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Article Checklist



This article checklist is for you to review before / after publishing each article to ensure that everything you submit is ready-to-publish. As you write more often, you’ll know all of this by memory, but I would still encourage you to check this at least once a week at that stage to make sure you’re not missing out on any of the steps.

We don’t want you to be perfect, we want you to raise your standards and be excellent every single time you publish an article. Perfection is unattainable, but if you get all the steps below right, you will be well on your way towards excellence.

A short version, with details to follow:

– Pick a great story
– Avoid repetition
– Pick a great headline
– Have a strong article lead
– Featured images
– Media embeds
– Minimum article length
– Follow NewsNow requirements
– Proofread x 3.
– Linking
– Categories
– Short, relevant article url.
– Article Scheduling / NewsNow Timing
– Sticky / UnSticky
– Author Stats

What are you writing about and why?

We’ve covered this in the quick-start guide – here it is again:

– Pick the right topic and story angle.
– Get your timing right – if you’re covering breaking news, ‘break’ it.
– Your job is to give the reader something they can use. It can be emotions – give hope or excitement when you talk about a transfer, or it can be logic and facts – give them the information they need to talk about why things went wrong for their team the next day.
– Create work that is 10 times better than anything else out there.

– Have original ideas and insights into current and popular news.

Pick a topic that is topical and relevant, with an angle that makes it as interesting as possible to as large a group of people as possible. This plays into writing the headline as much as it does into picking your story.

You have to understand where your audience is coming from and tailor your angle accordingly. If your traffic is coming from the UK and US, you need the right angles to attract that traffic and keep it engaged.

Avoid repetition

Before you start writing, do a quick check on both the live site and the Dashboard (https://sportslens.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=post) to see if someone else is covering or has covered the same story already. If they have, skip it, or find a different angle to ensure that we avoid repetition.

Article Title (basic)
Your article title is the most important part of your article. A few great resources to start learning about headline writing:


The first two are from a marketing standpoint but offer good cross-over learnings when you’re blogging. The latter two are more journalistic and academic, but again there is much you can learn from them, and combined they offer a strong base for you to get started.

If all else fails, remember this – your headline should be memorable, evoke an urgent emotional response and make a promise. Whether you’re writing for an ad agency or a news site, the headline is the reader’s gateway into the rest of your article.

Don’t muck it up. And please don’t do a ‘Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal Match Report’ style headline ever again.

Article Title (advanced)

By default, the title you enter in the WordPress Title field is what’s used on the site and on news aggregators when they pick up our articles. However, there are cases when you’d need to send a different headline to NewsNow / Google News / other news aggregators while keeping a more SEO-friendly headline for the article on the site itself.

This is to be used only if you’re aware why it’s sometimes necessary and if you’re proficient in both on-page SEO and NewsNow headline writing.

There is a ‘Alternate RSS / NewsNow’ Title field below your main WordPress writing box – that’s where the alternate headline, the one that goes to the news aggregators, can be added in – IF you need an alternate headline.

Have a strong article lead

Read this: http://blog.bleacherreport.com/2011/04/14/br-101-how-to-write-a-good-lede/

Minimum Article Length

250 words minimum, not including quotes. The only exception: if you’re breaking a news story and need to get it out fast – do 100-150 words, publish and then go back and edit / expand on the story.

Media Embeds

Use media embeds – twitter, youtube, Facebook, instagram, etc – and images in your articles. It makes your articles more fun to read.

Featured Image

Always add a featured image.
Make sure the image has a descriptive name (mesut-ozil-arsenal.jpg instead of 1234566790!!!.jpg)
Make sure it is at least 600px wide.

Featured images are automatically shown on the home / category pages and are automatically added at the top of the article.

Follow NewsNow requirements

This is important – read this and follow it.


The key points from the above are:

– check your facts
– always credit sources (with links)
– proof-read your work
– don’t write misleading headlines

Proof Reading

You are expected to self-edit and self-correct. Review and proofread your work.

This means spelling, attribution, grammar – everything.

Article Linking

It’s good to link to other articles. When you’re looking for sources, check on Soccerlens.com first to see if the story has been covered and if yes, link and reference that instead.

Article URL

Edit the article URL (guide) to make it short, seo-friendly and relevant.


Only select the relevant categories. Not all, not just one. So an article covering a transfer story involving Real Madrid and Manchester United would have the following categories ticked: Real Madrid, Manchester United, Transfers. If there is a relevant player category and that player is mentioned, tick that. If it’s a video or match report, tick that. Don’t tick random categories as extra categories have no impact, and don’t miss ticking the right categories as that’s key for both site categorisation and for news aggregators.

When selecting categories, chose one as the primary category (again, the most relevant one). In the example above, it would be the Transfers category.

Scheduling / Timing guide

We write for a UK (primary) and US (secondary) audience. That means that unless it is a breaking news story, news stories typically work well in these slots:

6-8am UK time
Noon-2pm UK time (covers East Coast US morning slot too)
6-8pm UK time (covers West Coast US morning slot too)

You can schedule articles using the post articles box – see more details here: https://en.support.wordpress.com/schedule-a-post/

In general, we want articles going out throughout the day, so from 5am to 10pm UK time, we’d like to see a consistent stream of articles going out. If you are writing 3-4 articles in a go, space them out at one-hour intervals. We will assign day / evening slots from time to time.

Author Stats

Go here to see your stats: https://sportslens.com/wp-admin/edit.php

You’ll also be able to see which articles have done well in the past – it’s a good exercise to review those articles and understand why they did well, and try and learn from them.

Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.