A question we often get from drone operators is “how much should I charge for my services?”.
The answer is complex, but we hope to simplify things and give you a starting point in this post.
The first two things you need to consider when determining the rates for your services are:
- The equipment you’re using.
- Your own experience.
While these are certainly not the only factors, they will form the basis of your price. A general rule of thumb based on these is to charge 10% of your equipment cost to show up, plus a rate of $30-$100/hr for the duration of the job, and associated time.
So, let’s say you’re a relatively new operator using a DJI Phantom 3, that with accessories, cost you a total of $2000 (for the sake of simplicity). You are going to take some aerial photos for a realtor, and you estimate that the job will take 2 hours, and no editing time, and have decided a fair rate for your time, given your low experience, is $40/hr. Then the price for this job would be $200 + $40 x 2 = $280 (plus tax, if applicable). This method gives you a good starting point.
Make sure to be realistic about your experience level. If this is your first job, you won’t be able to command the same rate as a professional aerial filmmaker (who often charge more than $100/hr, or per day), and trying to do so may even ruin your client relationships, as they will expect a much higher quality product than you can produce.
Also consider the equipment that the job requires. If your only equipment is a DJI S1000, but the job only requires a Phantom (like in example above), it’s unrealistic to think you can charge 10% of the cost of your equipment and still get the job.
There are other factors you should consider:
Travel time and cost – generally, I would advise incorporating travel cost into your overall estimate, and not charging much unless there is significant time or cost involved.
Individual versus corporate client. Generally, corporate clients will have a higher budget, but you will also be expected to provide a high-quality product, so be prepared.
Are they going to be a recurring client? If so, it may be wise to offer a first-time discount to establish a relationship. Just make sure that you indicate the discount, so they aren’t surprised when the price is higher in the future.
Does the job require multiple people? If it’s a complex operation that requires further personnel (spotters, crowd management, etc.), make sure to take this into account.
Does the product require post-processing? If you are going to be spending time editing photos or video, take this into account in the hours required. However, I would cap the number of hours and offer an up-front cost for the editing, regardless of how much time it actually takes you. Charging more than expected is always guaranteed to sour a client.
Above all, try to consider all the factors that go into a job, and provide an extremely clear description of the final product you will provide for a client, and the final, complete, total cost to provide that product. Don’t forget taxes (and Flystro’s commission); the amount you provide in a bid on Flystro is the FINAL amount – you should expect to deduct taxes and commission from this.
The number one question from clients is “how much is this going to cost”. You need to make sure the quotes or bids you provide include everything, and a clear definition of what is provided.
Do you have another way to determine prices or other factors you consider? Let us know in the comments!