Earlier this year, I made a major life-changing decision. I decided to move away from California. It wasn’t easy. I grew up in the East Bay Area and spent many years living and working in San Francisco before I had my daughter. I created lasting friendships along with a network of brilliant, creative people. As much as I enjoyed every advantage a dynamic city offers, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the area I’ve called home for most of my life has become increasingly congested and ludicrously expensive.
As of mid-August, I am a proud resident of Michigan. I don’t regret the move one bit. However, I can’t ignore the fact that getting hired for remote pilot gigs, where I don’t know many people, is going to be difficult. I’ve been here for less than a month and have already had to turn down four lucrative opportunities based in California because professional contacts didn’t realize I had relocated.
While I work on getting out of my comfort zone and meeting potential new prospects, now that my daughter is back in school, I’ve decided to register for a few drone pilot directories. I’m interested to see if this is an avenue for additional income, if the effort put forth is worth the return.
I recently registered for four different services I’ve either heard about repeatedly in popular drone forums, or through social media, and share my thoughts regarding the on boarding process.
This directory does an incredible job curating their social feeds, especially on Instagram where I follow along. Unfortunately, the registration process for the actual service was anything but elegant. I fly a Phantom 4 Professional and when asked to select which drone model I use, was initially confused as it wasn’t listed chronologically above Phantom 4. I was able to locate it by scrolling to the bottom of the drop-down menu but it took me a few moments to figure out this important step. Furthermore, they didn’t ask for your Remote Pilot Certificate Number.
The final point of frustration involved waiting hours for a confirmation email. When the message finally arrived, the final registration link led me to a page where I was told I wouldn’t be eligible for jobs until my address was verified. The site is still in beta, so I won’t be much more harsh, but I don’t expect a lot of leads to come through in the near future until some of these bugs are resolved.
DroneBase has been getting a fair amount of visibility in the press lately, due in part to their partnership with Getty Images for video content. DJI has also invested in them twice. The way it works, when getting started, is that they’ll list missions in your area and outline the specificities. Most are panoramas for homes on the market in my neighborhood. You claim the assignment, show up, and perform the basic requirements. Representatives will attempt to sell the work and give you a cut of the profits.
The site is beautifully designed and easy to use. As someone that typically receives minimum pay of $500 for similar assignments, I find it difficult to reconcile getting a tiny fraction of that amount. Even worse, payouts are not guaranteed. A sales rep needs to close the deal with your work in order for you to see any income. Still, if you want an incentive to practice some maneuvers, this isn’t the worst way to go about it. They’re also known for quick payments, within weeks, which is a positive in an industry where net pay can span 30 to 60 days.
The service directory drills down into the specifics. They allow you to choose categories you operate in regularly including agriculture, cinematography, construction, drone training, and weddings. I experienced a hiccup when I attempted to register by connecting with Facebook. The social login failure was the only real issue. They go a step further than the other services by requiring you to upload an image displaying proof of certification. Overall, I’m looking forward to exploring this platform as it looks promising.
You can’t automatically join this network. You need to fill out an application first. Some of the benefits of flying with Uplift, based out of Chicago, is that you’re covered under their insurance umbrella. Sure enough, when I filled out my form, including some personal information regarding how I got into flying drones, I received an automated response informing me that they receive a “significant influx of pilot inquiries” and will reach out when they’re recruiting more pilots in my area.
Nothing beats building a network and landing jobs on your own. The pay is going to be much higher. Word of mouth is best when it comes to landing lucrative gigs. However, if you’re looking for extra work or establishing your business in a new area, these networks can be beneficial. I’m curious to find out how it works out in the long run. Thankfully, I’ve been meeting neighbors who know property mangers and realtors looking for professional remote pilots.
Which service directories are you using? What’s been your overall experience? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
Featured image: courtesy of Pixabay
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