Real life. Unedited. Unstaged.

I unplugged last weekend.  Didn’t post, open my laptop or do anything for the blog. This was the first weekend since Christmas that no prep work went into The Wild Revival.  It was amazing,  time seemed to expand over those few days. I pulled out my “real” camera. Painted an outdoor table. My husband and I installed our first garden and filled the yard with all of our son’s toys for the summer months. It’s something I think I will be doing more of in the future.

I love our little spot on the internet. It’s my thing, between all of my must dos, I truly enjoy giving time to it and working with my friend. But, there are weeks that call for grace and this was one of them.

So, for the first time since we started last August, we don’t have a fresh new post for you ladies. I hope you are giving us a high-five from wherever you are, for choosing what matters most this past weekend. Please check back in next week!

Everyday Grace | Introducing Dana Matonak

Contributor Dana Matonak

Hi, everyone! My name is Dana Matonak and I’m so excited to be guest posting on The Wild Revival this month! My husband and I, and our son Rowan, currently live in Morgantown, West Virginia. We are from the Pittsburgh area and are here for my hilarious and hard-working husband’s residency program.  We moved here in 2012, after we got married. Like RIGHT after! We flew home from our honeymoon and drove straight here at 2AM.

So fast forward two years full of highs and lows. And in July of 2014, we added our sweet boy, Rowan to the family.  He is an extremely active, sweet-spirited boy and I feel blessed to be able to stay home with him. Prior to having him, I was a teacher. But after deciding that my heart was all in to staying home with Rowan, we quickly realized we would need another source of income… and that is when my Etsy shop, My Paper Nest, was born.  It began as a paper banner-making business for people’s events and parties, but then after I made a bunch of wood signs for my home and as gifts, it gradually morphed into a sign business, with some banners on the side!

To really give you the fast track version of getting to know me, I thought I would share some random facts about myself.  I’m long winded, I know, but God has gifted me with A LOT of words. (ANDDD also with a husband that hates words, so most of mine come pouring out in spaces like this! HA!)

Contributor Dana Matonak

1.) Making dinner is my nemesis. It pains me each day to come up with what we will eat.

2.) I hate wearing make up and getting ready. I love workout clothes, hair up, and a clean face.

3.) I’m a lover of all things ice cream. Hot fudge milkshakes, sea salt caramel gelato, and moose tracks make the top of the list.

4.) I’ve never really lived in a house that was my own.  I’ve lived in apartments, trailers, townhouses, and for a short span, I lived in a someone else’s house. I’ve never been able to paint, DIY, or “fix up” any sort of space.  The day I get my hands on a house that’s all our own, Josh better watch out!!

5.) I feel torn at times between using no social media at all and then on the other hand, trying to use every outlet that’s available.

6.) I used to be a “save all the things” type person and could never bare to get rid of anything. I’m recently crossed over to “get rid of all the things!” I love decor and sentimental things BUT I love less. Simple and organized.  Everything needs a spot and if you don’t use it, IT GOES!

7.) I love hosting, hospitality, and DECORATING!!  I love making a place for people to come and feel comfortable in my home.  You can read about that HERE in a recent post of mine.  That’s another reason I can’t wait to have a house someday.  I can’t wait to serve people and invite people over to be loved on.  Now I just need that chef so that none of our guests starve or get sick! 😉

8.) There are so many things that set my soul on fire (you can read about them HERE!) that sometimes I get overwhelmed about where to start and how to make a difference in anything.

9.) I have secret plans to write a book someday but I have no idea about what, or how, or when.  I make a joke of it when I talk about it, but it’s a for real thought in my mind.

10.) I love hand-lettering and hand-painting signs for people’s homes but a long term dream of mine is to create a series of journals for kids, and women young and old, to help them through seasons of life.

With all this said, my heart is helping young girls and women find their way through trials and the ever-changing seasons of life. 

Contributor Dana Matonak

I’m only 28, and sometimes that seems so old to me, but then I realize that I’ve just now, finally figured out who I am, what I’m passionate about, and where my value derives from.  I know God has given us all a story to share. He shows grace upon grace to our brokenness. I’m so thankful for all of the fresh starts he has given me. I don’t always handle changing seasons with grace but I am working harder and harder on it and realizing that it will never be done on my own. I can use what I learn along the way for good to make an impact on those around me.  Check out more about my 2016 mantra about grace and how the ladies from The Wild Revival made a huge impact on the way I approached this new year!

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing how I continue to find grace in a season of change. I hope it will encourage you to know all seasons are worthwhile and The Lord’s grace is sufficient.  Please join me in the comments and on social media along the way! 

Blogging Ain’t Easy | Tips for New Bloggers

The first year doing anything new is full of stumbling and frustration. We have learned so much about ourselves, each other, and what it takes to ultimately start a small business. As January is coming to a close, we felt it would be helpful if we shared WHAT WORKED + WHAT DIDN’T in our first months of blogging. In all honesty, we still have a lot of work to do and there will be bumps in the road ahead of us. We’re constantly evolving our vision and our desire for our little space on the web, but we hope this will be encouraging to anyone looking to jump into the blogging world.

We will start with the positive!
Things that worked:
A team approach: Working as a team was something that really made this whole thing work. Looking back, both of us agree that starting and maintaining this blog without one another wouldn’t have been possible. We both have strengths and weaknesses that compliment one another. Marrissa is a wonderful editor! Her spelling, grammar and ability to clean up my fast-paced writing always leave me grateful we work together. We both have very busy lives outside of the blog and if one of us is busy or having a crisis, the other picks up the slack. Isn’t this how it should be when you have a partner?! And we kept in mind — we were friends for several years prior to starting the blog. When we didn’t agree, we kept our friendship in mind and that allowed us to compromise and come up with solutions we both could live with. Team work was a big positive for us in 2015!

Grace: We had to give ourselves a lot of grace. We didn’t keep up with our content calendar after our initial launch. There would be days where we would be editing + adding finishing touches minutes before our 10am Wednesday morning deadline in the first couple months of the blog being live. Frustration comes out in it’s best forms in these times and we tried really hard to show one another grace in the midst of all the stress. 

Keeping it simple: So many people advised we post more than once a week. We are so happy we kept it simple in the first year. We knew our content wouldn’t have been good quality if we would have tried to learn how to run a blog while posting multiple times a week. Prior to getting our hands dirty, we didn’t know how much went into writing each post! It’s truly a job that sometimes can take days just pulling and editing photos + getting content together just for one post. But hey,  #BloggingAintEasy 😉
 Asking Allison Marie to join in as beauty contributor was also a big win for us in 2015! Go check her out, we just love her + everything she contributed to the blog! 
We followed our hearts: We wrote content and hosted events that were centered around things that bring us joy…things that we’re passionate about down to our core. We never strayed from the desire to bring women together and to just be an encouragement to women. Sticking to the interests and topics that are authentically us, made even the most frustrating days so rewarding. When we receive an e-mail or message from someone telling us that our post inspired them to do this or that, or when someone tells us that coming to one of our gatherings was much-needed… that makes all of the behind-the-scenes stress worth it. 

Things that didn’t work:
Not creating a content calendar: We really got into the groove of creating a content calendar after the first few months of being live. This was so helpful to us, and now we really have it down to a science. We have a blog meeting at least once a week via phone or FaceTime, but we make it a point to meet face-to-face at least once a month to hash out our content calendar. We assign responsibilities and chisel out a plan for the next month or two. Prior to doing this, delegation of responsibilities was a mess. 
Not keeping a budget: This was a hobby for us, something that we looked at as fun, creative outlet. This was a very naive thought to have. The gatherings cost a good bit of money to host, and creating blog content and running our blog (hosting, content platform and blogging courses) all cost money. We didn’t do a good job at all of keeping our costs and profits in order. We just wanted it to work and if it didn’t make money or if we didn’t break even, we didn’t care. This is not something anyone can maintain. In 2016, we will be keeping a budget and making finances a priority. Our work has value, and for it to be of the quality we want it to be, this is a must! 
Not knowing what must go into being a blogger: We had NO CLUE how much work it took to blog, nor did we know what went into growing a blog. I think I have explained this struggle throughout this post, so I don’t want to bore you with how unaware we were. 😉 If we can give you any advice, it’s to spend a few months taking blogging courses and joining blogger groups prior to going live, not after like we did! Just following blogs and their social media accounts will NOT prepare you for what you’re about to take on. We would have been much better prepared if we would have done this. We were just excited and jumped in with both feet!  But it’s a job and has to be treated as such. We know that now. 

Thinking blogging success comes overnight: Slow and steady wins the race. Thinking that you will have thousands of followers and a steady stream of page views out of the gate is a lie you should just never tell yourself. We would have slow months where we would doubt our efforts. We would lose sight of our mission or goals and feel like quitting. Understanding that this is a continual, steady effort will save you a lot of self-doubt. Just keep creating quality content, while being authentically you and others will see your value. Don’t get discouraged when things happen a little slower than you’d like or when you see someone else’s success. The amount of work that goes on behind the perfectly-curated social media squares is unreal! 

That about covers it! Creating The Wild Revival has been such a fun process. We really love engaging with you ladies + sharing our hearts with you. If you have any questions or need advice before you take the leap, please reach out to us. We would love to support you in any way! When women support other women, amazing things can happen. Keep it real and share what you feel called to share. Those feelings have purpose and the world needs to hear what you have to say. 
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