Category Archives: Tips

DJI is hosting a summer sale: get DJI Spark deals and more!

Waiting for the perfect moment to buy a drone? Hoped to buy a drone for your last minute summer vacation? This should come as good news then. DJI drones are on summer sale!

Sale items include the DJI Spark, DJI Mavic Pro, Osmo Mobile and more.

Most of the sale consists of full price items plus free add-on items like batteries — which could prove to be a big money-saver since you’ll definitely want a spare battery anyway. Other items include freebies like t-shirts, “skins” for the Spark and more.

Here are some of the sale items:

DJI Spark: Purchase a Spark at full price, and receive 2 free Spark Skins and a t-shirt

Mavic Pro: Purchase a Mavic Pro at full price, and receive 2 free Mavic Pro skins and a landing pad

Osmo Mobile: Purchase Osmo Mobile at full price, and receive a free Osmo base and intelligent battery

OnePlus Backpack Combos: The sleek OnePlus backpacks are heavily discounted when purchased with a DJI drone

Check out the full sale here!

8 tips for starting your own aerial photography business — and making money while doing it

I have a recurring feature on my site called Ask Drone Girl. People have asked me about topics including FPV’s impact on eyesight, international travel with a drone, legal airspace, drone video music, LCD brightness and even a potential drone stalking situation.

But far and away the biggest question I get is centered around one topic: money.

What do I study in school to get a job in drones? What kind of revenue can I expect? Is there a set amount of hours you need to fly to become an expert?

But the most common scenario is people who have a drone and are looking to start an aerial photography business.

I figured the best way to give advice was to crowd-source from the pros. I reached out to some of the top aerial photographers in the business to get their advice:

  1. Use social media. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or a drone-photo sharing site, stay active posting on social media. “These days almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, and /or Instagram account,” said Stacy Garlington, founder of the DJI Aerial Photography Academy.

“By posting your best images this will get the word out that you are serious about pursuing aerial imaging.” Along those lines, join online communities. There are tons of drone Facebook groups, Slack channels and forums to share your work, as well as learn from others.

“There you can keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry and share images and experiences with like-minded folks,” Garlington said.

2. Find a niche. Don’t just photograph everything and spread yourself thin.  Figure out one or two niches. Whether it’s real estate, weddings, or something else completely, become a pro in that field. “Rather than have a huge list of services and a crazy demo reel, show you’re an expert in one specific field,” said Drone Depot distributor Alex Wright in a past Drone Girl article. “I came into a market that was quite saturated already as a pilot, so I focused on boating. I made boats my niche. I’m the boat guy! And that worked so well for me.”

3. Post your work. If your client allows you to, share your work online so potential customers know you’re business is growing. At the very least, include testimonies from past clients so potential new ones have a reference point.

From the ground, it typically takes an hour-and-a-half to get to the center of this lavender maze.

A post shared by Kara Murphy (@karaemurphy) on

4. Don’t neglect sales! Even if you see yourself as a photographer, ultimately you are a salesperson. “Sales are the lifeblood of any business,” said SkyNinja founder Taylor Mitcham. “Without sales, all you have is an expensive hobby.”

5. Network. You never know when that one email you almost deleted ultimately turns into your biggest gig.  And don’t forget to follow up on all leads.

“Even if it’s 3×5 cards in a box, the business won’t come to you,” said Skyshot founder Casey Saumure. “You have to go get it.”

6. Decide when you can work for free, and when you need to get paid. Ultimately it’s a business and you deserve to be paid for your work. But that pro bono project could lead to something bigger and better.

And decide when you are willing to let magazines publish your work for free.

“Don’t be surprised if magazines, newspapers, and other publishing agencies want to print your images for free,” Garlington said. “In general, they no longer need to pay for images since the internet is saturated with talent. Allow them to use your images and add the publication to your resume.”

But don’t forget to get paid too! Garlington suggests that stock agencies such as Adobe Stock, Getty or Shutterstock are outlets to get residual income.

7. Build a professional website. 

“An established online presence — website and/or social media — is a must! One that tells a little bit about you/your company, but more importantly includes a photo portfolio of your work,” said Kim Wheeler, one half of the 2Drone Gals team.

 Come up with a memorable URL (can you avoid the cliches like ‘Sky’, ‘Aerial’ or ‘Air’ in your business name? Design a great logo that stands out. And even if you don’t have coding chops, build a great website. Drone photographer Kara Murphy built hers on Squarespace for less than $200.

“Set up analytics so you know what’s driving your traffic,” Murphy said.

8. Perfect your demo reel.  Carys Keiser, who does work primarily for British broadcast TV and other European production companies and also edits the BBC’s showreels speaks from experience.

Keep the demo reel short and sweet, between 1 to 2 minutes. Remove any illegal drone footage, copyrighted music, and cut out distractions like graphics or weird editing techniques.

“What they want to see is ungraded footage from the drone,” Kaiser said, advising that photographers remove color grading or post=-processed stabilization. Put variety in your reel, whether it’s landscapes, locations, time of day and even time of year.

“Try not to show everything in sunlight,” Kaiser said. “Shoot dark skies and winter weather, and include people if you can.”

Do you have your own aerial photography business tips? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

“We can get 1cm with our drone!”

Have you heard someone in the drone industry say something similar to this?  For drone mapping professional Jon Ellinger, the creator of TLT Photography, which specializes in aerial surveys, geospatial data processing and fine photography, he gets it a lot.

So much so, that Ellinger wrote up a great guide to what spatial resolution really means, as well as understanding the difference between spatial resolution vs. accuracy. Here goes:

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With affordable drones such as the GoPro Karma, and DJI Mavic and Spark becoming accessible to people of all educational backgrounds it makes sense that there is sometimes confusion about what the specifications of the drone really mean.  Unless you have a geography background, are an avid photographer, or someone who works with geospatial data regularly you may not realize what a vague statement that is.  Grab a coffee and let me explain… Continue reading Drone mapping: what’s the difference between drone spatial resolution vs. accuracy?

6 online drone communities worth joining

Looking to connect with people in the drone world? It can be tricky to find dronies out in the world, but there are loads of online drone communities for any type of drone pilot. Are you a photographer? How about a policy wonk? Just looking to make some friends? There is an online community for you.

Of course there are plenty of other great news sites, blogs, Twitter accounts and IRL (in real life) drone communities to join. But for now, here are some of my favorite online drone communities (listed in no particular order):

  1. UAV Coach Community forum: This is one of my favorite forums for active discussion on general drone questions. The forums are broken down by industry, type of drone and more. The community forum is run by Drone Pilot Ground School creator Alan Perlman.
  2. NODE – A Drone Pilots Advocacy Group: For people interested in law and policy around drones, the Network of Drone Enthusiasts (NODE) is a fairly new grassroots group dedicated to representing drone pilots across the U.S. and Canada. While the FAA regulates the airspace in the U.S., many cities, counties and states have implemented additional regulations which can be difficult for drone pilots, and sometimes even conflict with FAA rules. The group is intended to give drone organizations a voice to collaborate with local legislators on developing reasonable and effective drone regulations that encourage drone use while protecting public safety. It’s worth noting that this group was launched by drone manufacturer DJI, which means there is likely some bias behind the intent of the group (to make sure you’re able to buy more of their drones, of course!).
  3. Amelia Droneharts: For a fantastic, female-only community of drone pilots around the world, Amelia Droneharts is the place to be. There’s a main webpage, but most of the chatter happens in their private Facebook group. For other awesome female communities, check out Girls Who Drone, a group for women in the San Francisco Bay Area
  4. AirVuz: Videographers should join AirVuz, a community of people looking to watch or upload aerial videos. The site also has donate and hire me buttons, for videographers who fly drones commercially. The community also has a pretty strong drone-racing slant, for people interested in racing or freestyle drones.
  5. SkyPixel: For photographers, SkyPixel is a community centered around aerial photography. Members can upvote each other’s photos, and experts are ranked based on votes. SkyPixel also holds an annual photo contest for its members, and the competition is pretty fierce. SkyPixel is run in partnership with DJI.
  6. Meetup: Meetup is actually how I found my first drone friends! Meetup is a site that organizes people from different cities based on different interests, and there are loads of drone-related meetups. There are drone policy meetups, drone racing meetups, drone building meetups and more! Search meetup for a drone group near the city you live in. While you can chat in the group, you’ll probably end up meeting up with the membersIRL! I didn’t know anyone who flew drones in my area, so I searched my city for the word “drone” and found a super awesome group!

Continue reading 6 online drone communities worth joining

7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

The following is a guest post by Michael Karp, author of the blog Drone Business Marketer.

The FAA predicts that hobbyist drone sales will increase from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020. With that many novice pilots flying around, it’s imperative they learn how to fly safely.

Here are the 7 steps new pilots should follow in order to become a proficient drone flyer: Continue reading 7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Want to fly drones commercially in United Arab Emirates?

It’s not exactly the easiest task. Applying is costly  (more than $1,000), and time-consuming.

Rules also very by where in UAE you’re flying.

In Dubai, you will have to pay a location fee of AED 3,300 (or more depending on filming location) — that’s $899. Then, you’ll have to pay additional online fees of AED 5,100 ($1,388) to DCAA and expect 5 working days of processing time. Continue reading How to operate a drone commercially in United Arab Emirates

Why your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground

So your Blade Nano QX won’t lift off the ground?

  • You tried replacing the propellers
  • The battery is charged
  • The motors appear to be working
  • Your transmitter is bound correctly with the drone

This happened to me too, and let me make sure it doesn’t happen to you. The reason your drone likely won’t lift is because you have a “clockwise” propeller on a “counterclockwise” motor. Fix it! Here’s how:

 

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The thing most people forget when putting on new propellers is that they are pitched differently. If the propeller you replaced it with is the same color but different pitch, it still don’t fly correctly. Make sure that each propeller is mounted exactly on the motor whether it spins clockwise or counterclockwise.

All quadcopters have two motors that spin clockwise placed diagonally from each other, and two that spin counterclockwise on the other sides. It matters what propeller you use for each motor. If a “counterclockwise” propeller is placed on a clockwise spinning motor, your drone won’t lift.my blade nano won't lift
It’s not a matter of “two blue propellers in front” and “two black propellers in back.”  Even still, you won’t get lift if you don’t place each propeller properly. Use this diagram from the manual to ensure it’s clear which propeller to put on each motor. Always read the manual!

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Pro tip! Having trouble removing the propellers? Placing them firmly on the drone is great to ensure they won’t pop off mid flight or in a crash, but placing them on too firmly can make them hard to remove. Use a credit card to wedge between the propeller and the motor to gently leverage the propeller off the drone.

Happy flying!

P.S. Check out my review of the Blade Nano QX2 —  a great introduction to drone racing for FPV beginners.blade nano fat shark