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The Client-Building Strategy for Drone Pilots You Haven’t Tried Yet, But Should

BY Isabella Lee
9 May 2019

Adam Goldberg, a full-time architecture and real estate photographer, got involved in the drone industry as a way to share a different perspective of a property to his clients. With his commercial drone license, Adam was able to transform his business into a full-service company providing both aerial and on-the-ground photography and video.

Adam Goldberg Photography

Adam Goldberg takes his drone out to the beach in the British Virgin Islands.

Adam is an alumnus of Drone Pilot Ground School, our online test prep course for commercial drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Part 107 test for a Remote Pilot Certificate, and we recently reached out to him to see how business was going. What he shared turned out to be valuable for any entrepreneur in the drone industry, not just those in real estate. His advice has to do with client-building strategies that step outside the box.

Sharing the highlights from our recent interview with Adam, we’ll go over how he gains new clients for his drone services business and, as a bonus, his approach to pricing.

A Different Approach for Building Your Client Base

Adam’s number one piece of advice for gaining new clients?

“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box,” Adam said.

Adam gains a majority of clients through his own website and marketing materials, but he says there are less obvious ways to go about gathering clients. You can advertise your services online, join a drone pilot network, hunt down job ads, or work off of referrals. Each of these methods can work, but during our interview, Adam suggested an alternative: Don’t go for the obvious clients.

Some of the companies that I work for and partner with aren’t necessarily companies that you would think would want to hire a drone pilot.

—Adam Goldberg, Certified Drone Pilot and Founder of Adam Goldberg Photography

So who are these unexpected clients and how does Adam go about finding them? The trick is to expand your understanding of who a client could be—a client could be someone you work for directly, but Adam has found there are opportunities in indirect client sources as well.

The Client Opportunity Often Missed

Indirect client sources can be tapped into when you “think of a client’s client,” Adam said.

“Who already has clients that may need drone services? For example, local video production companies that curate marketing materials for companies in your city. When the video production company’s client wants a video taken to highlight the work they’re doing, you can be their contractor that helps to gather the aerial footage.”

The need of the client’s client is what will help you secure the work, Adam explained.

“A recent example from my own experience was working with a video production company that only did on-the-ground video. Their client was a steel company that wanted a promotional video for their marketing that featured interior and exterior drone footage of their factory. Since the company only had the means to produce on-the-ground footage, they hired me for the drone shots as a third-party contractor. Now I’m the go-to drone person for that video production company any time one of their clients requests drone footage.”

See the resulting footage from Adam’s work with Atlanta Business Video and Cobb Industrial Inc. in the video below.

Source: Cobb Industrial, Inc. – An Atlanta Business Video Production from Atlanta Business Video on Vimeo.

Work With, Not Against The Competition

Another out-of-the-box client building approach Adam suggested was to work with, not against, the competition.

You don’t always have to be the competitor to X, Y, and Z. You can be a supplement for companies that already have clients in the space you want to work.

—Adam Goldberg, Certified Drone Pilot and Founder of Adam Goldberg Photography

For example, a helicopter company isn’t a typical client for a drone pilot (usually viewed as a competitor) but it’s one Adam has worked with on multiple occasions. In this case, the helicopter company was able to use Adam’s services as a way to meet the needs of their existing clients.

“A helicopter company that takes aerial photographs from over 400 feet in the air started receiving client requests for photographs from a closer perspective more effectively captured by a drone. I was able to sell them on services that I provide as an add-on and explain how it would benefit their client. Now, I’m a resource they pull in whenever they need low-altitude aerial content,” Adam said.

Companies such as the helicopter company Adam worked with are inclined to view drone pilots as competitors when they’re not.

As Adam’s experience demonstrates, it’s possible to approach competitors about using your services as an add-on. This allows them to better meet the needs of their clients. Plus, by bringing the competition in-house, they’re able to profit from your services rather than compete with them.

Pricing Your Drone Services and Knowing Your Value

In addition to methods for finding clients, Adam has also developed a strategy for effectively pricing his drone and aerial services.

“Stick to your guns and don’t sell yourself short in terms of your value as a licensed drone pilot,” Adam said. “You have a skill that people are willing to pay for.”

When you’re just starting out as a drone pilot, you may have to offer your services at a lower price in order to build your portfolio, but at some point, you should be able to communicate the value of your skill and charge accordingly.

“There are plenty of places where you can find drone pilots to take on jobs for $25 and $50. It’s a good way to gain experience, but being a drone pilot is a skill and you should be able to charge for that skill,” said Adam.

Adam also isn’t afraid to pass on jobs that don’t meet his earning goals.

“I will pass on jobs that go below a certain financial threshold. You have to consider if it’s worth driving out to the site, taking the photos, coming back and uploading all of the content, doing the post-production work, et cetera,” Adam said.

Over time, you’re able to develop confidence around the services you offer and how you price them. There’s also the benefit of leveraging the value of drone services for the industry as a whole.

“I’m very sure and confident in the pricing that I have. Some clients say that it’s expensive, and that’s okay,” said Adam. “From an industry standpoint, the more that we can stick together and not have a race to the bottom in terms of pricing, the better.”

Ultimately, what will lead to returning clients is the quality of the work that you do and how easy it is for someone to work with you. To get started on your search for new jobs and clients, check out our Drone Jobs Guide.

Interested in more business advice from experienced drone pilots? Head over to our community forum for drone pilots, and check out our Business Advice section.

You can learn more about Adam Goldberg’s work as an Atlanta-based, licensed drone pilot on his website, www.agoldbergphoto.com, and follow along with his current projects on social media:

Isabella Lee

Digital Marketing Manager

Isabella is a digital marketing expert who creates knock-out strategies for building web presence and online communities. She has held a variety of roles including copy editor, writer, content creator, and marketing manager and has received awards for her work from the American Advertising Federation and the Society of Technical Communication. Isabella has a BA in English from the University of Florida and a MA in Technical Communication from the University of Central Florida, where she graduated magna cum laude. Outside of work, she enjoys playing on her local tennis league, teaching her labradoodle new tricks, and spending time with her husband.

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