How to engage your readers with emailed replies while keeping the conversation public (WordPress Blogging Tip)

Responding to Readers

One of the issues a blogger must work out is how they will respond to reader comments.

We love getting them on our blog posts and it often feels right to respond via email directly to engage the reader in a personal discussion.

But then we lose the public conversation which is one of the wonderful features of blogging – community discussion.

I use a wordpress plugin – Comment Reply Notification – that solves this problem most elegantly.  When someone comments on my blog post, I will respond to them on my blog – nesting my comment immediately below theirs.  The plug will take my reply and email it directly to the reader.

I keep both the public conversation and the personal response.  And on those needed occasions I can also still respond in private.

How to Install

If you have a blog (this will not work for blogs) you can use these steps to install this plugin:


  1. Click the plugins tab
  2. Click on Add New
  3. Type “Comment Reply Notification” into the search box
  4. Click search



  1. Click “install now” on the desired plugin (it should be the first one on your list)



  1. Click activate plugin after it installs.



  1. Click settings tab
  2. Click “Comment Reply Notification” tab
  3. Choose the “” radio button
  4. Click Update Options


Next you really should test to confirm your plugin is working:

  1. Logout of your blog
  2. Visit your blog and leave a comment with a different email address than you use for your blog (Only have 1 email address?  Ask a friend to help or create a free gmail account.)
  3. Login to your blog as admin
  4. Respond to the comment – be sure your comment is a nested comment (click the reply button directly under their comment do nested comments vs just commenting in the box that appears normally).

Bonus geek tip:  you should thoroughly test every change you make to your website – because even the simple ones sometimes go bad.

Wrap Up

How do you engage your blog readers in discussion?


I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.

MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art

I’ve Already Tried That


I have a friend that is stuck. She knows she is stuck, she wants to become unstuck.

On occasion we’ll have chats about her situation and I’ll talk about passion and mindsets and gratitude and she listens attentively to what I have to say.

Up to a point.

Then she’ll say “I hear you,” which is very often followed by “I’ve already tried that”.

Aw yes, we’ve all been there. Who among us hasn’t used this line?

“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.” ~Albert Einstein (Letters to Solovine)

Exactly – We know we’ll get the same results, Einstein was no dummy.

If we’ve tried it before why bother trying it again?


Why? Because getting up and moving forward sound infinitely more pleasurable than wallowing in defeat.

I think about when I use this excuse, often I might have only sort of tried something, but never really followed through with any real conviction.

Does this count as trying something and it failed? Or does this count as not really trying at all?

And since when were we promised that our first try would always be successful?

Is it just an excuse to not try? Trying takes effort. And doing takes even more effort.

But isn’t doing better than wallowing in defeat?

Next time you hear yourself saying “I’ve already tried that” call yourself on your lack of effort, think big and try again.

Wrap Up

“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try'” ~Yoda

Where do you need to try again?


I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.

MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art

A Simple Tip to Gain Control of Your Inbox

Too Much Email

If you are like me, and I suspect you are, you get way too much email. Hundreds a week piling up demanding attention.

I get email from friends, students, galleries, other artists, businesses, airlines, coaches, etc, etc, etc.

Most of it I want (gratitude here for good spam filters), but that doesn’t mean I want to read it right now.

Personal email and email from my students are important I want to see them right away but the newsletters from businesses can wait to be processed in chunks a few times a week or month.

Sorting it Out

We need some sort of tiered email system where the good stuff appears instantly and the newsletter wait in the wings for when we feel like dealing with the input.

Most people I know use filters to direct email into folders to try to solve this problem.

I find that solution unsatisfactory because the email still appears in my main email account begging for attention. I see it come in, I see it sitting in the folder. It takes some of my attention.

Out of Sight

My solution is to use different email addresses for different types of email. Only non-newsletter email comes to my normal email address and gets my attention. (All student email is sent to another email address that is also given high priority action.)

All other email is filtered into different email addresses that I only look at a couple of times a month, when I have time to go see what’s new or noteworthy.

I categorized the types of newsletters I receive:

  • newsletters to keep in my inbox (I limit this to a very small list – currently only 2 – the artbizcoach and NotesFromTheUniverse).
  • newsletters from artists
  • email from galleries, museums and art centers
  • newsletters about creativity, spirituality and positive mindsets
  • newsletters about marketing and business topics
  • emails from businesses, restaurants, airlines, etc

and of course:

  • newsletters I don’t want

I decided to create a separate email address for each category. So if I want to read gallery news – I can check into that email address.

It took a few weeks to sort everything out and update my subscriptions so the newsletters go to the correct email address but once set up, it works like a charm. The amount of noise in my regular inbox was greatly reduced.

I now get to control when I read what without out distraction.

An Added Bonus

Because newsletters are not sent to my regular email address, I can tell immediately when someone signs me up for their newsletter without my permission. It suddenly appears in my regular inbox, uninvited. I usually unsubscribe immediately as inbox bloat is annoying.

Artists, please don’t subscribe someone to your newsletter without their permission. This is called permission based marketing. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, I strong encourage that you read the article that I’ve linked to in the previous sentence.

Wrap Up

How do you keep control of your inbox?

I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art

The First Step to Organization – Define Your Be / Do / Have

Can’t Do It All

As an artist, there are simply too many options available for you to pursue them all: festivals, traditional galleries, non-profit galleries, selling from your website, etsy, coop galleries, juried shows, etc. The list goes on and on.

Trying to do everything dilutes your focus and scatters your attention. Feeling frazzled and overwhelmed is the result.

When presented with an opportunity for your art career, how do know if it is a good fit? How do you know which exhibit spaces and selling venues to pursue?

If you spend some time setting a long term plan for your art, the answers to these questions become obvious.

If you know where you are going, you will be able to set up systems and goals to keep you on track, selecting the opportunities that best support your vision.

Be Do Have

Like many artists, the idea of setting long term goals used to terrify to me. They felt unnecessary and I had no idea how to go about it.

    “Goals are too limiting.”
    “What ever comes along is fine.”
    “How should I know what is going to happen?”

My acquaintance with Be Do Have lists changed my opinion. I was able to employ this simple tool to create a list of long term goals that capture my dreams.

To create your own vision of your art career, try using the Be Do Have list, a life coaching tool that asks three questions:

  • Who do I want to Be?
  • What do I want to Do?
  • What do I want to Have?

Spend some time writing your answers to these questions in relationship to your artwork. Don’t worry about the format – bulleted lists, paragraphs, incomplete sentences – it’s all okay. There are no rules and the sky is the limit. Dream Big!

I found that keeping the list on my desk for a few days to catch the last minute “oh yeah” ideas helped me get a complete picture of where I wanted to go.

After you’ve gathered your thoughts in your free form list, distill it down into an organized list for a quick reminder of your vision.

When an new opportunity presents itself and you aren’t sure it is right for you, pull out your list and review it to see if it fits. Saying no to options that don’t move you forward frees you up to spend your energy on the ones that are a perfect match.

My List

This is the vision I wrote for my art career several years ago and it still guides me today as I focused on who I wanted to Be along with some really big ideas for Do and Have.

  • I am creating a body of work that I am proud of and that I know is pushing me to become the best artist I can.
  • I see growth in my artwork.
  • I am authentically marketing my artwork.
  • I quit my day job and live comfortably from the proceeds of my creative talents. [Note: I like clarity so I have an amount written down but think specific dollar amounts are a bit too personal for public consumption.]
  • My work is valued by buyers and collectors, who are willing to pay a good price for my artwork.
  • I create an affordable line of work for those that can not afford my larger pieces.
  • My work is included in four or more museum collections.
  • I publish one or more books about my art and my writing about art. At least one will be a big “coffee table” style book
  • I actively participate in a community of mutually supportive artists.
  • I am an inspiration and mentor to other artists.
  • I continually learn about myself through my art and my writing about art.
  • I enjoy all aspects of being an artist.

Read more about Be Do Have lists.

Wrap Up

Setting long term goals allows us to think big about each opportunity that comes our way.

Do you have a vision for your art? What tools did you used to create your list?


Thinking Big about Art

PS. I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Planning for the New Year – Keep it Simple by Reusing your Habits and Systems from Last Year

Planning for The New Year

Several years back it used to take me many weeks to plan for the upcoming year. The result of that process was very detailed goals.

I did have a very successful year that year, but I feel I over planned and it detracted from my creative time.

Now days I got with a much simpler process.  I spend about 2 hours setting up my new goals and writing out a brief outline of the new projects I want to accomplish over the course of the year.

I then get back to making art and teaching my workshops.

Planning is no longer a big disruptive event.

Reusing Goals – They’re Systems!

How? I leverage the work I did that crazy year of over planning.  That year I separated into 2 different categories: habits/systems and new projects.  I also created a spreadsheet to track my progress with my goals.  I put a lot of work into making sense of what I wanted from my art career.

Okay – I didn’t over plan that year. I retract that statement.

I put in the time to create a system of goals that can be reused year after year, which makes my planning much simpler now.

Systems / Habits vs New Projects

What are habits and systems?  I think of art business habits and systems like washing dishes or doing laundry. Only a lot more fun.

Essentially these are things that you do and then you have to do them all over again some time later. The project doesn’t end because these are things to be done over and over and over again.

Like blogging, writing a studio newsletter and staying in touch with collectors.

New projects are things like specific art exhibits or creating new workshops to teach. These goals have an end date. The exhibit is over, the book is written, the class is created (and now there is a new system to teach it year after year).

Maintaining and Growing

I’ve found that dividing my goals into these two different categories has made my art business a snap to stay on top of.

Every week I look at my list of systems and make sure I’m staying on top of the recurring tasks. I also select small chunks from the big projects and work on them.

In this way I am both maintaining and growing my career.


Wrap Up

Think big and plan for a fabulous year. Have you set your goals for the coming year? What tips do you have?

I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on facebook where I share additional tips and comments about thinking big about your art.



You want something. Go and get it. Period. => An Interview with Will Smith

An Excellent Interview with Will Smith

Some Quotes from the Video

Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god like feature that is only in the special among us. It is something that truly exists in all of us. It’s very simple.

The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts of people who are trying to excel. Talent you have naturally, skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.

There is no easy way around it. No matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you aren’t’ skilled. If you don’t study if you dont’ work really hard and dedicate yourself to working hard every single day you’ll never be able to communicate with people with your artistry the way you want.

Don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say “I’m going to build the biggest baddest greatest wall that’s ever been built. You don’t start there. You say “I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.” You do that for every single day and soon you have a wall.

Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity. There is no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A.

There is a redemptive power that making a choice has rather than being an effect to all the things happening. Make a choice – just decide – what it’s going to be, who you are going to be, how you are going to do it.

If you want something, go get it. Period.

Thinking Big

In short I believe he said think big and do the work one step at a time.

Wrap Up

What brick do you need to lay today?


Thinking Big about Art

PS. I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


8 Big Benefits of Blogging for Your Art Career

Writing -> Best Use of Art Biz Time

This week I shared the evolution of my artist statement on my artist blog.

One of my observations on this process:

I am a better writer today than I was 10 years ago. I attribute this 100% to my blogging. I believe that writing about my art every week for my blog is the #1 best use of my art business/office time. Getting better at writing my artist statement is just one of many benefits. Look for an article on on the benefits of blogging soon.

Many people have written about the benefits of blogging. Here is my take. It’s about thinking big about your art and your marketing.

1. Sharing Authentically in Print

Sharing our inner thoughts isn’t something that we all come to naturally. The artist statement I mentioned above is for a series of work that explores the emotional barriers we use to keep people out. It feels safe to not let people too close.

Yet there are big benefits in writing about what really matters to you. Your writing is authentic. You connect with your reader on a deeper level and that connection is the start of a relationship with a supporter interested in you and your art.

This can lead to sales, articles written about your art, gallery representation, exhibits, etc. All of these and more have resulted from my 6 years of writing authentically about my art.

2. Sharing Authentically in Person

Learning to share authentically via your blog can feed into your ability to also speak about your art. Writing about the art is practice for talking about the art.

Once you have the words down in black and white, you are less likely to be at a loss for words when speaking.

The thought of giving an artist talk was terrifying for me until I started writing about my art. Now I love giving artists talks and sharing my thoughts on my art in person. Standing up in front of a group is still scary, but at least I know I have the right words to describe what I am thinking.

3. Promotes Growth

Creating art is an evolutionary process. Usually you don’t have all the answers upfront.

Through the self reflection gained in writing about your art, you gain a greater insight into what motivates and inspires your creativity. This leads to growth as you are then able to go deeper into your subject matter.

The evolution of my artist statement shared above is an example of this evolution. Many of those deeper insights came about as a result of writing about my art on my blog.

4. Give People Words to Talk about Your Art

Writing a blog gives people words to use to describe your artwork and to talk intelligently about your processes. Your work is now much less intimidating and they are much more likely to share it with someone else.

This is extremely valuable for helping art consultants, your gallerists and the press write about your art. Providing them with the phrases and vocabulary for your art makes their jobs much easier. You are likely to get more articles written about your work if you make it easy for someone to write about you.

5. Establish Yourself as an the Artist You Want To Be

Are you a serious artist? Are you funny? Are you approachable?

By writing a blog, you can establish yourself as the artist you want to be. Helpful, knowledgeable, educated, motivated, etc. Pick any words you like. Now establish yourself as the person you want to be by writing from that frame of mind.

This is where you get to think big and then become the authority you know you are.

6. Marketing

Writing about your art and what informs it; sharing photos of your art, inspiration, studio and processes: this is art marketing.

It is often said that collectors buys the artist as much as they buy the art. You have to share who you are for many people to want to purchase your art. Blogging allows you to do this with an international market.

As a bonus, blogging provides you with instant and easy SEO (search engine optimization – ie. showing up in google at the top). Using keywords and phrases is a key part of SEO and writing about your art is a natural way to associate your art with the phrases that best describe your art.

7. Community

Yes facebook also provides a community, but I feel that the community I have created in the blogging world is more substantial. We are writing and sharing on a much deeper level. It takes more time and thought to write a blog post, so I get a more authentic view into the writer’s world.

8. Helping and Teaching Others

Many artists want to contribute to their community. Blogging is an excellent way to do that. MakeBigArt is an example of exactly that.

How do you want to contribute? Think big – and then just go do it.

Wrap Up

One of the beauties of blogging is you don’t have to ask for permission to jump in. It’s free and it’s for everyone that would like to write.

How has blogging benefited your art career?


Thinking Big about Art

PS. I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


How to tell your website visitors you also teach

Lectures and Workshops and More

Recently I started teaching online art workshops and wanted to include the information on my website without detraction from my artwork.

I decided to create a new tab at the top of my page and label it Learn From Me.

Under this heading I am listing my in-person and online workshops, lectures I offer, and articles I’ve written that are helpful to other artists (both on my blog and published else where).

This creates a nice resource for my visitors but keeps it in 1 corner of the website, so I can focus on presenting my artwork on the rest of the website.

Wrap Up

Do you teach? How do you present it on your website?

(You are more than welcome to grab the phrase Learn From Me if desired.)

I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art

Email Newsletters – How Frequently and When Should You Send?

Email Newsletter Articles

Upcoming topics: formatting and templates, testing, content (what should you say), receiving newsletters (take control of your inbox), and more


How often should you write and send an newsletter? As often as you have news to share.

If you have nothing to say, probably best not to bore your readers. Solution: get to your studio and do something.

For most artists, once a month or once a quarter seems to be about when we having something new to say. I know a few artists that send out bimonthly and even a few weekly newsletters.

There are no rules.

The Common Concern

If I send out a newsletter too often, I will annoy my readers.

I worried about this when I changed my quarterly newsletter into a monthly newsletter. I was sure dozens of people would unsubscribe and everyone would be unhappy.

Didn’t happen. Maybe 2 or 3 people dropped, but always more people join than those that drop so I have a steadily increasing readership.

As long as you have something interesting to say, write the newsletter and trust that your people want to hear from you.

Is it possible to send out too frequent of a newsletter? Probably. Depends on your readers and your newsletter. Once a week would be a challenge to make interesting but depending on your studio practice, it could be entirely reasonable.

Sending a newsletter only a few times a year probably isn’t enough for your fans to remember who you are.


One of the goals of a newsletter is to keep your name and your artwork in the forefront of our fans’ minds.

One way to do that is to set an expectation on when your newsletter will be delivered. Thursday at 10am or the 3rd tuesday of the month, etc.

When I started my newsletter it was sent “whenever I could get around to it” and I had a hard time keeping to any type of schedule. Now that I have more experience, I’m able to stay on a predictable time line and I email it on the 3rd wednesday of the month.

I find that the in addition to providing a repeatable experience for my readers, the schedule helps to stay on track and committed. Otherwise it’s too easy to say, “I’ll send it next week instead”, and then suddenly 5 weeks later realize I didn’t write and send the newsletter.

Best Time to Send

One of the most popular questions. You can research the answer yourself on google.

Although to summarize, generally tuesday or wednesday are recommended. Monday and Friday are less successful. It’s all related to the work week.

Wrap Up

We have shorter attention spans these days as there is always something new coming out. Don’t get forgotten by not sending frequently enough. Think big, write big, and believe that your fans want to hear from you.

How frequently do you send your newsletter? Do you use a schedule?

I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art

Email Newsletters – Selecting Automated Mailing List Software

Email Newsletter Articles

Upcoming topics: frequency and schedules, formatting and templates, testing, content (what should you say), receiving newsletters (take control of your inbox), and more


Once you decide you want to send out an email newsletter for your artwork, one of the first questions you have to answer is “what software will I use to do this?”

As a software engineer, I would suggest that before selecting software, that you first make sure you understand what you are looking for. Just because a friend is using Super-Duper-Newsletter-Software, doesn’t mean it right for you.

A few questions to consider:
1) what do you need the software to do (these are your requirements)
2) how technical you are
3) how frequently will you be emailing
4) do you have other special needs (such as auto responders or support for multiple mailing lists or sublists or the need to import and export your mailing list)

For most artists the answer to these questions are about the same:

1) Requirements – I would like the software to do these things:
a) provide a way for people to easily subscribe and unsubscribe from the newsletter
b) provide a way to email out the newsletter so the recipient receives it (if the newsletter gets marked as spam, they won’t get it)
c) be easy to use
d) provide me with statistics on how many people read the newsletter
e) not be too expensive
f) provide support if I can’t figure out how the software works
g) your specific needs go here

2) How technical am I?
Only you can decide this

3) Frequency
Quarterly or Monthly or somewhere in that range is the most likely answer, although your needs might be different.


Once you know what you need your software to do, it’s time for research. Google and your friends can supply you with a list of options.

Some of the most common choices for mailing list software:

1) Constant Contact – a leader in email marketing, well known brand, monthly plans
2) Mail Chimp – pay as you go or monthly plans, often free for typical artist’s needs
3) Vertical Response – pay as you go or monthly plans

In addition there are solutions you can install on your own webserver for those that answered “very” to question #2, ie these are the solutions for the tech geeks. These are not recommended if you don’t have a technical background:

1) php list – open source, lots of plugins, free
2) infinite responder – free, auto responders, claims to be simpler than php list

Have super big requirements? Need to integrate a shopping cart with your mailing list and have lots of autoresponders and an affiliates program (very very few artists will have these needs) some options for such big plans:

1) 1ShoppingCart
2) 1automationwiz

Ease of Use

While price and features are important, this is software you will be interacting with on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s important you understand how to use it efficiently.

Most artists needs in mailing list software are pretty simple, so pretty all of the choices will fit your needs. Making ease of use an important factor.

I recommend signing up for a free trial at a couple of these and look them over.

It probably won’t take you long to figure out if you understand how to use the software. If you get stuck, look into their support forums, can you find answers to your questions?

With a little research and a list of requirements, you can usually pick your software fairly easily.

Feeling panicky or stuck? Just pick something and go with it. Make a decision and move forward. Spend just an hour or 2 making a decision at the most as you can change your mind very easily later on. Mailing list data is easily exported and imported into different software (although if you think you might switch, confirm the software allows you to export the list. The usual format for this export will be a csv file).

I currently use php list for my studio newsletter and so I don’t have first hand experience with the paid services. Again, I only recommend this option for those that are more technical, as it isn’t the easiest to install, its a challenge to upgrade, and its not the most intuitive to use either. I’m considering switching to infinite responder but haven’t researched it yet.

Why Can’t I Just Use Regular Email?

You can, but I don’t recommend it. If you go this route here are some things to consider:

1) You will need to manage the list of email addresses yourself. You either have to have people email you to subscribe or provide your own form for people to join up, and then manually maintain that list.

Same for unsubscribe, people have to email you to unsubscribe.

There is free software by arial that will help with subscriptions, but for unsubscribe, you are on your own. To send email with this option, you download the list of email address to use as needed, they do not provide mailing software, just software to help you gather up the list of addresses.

2) You have to send email using regular email. This may not seem like a big deal but please keep in mind that you should never put the email addresses on the To or CC line. People get very unhappy when other people can see their email address. Privacy is important.

Your options? Send emails one at a time or put the emails on the BCC line (blind carbon copy). The problem with the BCC lines is that email with large BCC lines are marked as spam, so the recipient might never see the email.

3) This is not thinking BIG. I believe in making decisions from where I want to be, not where I am at the moment. At the moment it might seem like you will only have 20 or 30 people on your list, so there is no reason to get fancy with automated software.

But what about in 2 years when your art really takes off and you’ve now got 500 people on your list. Can you still maintain that manually?

Where are you going? Play that game. The BIG one.

Wrap Up

Think Big – set up some automated software to help you email your newsletter professionally.

Do you have experience with automated mailing list software? Recommendations? Please share below.

I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page


Thinking Big about Art