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 from Social Media Marketing World #smmw15

I attended Social Media Marketing World once again and sketchnoted every session I attended. With over 100 speakers, there was usually a choice of 10 talks to choose from so I actually covered about 10% of the conference including keynotes. What were the big takeaways?

  • Podcasting is big.
  • Everything is video. (Hasn't every year since 2005 been year of the video?)
  • Niche deep to stand out.











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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A chain reaction.

I had the great honor and pleasure of sketchnoting the TEDx San Diego conference. Previously I had attended the 2010 and 2011 TEDx events. (But when the event was moved to the Saturday during the holiday season I couldn't make it!) With 700 attendees, this event was much larger than the first event of 150 attendees but was able to reach a much wider audience.  




























































































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Recap of TEDx San Diego 2010

Recap of TEDx San Diego 2011



Facing the blank page: How to get started.


Is there anything more intimidating than an 8/1/2 x 11 piece of paper or a blank screen?

Yes there is. Writing about yourself or your company.

It. Can. Take. Forever. To complete the first paragraph. You’ll edit. And edit. And edit—and never make any progress.

So what do I do when I have an assignment and don't know how to begin? Start with the middle first. Or even the end.  I fill in the easy parts. Maybe it's the contact page information. Or the disclaimer part of a coupon (because everything has an expiration date.) But the important thing is to get the momentum started.

You might discover by the time you've flushed out most of your article or blog post, the beginning will become more obvious.

Happy writing!



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Sketchnotes: Filling the shopping bag.

The National Retail Federation hired me to sketch their Shop.org Merchandising Workshop at the lovely Terranea Resort. It was a fast two days. Big takeaways: share data with your whole team. And video, video, video!


































I use the Brushes app on the iPad to create all of my sketchnotes. It took a while to master the app to be able to move fast. I work without a stylus for greater accuracy and control. (Probably because I am always losing them—great holiday gift idea for me.)

You can see more sketchnotes here.





Using Adobe Voice for an AIGA San Diego video.

So I am a design-challenged copywriter who wants to create a video quickly and easily. My audience: the San Diego designers of AIGA San Diego.So design matters.

Adobe Voice to the rescue. It's simple and easy to use. It's limitations is what makes it easy. (There are only a few layout options. This is to keep non-designers from making too many mistakes!)

But my wishes for Adobe Voice:

  • Make it uploadable to YouTube (I would pay to be able to do this)
  • If that's not possible at least let me be able to track number of views
  • Let the video appear in total in Facebook feeds. Right now it just looks like a graphic. (They brand it as an Adobe Voice but is bad usability that it doesn't look like a video.)

Some recent video work.

How to Sell on eBay.I wrote scripts and suggested some animation. emota produced.

The Whys of Social Media Social media made easy. I wrote the script and storyboard.Voiceover recorded in a bathroom after a glass or two of wine. With Fandom Marketing.

A New City The center of San Diego is shifting.

What does next look like? from Anne McColl on Vimeo.

The Science of Scheduling Nurse staffing made easy. I wrote the script and sketched rough storyboard. The folks at Jacob Tyler produced this.

Who's the Most Photographed Woman in the World? Shameless self-promotion. Started as a blog post but more fun as a video.

Summertime reading.


It’s summer time. And that means more time at the beach and the pool. After surfing or swimming, if I don’t feel like reading my paperback, I pick up my iPhone and catch up on emails from some of my favorite writers. These emails are like postcards from friends, insights on what they're writing or what they find interesting.


Austin Kleon

Every week he shares his favorite things around the web which may include a few of his drawings or black art poems.


Brain Pickings

If there is one person to follow on the Internet, it's Maria Popova's Brain Pickings. (I would never get anything done if I read everything Maria wrote.) This is weekly recap of the best of Maria’s amazing Brain Pickings. A catalogue of interestingness.


Ann Friedman

(Austin suggested her.) Ann is a journalist who loves the Internet and writes for a bunch of places like The New Republic, NewYorker.com, ELLE, The Guardian and Los Angeles magazine.Ann shares her writings and her favorite articles from around the web. And pie charts. And animated gifs.


Nicole Fenton

Nicole is a content strategist (And a surfer.) Her once-in-a-while missives talk about the writing life and her experiences in authoring her first book.