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Tips to Help Drone Pilots Get Their Business Off The Ground

Aerial Drone PhotographySo you passed the Part 107 test, and now you’re working to build your aerial services business.

But how do you get started, and what are some of the key things to keep in mind?

These six tips were created to support you as you’re getting your business off the ground. Hope you find them helpful!

1. Develop Your Shot List

Of course, the first thing you need to do is master basic flight proficiency.

This may take a while, but it’s crucial. Make sure to use a cheap drone if you’re just starting out because you may well crash—trust me, it happens.

Using an inexpensive drone will help you build confidence. Check out YouTube videos from other real estate marketers, virtual tour providers or from people in the aerial services you want to do, in order to get a sense of the kinds of shots professional drone pilots are doing.

Practice orbits, side pans, and reveals, and develop a go-to list of shots for the type of work you want to do. This will help you get your skills up to speed, and will also mean that you know exactly what your workflow and process will be when you do land work.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to make the examples included in your portfolio as diverse as possible. It might even be worth taking a job or two for free/low pay if it is interesting, and will help beef up your portfolio. That being said, be careful about free work—most often people value services at what they cost. But if you really want a hotel in your resume, and you get an opportunity, it may be the time to jump on the moment.

2. Then—Get a Portfolio Together and On the Web ASAP

It’s hard to sell a service that you can’t prove you’re any good at.

A portfolio helps demonstrate your expertise, and also gives people a way to find you online. It also lets people who have already hired you easily tell others about your work.

The online aspect of putting together a portfolio can seem intimidating, but there are plenty of resources out there that are super user-friendly when it comes to building a website, and can help you get started.

Here’s a list of sites that can help you create a simple, inexpensive website:

WordPress
Squarespace
Wix

You can take a weekend to build your site on your own using YouTube tutorials to guide you, or you can find someone on a freelancing website like UpWork to help you at a relatively low cost.

Pro Tip: If you do decide to hire someone to build your website, make sure you know exactly what you want. Make a list of how many pages you want created, what the text should be, what you want the architecture to look like, and so on. The more organized you are up front, the more you will save.

3. Choose Your Hardware Carefully

When it comes to hardware you don’t need to spend a fortune, but you do need to be thoughtful and make sure you have the drone, camera, and other equipment that suits the type of drone service work you do.

There are plenty of camera drones out there for aerial cinematography, and you don’t need the latest and greatest system to get the job done. Focus instead on the end result you want to produce, and work backward to match the appropriate tool to the job.

Sure, you could get a DJI Inspire 2 and attached DJI’s newest ZenMuse X7 camera to it—and you should, if you have the budget, and you know you’ll make the investment back through the work it will get you—but there are plenty of professional drone pilots out there still working with a Phantom Pro 2 and a GoPro.

Do your research, think through your goals, and determine the appropriate hardware for your work.

4. Create a Sales Strategy

Let’s face it—sales is uncomfortable for many people.

Just because you want to provide aerial services doesn’t mean you want to be a salesman or –woman.

But having a sales strategy is crucial. You can bet that your competitors have one, and if you’re losing business to them, that could be why.

To be clear, a sales strategy doesn’t have to mean you’re going to be a snake oil salesman, hocking bad goods for marked up prices. In fact, your strategy could center on complete transparency around pricing, and telling your clients exactly the value and concrete deliverables they’ll get for different price points.

The point is, you have to think about sales—it doesn’t just happen on its own.

Pro Tip: Because sales don’t come naturally for many of us, it helps to develop a sales script that you work through so that you have the language to fall back on when you’re trying to close a deal with a potential client. Make sure to work in information on pricing, service delivery, airspace research, insurance, and why you’re better than the guy without a remote pilot certificate who’s charging less, but probably has a lower quality product (not to mention he’s operating illegally).

Keep in mind that many clients will not be aware of all the complicating factors—not to mention expenses—that go into aerial services work, and make sure to share these things with them. You can even break these items out in a mock invoice, so they can have something to take away and review

5. When It Comes to Marketing, Think Local

Your most likely customers are probably right in your neighborhood.

So if you’re going to spend money on marketing to bring in leads, make sure you’re spending locally.

Online, this would be targeted Facebook ads, or targeted Google ads with Google AdWords, and similarly targeted efforts (it’s pretty amazing how targeted you can get with geographic and demographic data points using digital ads these days—which means you don’t need to waste money showing your ads to people who aren’t relevant to you).

Offline, marketing local means creating a list of real estate brokers in your local market, or running free drone workshops with real estate offices to establish your expertise and educate potential clients on the value you can provide.

If you can show local brokers how much is required to do aerial shoots on their own—buying a drone, learning how to fly, getting certified, buying the right insurance, handling post-production—they may well hire you instead of going to all that trouble. And either way, making local contacts will give you the chance to share your portfolio and get it in front of more people (remember item #1 from this list!).

6. Keep Honing Your Skills

Don’t forget to continue honing your skills. Sometimes you can get so busy with the day-to-day of creating and running a business that your skillsets stagnate. Don’t let this happen!

The more you can be working to become better, the more your work will stand out.

Even if you only set aside one or two hours a week for your own growth—whether it’s in post-production, or learning how to use a new sensor like one for aerial thermography, or maintaining and beefing up your flying chops, the investment will pay dividends as times passes and you continue to improve.

And remember—the better you are, the more quickly you can work and the more you can charge. Pretty sweet.

Know a high school student who wants to get FAA certified to be a commercial drone pilot? Make sure to tell him or her about Drone Pilot Ground School’s new High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots.

7. Get connected

One last tip – Get connected with a National Drone Service provider to increase your chances of snagging jobs from large national and international drone photo and video initiatives.  

 


New from RPM Marketing – Happy Halloween Post Card

Happy Halloween Virtual Tour Post Card

As the warm summer temperatures fade into falling leaves and longer nights, it becomes more and more critical for agents and home sellers to market their properties aggressively. There is no time like right now to reach out to your clients, or those who you would like to be your clients to remind them you are here to help them in that endeavor as well as have some fun in the process.

You have heard the term “out of sight, out of mind” but did you realize that this same principle applies to your business? The latest marketing piece from RockPointe Marketing is a fun, attention-grabbing Halloween themed postcard that can be printed and mailed inexpensively. This piece is a great way to keep your clients thinking about how your professional photography, savvy marketing, and virtual tours, help them to sell listings quickly and for more money. 

This standard size postcard features a fun message reminding them that bad photos “scare” clients away, and professional photography sells homes. The backside lets the reader know that you offer powerful marketing services such as Aerial Drone videos, Zillow Video Walkthroughs, 3D VR Headset Tours, Virtual Home Staging and more.  If you don’t offer all of these services you have the flexibility to customize the list or eliminate it altogether and add a handwritten note. Anytime you send a personalized piece to clients or potential clients you are creating a “touch point” that cements your professional relationship and keeps them thinking of you when they need photos of a property. 

This piece is available as a Photoshop or Illustrator file which RockPointe Marketing subscribers can download, customize and send to clients one at a time, or as a full mailing campaign. Add your own logo, contact information and personalize the message any way you would like. These marketing pieces give you the flexibility to carefully craft your own message or market your business quickly by simply adding your information and sending the files to the printer.

Halloween is approaching fast so log into RockPointe Marketing today to download your copy. Not a RockPointe Marketing member? Reach out to us today and ask how you can take advantage of the many benefits RPM has to offer.

Thank you – Team RTV


New From RPM Marketing – Virtual Tour E-Mail Hot Sheet

Virtual Tour HotsheetThe all new real estate Hot Sheet is finally here! For those of you that have been getting the most out of your Real Tour Vision system by using our RSS feeds, you probably already know that you can easily auto tweet, pin, facebook, blog, post, and email out your tours automatically as you create them. Automation is achieved by using our RSS feeds to your tours in conjunction with services like https://ifttt.com/ (for posting and blogging) and www.Aweber.com (for email blasts).

For a full one hour explanation on how this works, watch “The FORMULA 64 – Fusion Exposure Engine II” back in www.RockPointeMarketing.com The show will take you through each step in detail so you can create your very own Hot Sheet and Exposure Engine which can be easily monetized. In 2016 BlueLaVaMedia photographed nearly 800 homes. Of those, 80% ordered the Exposure Engine at $35.

What is a Hot Sheet?

A Hot Sheet is a list of your most recent real estate virtual tour productions that gets sent out to your customer base on a regular basis as you complete new tours. You simply continue to create new virtual tours and when X number of virtual tours have been created your Hot Sheet will be automatically compiled and an email will be sent to everyone on your Hot Sheet email list. 

How does the Hot Sheet work?

Our Hot Sheet is a snippet of HTML code that we give you to paste into a service like Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber or any other online email marketing service. MailChimp calls it RSS-to-Email and Aweber calls it a Blog Broadcast. Here are training videos on how to setup the Hot Sheet on each service – MailChimp – https://youtu.be/B7D8KkHFdlA Aweber – https://youtu.be/Wz9B5jLwcLE As you create new virtual tour productions they will get compiled into a nice legible format and laid out into an email template. Once you have created a specific number of tours (actual value is set by you), the final email will be sent out automatically to your email list. Take a look at some recent hot sheets that were pushed out by our Traverse City Real Estate Photography team – BlueLaVaMedia – http://archive.aweber.com/360traverseblog

Why the Hot Sheet?

Staying in touch with your customers on a regular basis is VITAL in any business. Being that you’re photographing newly listed homes hitting the market and sending this highly relevant content to local real estate agents makes the Hot Sheet a MUST HAVE for your photography and virtual tour business. The Hot Sheet is a PERFECT marketing tool just begging to be put in front of as many local real estate agents as possible.

As people click on and watch the virtual tours from your Hot Sheet email, the weekly virtual tour traffic reports will show this referral traffic by putting “Hot Sheet” right onto the report. Your customers will know you’re working hard to get them the most exposure and the best part is that it will all be done for you automatically!

Here’s a short video for you to watch for further information and we hope to see many of you setting up your Hot Sheets today!

 

Sincerely,

Team RTV


The Formula 81 – Business Plans for Real Estate & Virtual Tour Photographers

Photography Business Building Plan

Building a photography and virtual tour business starts with a business plan. It might help to think of the structure of this plan the same way you would the building of a house. You work in stages, and that’s because there are some things you cannot do until you’ve done the other things first. For example; you start by building a foundation and these are the basics that you must have in place before you can move on. In this webinar, we’ll call Stage 1 in our plan The Foundation, since we need to have a strong platform upon which to build the rest the photography and virtual tour business. If we miss any of this, or if we don’t build our foundation well enough, then the rest of what we do on top of that will be much weaker.

Stage 2 in the building plan for a business is where we add a little more structure to the business, and we’ll call this stage The Frame. The things we do during this stage will help us get more clients and increase our revenue, building further upon The Foundation.

Once again we need to complete Stage 2 before we can move on to Stage 3, which we’ll call The Fitout, and that’s where we add the bricks, the doors, the windows and the furniture.  Stage 3 is where we are fitting it out with the luxury features such as RTV’s robust virtual tour software  or aerial drone services that help take us up a level in terms of quality and service offerings. After all, every home has a foundation and a frame, but it’s in the fitout where we separate the good home from the amazing home, and it’s the same with your business. 

What’s important here is to understand the need to do some things first, and not to start trying to add a beautiful staircase and huge windows before we’ve got our foundation built. If that foundation or that frame is incomplete then these Stage 2 and 3 activities won’t be as effective as they would otherwise be, and you could seriously harm your reputation.

During this webinar we will be going through the various steps and activities that a photographer needs to accomplish at each stage of this plan, covering The Foundation, The Frame, and The Fitout. You’ll have a much better idea of what you need to do with your own business and when you need to do it, with helpful hints on:

  • What you must have on your website and why
  • Tips for how to get the most from your Facebook Page and Facebook ads
  • What you can learn from the way McDonald’s makes their burgers
  • How to keep clients coming back to you
  • What not to say in a marketing email
  • How to be a leader in your market
  • … and much more!

Real Estate Photography CoachOur presenter for this webinar is Darryl Stringer, creator and founder of The Real Estate Photography System. Darryl started in real estate photography in 1998 and built a successful business in Brisbane, Australia, photographing billions of dollars worth of commercial and residential buildings. Today he helps photographers and virtual tour providers across the USA, Australia, Canada and Europe get more clients and build more profitable businesses. We hope you can join us on Tuesday, Sept 12th at 7:00 pm EST. You will be glad you did.

Please visit our webinar information page to register.

See you there!

Sincerely,

Team RTV
RTV, Inc – Virtual Tour Software & National Photography Services
Order a virtual tour – 866-947-8687


Relax… Summer Themed Marketing Piece Now Available In RockPointe Marketing

Virtual Tour Photography Marketing Piece

Summer is quickly passing us by! It’s easy for your virtual tour company clients to forget about how important professional photography is and how bright beautiful images captivate. Good marketers know that it’s vital to keep your clients thinking about you year round. Use this month’s RockPointeMarketing piece to remind them of your high quality professional photography and powerful marketing tools!

This flier is a fully customizable multifold piece with color and graphics that relax and entice like a beautiful summer day. Use our pre-written text to tell your clients what you have to offer, or customize it to send the exact message you want. This eye catching piece will look great in your client’s listing presentations and they will love how professional it looks as they explain why they only use professional photography and virtual tours for their listings.

Don’t wait until the skies have turned grey and the winds cold to remind them that beautiful pictures sell homes faster, and for more money.

Click here to watch a video on this unique and exciting marketing piece!

This piece is available for all Rockpointe Marketing subscribers as part of their membership subscription. If you aren’t currently a rockpointe marketing member, reach out today and ask how you can take advantage of all the benefits that Rockpointe Marketing has to offer.

This piece was created using Adobe Photoshop giving you the ability to customize it with software you already use, and providing the most professional look in today’s demanding world.

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Click Here To Sign Join Today!