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Piloting a business (Drone pilot starts unusual company from his home)

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Piloting a business

Dan Sellers, owner of Aerial Frog, a videography and 3D imaging service, displays his Lumix GHS camera attached to a DJI Ronin Gimble mount.

Envision a frog riding a drone holding a camera in its front foot while flying through the air.

This is the image Rio Rancho business owner Dan Sellers wants potential clients to think of when they need his services.

Sellers, mastermind and owner of Aerial Frog, one of three drone videography and 3D imaging companies in the state, said he wants his business to stand out, hence the aforementioned logo.

“I got into videography when I started flying RC (remote control) planes eight years ago,” he said. “I noticed the drone age beginning to creep in at the air field in the form of racing drones.”

Sellers said he tried his hand at racing drones but never really got the feel for them. Instead, he said he liked the fact that he could strap a camera to the drone and capture images from the sky.

“I picked up a consumer-grade aerial photography drone five years ago before the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) became involved and there weren’t any rules on where you could and couldn’t fly,” he said. “I flew my drone everywhere around New Mexico, the coast of California, everywhere I could to get great images.”

Sellers said he started a YouTube channel featuring many of the videos he captured around the country.

“Soon, the FAA said if you were making money with your drones, then you had to become a certified pilot,” he said. “Since I had a YouTube channel that made money, I went to get my license.”

Then, Sellers said, he moved back to New Mexico from California, a move that gave him the opportunity to start something new.

“I wanted to try my hand at doing professional drone photography and make a living out of it,” he said. “So I opened Aerial Frog, but soon I realized it was going to be hard to make a living out of just doing drone photography.”

Piloting a business

Sellers said while he was prepping his business, he was also advertising, which brought no phone calls.

“It was hard because I was investing into a new business, doing this and going here, and meanwhile, no phone calls,” he said.

Sellers said after researching what real estate agents want, he came up with a plan to offer 3D images so potential clients could see the dimensions of a house for sale online.

“I invested a substantial amount of money into a 3D camera,” Sellers said. “It’s called a Matterport and it creates a three-dimensional walk-through of a home.”

After acquiring the equipment, Sellers said he used his own home for practice.

“I can’t tell you how many pictures I took of my own dining room before I finally got it right,” he said with a smile.

Since offering this imagery and drone video, Sellers’ business is on an upswing.

“I have steady work with several Realtors and agencies that really like what I have to offer,” he said.

In business since March, Sellers said he has a full plate of upcoming projects.

Piloting a business

“Basic photography comes in at eight cents a square foot,” he said. “So if someone called me on a 1,800-square-foot house, you’re looking at $160. That includes 45 pictures and most of those are HDR (high dynamic range) photos.”

After an initial in-person meeting, Sellers uses a program called DocuSign for other projects for the same client.

“After I do a couple of properties for a client, all I do is a phone call, and this makes doing business so much easier,” he said.

Sellers allows clients a couple of days to review his images in case they want a different angle or a new shoot altogether.

“This type of imagery is becoming the industry standard for real estate agencies because it cuts down on ‘looky-loos,’” he said. “If a potential buyer can see the exact layout of a house online, if they call the agent, that means they are serious.”

Sellers also offers floor plans for homes that were built a long time ago and don’t have original plans.

“My 3D camera offers this to potential buyers and home owners to be printed or used online, plus my 3D images can be used on any social media platform for advertising,” he said.

For more information, email aerialfrog@comcast.net or call 738-1700.

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