I swear, the easiest way to make a living as a writer is to have an opinion, and have it loud. Some people even seem to manage by having the most contrary opinions of anything.
Think of it this way. A lot of op-ed pages pay, right? Being able to state your opinion clearly with a little factual back up in a few hundred words is worth money to a lot of the big name papers, as well as the smaller papers and magazines. A few good op-ed clips can be a gateway to columnist positions, as well.
Opinion articles aren’t known for bringing home the bacon, but they are also not known for taking days of preparation to write. They can be a good source of clips as well — and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get a piece in the opinion section of the New York Times than convince them to take you on as a freelancer for a factual piece.