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!
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 CrystalStine.me (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 know..like 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…that’s a play on words. Like Cliff’s Notes. Get it? ….get it?
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)