Drone to 1K Season 3 / Episode 7: Philip Hurst from Philip Hurst Media


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Philip Hurst is the owner of Philip Hurst Media.


Philip got his first drone about a year ago. He was working for an architectural company and had the idea of using a drone for roof inspections. He ended up using his drone to take videos of ongoing construction projects, as well.

Philip felt like he was really onto something with drones.

He pitched the idea of incorporating more drone work into his job to his boss, but nothing ever really came of it.

In the meantime, Philip had been posting his drone work (cinematic videography, 3D mapping, photography, etc.) on Instagram, and it was catching people’s attention.

People were reaching out to him, asking if he would do drone work for them.

Philip knew he needed to get his Part 107 license so that he could start accepting these jobs and making money. Within a month of getting his drone, he took and passed the Part 107 Exam.

Philip was able to get enough business to quit his architecture job, start an LLC, and fly drones full time!

“It’s really about the hustle and the drive.”

Philip felt lucky to be able to learn how to fly drones with a DJI Mavic because it was pretty easy to fly that drone.

He dedicated lots of time to practicing flying and taking photos and videos.

He also spent time branding his business and adding more and more content to his Instagram page.

David: When you were still working at the architectural firm and starting to use drones for roof inspections, was that when you started practicing a lot? Or did that come later?

Philip was practicing during his lunch breaks at work. He actually had his first accident during one of his lunch break flights – on the first day he had his drone!

Philip took his drone everywhere. Whenever he had a free moment, he would grab his drone and start practicing.

He tried flying in difficult situations, like through tight spaces. He also tried flying the drone towards him so he could practice with the controls being backwards… which ended in a crash. Luckily, his drone was okay, though!

David: What was the first job you ever got? Did you reach out to people or did someone come to you?

Philip races mountain bikes and knew one of the promoters of a big race. The promoter reached out to him and asked if he could get some drone footage of the race.

After that, Philip went on Zillow and found $500,000+ homes. Then, he sent emails to the real estate agents that listed those homes and let them know that he would shoot footage of their listings for free. He said that the first listing would be free, and that his work would help get their houses sold. He sent out about 500 of those emails over the course of two days.

He ended up landing about 15 jobs from that email outreach.

Philip says that being willing to do free work is very important because it will be hard to land jobs if you don’t have a portfolio of previous work to show your potential clients.

“When I send them to my Instagram, the proof is in my work.”

Philip sends his potential clients to his Instagram page to see his work. BUT, he also sends them to other drone pilot’s Instagram pages and shows them what they SHOULDN’T want from the drone pro they hire. He’ll point out things like jerky, non-cinematic footage in others’ work, which helps him prove that his footage is smoother and higher quality.

David: What part of the country are you in?

Philip is in Ohio. He says that he is “the best in the Midwest.”

“When it comes down to it, I’m not just a pilot. I’m just also a media professional and I’m a cinematic photographer and videographer. So yeah, I can catch great content and I can do good drone work, but I like to find the value in my end product, because like I said, drone work are just establishing shots to help support a much bigger story.”

David: Of the 15 free jobs you landed from your Zillow outreach, how many of those turned into paying clients?

Out of those 15, about 8 of them have become routine clients for Philip.

Philip is also branching out into other industries. Some of his friends are shooting a pilot for ABC and they asked him to capture some establishing drone shots. Now, Philip’s name is going to be on IMDb!

Philip emphasizes that he started about 6 months ago. It’s awesome to see how much his business has grown in just half a year.

He says that his drone is one of his most powerful tools.

“You gotta put the time in. You gotta grind, you gotta believe in yourself. You gotta have that confidence. You know, you gotta walk the walk and talk the talk. Go out there and look professional.”

Philip says that you need to make potential clients feel confident in choosing to hire you as a drone pilot.

He also stresses that you need to be posting on all social media platforms. But, you can tailor your messaging on each platform.

David: How would you do something differently for Instagram vs. Facebook vs. LinkedIn?

For Instagram, Philip will post short, 15-second clips or stories. His Instagram grid is a bit more curated. He’ll curate his Instagram grid based on the seasons or even moods. The coloring and moodiness will change as you scroll down his Instagram feed. His stories are usually behind-the-scenes footage.

For LinkedIn, Philip likes to have his feed look a little more polished.

As far as TikTok goes, Philip says, “If you’re not on TikTok, you’re missing the boat.” He says that you can reach millions of people on TikTok. He says it’s a great place to brand yourself.

David says that one of his friends is on TikTok and that one of his posts got half a million views.

One of Philip’s TikToks actually got 5 million views in the first week!

Philip says that he treats his drone work very seriously.

When he gets home from a shoot, Philip removes his memory cards and uploads all of his footage so it doesn’t get lost. He also unpacks, cleans, and inspects all of his equipment. Philip says he treats his equipment well because it makes him money.

He says that networking is very important. If you want to be successful, get to know successful people. You never know who someone may be friends with or who they might be able to introduce you to.

Strive to become known as “the drone guy” or “the drone gal” in your town so that people will immediately think of you whenever they (or someone they know) need drone work.

Because David started Drone Launch Academy, many times people will reach out to him for drone work. Once, he made $1,300 on a shoot for commercial properties that a friend recommended him for.

Philip says that calling himself “the best in the Midwest,” saying his name is “Maverick,” and constantly talking about and posting about drones helps people to associate him with drones. When someone thinks of drones, they usually immediately think of Philip because of the way he’s branded and marketed himself.

Other drone pilots have actually reached out to Philip to see if he’d do a tutorial video on how he edits.

David says even if you have the best product on the market, if nobody knows who you are, you won’t get much business. You need to be willing to network and marketing your business so people will know about you.

Philip says that, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

David: Are you doing walk-through videos for real estate? Or are you just doing photos? What’s your typical package for people?

Depending on the client and their needs, Philip can do interior and exterior photos (including HDLR photos with bracketing, flash photography, and editing), virtual staging, virtual tours/360 Matterport tours, 3D exterior mapping, cinematography (both aerial and ground), and walk-through video tours.

David: What do you charge?

For aerial photos, Philip charges $250/hour. His starting price for a video (for an up to $400,000 house) is $350. For houses above $400,000, he charges a $1 per $1,000 listing price for video (for example, for a $3 million home, Philip would charge $3,000 for a video) because there’s usually more places to film in a more expensive home. Also depending on the size of the house, he’ll usually do Matterports for about $300, with a same-day turnaround. For each house, he’ll probably do around 20-50 photos. For 50 photos (which are edited and use HDLR, flash photography, removal of chips on walls, and other high-touch edits), he charges about $400.

He adds extra finishing touches to his photos and videos because he wants to help sell the house. Of course he needs to make money with his business, but he really wants to build relationships with people and help them sell their houses.

David: It sounds like you’ve been making money in the real estate area, but you’ve also gotten some other interesting jobs, like the mountain biking thing. Do you have any other, more outside-of-the-box jobs? What’s one of your favorite, non-real estate related gigs you’ve gotten?

Philip really likes doing product photography and brand marketing. He’s shot footage of wakeboards, boats, and outdoor events. He’s also working with models to create demo reels for their modeling career. He also has a couple of weddings booked.

David:You said you started about 6 months ago. What would you say is your average revenue per month?

Philip says that he’s making about $3,000/month. He makes sure that a percentage of his revenue goes back into the company, a percentage goes towards being able to buy new equipment in three years, and a percentage goes to him, and a percentage is put aside for taxes.

David points out that if you have a W2 job, the government will hold your taxes… but if you have your own business, you are responsible for putting aside money for taxes.

Philip says that he’s actual had someone tell him that he’s not charging enough for his drone services.

Don’t forget to enter our weekly giveaway 2/23/21 for a chance to win one of 5 prizes (including a free 15-minute coaching call with Philip and David): https://dronelaunchacademy.typeform.com/to/lWpVfLpq

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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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