How to Make Money Writing Headphone Reviews! (Spoiler: I HAVE NO DAMN IDEA HOW)

Alex Rowe
4 min readApr 4, 2017


I haven’t made a single cent writing any of my many headphone reviews, and yet I’m going to cross 25,000 views this month alone.

From a certain point of view, that makes me a massive idiot.

Here’s a little selfie I took just now because posts with pictures get more views.

All The Weird Ways People *Think* I Make Money

“You’re obviously being paid off by the headphone/audio companies!”

Whenever I like something, I’m inevitably accused of being a paid advertiser of some kind. Because I can’t like a pair of headphones unless someone paid me to like them.

If I don’t agree exactly with the reader, then I must have been paid to think that way.

Hah, if only this were true! That would make my fake job writing about headphones a lot easier. Writing ad copy is way more basic, and more like my real job, than trying to write an honest review.

I’m funding this entire journey myself, out of pocket, from money I make in my “real” job at a small radio station. I’ve never received a single penny from a manufacturer, nor have I ever received a review unit. It’s part of why I refuse to spend more than $300 on a single pair. I’m already scraping through this as it is.

I usually tend to like the headphones I buy, because I’m trying not to buy bad headphones. It doesn’t always go that well. But I do my best.

Mixed reviews are more fun to write than positive or negative ones, but I like to try and find the good in everything. If I don’t find anything good, I return the headphones and pretend they never existed.

You’re getting these for free from companies!

No I’m not, see above please! I buy every pair of headphones I review. I’m a regular consumer, like you. I have a couple of shelves where they live, and when the shelves get full, I make myself sell off or give away some pairs before buying more. That’s it.

I’ve never made more off a pair than I paid for it.

You make money by running ads on these!

Some of my stories are inside publications that run ads, that’s true. But I don’t run my own publication, and I don’t get any of that ad revenue.

You write stories on commission for other people!

Nope! Years ago I worked for a computer magazine, but I haven’t been expressly paid for a piece of writing in years now.

You’ve got a tip jar or something that people are supporting you with!

I’ve often considered setting up some kind of internet tip jar, a la Patreon. But even though my readership is more healthy than I ever imagined it would be, I’m not sure my content is exactly right for that format. I go back and forth on this one. I like the independence and perspective I have from the platform of being a regular consumer.

All the Ways I’ve *Considered* Making Money At This

Sometimes it would be really nice if this did make money. I spend a lot of time working on headphone reviews and other internet articles, and getting some kind of compensation would be nice.

But I’ve never found the perfect solution.

Setting up an Internet Tip Jar.

I could use a crowd-funding site, or Patreon, or an Amazon Payments button, or whatever to do this. People who liked my stuff could leave me small tips, using a link at the end of the article, and I could use those to help fund additional headphones.

But then I’d feel the need to have some kind of rewards system for my backers. I’m not sure if that’d be extra content, or what. Plus I don’t really have the time to create rewards. I’m already using the limited free time in my schedule to produce the stuff I currently write.

To my knowledge, the only reviewers successfully using Internet Tip Jars are all on Youtube. Most other writers are working full-time or freelance for publications that pay them. So that puts me in a weird middle-ground where I’d have to be a pioneer.

Contacting Companies to Get Review Units

This wouldn’t actually make me any money, but it would help me to keep the limited funds I already have. But I’m not sure my readership is quite there to get the stuff that would draw more page views. I’m bigger than someone just starting out, but a lot smaller than the big guys.

I’d have to do a lot of leg work to get review units that people would want to see coverage on. And then I’d lose my platform of being a regular consumer.

Pitching my Stories to Online Publications for Money

Written review content is a rare commodity these days, in the tech world. It’s video video video all the time. The relative lack of text reviews has helped propel my stories up in Google’s ranking system, and is responsible for the small audience I do have.

Every tech publication worth anything already has their own audio reviewer on staff or on freelance contract, and on the off-chance an opening showed up, I’d probably have to move if I wanted to work in their office. That’s not going to happen.

Plus, my reviews aren’t always super timely, since I’m just examining products I find personally interesting.


I will probably try an internet tip jar some day soon, just for kicks. But until that time when I so brazenly sell out to my audience, please know that I’m doing this just for fun and following my own personal interests.

That I even built the audience I have has been the most gratifying payment of all.

But it doesn’t buy more headphones!

Click that little heart button if you liked this so I can convince myself to buy more headphones just for the ego hit.



Alex Rowe

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