Contributed op-ed case study (5): Time budget

How much work goes into a contributed op-ed? Here’s my experience.

  • Conception and pitching: 2 hours.
  • Planning and conducting research interviews: 5 hours
  • Web research: 2 hours
  • Review of material in books: 4 hours
  • Planning the draft: 3 hours
  • Writing: 2 hours
  • Revisions: 3 hours

Total time: 21 hours.

I’ve done contributed articles for other picky and highly edited publications, such as Harvard Business Review. The Globe piece took longer, but those other pieces still required at least eight to ten hours of total work.

The Globe paid for my work, but my compensation was at approximately one-sixth of my usual hourly rate.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t assume you’ll be able to just write one of these and toss it off. Budget significant time for pitching, research, planning, and revisions as well as writing.

The resulting influence you’ll get isn’t available any other way. You just have to ask yourself if the work is worth it.

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  1. Thank you so much for this illuminating case study. And it only took 17 hours?! It sounded like so much more.

    One thing… I have to agree with G. The initial edit was harsh, but they were right. And the piece was better for it.

    Thank you so much for allowing us to see the process and see you getting edited. That had to hurt. And it’s hard to share.

    Great, great series!

  2. It seems like this probably does not include the complete time investment in text research, eg going through multiple print books on the topic. Am I correct that you treated that time as part of a different budget, EG because you did that before you shopped the pitch? Or did that actually fit into the 5 hour line-item “planning and conducting research interviews”?