When online and offline collide: Sharing your Instagram shots IRL.

With 300 million users uploading 21.9 billion photos on Instagram last year, we’re taking and sharing more photos than ever before. But the funny thing is, we’re printing fewer and fewer of them. Instagram may have the highest engagement of any social network, but you can also engage people by printing out your Instagram shots. The intersection of online and offline is my favorite place to hang. Here are a couple creative ways to share your favorite photos.

An Instagram business card.

Sue B. Zimmerman is The Instagram Expert, a high-energy entrepreneur who helps growing businesses find and connect with their audiences on Instagram. Is it any surprise that her business card is an Instagram shot of her in an Instagram frame? Sue's contact information is printed on the back. These are Mini Squares printed by Social Print Studio, a fun online studio that prints your Instagram shots. (I am not an employee, I simply love their products.) And yes, several months after meeting Sue again at #smmw15, I still have her business card pinned up on my bulletin board. How's that for brand engagement?

Cards Against Banality.

Branding expert Liz Goodgold is a speaker and author of How to Speak Gooder: Brand-New Rules for Public Speaking in a Digitally Distracted World.

Liz’s talks are the epitome of  “edutainment” – blending information, education, humor, and real-world examples. She is known for her Words of Lizdom, a collection of wise and punny aphorisms. As a holiday gift I designed a card set of her Words of Lizdom. (Large format Squares from Social Print Studio.) I know Liz got a big kick out of them and appreciated the personalized gift.


The Word Book

In the writing world, November NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where writers commit to writing the first draft of a novel. While I couldn’t commit to writing 1,600 words a day, I could commit to writing 1 word a day. So every day for a month, I created a word image on mobile devices, using a combo of photo, Over and Brushes and posted the word image on Instagram. At the end of the month I printed a tiny book, My Favorite Words.

I sent My Favorite Words out as a holiday promo to my clients. It was a big hit, many even shared the book on Instagram. Now, over a year later, when I visit their offices, many clients have the tiny book stuck on a filing cabinet. (The back cover contains a magnet! Yep, printed by Social Print Studio.) This is the beauty of print, if you create something precious, people will keep it, providing a lasting branding message.

Do you have any crafty Instagram ideas? Share them on Instagram and tag me: @annemccoll.

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Sketchnotes featured by Social Media Examiner

dh-26-tips-social-media-marketing-480 The sketchnotes I created last year for Social Media Marketing World #smmw14 were featured this week in an article on Social Media Examiner: 26 Tips for Improving Social Media Examiner.

My sketchnotes illustrated a creative use of  Slideshare. Of course, I always want to bring people back to my site but by putting the sketchnotes out on Slideshare, the collection has racked up almost 30,000 views, something that would never have happened had I only posted them on my site.

You can see the article here.


3 easy ways to combat digital distraction and get down to writing.

digital_distraction_anne_mccoll Some people are able to sit at their desk all day with a bowl of M&Ms, welcoming their co-workers with a blast of sweetness.


I am not that person. Put a bowl of M&Ms in front of me and I will eat them all. If I want will power, I have to put the bowl of M&Ms in another room.


The same is true for the shiny lure of social media. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and  Instagram for work. I am on social media for my business, but if I’m not careful, social media can be a great time suck. I have found a few apps that make it easier to limit my time on social media and get down to the business of writing.




This is a beautiful app that lets you turn off the Internet connection to your machine so you can be more productive. (Extremely useful if you are at work or a co-working space and can’t physically turn off the Internet.) You turn Freedom on and specify how long you’d like to focus and you get down to work. If for some reason you do need to get back online before your specified time is up, you can reboot your computer.



Now often, people say, “Wait, I need such and such a site open so I can do my work, or research.” If that’s the case, then you just need a little Self-Control. This handy dandy app lets you specify what web sites to block or to specify the only websites you’re able to access. Again, you can specify up to 24 hours which sites to block. SelfControl ups the ante, you can’t access your blacklisted sites until your time is up—even if you restart your computer.


Do you ever have moments where you go to a coffee shop or an empty conference room in your office and get an amazing amount of work done? Sometimes moving to a new physical location helps with your ability to focus. OmmWriter is like that. It’s a simple text editor with simple backgrounds and soothing sound effects that create a distraction-free environment that helps you focus on your writing at hand in a calm collected manner. OmmWriter isn’t a word processing program so it doesn’t have spell check and other tools. Its primary purpose is to help you get your thoughts down in a first draft. By far, one of the best things to happen in writing.

Happy writing!



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Digital addiction: cigarettes, food, sex, and selfies.

digital_addiction So. I love my iPhone.

At a seminar earlier this year, Interactive pioneer Todd Purgason said there’s never been a great creative tool for self-expression. It’s true. You can take photos. Film videos and create art.

The iPhone is also addicting. It’s like a window into another reality where you can leave your current existence.

Yesterday my history-obsessed daughter and I were discussing the origins of the term alpha and omega. Quickly at a stop light I googled omega to see what latin letter it stood for. Thank you iPhone, instant knowledge. Instant gratification.

Yet, when my husband is driving it’s too easy for me to get on my iPhone and miss the opportunity to talk to him.

Why do I keep feeling a need to go back to my iPhone?

It's all about dopamine. Dopamine controls the pleasure systems of the brain and motivates you to seek out pleasures  food, sex and drugs. So when you get a response to a text, it's a shot of dopamine. When you find an answer you Googled, it's a shot of dopamine. And our body always wants more. More. More.

Up next:

A 12-step program for iPhone addicition.



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Happy creating!



Sketchnotes from Social Media Marketing Worlds #smmw14

So I attended the big social media fest once again—Social Media Marketing World 2014 #smmw14. It's held here in San Diego so it is silly not to go. Some interesting takeaways

  • Always maintain your own piece of the web
  • Your email list can be your most profitable channel

I had great success with visuals standing out in Twitter feeds building on success from last year. Next year that strategy will be flooded. And when it came to sketchnoting, using a much fatter brush for font emphasis is a quicker way to go rather than block letters.

Here is the entire collection:

The Top Gun Guide for Social Media Mavericks: #smmw14

So Social Media Marketing World is blowing into town this week! Beginning with an opening event at the USS Midway Museum. Did you know that the movie Top Gun, that 80s tribute to naval aviation starring Mr. Cruise, was filmed right here in San Diego.

As a matter of fact, you should get in the mood by having lunch at the Kansas City BBQ, the scene where Maverick and Goose are out with their family and hot naval instructor PHd girl friend. The Kansas City BBQ is located within a short walk of the Midway.

So I'll see you there tonight.

But anyway, on to the Top Gun Guide for Social Media Mavericks.







A digital detox in the desert.

Cosmos - Digital Landscape Painting Once you get outside of the city, the stars shine crazy bright.

I've been camping in the Anza-Borrego desert since I was 12 years old or so. Now that I have kids of my own who inherited my tiny bladder, I have to wake them up to go to the bathroom every night. (Definitely no fun when it's raining or 34 degrees outside.) But when when we open the tent flap and peer up, we are greeted by the most amazing spectacle of stars. At 2 am, all of the campfires have been put out and there are no lights to compete with the galaxies overhead.

One evening my son Robert asked me, "Mommy, are those stars there all the time?"

"Yes, they are," I answered. "We just turn on so many lights, we drown out the stars."

These days, a lot of people are detached from the night sky. We don't just hang out on the front porch like people did 50 years ago. With TV and air conditioning, we stay indoors. And we miss spectacular sights like this.

The desert has become a wonderful refuge, not just for its natural beauty, but for also what's not available. There’s no Internet connection and no phone reception. No YouTube, Hulu or TV to distract us. At night, we sit in chairs around the campfire and make s'mores. (I'm always the first to fall asleep.) And in the mornings, I read in the tent with the kids before venturing out for hot chocolate.

Isn’t it funny, I have to leave home to spend time with my kids?

It’s so easy to get distracted around the house. The laundry. The Internet. The bills. I’m looking forward to another desert trip over New Year's.

I hope between the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you have time to sit with your loved ones and do absolutely nothing together. Just take the phones and put them in a basket in another room, even if it’s for an hour after dinner.

May your holidays be merry. May they be bright. May they be unplugged.



P.S. How I remember the difference between desert and dessert. You only want one desert, that's one s. Who doesn't want two desserts? That's a double s.

How much did it cost Yahoo! to redesign their new logo in-house?

In a highly publicized move, Yahoo! redesigned their logo with design efforts led by CEO Marissa Mayer. She says in an article in Ad Age:

"On a personal level, I love brands, logos, color, design, and, most of all, Adobe Illustrator. I think it's one of the most incredible software packages ever made. I'm not a pro, but I know enough to be dangerous :) So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team"

Obviously, Yahoo didn't design their new logo in-house because of economic reasons.


Oops. I forgot to add in the price of pizza.

See a big version here.

Sketchnotes and Sketch tweets from #smmw13

Social Media Marketing World hosted by the folks at Social Media Examiner came to town for a few days. I created sketchnotes and sketch tweets during the sessions and tweeted them out. All visuals were created on the fly using the iPad and Brushes and Over apps. One surprising theme – don't discount your email list. It will be the most profitable.