Drone to 1K Season 1 / Episode 10: Martin Novak from FlyLife Co


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Martin hosts The FlyLife Podcast for FPV-based podcast for UAV drone people. It’s also a long format—bi-weekly episodes are between 1-2 hrs and he now has over 50 episodes. He’s also done very niche-specific commercial drone work.  He got into drones in 2015 because, after a break up, he was habitless and wandering Best Buy and found a small $60 drone, which flew into a house and broke. He then went online and found an FPV (First Person) drone and started flying on his own. He fell in love because it was creative and technical. So he decided to search CraigsList for drone jobs…and found one quite near his house. He didn’t get the job but was able to intern and learn when he wasn’t working at his restaurant. In late 2017 the place where he interned asked him to come back and build a drone. He found a lot of other contract jobs to do UAV work while still working at the restaurant. Then the restaurant sold and he had a bit of money and time to travel the country and meet people. The last thing to happen—in April 2019—was a lucrative opportunity to do FPV drone work that he was offered because he was very comfortable flying close to the ground. He also simultaneously got an offer to film an Olympic skier with an FPV drone.

Martin also works with a magnetometer—a device that can detect metal with a GPS. It picks up anything emitting electromagnetic radiation and it will give you a color-coded map of anomalies in the ground. He is hired by companies looking to understand what’s on their land that they may possibly sell rights for. For those types of jobs, Martin was making $250/day plus expenses, or $2,000/week. Martin says real estate can be a tough market and it’s not his passion.

What he DOES love is the FPV cinematic work, which is really fun and pays better than magnetometer work. Martin is on all social media: YouTube is flylifeco; Instagram and Facebook are flylife_co. Martin says he’s gotten most of his clients from social media. His camera is nothing special but wants to upgrade soon. He films everything on GoPro Hero 6 or 7. He also uses Reel Steady as a post-filming production software. He says the footage isn’t shaky but it shouldn’t look like an action cam. He uses 7 for hyper-smooth because it runs a different firmware. So if you want to run steady with it, you have to use a gel-mount. The 6 has a lesser firmware on its gyro which takes less time to process. His typical FPV shoot is action sports filming because he can be going 60 mph and then stop. He chases active work and also tight interior spots. The least amount he’s charged for a day of filming was $600 per day. The most he’s charged was $2,500 for two full days of filming. He says he’s charging for something that’s close and can be dangerous but he can get in tight for action.

Martin did have contacts from building relationships with his internship in the FPV world. If he were starting up and needed clients, Martin says he wouldn’t do anything different but maybe would put more effort into certain areas. His basic advice is:

“You can’t have a chimp on your shoulder and think about what you’re going to get out of something. Do some things for free—everyone has a friend who needs pictures. Great content producers have taken a lot of flights. Say Yes—you’ll learn a lesson or something new.”

Getting some photography and going home to realize you made a mistake is something everyone does…but you don’t have to do it twice. Martin is always ready to tell people what he does and much of the work that he’s gotten has been from random meetings or when he just puts himself out there.

“The little things really matter—pay attention and be passionate.”

Martin favors Instagram to showcase his work, he believes it’s the place with the least opinion. You get a one-minute post to grab someone’s attention, which is not stressful. Adding hashtags makes it really consistent and easy for people to notice you.

His biggest challenge was breaking into it. Growing things on the Internet to get to the first paid job can seem long but it adds confidence. He is selling himself so he has had to be capable. Everything is a learning process. Drones now are what cars were in 1918 and the industry is still being built. Regulations will change and things are evolving; but the sky’s the limit.

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Episode Transcript

00:00     Martin. Right. What’s the name of your business or do you have not have a name for it? I do. It’s a fly life co fly. Oh yeah. I was in Yuma fly life coach. Cool. All right, well I’ll kick it off. Alright everybody welcome to the podcast today we have Martin Novak with Fly Life Co. Thanks for joining us Martin. Yeah, thanks for having me. Yeah, this was kind of an interesting podcast guest experience since you were the guests on my podcast before this. Yeah, I was just about to say, uh, I really enjoy being on your podcast and then I was like, oh, you know what, I feel like you would make an excellent podcast guest the other way around. So why don’t we just set this up in reverse? So, um, I guess before we dive in, you want to do like a little plug for your podcast that you had me on?

00:47     Yeah. So I host the fly life, um, the fly life podcast. It’s not fly life co and it’s an FPV based podcast. So a little inside baseball for all UAV or drone people, like it’s mostly FPV stuff. But I also bring on, you know, like I had you, um, I have owners of companies that make drone gear. Um, and it’s a long format. So my episodes are between one to two hours. So if you’ve gotta burn some time and traffic or you got a long commute, it’s a good way to shave some time with drones. Yeah. And you’ve been at it for much longer than I have, I’m assuming. Right. So like how many, how many podcasts episodes or do you have up there? Um, I am a bout to hit 52, I think. Nice. And I’ve been at it for just under a year, but I got into podcasting because I was asked to be a cohost of a podcast that no longer exists, called spawn, which was a three host format, which if you ever start thinking about starting a podcast, dealing with three people’s audio over the Internet is not recommended every trying to talk over each other at the same time.

01:48     Yeah. And just like different internet connections is like that. So I’m up to 52. Um, I used to do one a week. Now I do two episodes a week. So that number is going to go up exponentially. Awesome. Cool Dude. Yeah. And so you have the FPV podcast, but towards the end of our conversation, you also filled me in on that, that you do some drone work, not just FPV, but you do some drone work that’s more like more of the commercial side. Uh, you have deck clients that hire you to do some pretty cool and interesting niche drone stuff. But don’t give away the secrets yet. This is my hook to keep people on for later in the show. So it was, it was the only time I’ve ever heard of someone using a drone doing what you’re doing and making money off of it.

02:32     So I don’t know if you’re the only person that does, but it was extremely niche and it was really interesting. But why don’t we just rewind and why do you like take back to the beginning on a how you first got into drones? Man, it’s the most oddball story. I had gone through a serious breakup and was hobby list for the first time in my life. And I was a chef at a restaurant coder of the restaurant and I was walking until like, that was my livelihood and what I was doing every day. And I was walking through best buy, had some money in my pocket and I saw parrot rolling spider drone. I was like 60 bucks hooked to your iPhone, just a real toy level drone. And so I bought it first flight, it just took off full, full send to the moon, fail safe and landed four houses down first. First battery with a drone ever. Yeah. And is homeless guy out in the street was like you looking for that thing that fell out of the sky?

03:27     Yeah. And it broke and it didn’t break bad. I just broke some props. Um, and so I just went on the inner props and like a frame arms. So then I went on youtube and I searched drones and I came across FPV videos, which at the time weren’t, aren’t what they are today, but you know, flying FPV is flying with goggles and it was the freestyle side. So basically people going 50, 60 miles an hour or six inches off the ground and doing flips and rolls over trees and stuff like that. So I was a real quick, why don’t you give a quick, cause there might be some people that are newer to drones on the podcast. I’ll give like a quick and what’s FPV yeah, elevator pitch of FPV. It stands for first-person drone and to me it’s the most immersive form of drone flight.

04:08     You wear goggles over your face that transmit video from the front of the drone. So you’re flying it as if you’re on it. Um, it’s like the racing drones you see on ESPN with DRL and there’s a freestyle aspect and now a cinematic aspect. But basically they’re smaller drones. The ones I fly, the most common ones are five inch and they have about a 10 to one power to weight ratio and they fly for three to five minutes depending on your setup. So it’s like the closest thing to a star wars pod racer. I can, yeah. Yeah. Nice. Okay, cool. Sorry, continue with the store. I just in case people were lost when you filled that, that’s the elevator pitch. Um, and so I got, I bought the whole kit, dropped like 6,000 bucks cause back like now drone parts cheaper. Um, but I got goggles, radio batteries.

04:51     I got a hexa copter, which was way too overpowered for me. Um, and I just got into drones that way. I was flying by myself and for awhile I was kind of flying in a bubble. Like I wasn’t meeting anybody that flew. I was just flying on my own and I just fell in love with drones. I don’t know what it was. It just hit me heavy. It was kind of a culmination of all these things I’ve ever done. It was creative, it was technical. You got to tinker with stuff. All these things came together. So by chance, I just searched drones. I’m in jobs on craigslist and at this time I was living just outside of Boulder, Colorado. And there was one job for a place at an airport that was located at hanger called Uas USA. And it was a mile and a half from my house. Wow. Yeah. So total freak. I mean, really just luck. And so I went in there and they were like, yeah, so what do you do? And I was like, I fly FPV drones for three months. They were like, yeah, you’re not qualified to work here.

05:48     I’m probably just as professional as you can get at this point. Yeah. And I kind of like oversold it. I was like, yeah, I know how to solder and like build drones. But I knew how to build like toy quad copters you know, I wasn’t doing anything crazy. Mostly heavy lift stuff and yeah, mostly heavy lift, uh, you know, hydrogen batteries, stuff like that. Um, so I went in there that I didn’t get the job and I said, can I just come hang out? And like intern, I’ll sweep the floors, whatever. And I was, I was, we had a restaurant at the time, so my work started at like one to 10:00 PM basically. Um, so I had all, all mornings free, so I would go spend the mornings there and I just slowly got into the commercial side. Um, and I should say that that plays built that 10 foot wingspan, fixed wing UAVs and they carry like photogrammetry stuff, Lidar, um, things like that.

06:37     And so I just got into expensive stuff. Yeah. Yeah. I think like the most expensive one we built was like 220 grand. Yeah. That’s expensive. Go down. Oh Gosh. I was gonna say what, what, uh, what year about was this? Uh, this was 2015. Late summer of 2015. Um, and so yeah, that snowballed. I left that job to go work at an FPV retail spot cause I was like, commercial drones are great. Um, but I really just kind of want to be, you know, shredding drones with my friends. Cause to me at that time FPV drones were kind of like skateboarding. You’d like go to a cool spot, filmed some stuff, making that it post it and it kind of had this culture around it. So I went and worked for an FPV retailer for two weeks. Um, it was the worst decision I ever made in terms of work environment.

07:25     But from that I got to go to drone worlds in Hawaii and just meet a bunch of people. Um, and that snowballed like all this FPV stuff, kept working at the restaurant, focus more on flying FPV and then, um, I think, yeah, late or something like late 2017 at Uas USA that, you know, things weren’t looking good. Some of the employees that left and they were like, Hey, do you want to come back on a contract and build a one of these fixed swings on your own? You have like three months to do it. And so I went back, did that, and then just got involved with doing contract technician jobs for different people. So I would just go to a UAV company in Colorado, you know, I don’t live there anymore, but it’s a pretty hop in place. Like we have ball aerospace or Lockheed Martin.

08:09     It’s got, you know, some good companies and there was a lot of UAV stuff around that. So I would just like go to this company, help them write an instruction manual, do some work, go to this company, make all their, um, like launch racks and stuff like that. Go to this company, helps set up a camera for a drone. And I just did contract jobs like that while I was working at the restaurant. And then late 2017 we decided to sell the restaurant and I had a bit of money. So I just basically took a year and a half off to just drive my car around the u s and meet people and network. Um, and then that snowballed into being a commercial pilot. So got my one oh seven, um, and then started flying these commercial gigs along with FPV Sigmadek Gigs, which I want to talk about cause that pays way better, um, than the commercial stuff.

08:58     But I started out, um, yeah, there’s just like a friend of a friend that I worked for, I was like, Hey, I know you fly FPV and we got this $50,000 rig that we gotta fly really close to the ground and close to trees. I feel like you’d be comfortable with that since like that’s what you do on a regular basis. And that was basically what kickstarted me getting into the whole commercial magnetometer area. [inaudible] know you’re letting the cat out of the bag now. Huh? So when you complete that out. Yeah. That’s good. That’s awesome. So do you want to touch on, well, do want to tell us about that job first? Like how did that go? Uh, the job was great. Um, and it, I should mention too, that this was all stacked up. So sold the restaurant, um, December of 2018 or 2017.

09:39     Took all of 2018 basically off and just traveled around and um, yeah, like just went to California, drove all over the place and then as of April, 2019, it was just like one after the other came up. Um, and I split my time half between commercial and filming gigs, but the first job was awesome. Um, I got it mainly because I feel comfortable flying very close to this stuff and proximity flying, but also because in order to get better line of sight, um, this was in the Michigan Woods, the pilot, which ended up being me, had to be in a 50 foot cherry picker, like a bucket truck. And I guess everybody that they contacted before said that wasn’t cool with them. Like they were scared of heights or what? Yeah, scared of heights. I Dunno, I mean like, I’m not, not scared of heights, but I was like, hey, that’s good money.

10:28     I’m not really doing anything and you, it’s good experience. I’ll meet some people and it’ll be like, time will go by pretty quick in a bucket truck I suppose. That’s awesome. So I went up, did you it the, no, I didn’t, I clipped a tree branch. I lost one prop on a DGI m 600 and uh, like it Kinda sobered me up a bit and responsibility to happen on the second day. And I was like, Hey, can we maybe raise the AGL like by a little bit? Yeah. Like how far you are from the ground. Yeah. Yeah. Cause like, I mean in the commercial side of data collection, there isn’t really much flying your, the insurance policy that grabs control if something goes haywire. But for the most part it’s just mission planning. Is that what, is that what this job was or was this your like a cinematic gig where you’re doing like this was a, this was the data collection job.

11:24     Oh, Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. So you know, that’s what like the bucket truck came from. And so you’re not doing a lot of flying, but just before that, if you want to talk about the cinematic stuff. Um, I got an offer to go film a kid named Alex Ferrera who got silver at the Olympics and gold at x games and I went to Aspen Snowmass to film him with FPV racing drones. Cool. Which was really cool because the film company shout out to vital films was like, Hey, we want to bring you up here for three hours and it’s your session. Like we’re not filming really too much with other cameras. Like we just want to see what FPV drones can capture. And we got a snowmobile, the mountains shut down, you have it to yourself and we’re just going to be running laps with a skier and you can just post up and shred whatever you want basically.

12:09     Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah. So that happened at the same basically almost a month span, those two jobs. Gotcha. So with the a, now when you say you’re, you’re, you’re talking about like FPV cinematic and then you say commercial. When you say commercial, you’re talking about more like the data collection stuff? Yeah, I mean that’s, yeah, that’s a good point. I guess they’re both commercial, but for me the commercial flying is like data collection. The lawn mow in the sky is what I call it. Yeah. So, um, so talk about like your, the magnetometer stuff. Like what? Explain that to me and what is that? So a magnetometer is a device that can detect steel and iron or um, [inaudible], not like radiation is not the right word, but, um, you know, it, it, it’s just a giant metal detector that’s hooked to gps and um, it’s a kind of a weird shape.

12:58     And when I worked at the fixed wing place, we installed a few on those and they were huge at the time. Like they weighed I think four pounds a piece. And this new age of magnetometers, um, is like one key low, um, streamlined shape. But you gotta hang it 12 feet under the UAV and the lower you fly at the better and then it just picks up, you know, if anything’s admitting magnetic radiation or electromagnetic radiation. And you just fly it in a Zamboni pattern. Oversaid plotted land and they’ll give you a color-coded like hotspot map and then come where all the metal is under the ground. Yeah. And it, um, as everybody, like I like drones and I deal with a lot of super smart people, but I heard the word anomaly be used like 50 times a day.

13:48     Like, oh, there’s an anomaly here and we got to look at this anomaly. But yeah, it just looks for anomalies in the ground. Um, electromagnetic radiation. Like what kind of companies hire you to go do this? Um, so in this case it was a, a wood, like a logging company that had a bunch of forest land and they were basically just trying to diversify their income pool. Um, and they’re like, Hey, I wonder if we have anything. Like, you know, we, there’s these areas we can’t necessarily cut logs down from where we have a lot of aspens that don’t turn enough income cause we can’t cut them down at the same rate. Um, let’s see if there’s any steel or iron or, and then they can sell those rights. Like, they’re not gonna take the headache of getting a mining company set up and all this stuff.

14:30     We’ll just, you know, go to the highest better and say you could have the rights to set up your mind here. Gotcha. And so, um, so is that typically the main reason why people hire you out for those types of jobs? So they’re just trying to see if there’s anything under the ground that they can sell rights for? Just p s land landowners that want their stuff checked out. Yeah, exactly. That’s the, that’s the thing. And like I said, it’s just you’re flying a Zamboni pattern. Um, it’s like the coming from the FTV world, it’s, it’s nerve wracking because the, the gear like the sensor is $40,000 and it’s swinging on the bottom of this. Um, m 600, like just like flying around with like a wrecking ball or something on the bottom of the drone. Exactly. It’s just like a wrecking ball. Um, you know, like a navy seal climbing up like a Huey rope or something.

15:15     Yeah. You kind of have to account for it. Um, cause I would always bring it in line of sight and lay in it and you have to land it, set the mag down, scoot the drone forward and then set that down so you don’t basically land on top of it and follow it and flip it. Flip the drone or something. Yeah. You don’t want anything to get in cotton. The lines like the landing gear and I would get, you know, like sometimes landing gear would get caught in line and I would have to, um, and this was good for, from the FTV scale. I would basically just have to give this thing like a hockey stop and swing the mag out around the land here, um, all while standing in this cherry picker. So the thing is, you know, like I level the ground, like swing and then got to bring it down.

15:52     Uh, yeah. Yeah. Wow. That’s awesome. So, you know, and again, share as much as you’re comfortable sharing, but like what does like a range for like those magnetometer jobs, like pay, like obviously the sensors, 40 grand. So it’s gotta be worth it for you to do something like that, right? I mean it’s definitely worth it. It, um, it pays pretty well. Um, it doesn’t, you know, I pay is like, I don’t know, like what is your gauge on a standard UAV rate for a pilot? Like what’s the spectrum you’ve dealt with? I think it depends on what you’re doing, right? So some people who are doing like real estate photography and videos might charge like in the low areas, like 200 bucks for a video or like 500 a thousand dollars for like a nice house. And then there’s some people who are doing like lidar surveys, they’re charging thousands of dollars per job, you know, so I think I would imagine this being up and like more than a thousand dollars per job type of range, but I don’t know.

16:43     Yeah, that’s, I’m asking for the person that hired me. It definitely was. So I got contracted out, um, like a UAV company that set up the Sam 600 who was a friend of mine was like, Hey, can you do this? So I was making two 50 a day plus all expenses paid, like food, everything. And I was out there for eight days, so it was two grand in a week basically. Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. Travel days were paid the same rate. So that’s a party. Nice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I mean that’s kind of what I would have imagined. You know, we’ve had some other people on the podcast, um, doing kind of bigger lidar jobs and mapping a lot of acreage and you know, they said it’s, they’re working with like, their dream was a hundred, 200 grand. So for them to kind of like set up and go out there kind of to be the right client and yeah, it’s hard to get out there to have like a threshold where you’re like, you know, you don’t want someone like skimping nickels and dimes if they’re trying to get lidar data.

17:36     Yeah. Now if you’re trying to take, like, you’re trying to think like a maverick air out and take pictures of like a 2000 square foot house, you’re not gonna be like, yeah, that’ll be $6,000, you know, cause people, oh no thanks. Yeah. That’s a tough market too, I think cause you know, you can’t price too high cause then said person is going to be like, well I know three other dudes with the maverick cares. One. Like my favorite is like, well my nephew has a drone and I think he could take you. You’re like, oh okay cool. Yeah, but you sold that house. If, if, yeah, if anybody ever says that, just be like, okay, well I don’t think you’re my ideal client, you know. Thanks for that. Thanks for talking. So, um, so it pays. Cool. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Now tell, told, let’s dive in a little bit more to like you were talking about how the FPV cinematic stuff, you seem to really enjoy that.

18:18     Like, um, you know, you talked about the snowboarding thing, which sounds really cool. Do you have any good, um, like if people want to go check out what you’re talking about, like footage, do you have like youtube channel where they can see or maybe like any good examples you could point them to, to go check it out to see it since this is just like audio format. Yeah, definitely check out if you’re on youtube. Um, fly life Co. Um, if you’re on a Facebook, it’s the, it’s also fly life code with an underscore between the CEO, um, and fly life and then Instagram as well. Fly Life underscore CEO [inaudible]. Um, for the f for the cinematic stuff. Basically that’s my portfolio. That’s how I’ve gotten pretty much all my clients is just posting stuff on Instagram and then people hit me up and they’re like, Hey, do you think you could do this for so and so?

19:03     Um, and so all my best work is up there and I’ve done as of this summer, some pretty amazing filming with just a five inch hope built drone. What’s awesome, what kind of camera do you use on it? It’s like a, it’s like a GoPro strap down there or is it something like special or what? Nothing special. Um, I think that’s like the next um, revolution is to get camera technology getting smaller and the trick rigs being able to carry it. But I film everything on either a GoPro hero seven. Um, if I’m trying to go for super slow high-risk frame rates or GoPro hero six cause then I use a program called real steady, um, that’s opposed to production stabilization software. Um, that really just butters it out cause the footage isn’t shaky but it definitely, you know, you don’t want it to look like an action cam.

19:47     Like if you’re selling this to a resort company or a film company, they don’t want it to look like a GoPro. Yeah. Right. Right. Now what do you use the GoPro six for that real steady post production stuff. Does it not work with the seven or is it because like the seven is the hyper smooth thing, whatever. So the seven has the hyper smooth and um, this, this might be a little inside baseball too, but the six and the seven have the exact same gyro in it, but the seven as hyper smooth, the six does not. And because it has hyper smooth on the seven, it runs a different from where that treats the gyro data differently cause it’s trying to be more sensitive so we can hyper smooth it if you choose to turn it on. And so if you want to run real steady with the seven, you have to use a heavy like Jello dampening mount.

20:31     Um, and not actually heavy, but it’s like, it’s just a huge, like a big add on. It’s gotta be very well damp and it’s harder to deal with. Whereas the sixth has a lesser less sensitive firmware on it’s Gyro. And then real steady just picks that up a lot better. And it’s like a, for a three minute clip we’re talking like minutes to process. Um, yeah. Which, which is way better. Cause before this is real steady go, which came out in April before they had a full version of real steady that you could stabilize any hammer footage on like a red iPhone or whatever. But that for like a three, four minute video would take 18 to 22 hours to render. Wow. Geez. Now when you say real estate, that’s r e e l, right? Yeah. R E e l steady. Um, and for all your listeners, if you ever get into it, you can use code fly life for five bucks off.

21:17     Sweet. Thanks man. Um, yeah, I’ve seen some videos, um, of of that and uh, it’s, it’s like of that people using that software stuff, I can’t, when there’s another somebody who has fallen on Instagram and I think they shot like a timberland boots, a commercial and, Oh, I’ve seen that commercial. Yeah. The Gerald’s like flying, like underneath stepping and through pipes and it’s just like the perspective is awesome. So now is that the kind of the video that you’re shooting with the journal? Like what’s a typical like FPV cinematic shoot for you? So for me, I try to focus um, on action sports filming cause I feel like, you know, we have this thing that can basically bend physics. It can go upside down, it could change direction on a dime. I’m like I can be going, you know, 60 miles an hour and just stop this thing in a two foot box, which I think really rare.

22:08     Um, so for me it’s skiers, mountain bikers. I just got back from a shoot where I chased it alpine coaster through the woods. What’s an Alpine coast like? Like the ones that go down the mountain? Yeah. They’re like the roller coasters that use gravity to kind of get out. Yeah. One of those cool mountain bikers is huge, um, skiers. But yeah, it’s just, it’s either chasing stuff like that. I also have like a ducted drone that I can do tight indoor stuff lying. I’m like trying to get into bigger commercial real estate cause you can do walkthroughs basically and get up above rooms and get a different perspective. But for me it’s really the action sports. And I raced downhill mountain bikes for a long time. So I really like the, you know, like it’s kind of, it kind of feeds something I miss a little bit like, yeah, sure.

22:52     Part of the world. Yeah. Yeah. Now it sounded like you said earlier that the FPV cinematic stuff pays better than the like magnetometer work. Is that, or did I misunderstand that? No, you definitely didn’t. Um, it pays way better. It’s um, well, because the Fud work, you know, like the [inaudible], it’s basically a freelance thing. Like one thing I should mention too is with the data work, like I don’t have an m 600 and a magnet and all this stuff, so it’s like, Hey, can you come do this for us? All our gear. Gotcha. You’re like contract at, it’s the pilot to do, I just show up, check the aircraft, plan the missions and fly it. Gotcha. And so with the FPV stuff, like it’s all Mike year, usually these people are finding me because of like my work and my portfolio. Um, and it’s, you know, like, I don’t want to sound cocky, but I think probably like maybe 10 to 20 of us in the world that are really starting to make good money at this.

23:50     Yeah. I was about to say, you’ve also been, you know, just from your story, right? You’ve had like a lot of experience flying drones and it’s not like you’re pick this up overnight and go, I think it would be a FPV cinematographer and just now you have like this amazing, amazing skill. But yeah, this has been developed. You’ve spent years and years developing like these skills that are now people are seeking out. Yeah. And I took it super seriously. Like for Awhile I was flying 70 packs a week on a regular schedule. Like, and now I fly 20 to 30, but I fly if the winds not crazy or the rain, I fly pretty much every day. When you say fly pack, is that like a battery? Yeah, five batteries. I smoke a pack of Marlboro is out there sitting there holding the drones. Smoking. Okay, cool.

24:32     Yeah, yeah. Um, awesome. So like, you know, and again, I don’t, whatever you are comfortable sharing, but people always want to like, people just wanna be like, oh well what’s, what’s possible? What can I get? You know, so, and I was dying to know this kind of stuff. Uh, when I was getting into it, I was, I was like, I wonder how much that guy paid. So the, the least amount I’ve ever charged for a day of filming is 600 bucks. And the most I’ve ever charged, which was the recent one was 2,500 for two days. Wow. For feel like that’s a full day of filming with FPV stuff. Yeah. It was probably, um, you know, like not even, I mean like a full work day as like three, four hours in the morning, take a three hour break cause the light is crap in the middle of the day. Yeah, sure. And then go to the end of the day and filming the evening and that’s that amount of money plus all expenses paid again.

25:21     So plane ticket, um, hotel, um, food. I’m like pretty lenient about like I’m, I’m pretty chill. Like, I’ll just go get a slice of pizza and I’m like, no one needs to know about this. Um, if someone flies me out somewhere and they’re like, hey, no problem. We can get room service like order whatever you want. If you’re hungry like $70 piece of pizza. I’m like filet. Yeah, that’s awesome. So that pays better. But it’s also, you know, like I could tarnish my name a lot quicker if I, if I messed up on the MAG survey, you know, I could slide under the radar and like go find another job. But if I had tarnished my fly life coat and my name, you know, I don’t want to be like hidden pro skiers in the juggler kind of thing. True. Okay. Yeah. Well it seems like there’s a decent amount of liability on either end.

26:08     Like one you’re flying something that’s like, you know, a blending of the $40,000 sensor that’s, you know, pretty large rig that has a wrecking ball swinging underneath it. And the other one, you’re flying around people that make their living doing action sports and to mess them up, their product can be super happy. But I mean, I can’t imagine that those FPV drones, I mean, I’m sure these blades can cut you, but they’re not gonna allow it. Dude. I mean they’ll, they’ll mess you up like 30,000 rpm. Oh. So it’s pretty bad. Cause I don’t do much FPV stuff myself. I did get my finger in like a phantom three pro like years ago when I got it and it, it sliced the things I’d open. That’s butter knife compared to the, um, like I’ve, um, like our prompts are so sharp that like, even if you like grab it wrong, when you tighten it, you’ll cut your fingers a little bit.

26:52     Oh Wow. Even if it’s not even on. Yeah. Like it’s not even turned on. Like if you just, you know, go to tighten it with a prop nut and a wrench or whatever and you’re holding it wrong. Like it’ll cut you up. It’s like throwing stars to strapped to like a f airframe. Exactly. And I think too, that’s what you know, you can charge for. It’s like, Hey, I have this thing that’s very capable but dangerous and I can get it four feet from the skiers head when he’s upside down and I can keep him in frame, you know, like you’re in that kill them and not kill them. And uh, so you’re stacking on these skills. Whereas the commercial side, um, you know, it’s a high risk. But um, like low, like I mean I could teach anybody a skill required. Yeah. You could teach anybody to plan a mission on like ugcs or Pix four d or something.

27:36     Yeah, yeah, yeah. I give, you can use this spreadsheet, you can set up [inaudible] the mission. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, but people would naturally know how to do that. Right. If you have experienced doing this from working around at the company, which by the way, I just want to like commend you on like taking, you know, a lot of people wouldn’t be like, cool, I just want to be around this. Let me sweep your floors. I like kind of a little bit of a like whatever it takes kind of attitude, which you know, a lot of people expect things. Oh uh, I passed the 60 question part on a seven exam. Like where are all these people lining up to hire me for jobs? You know what I mean? Yeah. It’s like it doesn’t work like that. You have to go out and get skills like you did right.

28:09     This practicing their driver’s license to get to the job with your one oh seven, but like now how are you going to get the job, you know? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It’s like it doesn’t, people have this misconception and they’re like, well I mean all the part when the seven jobs are going, cause I got my part one seven and like nobody’s calling me. It’s like well I searched on Google, I should be making 70 k a year. Like next week. Yeah. It’s like well I’ve got a college degree in, you know, in history, but like I haven’t applied anywhere but nobody’s calling me. It’s like, yeah, we got to like go out there and give some value for somebody. So, uh, but anyways, I just was hearing your story and I was like, oh, that’s awesome. Like how you’re actually getting out there and getting after it.

28:43     So, um, I wanted to have in a little bit more on, you know, it seems like you’ve talked a little about your portfolio and how seems like from the magnetometer stuff you had some contacts just from immersing yourself in that world and building relationships and stuff, but like if you were kind of starting from scratch now, I think one thing that a lot of people wonder in this world is like, cool, I’ve got my drone, I can learn how to do some stuff. Like how do I go out and find people to like pay me to do work? Like how do I find clients? It’s like what would be, if you were starting over, what would you like, I don’t know if you’d do anything differently, but like how would you go about like kind of getting those first clients and getting, getting rolling? Um, I don’t think I would do anything differently per se.

29:27     I might like put more effort into certain aspects of it. At certain times, but I think [inaudible] like you just brought up before this, you’d nailed it. I think, you know, you can’t go into it with a chip on your shoulder thinking like, I got this thing, what am I going to get out of it? Like you have to really enjoy it. And then like if you’re first starting out, whether it’s real estate, whatever, um, like go do a couple of things for free, you know, like don’t quit your day job and be like, I’m a drone pilot now. Like, yeah, go do, go do some stuff for free. Like everybody’s got a friend that needs pictures of something or video something like whether it’s a farmer that’s like, I want to see where my cattle’s at or real estate, um, you know, anything. And it’s like, just start piling those things up because you know, like anybody can buy a maverick, um, you know, or a drone and get footage or shots.

30:16     But like there really is a lot of intricacies that great content producers or drone pilots, you know, learn and all this stuff that people don’t realize when they just see the video. There’s a reason it looks so good and it’s because that person’s probably had like a thousand flights that you’ve never seen. Yup. So I think that’s a big part of it. And then just, you know, say yes to stuff and that links back to like, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and just bang country being a drone pilot, like work part time, work your regular job, do this on the side and then just say yes and stuff. Cause at the very least deal, either learn a lesson, meet somebody new or at least realize what you don’t like to do. You know, like certain photographers don drone are like, yeah, I did some weddings and I just don’t do weddings anymore.

31:02     Um, and it’s easier to work harder if you enjoy what you’re doing. And there’s a lot of, oh yeah. Yeah. And there’s a lot of aspects of drones and like, I wouldn’t do real estate photography. Um, it’s just not for me, like the data collection is cool because I feel like I’m dealing with really cool technology. It piques my interest. Like look at the data. It’s not something everybody gets to see. So I feel like, like I’m kind of like in an inner circle. The FPV is cool because I feel like I’m flying a tie fighter next to a pro athlete.

31:33     So you know, you’d pick stuff that you’re passionate about but know that on the path there you’re probably gonna have to do the other stuff. Um, and you know, whatever career you pick, whether it’s drone piloting, whatever, like just prepare for two years of probably kind the suck. Yeah. Like there’s someone out there doing it better than you when you’re just starting out always and you gotta be realistic, um, and self aware and look at the people that are doing better than you there footage or whatever and say, what is mine lacking in comparison to that? And take your ego out of it and just be self critical or even just ask peers or other people. The Internet is a really great harsh place to check your ego. Yeah. Throw it up on reddit and see how that goes. Yeah. Um, and then just write it off like, um, you know, like not, don’t take it seriously, but like take whatever criticism whenever you’ve learned bill from it, build from it and try not to let it, you know, like way down.

32:28     Cause like there’s always another drone job, you know, like don’t fly over an airport or like break massive rules. But like if you go out and get some photography and your exposure’s off and you don’t realize you get home, it’s going to happen. Um, you know, just deal with it. I know people have done, gone to go do data collection jobs for the whole mission and realized they didn’t have their like SD card in the drone and didn’t get anything and they’re like, oh gosh, now, you know, they make, they don’t check that before they go, oh you stupid mistake is a mistake made twice. Yeah, true. True. No, I do. I think that’s fantastic advice. And like you said, it’s all about like, being able to persevere through when it’s not super great if it’s like you’re still learning, still figuring out, steals, trying to see what works, where people want.

33:13     Um, you know, even, you know, this is a, our company’s a drone company, right? But we don’t run a drone service company or we’re more a like a training company. But even with us, right? Like when we first started off, it was like, you know, a lot of trial and error on like what people want, what people want to pay for, what they don’t, what they want to give for, you know, it’s like, and just kind of figuring out, and I think that just for us that came through just like talking to a lot of people, you know, if like somebody buys from you, like ask them like, cool, like, what did you like about that? Like, you know, is there something I could have done better? You know, just getting feedback right from the people that are your customers. Um, I think it’s really important if somebody doesn’t hire you, even if they’re not your ideal customer, it’s always good to find out like, hey, you know, no sweat.

33:50     Like it’s totally cool if you want to go a different direction, but I just, you know, what kind of made you make your mind up that way. And some people will be honest with you, some people just don’t wanna hurt your feelings. So we’ll never tell you the truth. They’ll be like, oh, it wasn’t the right time, you know? But some people would’ve said like, oh, it’s too expensive, you know, or whatever. So, okay, well that’s put that in the maybe too expensive category. It doesn’t mean you need to immediately go out and drop your prices, but like if you get 10 people in a row tell you that they didn’t hire you because you’re too expensive, either try to add more value or maybe consider lowering your prices, you know? So definitely. And yeah, like, and like I said earlier, like just say yes to stuff, you know, when you’re starting out because you’re going to learn stuff.

34:27     And, you know, like for me, I don’t like oversell it, but if somebody asks me, like if I’m in an airplane and airport at a trade show, whatever, at a restaurant, someone asks what I do, like I’ll give them a quick, like 32nd elevator pitch every time I’m like, Hey, I’m a drone pilot. Like I film action sports and I collect data cause you never know who you’re gonna meet. And some of the opportunities that I’ve gotten have come from like the most random places ever. They’re like, oh, you’re a drone pilot. We have this thing. I’ve my neighbors on a film company, um, let’s go have a beer with them. And that’s how I got this whole Aspen skier thing. I was on a road with a friend and he was like, oh, my neighbor owns a film company. Why don’t you talk to him? And then, um, so that’s how that came to be. And then that guy that I met from that random night of just saying what I do, um, hit me up and was like, hey, we’re doing a film shoot for Nat Geo. Do you want to come chase flash floods?

35:21     Yeah. Scheduling up, um, into the future. But you know, it’s just like [inaudible] the little things really matter. Like when I, you know, like I’m still pretty young but I always heard that and I was like, well that’s dumb. But it’s like the big things are obvious. Pay attention to like all the little things. Um, and just, you know, be passionate. Yeah dude that’s awesome. So on the, I just real quick, I’m gonna hit on there, cause some people, you know, they loved like dive into the stuff you may have most of your portfolio kind of like on your Instagram account. Do you find that to kind of be the best social media channel to push for for your stuff? I mean I do. Youtube is a tough place to break into and sometimes I don’t think people go to youtube for that kind of content.

36:01     I think youtube these days is like reality TV channel, which I’m a big viewer of. Like I get it. But it’s a really hard to not, maybe not the same type of genre that people are looking for you. And I haven’t, um, like delved into Vimeo or anything like that. So for, and then I also use air views, which is one of my sponsors and a great platform. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but air amuse is a drone video platform. So it’s like peers amongst peers, super positive on, they have all depths that categories like landscape, sporting events. It’s a lot of cinematic, um, you know, like big rigs kind of stuff inspires. And then mavericks, not a huge amount of FPV, although they really focus on it. Um, but the thing I like about Instagram is it’s the place with the least opinion.

36:43     Um, you know, like Facebook, sometimes I’ll scroll through a drone group and I’m like, these people are giving advice or like hating on stuff that people might just even Tan on Facebook. It’s like, what kind of life do you leave? If you took the two minutes to write this, I could go on and on about what you’re saying, but yeah, I totally agree. Yeah. Um, and then, so Instagram is great because you’ve got this one minute segment or this post to grab someone’s attention. One minute is a great platform to work with ’em as a creator because it’s like, okay, I just have one minute that’s not stressful. I don’t have to make like a five minute edit. And when it’s that Short, I can get really creative with it and like focus on it, add stuff. And then the hashtags are great because you can like one other place.

37:26     Can you just like at GoPro, right? At real steady at National Geographic, at whatever company. And like for me it took a really long time. Um, this is the fly of life. This is in year three. But um, you know, if you stay consistent and make quality content like you just, people just notice over time. Yeah. And it’s a great platform. Like they’re just going to scroll by it real quick and then if it’s captivating and the first two seconds you got them for a minute. Okay. Dude, I love it. I’m sorry. I was just looking at, I was jumping on here to a look your Instagram real quick. Yeah. Do it to it. Check out the, uh, I got to see here. I took a long range line, um, the second bit at this out in the, uh, I don’t know what if this out in our podcast on [inaudible] right here. [inaudible]

38:25     You get the second post with the rollercoaster.

38:31     Looking at this Ozarks one that is sick. Yeah, go to the next one. That one’s even cooler. Oh, the mountain bike. The mountain bike is epic too. That was from an aspen shoot. Oh, that’s what I’m thinking. That’s what I’m at right now. Yeah, that one’s pretty cool. That’s really cool. Sorry, I was really looking at the co coaster ride. So it was this the Alpine one? Yeah. Okay. It starts with a pan shop, but then there’ll be some chase. I’m assuming you slowed all this down, right? I did. Unless he says some kind of, Oh, here we go. Oh, snap. Cool.

39:15     That is awesome. Straight star wars, like pod racers. Seriously. For Real. Oh, that’s really cool. All right. Back to our regular programming here, back to it. Um, awesome dude. Well, let me look at my list here. I’ll edit this out too of my questions so they see if I [inaudible] well, yeah. One question I ask most people is, uh, what would you say your biggest challenge has been in the making money with drones world? Um, for me, I think it was like the breakout thing. Um, I think people don’t realize, um, like once you get one Gig, it’s a lot easier to get another gig. And we were talking about this earlier with like podcast listeners and just growing any form of anything on the Internet. Um, like getting to that first page job is going to seem like a real marathon struggle. And it might be kind of daunting, but like once you get one, it not only gives you something to talk about and to pitch and be like, Hey, you got this company, I’ve done this for so and so.

40:24     Can we talk about it? Um, but I think also just as presenting yourself to people, it adds this confidence that you need. You know, you kinda gotta just, you know, like you’re selling yourself, you gotta have the sales guy believe a little bit. Um, you know, you don’t have to be totally right. Sleazy. Yeah, yeah. But you gotta be like, Hey, I’m capable of this. I can do this. Um, you know, can I come do it for you? So that was a big hurdle. Um, yeah, just like the breakout, cause it’s, for me it was like three and a half years of unpaid flying. Um, this all kicked off this year. Now it’s like two, three things a month of just like keeping up traveling. Um, so that’s huge. Um, yeah, I think that’s the biggest one. Otherwise, everything was just like a learning process. And you mentioned something that I like as a reference I like to use.

41:12     We were like, you know, this is like, we’re in early stage of cars. Like it will be that big and like, um, at AUV OSI when you’re, someone said drones right now, our cars in 1918. MMM. Yeah. And so I think it’s, you know, if you like look at your friends that are doing whatever career they’re doing and they’re like, yeah I got all this growth and moving on, I met these, I’m moving up the ladder. Like realize that in this industry that ladder is like kind of still being built. Yup. Yup. Yeah. Cause I mean especially with [inaudible] I feel like technology, I mean not to go too far off the path here, but I feel like technology is like outpacing regulation right now cause they have all these capabilities, all these companies have all these capabilities that they’re not really allowed to implement all over the place yet because of, you know, the FDA is still trying to work out how everything’s going to work in the sky without becoming a giant cluster and crashing into each other. But like once they can get that figured out and allow this stuff to happen and I feel like it’s going to kind of be just me so much longer. I’ll put it on anything you can know when it’s live. Just do it. Yeah. Yeah. Well good luck. Convincing like several hundred million people of, uh, of that. So, but yeah, seriously, uh, we’re just gonna put transponders on these and then talk about the second amendment one meeting.

42:28     Oh Gosh. But, but at some point it’s, it’s, it’s like inevitable. It’s gonna happen, right. You know, like Greg, they’re going to regulation’s gonna Change and they’re going to figure out how to get it all up there and, um, just like stuff’s gonna keep evolving all the time. So it’s really cool to stay on top of it and sounds like you’re like right there, tip of the spear with all the cool, uh, you know, drone ways to make money. I talked to some people who would like give their left arm to be like a get paid to do FPV um, you know, send retires stuff, which I guess as a horrible analogy cause you, it’s hard to fly with just one arm. But yeah, I mean I’ve seen it done. Um, actually, but a really, and it’s funny you mentioned that FAA thing too, cause last week for the first time someone reported me to the FAA report, one of my videos and I got an email from the FAA for what, what?

43:12     I flew down a city street and then up a tall building back down at a time tall building. Um, and then like back down the city street, not over any cars, not over any people like totally chill. I think someone that doesn’t know the regulations regulation side and was just, you know, it was either someone that is like, I dunno has bad vibes towards me or someone that just saw it on the Internet. It got a lot of views and just didn’t know what they were talking about. But even the FAA guy that emailed me was kinda super vague and wishy washy. It was like, Hey, just wanted to talk to you about this possible illegal anonymously reported video.

43:53     Um, can you tell me about it? So I just explained him everything and it wasn’t even a commercial gig. Like I was just flying out for fun. I was like, let me know if you have any more questions. And I haven’t heard back from him in over a week, like a week and a half now. Gotcha. Well, hopefully that’s nothing, but it doesn’t sound like it is. So I don’t think so. They got a posts like I don’t fly legally. A lot of people deal with that PV stuff, but I would never post it if I did. Yeah. And if I didn’t, definitely not saying that I am on recording, but if I did, I would definitely film yourself going 200 miles an hour and like camera on the speedometer on the road and they’d be like, I’m youtube and this tomorrow. Yeah. Here’s my license plate number. Hey, let me get my driver’s license in here yet.

44:34     Yeah. Smash that light button. You know? Gosh, it’s fine. All right, cool man. Well, I’ll wrap it up. Um, alright. It’s been, it’s been a good, uh, it’s been a good chat things. It’s been one of our longer interviews, but really enjoyed it. You’re a cool guy to talk to you. I know people are really gonna um, love this episode. Especially, it’s like really unique, right? It’s not both. If it’s ways that you make money with drones are like both, not typical things that people would have just like hear about on a regular basis. No Way. You get like the Oh, promo videos for this person, commercial real estate, you know, a lot of the same types of stuff. So it’s really cool to hear, uh, these other uses. It’s just like, yes, plays into like, there are literally so many ways that you can use a drone to like help people or to like to make money.

45:20     Sky’s the limit. Pun intended. Yeah. For Real, for real. So it’s, it’s really cool. You know, it’s always, I feel like whenever people listen to other people’s stories, it just kind of gets the juices flowing and maybe helps them think about another aspect or something else to check out. So, um, so yeah, I really appreciate you coming on and transparency and just sharing all that stuff. I know people love the juicy details about, oh, how much did they get to do this and how they get into that. So appreciate you [inaudible] stuff. So happy to share it. Well, well maybe we’ll, yeah, yeah, no happy to, well maybe we’ll have to have you back on for whenever we do like season season two or three. So, um, thank you. Now real quick before we go, I know you mentioned some of your channels before, but just real quick, like if people want to check you out or see your stuff, you want to just give your plug one more time and we’ll have, we’ll put all your stuff in the show notes and whatnot.

46:05     But if you’re not looking at this on our website, you might not see that readily, readily apparent. So go ahead and tell people where they can find you. Yeah. So, um, youtube and Facebook fly life co, same with air views, fly life co, Instagram, fly life underscore co. You can find me there. Um, on apple, all the major podcast platforms that you want to learn a bit more about. FPV just search the fly life podcast and if you want to get some more like synopsis episodes. I do a series with my friend Greg Rider and they say it all in the title, but there are, we talk a bit more about like bigger stuff in FPV, not just what VTX we’re using this week and inside baseball stuff. Um, and at the very least, if you forget all that, just type in fly life co into Google and something will come up. Sweet and Martin Nowak Right. Flat. Yeah. Yup. Sweet. Cool. Awesome. Martin, thanks you for coming on. Really appreciate it and uh, we’ll catch up soon. Sounds good man. Thanks again and have a good night. You Bet.

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Drone Launch Academy has helped over 40,000 drone pilots learn how to fly drones, pass the Part 107 Exam, and learn the skills they need to start making money with drones.

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