10 Tips for Entering the Drone Zone

Source: VHT Studios

1. Know your strategy. Understand the role drones will play in your marketing efforts, and how to use them effectively. Incorporating drones into your marketing just because you can may not be the best formula for success.

2. Get certified. While today’s requirements include a lower point of entry (no need for $10,000 to $20,000 in fees for a pilot’s license), an FAA certificate is required to verify your aeronautics knowledge (an approximately $150 fee). You’ll need to pass a background check and get tested at one of 700 FAA-approved testing centers.

3. Learn the rules, such as:

  • If flying within five miles of an FAA control tower, operators must notify the tower about a drone in flight (download the FAA app Know Before You Fly for tower locations and notifications).
  • Know airspace restrictions. For example, drones aren’t allowed near all major airports.
  • The drone must be within the operator’s line of sight.

4. Follow local regulations. Learn which state and government entities are crafting drone rules, and get on their email lists.

5. Buy insurance. The FAA doesn’t require it, but real estate professionals need the added liability protection in case of accidents.

6. Prepare for a learning curve. Crashes are common, even for experienced drone pilots. (See Tip 5!) Allow about a year behind the wheel before that drone floats like a butterfly above your listings. Until then, drone video may appear unsteady or feel like a jerky roller coaster ride.

7. Know your budget. Commercial drones cost about 10 times more ($3,000) than what hobbyists use ($300).

8. Learn to use video editing software to produce a beautiful finished product.

9. Be knowledgeable and prepared for video distribution. You’ll be uploading and managing your clients’ listing videos so they’re live on all streaming sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, and removed once a home is sold.

10. Consider the time and upfront costs required. Hiring a professional pilot/photographer with the creative eye and years of experience may be a better option for capturing stunning aerial views of distinctive listings.