Alan Perlman

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Posts posted by Alan Perlman

  1. Hey @Shaun Deardorff, thanks for joining the forum and congrats on getting your license.

    Some quick comments, happy to flesh this out some more with you and looking forward to your response and others in this forum chiming in.

    Despite a handful of full-time drone pilot job listings here and there (scroll to the bottom of the guide to see some), I'd encourage you to think about building out your own freelance business that could maybe turn into something more full-time down the road. The sooner you can get a website and portfolio up, the better. You can use something like SquareSpace to get started. Take a look at other drone pilot websites in different cities to see how they're pricing and packaging their services. Throw something up as soon as possible, it doesn't have to be perfect, but you need to have some kind of professional presence, particularly when you start reaching out for work.

    Which brings me to my next point! I'd start developing a target list of companies to work with in the area. Real estate brokers, agents, firms, construction companies, property management companies, car dealerships, anyone that would benefit from high-end aerial photographs or video footage.

    As an example, here's how Derrick Ward got started:



    To get his first client, Derrick called all of the realtors in his area to set up meetings, and offered each of them free shoots.

    The first realtor to accept the offer was one of the biggest realtors in Utah for homes being sold in a lakeside community. They were pleased with his work, and also impressed that he had put his skills on the line by offering to work for free, and out of that one free shoot he was able to land contracts to several houses, every single park, and several shops in the community.

    He used this approach with several other realtors, giving away shoots to demonstrate the value of his work and of aerial services in general, and it won him so much recurring work that people now call him to hire him, whereas he originally went door to door to get meetings.

    The reason Derrick used this approach is that, for many realtors, aerial services are still a new concept, and they don’t fully understand the value aerial shots can bring to their efforts to market and sell homes. The free shoot helps familiarize them with the value, and it also gives Derrick a chance to demonstrate the quality of his work. One thing to emphasize is that Derrick had a strong sales plan in place when he offered to work for free—after the free shoot, he followed up proactively and was ready to go when the client expressed interest in hiring him.

    Derrick doesn’t generally offer free flights any more because he now has a big client base, and he has a steady stream of inquiries from potential new clients coming in all the time.


    Anyways, I hope this at least begins to answer your question. It's a new industry with lots of opportunities, but it's not a transactional kind of sale — meaning you're really going to have to hit the pavement, understand a consultative sales approach, and be OK with tweaking and improving your process along the way. Would recommend reading SPIN Selling and The Ultimate Sales Machine if you're interested in developing a best-practice outreach process.

    Stay in touch and safe flying out there,


  2. Hi there @DroneWizard, thanks for posting and welcome to our forum.

    Yes, there are regulations, but for recreational pilots they are relatively straightforward, and I would hope that you wouldn't have too much trouble learning where you can fly.

    Not sure how close you are to Virginia Beach, but here are a few places we scouted out that are good areas to fly:

    Happy to answer any specific questions you have about U.S. drone regulations!

  3. Hi @Trish — congrats on getting certified. I use an iPad mini 4 with wifi+cellular, and the size makes it so that it JUST fits and does not require an additional mounting bracket. I've been enjoying it quite a bit, though I've also been told that the new smart controller is 100% worth the investment. No additional cords and a brighter screen. But the advantage of the iPad mini is that you can run other apps on it — DroneDeploy, Litchi, etc.

    Hope that helps!

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  4. Yah, this is a super loaded (but always fun to wax philosophical on) question.

    Replace "drone pilot" with "painter" — there are licensed and insured painters that get stuck in Craiglist / Thumbtack-land where it's a race to the bottom, and the painter can only sustain small paying gigs here and there. But then there are painters who stick with it and keep honing their craft. They know more than all other painters in their local geography. They've built a large network, have an impressive portfolio, online marketing presence and offline sales process and strong client delivery SOPs. They're painting commercial buildings and getting longer-term and larger contracts.

    OK, maybe not the best analogy, but I'm trying :) There are a myriad of opportunities out there. But, just getting certified and buying a drone won't get you any business. There's no easy money in this (or any service-based?) industry.

    It's the months and months and months of networking and business-building that'll make one pilot successful vs. another. I continue to be amazed by our students that are out there hustling and finding great work. The opportunities are out there. But they won't be handed to you on a silver platter.

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  5. 20 hours ago, Bruce Hartwell said:

     Please note, I am not advocating a complete elimination of all restrictions, I am advocating a fair access and use policy that would allow camera drones to operate with the purpose of recreational photography in areas and in ways that do not unreasonably impact other visitors, wildlife and local manned aircraft. 


    Amen to this — I'd love to see an opportunity to get some kind of drone permit rather than a blanket ban, which we're seeing far too many of at the local level like this.

  6. 12 hours ago, Jane said:

    Hello @Alan Perlman, I will be in Kauai next month and am researching the same question - where can and can't I fly my drone. Are you able to update this feed with your experience from last year? Thank you so much! Cheers, Jane 

    Hey, definitely check out Shipwreck Beach. It's an approachable hike and a great spot to fly! Watch out for wind gusts :)

    I also found a couple of lookout points in the Princeville area that were fun to fly. There was a huge flood the week before we got there, so a lot of the island wasn't accessible and I couldn't explore as much as I would've liked, but some good spots to fly.

    Avoid the state parks! That's the big rule in the state of Hawaii.

    • Like 1