Through online resources, training courses, and networking podcasts, Chris Anderson (aka The Drone Trainer) has redefined what it means to be part of a community of experts! In this article, Chris joins us for an interview to shed light on his professional journey.
How and when did you get into drones?
I started flying in January 2014, after reading an article about a California Realtor that was flying something called a “drone” to photograph his high value listings on the California coast. Having a background in wedding and portrait photography, this seemed like the next logical step. The next day I ordered a Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-2D gimbal and GoPro Hero 3+. I learned how to fly at the local driving range which was closed for the winter, as it allowed me to stay within the netting in case the drone got away from me. With nobody to teach me, those first couple of flights were certainly interesting!
Immediately upon purchasing the drone, I had the goal of going commercial. My plan was to start shooting golf courses, but then the phone started ringing from clients in a variety of other industries.
What industries do you work in?
So far I’ve been lucky enough to work in almost everything outside, and some inside as well. Outdoors I have worked in residential and commercial real estate, construction, mapping, modelling, inspections, oil & gas, television commercials, and more. Indoor flight has consisted of inspections, commercial promotions, and more. It’s amazing to think that I only had golf courses on my mind when I first started, and have now flown all over Western Canada in so many new (to me) and exciting areas!
The drone industry is constantly growing and evolving, how do you keep up with all the trends?
I try and keep on top of everything via my connections on Twitter. It’s important to also resist succumbing to Gear Acquisition Syndrome as well.
"Don’t just buy the latest and greatest because you want it. Instead, make an informed decision based on your needs and available work. It’s more about the end result, than the tool used."
2020 was hard for many businesses. How did COVID affect you?
The first half of 2020 was completely dead. We tried to reach out to our past clients, but it was immediately apparent that there wasn’t any work to be had. Around June the work started to trickle in again, and now as I write this in late December, we are back to our normal levels. Here’s hoping that 2021 continues to recover and we can get back to our pre-pandemic revenue.
What’s the idea behind The Drone Trainer?
We’e had a lot of opportunities to train local pilots in a variety of industries. Training is super rewarding, especially when you can take a fresh and timid pilot all the way to proficient confidence. After a few years of in person training, Chris decided to bring the training online so that he could reach a wider audience. I’d have to do an exact count, but so far he has worked with and trained over 9000 pilots worldwide.
Can you tell us about the pilots you train?
We have worked with everyone from brand new pilots, all the way to seasoned pilots that are looking to advance their skills in certain verticals. The beauty of our online platform is that it has something for everyone.
Everything right from the basics, to advanced flight and processing techniques.
Tell us about The Drone Trainer Pro
The best way to advance your skills, learn new ideas, and make more money is by working with other like-minded pilots. With The Drone Trainer Pro, we have a tight-knit group of drone pilots from every continent around the world, that are all sharing ideas and working together to grow their drone businesses. Being global and not just focused on one country, we are truly able to grow our businesses with the best ideas from around the world. We meet every Monday evening via zoom to share what’s working in our businesses, and also during the week in our private community. Our awesome members also conduct live and pre-recorded training to share their expertise with the group. If you’d like to learn more about our awesome community, check out https://thedronetrainer.com/pro/
When/how did the podcast get started?
We’ve always been big fans of podcasts and education on the go, so decided to bring the world of drone pilots to the airwaves. Chris analyzed the other awesome drone podcasts out there, and saw an opportunity to chat with the actual pilots that are putting in the work. So far we have published over 130 episodes with drone pilots from around the world, who have been gracious enough to discuss the tips and tricks necessary to succeed in their drone businesses.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is anyone that is working with drones, and more specifically pilots that are working on growing their drone businesses. Being able to share valuable information with other drone pilots is certainly rewarding, and so is the individual thank-you messages that we receive from listeners around the globe. It’s really cool to think how much global reach we have!
How do you select pilots/business owners to interview and feature?
We like to have a variety of experience levels and industry representation on the show. At first I tried to steer away from brand new pilots, thinking that they might not have as much to offer as an experienced pilot would, but I quickly found that there are some awesome ideas and work coming from new pilots! I’d say the balance is about 70% experienced and 30% new pilots on the show, and both experience levels resonate well with our audience.
How has the podcast grown/transformed over time?
Aside from a few equipment and editing technique upgrades, we have found success and continual growth due to being consistent. The ability to publish a weekly show, with fresh actionable ideas has been the key to our success. The theme of only speaking with drone pilots that are actually out there flying has remained consistent as well, which is nice for our audience as they know what to expect with every new episode.
What makes the Drone Trainer Podcast stand out? How do you keep up with the industry trends?
As I mentioned earlier, by having the boots on the ground on the show, rather than the CEO of a large company who might not even know how to fly, has helped us stand out. Listeners are able to relate to pilots that are just like them, working on growing their drone businesses, regardless of where they are in the world.
With the variety of content available today on YouTube what makes podcasts unique?
100% it’s the ability to consume content on the go. Whether you’re driving, working, doing housework, etc, you can be listening to a podcast and learning as you go. I love YouTube as well, but that takes more dedication to sit in front of a device and not multitask as you focus on the information that is being presented.
What are the next steps for the podcast?
We want to continue growing and reaching new pilots in every corner of the world. It’s really cool to see all the countries that are listening in, and I’m glad that I can share everything with them.
Who are your favorite content creators today?
We are big fans of
Who is your role model when it comes to hosting?
I was inspired by Randy Goers of Drone Radio Show. I’ve been lucky enough to have Randy as a guest on our show, and I’ve also been a guest on his. Pat Flynn has also been an inspiration in the non drone world. His consistency and approach are admirable!
To learn more about Chris and The Drone Trainer community visit: https://thedronetrainer.com/