How They Blog: Crystal Stine

Headshots 2013 editCrystal Stine

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A New Kind of Interview

I hope the last few months of interviews have inspired you. I know I’ve learned so much from reading how Tsh, Melanie, Mandi and the rest blog. There is so much value in seeing how full time bloggers and best selling writers do things.

But I also know that at times there can be a disconnect. We can read all these success stories and think, “Well, I’ve never written a New York Times bestseller…” or “I don’t earn coffee money, much less a full time income from my blog.”

So, every 6-8 weeks, I’ll be featuring an everyday blogger. Someone who doesn’t blog full time, maybe hasn’t been at it for long, but who is doing something notably well that we can all learn from no matter how far along we are in our blogging journey.

Today, I’m featuring Crystal Stine. I’ve known her for about a year or so, but I just recently hired her as a VA to work on a couple projects for me and as I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve been very impressed by how she has developed and grown her influence online.

Read on to meet Crystal and find out the two keys she is using to unlock her blogging journey and how you can do the same.

Meet Crystal Stine

Intro: Give us a quick intro to you, your family and your blog.
My husband, Matt (usually referred to in posts as “hubs”) and I married in 2006 but have been together since 2000. We were high school sweethearts and band geeks who, by the grace of God, survived a 5 year long distance relationship during our college years. We’re committed to a marriage that is not just good, but great (but certainly not always easy) –and I’m so thankful to have married my best friend. And now we have our amazing daughter, Madison Sophia, to add to the joy!

Crystal and her family.

Crystal and her family.

Matt and I are part of an amazing worship ministry, Stars Burn Down. Matt is the bass player for the worship band – an amazingly talented group who find such joy in honoring God through music, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to use my marketing & writing skills for God’s glory through this ministry. God is at work, and we’re excited to see what He has planned for us!

God has also blessed me with the opportunity to work with (in)courage as a Community Group Coordinator, which is an answer to prayer God put on my heart in 2012 during (in)RL. I’m also a Virtual Assistant, a writer at (a continual work in progress), a contributing writer at Allume and Mothers of Daughters, and a member of the Raising Generations Today planning committee.

2. Tell us your blogging story.
My blog originally started as a private site where I could journal, post thoughts from my day, and – quite frankly – vent about things that frustrated me. In 2009, God put it on my heart to make my blog public and begin using it for His glory. I took a chance at some guest posts when I first started out, and when they went well, I figured I could probably stick with it!

While the location hasn’t changed, the look changes frequently because switching out the design is like rearranging furniture to me. The perfect procrastination tool! I recently purchased my own domain name, and might be one of the few bloggers still hanging out at Blogger for hosting. It might not have the bells & whistles, but I’ve learned a lot & it’s been a good home. It’s been a blessing to see this site evolve from what it was to what I desire it to be. I pray that readers would feel encouraged, inspired, and welcome when they visit.

3. Tell us about a blogging “success” or “failure” that taught you a powerful lesson.
I think the most powerful lesson I’ve learned through blogging is that I can only be “me.” I tried so hard at the beginning to sound like writers I loved that I look back and cringe at how inauthentic I was. I’m me. Messy, faux-hawked, toddler mama, me. I ignore most general “best practices” for blogging (you moving to WordPress), I have never stuck to a posting schedule, I don’t have a newsletter, and I forget to Pin my posts constantly.

But when I’ve been myself? When I’ve shared the hard times, the struggles, the joys of day-to-day life…I’ve made lasting friendships. I’ve seen communities rise up. I’ve seen God do amazing things in the lives of women around me when we are brave enough to stop editing and start relating.

“I’ve seen God do amazing things when we are brave enough to stop editing and start relating” –> Click to Tweet!

4. What are the intangibles that have helped you succeed?
My sister (who is also named Kat Lee, randomly!) sent me a text the other day. A new friend she’d met at church asked her if I was a “famous blogger.” Snort. Sweet & unexpected, but not at all how I think about my amazing 10s of followers 😉 The only thing that I’ve done is re-discover a passion I had as a little girl -a love of words, a desire to write, and have watched God take it in directions I never would have dreamed.

Now that I’m a Virtual Assistant, my experience in project management, marketing, background as an English major and crazy attention to detail have been tremendous assets as I’ve been able to serve clients.

5. How do you keep your blog and home life in balance? What does a “typical” blogging day look like for you?
I like to say that the heart-work happens in the leftover hours. It’s the 5 – 7 am time, before the family is awake and the day is starting. I’ll get up, grab coffee, spend time with God and work through projects (either my own blogging or VA tasks). By 7, the kiddo is out the door to daycare. For the last several years, this meant I was out the door an hour later for the day job, and the rest of the blogging & VA work happened from 8 – 11pm.

Kat’s Notes

Kat’s notes…that’s a play on words. Like Cliff’s Notes. Get it? ….get it?

Moving on.

Ok. Here is what I think Crystal is doing so well:
1. She is relational – There are some bloggers who are just brilliant writers and develop an audience and earn an income simply because of their amazing way with words. The rest of us need each other and relationships.

Crystal is constantly connecting with people via her blog, but also through social media. She cheers other people on, promotes their posts, and isn’t afraid to connect with “bigger bloggers” via email, Twitter replies or Instagram. She does this all in a very genuine and authentic way.

It’s not about “networking” but about organically connecting with people who “get” you, who inspire you, and are inspired by you.

2. She serves – If you’ll notice in Crystal’s intro….she’s everywhere! She serves in several communities online and contributes to many blogs. I actually met Crystal because she was serving by helping with registration at the Allume Blog Conference.

I’ve seen her influence and her ability to earn an income online grow simply because of the relationships she has developed through her generosity and genuine friendships.

So I challenge you to be intentional about authentic relationship building online. Get to know those who comment on your blog, comment on other blogs, chat on Twitter or simply email someone.

Q & A with Crystal

What questions do you have about blogging for Crystal? Have you built relationships because of blogging? Tell us your story. Click here to share your thoughts or ask your question!

Come back Wednesday to read all of Crystal’s Blogging Gadget and App recommendations and on Friday she’ll share her thoughts on social media and writing. Stay tuned!

Read All The Interviews with Crystal Stine

1. How They Blog: Crystal Stine
2. Gadget and App Recommendations (Coming Wednesday)
3. On Social Media and Writing (Coming Friday)

Leave a Reply


  1. Love this! Thanks for featuring an “everyday” blogger; I’m encouraged by Crystal’s sweet authenticity and how she’s simply been herself online. And by the bit about laying off the editing for the sake of relating. Good stuff 🙂

  2. Crystal is one of my favorite bloggers 🙂 Met her through Five Minute Fridays – love how real she is in her writing and how she connects with so many people. My biggest question – how did you get started as a contributing writer to so many wonderful outlets? I sometimes feel all alone in my little corner of the internet 😉 Happy Monday!

    • I love this question! I started out sending guest posts to sites like (in)courage and Allume, both of which were kind enough to share my words. Because I loved the sites and their missions matched what I was trying to do as a blogger, I became a regular commenter on the sites, shared posts I loved, and connected with the current contributors on other social media sites & their own blogs. When Allume & Mothers of Daughters were looking for additional contributors, I was already a part of the community & they “knew” me. It’s also a lot of “word of mouth” from the other contributors – if you write what you love & follow God’s leading, He will open doors you never knew existed 🙂

  3. So glad to see Crystal featured here. Kat, you’re so right about her ability to nurture a relationship through social media. We should all follow her example!

    • Lisa! You always leave just the sweetest comments everywhere we meet online 🙂 You inspire me and one of these days I am TOTALLY signing up for your life coaching classes!

  4. Thank you for this Kat and Crystal. My last Five Minute Fridaynpost was about my insecurities and fears as a new blogger. This post/feature was the answer to many of my questions. So much of this virtual world seems to operate by unwritten code and I haven’t been able to decipher how to get it right. From analytics, comments on other blogs that go unanswered or just wondering how to gauge my progress has me afraid of making a mistake…of falling. This post reminded me first and foremost of the WHY of my blogging and then to just be myself and enjoy the ride. This newbie blogger appreciates these words of encouragement from someone who’s been there. Crystal was one of the people who welcomed me to my first FMFParty – she said something like “jump right in”. Good advice then…and now.

    • I think maybe our next FMFParty should be a forum on all those great questions 😉 I know it can seem super intimidating, but you said it – just jump on in! And when you figure out analytics & how to track progress, you can give ME a lesson 🙂 Those things are nice to know, but honestly? Write what’s on your heart. God will put it in front of the right audience.

    • received… and amen!

  5. Yay Crystal! A definite encouragement for “every day” bloggers. (Even though Crystal is FAR from ordinary!)

  6. I can personally recommend her VA work. She does incredible things! On top of that she has the most genuine and sweet spirit. Great thoughts Crystal and Kat! With Joy, Carey

  7. Crystal is such a great example for all of us. I have truly been blessed by her. (And can’t wait to read on Weds and Fri!) : )

  8. Yay Crystal!! I love seeing what God’s doing in your life! You are such an inspiration to me. The notes that Kat shared about you are SO TRUE. Exactly what I love about you, too!

    • Weren’t those comments something sweet? I didn’t know she was going to do that, and it just blessed my socks right off…just like your thoughtful words 🙂 My heart needed this today.

  9. Crystal and Kat–you are both such a beautiful duo here. In your writing and in your presence on your social media you give of yourselves with such generosity. You help reveal His loving heart for us–and I need that! Thank you!

    • I have to say, it honestly makes me chuckle when I see “Crystal & Kat” together…it’s been that story my entire life, with my twin sis…we were a match made in social media/bloggy heaven apparently 😉 Thank you, friend, for your encouraging words..this word girl cherishes them.

  10. God can do amazing things when we are brave! Thank you for the reminder. I’m new to blogging. I only started last September and it has been wonderful and a little scary all at the same time. Thanks for addressing so many important points.

  11. I’m excited to hear from bloggers with “smaller” platforms. I’ve enjoyed reading Crystal’s responses to comments almost as much as the post itself. Good stuff here! Thanks.

  12. Crystal I’m so glad that you are here. You are a great person to know and you breathe life into others! Good Job!

  13. Two Kat Lees in the world! That’s awesome! I love “meeting” you this past year and getting to know you through the different communities that we are both a part of. 🙂 Is Lee your sister’s maiden or married name?

    • Lee is her married name 🙂 I admit, I had a lot of fun with her when they were trying to choose baby names for my niece (I thought “emily lee” had a nice ring to it)…needless to say, she totally won when I got pregnant and could throw out “frank n. stine” as an option 😉

      • Shoot, I was hoping Lee was her maiden name so that it would have been your name too, because my sister’s best friend’s name is Crystal Lee. :p My other sister is also a Lee. Frank N. Stine…hahaha! I wouldn’t be surprised if you do a search and there is someone with that name. Sorry to digress from the topic at hand, Kat….on to read the post about gadgets and apps now. 🙂

  14. I love you, sweet Crystal.

  15. This is a fantastic interview (Kat, I love your vision for this blog) and Crystal, you’re fabulous! My question is to both of you. Blogging seems like such a scary and permanent record of your thoughts. Do you have a certain person proof read or hold you accountable before you hit post?

    • Beth, that’s an awesome question. I don’t have anyone proof or approve my posts before they go out. I do have a few personal guidelines that I keep in mind when I write though – I worked to figure out what my “mission statement” was for my blog, so my posts line up with that. I also choose to share authentically and openly about my life, but not in such detail that the attention is moved to my situation and away from God or encouraging others. I don’t share stories that aren’t mine, and I don’t share anything I wouldn’t be willing to post on a billboard for my grandmother to read 😉 Which is good..since I think she reads my blog!

  16. Love seeing you here, Crystal! And it’s so true that you are a servant and a cheerleader for so many of us. We love you and your authenticity and if I ever get big enough to actually require a VA, you’d be my absolute first choice. Love you girl!

    • *smooch* – you, my friend, are a brilliant writer, wonderful friend, inspiring mama, and one of my biggest cheerleaders 🙂 i have no doubt that God is going to take you on an amazing journey with your writing!

  17. amyctilson says

    Wait… you mean you’re NOT famous??? You know I love you and don’t know how in the world you do it all even when you have just told me. I think the missing part here is your super-secret awesome ninja skills! 😉

  18. Yes now you can earn from blog through adsence. Thanks for sharing


  1. […] Crystal Stine’s interview last week, we talked a lot about how networking has had a huge impact on her online […]

  2. […] introduced you to Crystal a few months ago. She is kind of amazing and you’ll be seeing more of her around […]

  3. […] Last week I had the honor of being featured over at How They Blog – if you haven’t had a chance to check out Kat’s new blog, I highly recommend it. […]

  4. […] don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of joining Kat Lee over at her new site, How They Blog, yet. If you haven’t, go ahead & stop reading this post and pop over. You’ll learn […]

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