire Pro!"
It's great having good equipment and good equipment does improve results, but when you're starting out the key thing is to find paying work.
For example, [this operator] has a £10,000 initial startup load. Now that may sound like a lot, but it's just an example for now.
So let's say £3000 goes for your training and Permission for Aerial Work. Now where?
The next few spends can make or break your drone business!
It's easy to allocate your funds to a great machine. Maybe you will spend £6000 on a really good 8 motor heavy lift machine that really does makes you a sophisticated outfit, but you've still got no customers. Who's going to pay back your £10,000 loan and pay your rent?
To start making your drone business pay the bills you'll need to give a great proportion of your budget to advertising. Not least the right advertising!
"Initially every phone calls I received was someone trying to sell me some advertising product and it was a nightmare trying to work out which ones were the best. The best I can honestly say, who worked out really well for us, was a company called Addpeople. You can find them here: www.addpeople.co.uk It did seem expensive, but it did make that money back and some! I got good quality leads. They would call me every-time someone made an enquiry and in all they offered a good service. I'd recommend their landing pages."
"I walked round every estate agent in 40 miles, rang everyone I could think of, e-mailed every night for weeks on end and still had little response. But it was worth it, I gradually started to get little bits here and there." Harry tells us.
As Harry explains, there's two key areas to focus your attention on:
1 - 'Pay per click' advertising. A Website just doesn't work when you first start out. It's more of a place where people can check your serious about your job. Don't expect it to get found on any search engine initially.
Think about this, people make websites all the time. Businesses start out all the time. Search engines will only consider you a serious player when you've been functioning for a period of time and other people have been linking your site etc.
Your best bet is to pay to be up top. If you can advertise through an agency like the one Harry mentioned above, they can help you get noticed. As Harry mentioned...it works! It would be good to focus your budget on this. When you contact them, help them to appreciate that your business success will determine how long you stay with them. Put pressure on them to perform for you.
Give some thought to healthy expressions and key words to use, and convey those to your agency. Things like "Drones" as a key word just don't cut it. Hundreds of people per hour search for "drone", but they aren't interested in buying a service from you, they are just looking for a "drone" video for example. Think key expression like "drone filming service local to [wherever you are]". That will direct the right people, searching for the right things.
2 - Bread and butter money. Find out what your niche market is and find work thats quick and easy, but pays the bills.
"I had the dream of filming some incredible art piece for a big company or tv outfit, which only really happens once in a blue moon for me. The majority of our bills get paid with simple, cheap quick jobs about my area. Simple estate agent photographs earn me decent money and are done in no time at all..." explains Harry.
Ensuring you earn enough to keep the business ticking over and progressing is your first priority. Sometimes asking everywhere you go may only get you a job every now and then, eventually these smaller jobs will pay off. It may seem like you're asking and asking with no response, but keep positive. Sometimes it may take several months before someone finally get's around to getting those aerial photographs done.
Be sure to contact people who sounded interested before, further down the line. Once the phone goes down or you've walked out of the shop, people are so busy they forget to contact you again. If you politely make contact for a second time, often you'll find positive interest and possibly a new flying job.
I hope this gives you some things to think about when starting out your drone business. Consider these things:
- Have a healthy budget to start out.
- Focus on pay per click online advertising for your drone business, not on the equipment or website.
- Find bread and butter, straight forward quick earners.
Don't give up if it seems like nothings working out. Keep positive and keep selling.
We'll consider some cost saving ideas in future blogs but that's all for now!