9 New Year’s Resolutions for Drone Pilots—A List of Goals to Help Make 2023 a Smashing Success
BY Zacc Dukowitz3 January 2023
Have you always thought about being a commercial drone pilot but haven’t pulled the trigger on getting Part 107 certified?
Or maybe you have your Part 107, but you haven’t put much time into actually growing your drone business?
Wherever you are in your drone pilot journey, right now is a great time to pause and reflect on the year ahead. Project yourself into the future—where do you want to be one year from now?
If you’re imagining that you’d like to be a professional drone pilot making reliable pay, the resolutions in this post were crafted to help you get there.
Pick the ones you find relevant, or try to keep them all. Either way, the goal is to help you make the future you want happen, starting today.
Here is our list of nine resolutions for drone pilots.
1. Pass the Part 107 Test
The Part 107 test—the test the FAA requires all commercial drone pilots to pass—is the single biggest hurdle drone pilots face before launching their own drone business.
The Part 107 test is dense and involved, covering topics like the knowledge needed to operate a drone commercially in the U.S., how to read sectional charts, radio communications, and knowledge about weather and micrometeorology.
If you’re intimidated by the work required to pass the test, we can help.
When the Part 107 test first came out in 2016 UAV Coach launched Drone Pilot Ground School, an online test prep and training course to help you learn everything you need to know to pass.
Over 99% of our students pass the Part 107 test on the first try. And if you don’t pass, we’ll give you your money back and cover your test center fee ($175). Also, when you become a Drone Pilot Ground School student you have lifetime access, so you can use the course to brush up every two years when you have to retake the test.
Learn more about Drone Pilot Ground School.
2. Land Your First Client
OK, let’s assume you’ve got your Part 107 and you’re ready to start doing drone work.
The next step is to actually get a client. One of the strategies we’ve heard drone pilots using is to offer a free shoot to a local realtor to demonstrate the value of aerial footage for real estate marketing.
The same tactic could be used for a variety of other local businesses that may need your services, but may not know it. Car dealerships, home inspectors, outdoor venues—these are all places that could possibly use your services.
Need some inspiration? Learn how Jonathon and Beth Russell moved to Maui and built their drone business from the ground up.
3. Build Your Website
Your drone services website doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles you might find on the site of a large company, but it does need to be clean and professional.
Your website is a place you can send people you meet so they can learn more about your services. It’s also a place where new people can discover you and your business.
Here’s a guide with seven best practices to help you make a good drone website.
4. Grow Your Social Media Following
Social media can be labor intensive. But if you know that Instagram or YouTube are the places where your ideal clients are going to find you, then it’s worth investing the time.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Focus on one platform. Each social media platform attracts different demographics and is suited for different types of businesses. If you’re focusing on inspections, LinkedIn may be the best place to focus. On the other hand, if you’re focusing on selling beautiful aerial shots, Instagram may be your best. Do you research and pick the most important platform for your business instead of wasting time on all of them.
- Research best practices. Look up recommendations for the platform you’re focusing on, then follow them. And don’t stop learning—best practices can change, and it’s important to keep up with trends.
- Create a calendar. A calendar will help remove some of the stress of posting, since it gives you a way to plan things in advance.
- Follow the 2/3 rule. Don’t just talk about yourself and your own work. Share posts, images, and stories related to what you do to gain a larger following. Doing this is called “the ⅔ rule” because the best practice is to only talk about yourself and your services ⅓ of the time.
5. Fly More
Of course, right?
But in the midst of trying to start a business, improving on the actual skill you’re selling can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
The better you become at flying, the better your end product will be, and the more confident you’ll be when you show up to do a job.
To make this resolution specific, try committing to a certain number of flight hours per week.
Want some help? Learn more about our hands-on drone flight training.
6. Get Good at Specific Types of Flying
One way to level up your drone business is to get good at specific types of missions.
Inspections are one area where the more skill you have, the more you can charge. And inspections are a huge area of work—cell tower inspections require very different types of drone pilot skills, and different types of drones, than inspections inside industrial boilers.
Another example of skill-specific flying is aerial cinematography for movies and T.V. shows.
Pick a skill you’d like to improve on, and work on it. Eventually, your new skill will help you charge more for your work.
7. Invest in Yourself
This year, consider setting aside some money to level up your drone equipment. This doesn’t have to be a huge investment—the idea is to be intentional, and identify what you need to provide better services.
Similar to the resolution above focused on getting good at one type of flying, when you think about investing, think about where you want to be doing drone work.
If you want to do aerial cinematography for movies you may want a big rig drone. On the other hand, if you want to do home inspections, you may want to get a thermal drone that will help you visualize energy loss.
8. Travel to a New Place—and Fly There
So far, all these resolutions have been about the grind of building a business.
But it’s important to remember what drew you to flying in the first place. For most drone pilots, they got started because they just love flying, and the idea of creating a business came later.
Flying in new places can help reignite that spark you felt when you first started flying.
So pick a place, go there, and fly! It could be somewhere in your hometown you’ve never flown before, a place in a neighboring state, or even an epic trip to a foreign country. Wherever it is, set the goal and make it happen.
A Flyability pilot flies the Elios 3 on a lava flow in Iceland | Credit: Flyability
9. Have Fun!
Remember the thrill you felt the first time you flew a drone?
For this last resolution, the idea is to take your drone out and recapture that feeling. The location doesn’t matter—the point is to go out just to goof off with your drone.
This resolution could dovetail with #5—Fly More—but the idea here is for the joy of flying be the main objective, rather than focusing on improving your proficiency at a certain skill or type of flying.
And most likely, if you set the intention of having fun, you’ll also get better at flying too.