By: Stella Orange
In my website writing workshops years ago, I used to tell students that a great way to write a headline for a website is to picture yourself in a room that’s crowded with your favorite kinds of clients. You stand up on a chair in the center of the room. What do you yell?
But these days, it doesn’t feel right to yell anymore.
There has been so much yelling already.
There is so much jockeying for our attention and focus on the Internet already.
These days, I find myself writing really understated, quieter headlines.
If they can even be called headlines anymore.
They function more like conversation starters, or irimi, as they say in Japanese martial arts (“the act of entering directly into a technique”).
Irimi. I’ve always thought of it as how you engage your opponent.
In this context, I think of irimi as how you might enter a conversation.
When I’m writing a website for someone, I don’t want the headline to sound like a flashing neon sign that blabs how awesome they are. Or how they’ll change your life.
That voice is too distant, too performative.
That voice is trying to impress, not connect.
No, I do not want to write headlines like that. I actually want the headlines I write to sound more like a kind of a namaste.
“The flame in me greets the flame in you. And here we are, together in this moment of possibility, together.”
Interestingly, what we’ve been doing around here is writing websites for the Work, not for the people doing it, through whom the Work flows.
Declaring and centering what a person’s Work in the world actually is, and then developing the namaste opener and the part where we talk about what the person knows in their bones to be true and is offering to the rest of us through that Work.
The theory being that when you declare and center what the Work is, and you root into what you believe, that your people will resonate with it. And be called forth to it.
It’s not about you!
It’s about the work, and those who resonate with it, whom you are called forth to serve.
(Okay, okay… it is partly about you. But not in the way many of us were taught to believe. What if you don’t need to impress people with your credentials and training? What if it’s more about connecting with them, just like you do in conversation?)
P.S. Every season, Rebecca and I host a series of conversations on topics that are coming up for the people we serve. Last season, we walked people through how to streamline a business that’s feeling overgrown; cultivating business relationships; and the story of the journey (one of our all-time favorites!). Season passes are on sale now!
Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.
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