Ever have an idea for an op-ed?
If your mind jumps to the old-school newspaper section with editorials, opinion pieces, and letters to the editor, you’re probably thinking it’s a waste of time.
But writing op-ed pieces is still a thing. And if you know where to look, the right markets pay well.
Getting paid $300 to $1,500 for opinion pieces, essays, and editorials is still happening.
Let the ideas begin to percolate…
Maybe you’ve learned a few lessons at the School of Hard Knocks.
Maybe you’ve got some insight, views, expertise, or opinions about issues in your niche.
Or maybe some comment on social media is so hot, you’ve got to take a stand.
Chances are pretty good you’ve got an opinion piece in you worth writing.
Check out these 10 op-ed writing markets to share your point of view and get paid for it.
Meet op-ed writer and freelance journalist Cat Woods
When Australian-based op-ed writer and freelance journalist Cat Woods saw celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels light up the Twittersphere with a body-shaming comment about pop singer Lizzo, the idea for an editorial began to form.
It was timely. It was trending on social media. And she had her own take on the issue.
So she pitched the idea and landed an op-ed assignment on spec. Then got paid when The Sydney Morning Herald published her piece, We need to celebrate female artists for their work not their bodies. She’s cashed in on other op-ed writing opportunities, too.
“Have you read, seen or heard something that you have a strong opinion on, and some credentials to justify your opinion being published?” says Cat. “If so, there’s opportunities to air your opinion and to be paid for it. Check out these 10 publications that pay writers for op eds.”
1. Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera receives an exceptional number of pitches weekly. Typically they feature op eds by experts and highly experienced writers. Nadim Asrar is a deputy editor for Al Jazeera and his Twitter is @_sufiyana_
Tip: Following the opinion site or the opinions editor of the publication you’re interested in writing for on social media is a great way to get a sense of the type of content they preference and any callouts for pitches or submissions.
Pays: $500 per 600-word piece, according to The Op Ed Project.
2. CNN Opinion
CNN Opinion accepts submissions of original, exclusive op eds on topics relevant to current news and affairs. Right now you’ll find opinion pieces on things like the presidential primaries, Oscar award speeches, police and community clashes in New York, and much more.
Tip: Don’t just submit an idea for an op ed. Write the whole piece at around 600 to 800 words. Include a brief bio, and any unique details about your experience, credentials, or connection to the subject you’re writing about. FYI, if you’re piece gets accepted, CNN gets exclusive rights.
Pays: $400 per 800-word op ed piece, according to Who Pays Writers
3. Financial Times
Got an opinion, personal story, or take on a financial topic, money matters, or the global economy? Pitch an op ed idea to Financial Times editor Brooke Masters (@brookeamasters).
“Readers value the FT for its brevity,” says Masters. “So you have at most 800 words, just enough to make a persuasive case for a focused point. Be a miniaturist, not a landscape painter.”
Tip: If you don’t hear back within three business days, your pitch didn’t make the cut. Give it an update and submit your op ed to another publication.
Pays: Depends on assignment
4. LA Times
The Los Angeles Times accepts opinion articles on spec for just about any subject. For example, right now there’s trending opinion pieces in the LA Times about cannabis farming in California, state and national political issues, raising insurance rates on speeding drivers to protect pedestrians, and of course, The Oscars.
Tip: Like a lot of op ed assignments, pitch the LA Times by writing your complete op ed on spec. Most op eds are around 750 to 1,200 words. The guidelines recommend sending your pitch to email@example.com. But here’s another option…the Editorial Page Editor is Nicholas Goldberg.
Pays: Depends on assignment
5. New York Times
The New York Times accepts opinion editorials for the daily print page, online, the Sunday Review, the International edition and seasonal series. Sure, The NYT has it’s own roster of regular columnists. But it also publishes op eds from freelancers on a wide range of topics like politics, pop culture, health, science, lifestyle, and more.
Tip: Submit a complete op ed piece that’s around 400 to 1,200 words, instead of just pitching an idea. Also review the rest of the guidelines, which recommend sending your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org. FYI…the Editorial Page Editor for The NYT is James Bennett (@JBennet).
Pays: $600 to $700 for op eds, according to The Op Ed Project.
While newspapers have been dying a slow and painful death for more than a decade, Slate is one of a handful of online news and opinion sites that’s managed to reach an international audience with it’s own slant on covering news, events, and issues.
Tip: Have an op ed idea for Slate? Study the guidelines and pitch your op ed idea, highlighting your main points. Categories include: Culture, human interest, news/politics, technology, business, health and science, and sports. Pick the right editor from the bottom of this list.
Pays: $300 for a 1,000 to 2,000-word op ed, according to The Web Writer Spotlight
7. The Sun
The Sun is a daily print and online newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland, that publishes a wide range of op eds.
Tip: The hotter the topic, the more likely you’ll get a bite for your complete op ed. Just take a look at examples on the site about Gwyneth Paltrow on Netflix, all things Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Kirk Douglas fandom, and all kinds of political issues. If accepted, expect heavy editing before publishing.
And if that’s not enough buzz, blogger and journalist Victoria Newton was appointed editor for The Sun this month.
Pays: $600 for a 2,000 to 4,000 word op ed or personal essay, according to Web Writers Spotlight
8. Sydney Morning Herald
You don’t need to be from Australia to pitch an op ed for The Sydney Morning Herald. But knowing a little about issues, current events, and other news from down under will only help you appeal to editors.
When I pitched The Sydney Morning Herald the op ed about the Michaes v. Lizzo incident, it was an international issue unfolding on social media. But I did mention Australia’s efforts to battle its brushfires.
Tip: When you pitch editors an op ed idea, pointing to previous work that demonstrates your ability to write will be to your advantage. Typically, op eds relating directly to current news are given priority. Julie Lewis (@JLewisnthenews) is the opinion editor for The Sydney Morning News.
Pays: Approximately $0.34/per word U.S., up to 800 words
Take a look at the current opinion page of TIME, and you’ll find a mix of national and international op eds about human rights, politics, technology, history, and more.
Tip: Take the time to write a solid subject line and/or working headline when you pitch an op ed. And get to the point as quickly as possible. And check the list of TIME editors to pitch the right person. The general contact rule is FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME@time.com
Pays: Depends on assignment
10. The Washington Post
The Washington Post opinion section features local, national, and international op eds about a wide variety of topics. Take a look at the current op eds, and you’ll see opinions and viewpoints about the presidential primaries, the coronavirus, fake news frustrations, and many other trending topics.
Tip: So the site recommends submitting an op ed for consideration using the online form. And you’ll need to write the complete op ed for consideration, and keep it under 750 words. But you can also target your pitch to a specific person from this list of opinion editors at The Washington Post.
Pays: Up to $1,500 per op ed, depends on assignment
There is no need for specialty expertise or credentials, but experienced writers with a portfolio of published work will find it easier to convince editors of their ability to deliver strong copy on time.
A few more tips about op ed writing
- Rates: The pay for writing opinion pieces varies widely between publications, and some only offer a byline credit. Before you invest the time to write an op ed, find out if there’s a paying market for your piece.
- Write on spec. Unless otherwise stated in submission guidelines, most publications expect you to submit a completed op ed on spec, meaning you’ll only get paid for the piece if it’s accepted or published.
- Beware of the black hole. It’s the submission form or generic editor@ email address so many pubs point you to submit an op ed. In most cases, you should be able to find a way to contact the opinion editor directly by email or social media.
- Networking opportunities. Getting paid to share your opinion is nice and share your opinion isn’t the only reason to write opinion pieces. If you’re trying to make a name for yourself as the freelancer in your niche, consider writing an op ed or guest post (usually for free), and use it as a networking opportunity to connect with potential prospects.
- 16 more places to get paid to write op eds. Curious about more markets that pay for op ed writing, viewpoints and essays? Check out this list.
Op ed writing isn’t likely to become the bread and butter of your freelance business. But there’s still plenty of opportunity to get paid to write about issues and topics you’re passionate about.
What op-ed writing markets have you written for? Share in the comments below.
Cat Woods is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.