How to Get Started in Real Estate Aerial Photography


It has been touted that the drone services industry will top $20 billion in 2017.

  • What does that mean to you?
  • How are you going to get a share of that money?

One area of expansive growth is that of the real estate aerial photography market. In this article I will discuss some real issues that you need to know and outline some proven ways to get your first clients.

The key lesson here is to bring more to the table than just a drone with a camera and a Mac Book.

First, It is better to market yourself before you can claim to market others. Here you have some tips on how to do it:

  • You need to develop proficiency in developing a video that tells a story.
    Develop your skills in editing and production. Learn how to use Photoshop and push your basic editing tools like iMovie to the max before getting wrapped up in the complex and expensive tools like Final Cut and Premiere. Be proficient and nimble.
  • Be a marketing resource to your Realtors
    I even assist in the management of some of their Facebook pages to help drive the demand that my video should be bringing. Utilize real marketing skills to and work to be more than just a photo taker on using a RC controller.
  • Get to know best practices
    Know what others are doing that you are not. Do those things plus more and communicate that to your clients.
  • Expand into other commercial area of drone-based services like Mapping & Surveys. Stay tuned for my write-up on using mapping software on projects.

Now lets talk pricing:

Pricing is all about the market that you are in and the time it takes to do the property justice.

For example, on a big ranch, I would position it as a property tour, which could be much longer and detailed, so that a remote buyer can get a sense for the property before coming in to see it. These jobs are going to be harder to get (especially without a great portfolio) and they will be few. That could be a $1,000 project.

In our market outside of Dallas (Rockwall / Heath area) the housing market is a seller’s market and the need for aerials is just not really there. BUT the realtor’s need for showing value in listing with them is very high. So, I develop the relationship with the Realtor and use my 20 years of marketing experience to provide cost effective ideas for helping them market their listings, behind just MLS.

Big focuses in my market are:

  1. Homes on 0.75+ acres over $400K
  2. Cost-effective virtual tours using interior shots
  3. Branded social videos for listing marketing on Social Media and Emails
  4. Land / Property & Lots for Sale – to show boundaries and relationship to neighborhood
  5. New Developments and Construction Marketing

I base my “standard pricing” off of what the established companies are charging, then I reduce rates for first-time customers and provide discounts for bundling services.

Standard Pricing:

  • $150 for Aerial Photos (based off of market rates)
  • $200 for Aerial Photos and Video together
  • $250-$300 for a branded and high-production video to be used on Social and YouTube

Realistic (Off-Season / Discount) Pricing

  • $50-65 Aerial Photos for first-time customer / $75-$100 for repeat customers
  • Add $50-75 for a branded video for use on social media OR virtual tour using existing interiors
  • Add $100 for interiors on a home <4,000 SF

As the selling season starts to pick up when things turn greener and school gets close to getting out, I expect that demand is going to increase dramatically and at that time, my prices will skew towards the standard pricing.

Lastly, here are some examples of what I am talking about:

  • Latest Video Demo Reel6 hours in development
  • Full Marketing Video for 34 acre property with virtual tour (I also shot the interior) – 1 hrs round trip / 3 hrs on-location / 1.5 hrs post
  • Virtual Tour of a $949K home (existing interiors, but my aerial video) – 45 min on-location, close to my home & 2 hrs post
  • New Community Development marketing video (freebie for the owner of a large independent real estate agency) – 1 hr on-location / 2.5 hrs post
  • 20 Acre Land Listing (only a $100K listing)
  • Construction Site Survey for new elementary school (freebie) – 30 min on-location / 1.5 post – was played at the School Board meeting and sent out in local email newsletter

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David Warren

David P. Warren has worked in the marketing and design field for over 20 years. During this time he developed a keen eye for photography and design and has worked with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 corporations to drive revenue through innovative marketing solutions.

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