James Compton – Thought Leader in Drone Technology

Up until recently, the majority of folks around the world have simply looked at drones as something cool to do, not fully understanding the insane money making potential drones offer.

Before I get into the meaty details, we must first get on common ground. The following framework is something that must first be understood. Once you’ve wrapped your head around it, everything else logically follows. Not only that, but chances are you’ll have an idea or two of how you can turn this framework to your advantage.

First ask yourself this question – who has money to spend? (1) Realtors or (2) Big industrial companies?

Big companies must perform routine inspections of equipment and facilities. Traditionally, this has been done by sending (1) humans, (2) costing big insurance money, (3) placing the humans in a risky position where they may get severely hurt or die, (4) while taking many hours or many days to complete.

The solution then is to use drones to perform the inspections. Drones are cheap and cost effective, don’t place humans in harm’s way, cost little in insurance, are faster and more efficient than using humans. To be clear, this type of logical argument is one that if used correctly, will have you reaping job after job after job. Think of it, you’re saving the company money, while providing a great product, little to no insurance costs, while not risking human lives. It’s a no brainer! Also, who has the super big pockets full of cash? Companies of course!

So without further ado, here’s how to make big money performing drone inspections.


Step #1 – Buy a nano-drone

You know what these are, chances are you’ve seen them on the shelves at Walmart, Toys R Us, or while browsing Amazon. These drones fit in the palm of your hand and are made only for indoor flight. The kicker is these little drones are insanely hard to fly. The goal then is to become fluent at flying your nano-drone indoors, frontwards, backwards, sideways, with the control set to regular mode and with it reversed as well. Once you can do this, you’ll have absolutely zero problems in flying a bigger DJI drone.


Step #2 – Buy a drone for inspections


Setting up a Phantom 3 Pro for an inspection. The P3 Pro is a perfect starter drone that will pay for itself after one job.

Typically this will be at the very minimum a DJI Phantom 3 Professional, but if you’re planning on flying inspections indoors a better choice would be the DJI Phantom 4 or DJI Matrice as both of these have object avoidance capabilities as well as indoor positioning systems that operate when there is no GPS signal. You can learn more about these drones at www.dji.com.


Step #3 – Download the Skycatch app

A  cool piece of technology you’re going to want to play around with and use is the Skycatch drone app. This app is chock full of awesome features particularly suited for industrial 3D mapping. Skycatch allows you to capture, manage, analyze, and export your drone data. When you open the app, you’ll be able to create complex flight patterns for your drone to follow. For example, if you’re inspecting pipelines for an oil company, you can designate the path you want your drone to follow while flying. Or say that you’re a project manager constructing a huge building, you can use the Skycatch app to draw a flight path around your construction site and compare daily sitemaps, check building progress, quality, and so on and so forth.


Another cool feature of the Skycatch app is the ability to create perfect georeferenced point cloud and 3D meshes. When you designate the flight path, your drone will fly the path and take pictures. Skycatch will then stitch these pictures together creating a 3D map from them. Engineers, project managers, builders, and drone inspection companies are all folks who’ll reap huge benefits by using this one-of-a-kind app! You can read more about Skycatch and their bleeding edge drone technology here.


Step #4 – File and Obtain Part 107

The FAA previously required an FAA 333 exemption but transitioned away from the 333 exemption to the newer Part 107 requirement. Without going into too much detail Part 107 requires (1) the drone pilot to be at least 16 years old, and (2) pass a knowledge test. You can read more about the various provisions ofPart 107 here. To be clear, if you’ going to charge money for performing drone inspections, taking pictures, or making movies, then you need Part 107. The cost of the knowledge test is ~$150.00.


Step #5 – Setup your company

Here, the choice is yours – setup a company or fly sole prop (sole proprietorship). Sole props have one good thing going for them and that is they are super quick and easy to setup. Simply choose a business name, go to the bank, and get rocking. However, if you are planning on making a career out of flying drones and performing industrial inspections, it’s a good idea to at least set your business up under an LLC (limited liability corporation). This type of setup will protect your personal assets from being accessed (taken) in a court of law. Without going into a lot of legal details and minutiae suffice it to say that going the LLC is a good route. It costs money and the amount varies from state to state. In Texas I paid ~$300.00 to set mine up.


Step #6 – Obtain drone insurance

Here are a few reputable companies that offer drone insurance. Some companies offer insurance on a per hour basis whereas others charge between $600-$800 per year for coverage:

  1. Verifly – on demand drone insurance purchased via phone app for as little as $10.00 per hour.
  2. Drone Insurance – quickly and easily get an insurance quote for your drone.
  3. Avion Drone Insurance – bespoke drone insurance.


Step #7 – Create a business website

When I first began drone inspections, it literally was like the wild west. I flew under the radar, quickly and quietly, and didn’t have a website. To companies, it didn’t really matter whether I had one or not. However, as competition in drone inspections heats up, it’s important to differentiate yourself as best you can. Thus, creating a website is a good idea if not an absolute must.


Step #8 – Design a logo and create business cards

If cost is an important thing to you, then you can design a logo for yourself for free using Google Draw or Adobe Illustrator. If price isn’t a problem for you, I suggest using 99 Designs for your logo creation needs. Essentially, 99Designs will take your description for the type of logo you want for your company and then send it out to hundreds of designers from all over the world. You’ll then be able to look at all of the proposed designs from the designers and select the one you like most. This costs ~$300.00.


Step #9 – Research and discover companies and facilities near you

Google is your friend. First, you’ll want to open a fresh page in Google Docs so you can notate the contact information for all of the companies you’re about to discover. Next, you want to use Google to search for relevant companies in your city and/or area. You’ll want to search for (1) oil and gas companies, (2) energy companies, (3) wind farms, and (4) new construction projects. Typically you won’t use Google to search for new construction projects. The best way to find new construction projects is to drive around in your city and look for them, jotting down the location of all that you come by. Once you have a decent sized list of companies noted, you’re all set!


Step #10 – Visit all the facilities listed below and make your sales pitch

Two things: (1) remember the logical framework laid out at the beginning of this post, it’s your friend, and (2) you’ll want to take a few things along:

  1. iPad – A picture is worth a thousand words right? Of course it is, so instead of walking in and telling a high ranking VP about everything your drone can do, why not show them instead? Show them videos and pictures that you’ve taken with the drone, so they can see what true 4k image quality looks like. Trust me, words don’t do it justice. If you don’t have an IPAD, get one. I highly recommend not going and trying to land jobs if you don’t have one. You’ll be wasting an opportunity.
  2. Business cards. The company will need your contact information.

Now that you’re armed with your iPad and business cards, you’re ready to take on:

Oil and Gas Companies

Phantom 3 Pro-oil and gas-drone-inspection

First a little back story, actually two backstories. First off, oil and gas companies have traditionally used small airplane companies to fly over their pipelines and inspect for leaks and emissions. A lot of the pipelines these airplanes fly are longer sections of pipe i.e. 20+ miles. Understand, you cannot fly a 20 mile section of pipe with a drone. Thus, your goal is to determine the shorter sections of pipeline the company has ~10 miles or less. At this distance you can compete with the airplanes and cut them out. Your pitch is simple: you can fly the small sections of pipeline, inspecting for leaks etc, and charge half of what they’re paying the airplane guys. Second backstory, in January 2016 the government mandated that all oil and gas companies perform emissions inspections. This is an absolute beast of an opportunity. Why? Because the government is forcing all companies to do this! You’re the solution to the government and the company’s problem! Think long term contracts with the oil and gas companies if you land this. You can easily make $30,000-$80,000 per month if you land one of these contracts.



Energy Companies

I worked for a Fortune 500 energy company and this is where I started to connect the dots. Energy companies perform all types of inspections – monthly! At the plants where electricity is made there are boilers. Boilers is where the coal is burned and sent through tubes to make electricity. These boilers go offline all of the time and require constant inspections. Traditionally, to inspect these boilers, very high scaffolding must be built, which numerous workers must climb (in the dark) to inspect the tubing lining the boiler for defects. What a dangerous thing! By now, it should be easy for you to spot the opportunity. You fly your drone inside the boiler, fitted with an LED light, and perform the boiler inspection, safely and efficiently, without risking human injury or death. Sounds like a win-win to me! You can expect to make $10,000-$15,000 for just a few hours work performing these inspections.


Wind Farms

phantom 3 pro-windfarm-inspection

These are the big wind turbines you see mostly on the outskirts of cities and towns. Traditionally, these wind turbines have been inspected by a person or two strapping themselves into climbing equipment and then climbing a huge ladder (inside the turbine) to the top of the turbine where the gearbox and blades are. The same framework works here: using the drone you can perform the inspection, safer, cheaper, and more efficient. A quick way to find the person in charge (decision maker) is to look for a small building usually located close the outside of the wind farm. This is the control center where you’ll find a person able to say yes or no to you performing drone inspections.


New Construction

New construction projects entail really anything being built in your city. Chances are you know someplace where you live where a big building or center is being constructed. Great, now what? Now, you need to understand the logical framework and how it applies to new construction. Traditionally, project managers (person in charge of the overall construction of the building) have placed static (non-moving) cameras on an adjacent building in time-lapse mode to take pictures so the project manager can see the construction progress. Understand, nothing gets a project manager hyped up more than talking about technology, construction, and anything that will enhance one or both. What happens is the project manager will contact the owner or property management company of the adjacent building and ask if they can place a camera on top of the adjacent building. The owner will of course say yes and will charge a monthly fee for allowing the project manager to do this. Charges start at at least $1,000 per month, typically more. This is your starting point. Your approach when you talk to the project manager is you can provide (1) high quality 4 pictures from all four corners of the project site, (2) a 360 degree orbiting video of the project site, (3) on the same day and time, once a month for $_____ (insert your price in the blank). Understand, what may not look like much $900, consider that completing a job like this takes only ~15 minutes. Further consider what happens when you contract not with one new construction project but several. Think recurring monthly income. These project can take a year or two until completion.

Over the following posts we will discuss step-by-step how to gain access to the big company decision makers and also demonstrate a money making framework that can be used to make big money in the real estate market. Stay tuned!

Purchase a drone today and sign up for Skycatch to hit the ground running and start making serious money with drones!


  1. Hello James, I understand the potential for this type of business plan. But my question is why wouldn’t companies just invest in having their own drones and trained personnel on-site to perform these inspections – especially if their forking over thousands of dollars. Have you ever come across anyone who’s done this? Thanks and great article!

    1. Some do and some don’t. Some would rather let an outside company handle all of the exemption, regulation, and insurance stuff rather than doing it in house. To be clear there are companies who do it all in house. Right now is an interesting time for drones and drone tech. The trend happening right now is drone companies such as 3DR are pivoting over to drone technology rather than producing drones. Thus, the race is on to see who the biggest market is going to be (1) industrial companies, or (2) drone inspection companies. There is huge opportunity right now, so get in while you can. The people who are in when the big wave hits are gonna make some cash.

  2. Dear Sir James,
    Can thou please recommend a specific nano-drone from Amazon for me to practice with and that shall assist in transforming me into a rather adept drone operator and contribute to my drone greatness?
    Dr. Joseph Alexander Osalus III

    P.S. Excellent website sir. May God bless you and your family sir.

  3. Not sure if I’m too late or not. Is now still a good time to get into these things? Also weddings and real estate?

  4. James, I’m a professional drone operator with 15 years experience , one of the first plus am a 3D helicopter pilot and drone racer .. own multiple drones, design, build and have a horrible time selling myself. Getting meetings is my problem but have 5 national championship trophies and a Cambridge Who’s Who Award for my work with drones plus have a degree in commercial art and am also a commercial pilot, am a lifetime videogragher and photographer plus worked with drone deploy and pix4d since beginning .. can build websites like crazy .. even have my own sign and printing business just setting. I can’t sell my drone work .. which is top shelve work. Please .. I’m starving here. You have my email. Please help .. I even have flir equipment plus more. Once people, companies meet me they want me and my work. I can’t get my foot in the door .. Thanks ..

  5. Let me first say I love this blog and I appreciate the information .
    My name is Khris I own a DJI Mavic pro and I would like to start making money with it are there any more tips that I should know before I get started ?
    I live in Tarpon Springs Florida .

  6. Have you posted this yet?

    “Over the following posts we will discuss step-by-step how to gain access to the big company decision makers and also demonstrate a money making framework that can be used to make big money in the real estate market. Stay tuned!” ….?

  7. I just want to tell you that I am new to blogging and site-building and honestly savored this page. Likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You really have perfect article content. Kudos for revealing your blog site.

  8. I not to mention my buddies ended up reading the nice points from your web site and then instantly came up with a terrible feeling I had not thanked the blog owner for those strategies. Those ladies are actually for that reason warmed to see all of them and have in effect simply been making the most of them. Thanks for indeed being so thoughtful and also for using certain awesome issues most people are really needing to be informed on. My sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

  9. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  10. I simply want to mention I am beginner to blogging and site-building and certainly loved your web site. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You actually come with very good article content. Many thanks for revealing your blog.

  11. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks.

  13. I just want to say I am just all new to blogs and absolutely loved this web blog. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really have tremendous articles and reviews. Regards for sharing your webpage.

  14. Thank you for all your valuable hard work on this website. Betty takes pleasure in engaging in research and it’s really obvious why. I learn all relating to the lively way you render rewarding items on this blog and even improve contribution from the others on this concept so my princess is without a doubt starting to learn a lot of things. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You have been doing a dazzling job.

  15. Thank you for another informative web site. Where else may I get that type of info written in such a perfect method? I have a undertaking that I am just now operating on, and I’ve been at the look out for such information.

  16. Have you noticed the news has changed its approach recently? What once seemed like a never discussed issue has become more prevelant. It’s that time to chagnge our stance on this though.

  17. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I’m hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉

  18. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  19. You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  20. I have been browsing online greater than three hours as of late, but I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It’s lovely value sufficient for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the net shall be a lot more helpful than ever before. “Truth is not determined by majority vote.” by Doug Gwyn.

  21. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my hunt for something regarding this.

  22. Somebody essentially lend a hand to make seriously posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and so far? I amazed with the research you made to make this actual post incredible. Fantastic job!

  23. May I just say what a relief to discover someone that actually knows what they’re talking about on the web. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.

  24. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  25. There are a handful of intriguing points with time in this post but I don’t know if I see them all center to heart. There’s some validity but I am going to take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and now we want more! Put into FeedBurner also

  26. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on distinct blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content off their writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d choose to use some with all the content in my small weblog whether you do not mind. Natually I’ll provide a link on your own internet weblog. Many thanks sharing.water delivery dubai

  27. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and today every time a comment is added I recieve four emails concentrating on the same comment. Perhaps there is in whatever way you may eliminate me from that service? Thanks!

  28. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  29. An fascinating discussion may be worth comment. I think that you should write regarding this topic, it will not often be a taboo subject but generally persons are inadequate to talk on such topics. To another. Cheers

  30. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.

  31. Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something. I believe that you just can do with a few p.c. to pressure the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  32. What?s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & assist other users like its helped me. Great job.

  33. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, wonderful site!

  34. This is the precise weblog for anybody who needs to seek out out about this topic. You realize so much its almost onerous to argue with you (not that I actually would need aHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, simply nice!

  35. Greetings! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  36. I must say, as a lot as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so considerably. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.Jobs offered

  37. I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  38. You’re so cool! I don’t believe I’ve read through a single thing like this before. So nice to discover someone with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality.

  39. Somebody necessarily help to make critically posts I might state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the research you made to make this actual publish amazing. Magnificent process!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *