Spotlight on: Dion Winton-Polak
Meet Dion Winton-Polak – an accomplished writer and the founder of The Fine-toothed Comb. The following is an exclusive ‘Spotlight on’ interview with him, discussing the roots of his love for the written word and the hurdles he had to face when starting a business. If you find yourself wanting to know more about Dion, please remember to leave a comment below!
Please tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
Hi there. My name is Dion Winton-Polak, and I’m a freelance copy-editor. My role is to help people communicate as effectively as possible. This goes far deeper than spelling and grammar. For authors, I ensure their plot is sound, their characters are engaging and consistent, their dialogue snappy and so forth. When it comes to businesses, I can help hone their internal or external communications to be as impactful as possible, making sure they say what they mean (and mean what they say) – all the while maintaining accuracy, brevity, and clarity.
How and when did you get started?
I began editing as a hobby 6 or 7 years ago, helping out a friend as a favour. I quickly grew to love the role and, after completing my second anthology, I decided to set up my own business. All this was on the side, you understand, tucked around a full-time career in retail banking. As my experience and reputation grew, I started to reduce my hours at the bank so I could put more focus and time into my business: The Fine-toothed Comb. I took redundancy in November 2020 to pursue editing full-time, and I haven’t looked back.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
For me, the biggest challenge has been thinking about the job holistically. I’m responsible for every aspect of my business, and a big chunk of that is external to the work I’m actually paid for. I’ve had to put real time into such disparate elements as accounting, administration, maintaining and expanding my client base, professional development, pricing strategies and the like – and it’s never-ending. It’s made me reappraise just what it means to be in business, but I love it.
What has been your most satisfying moment so far?
My first instinct would be to say the day I left the bank to edit full-time. However, I’d already been working from home for 8 months by then – courtesy of the pandemic – so the lifestyle change was pretty muted. Really, my main satisfaction comes from the responses that I get from my clients. I take immense pleasure in feeling that I’ve genuinely helped someone crack their problems, or got to the heart of what they have been trying (and failing) to communicate. If I ever feel low, I just click on my Testimonials for that sweet shot of confirmation.
Would you recommend freelancing to others?
Oh, absolutely. It was a scary prospect for me, as a family man with a mortgage to cover, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been happier. It has given me a far greater sense of purpose and self-worth than I’ve ever had from a regular job. When you work for yourself, you get to decide what is most important and how you’re going to tackle it. You have to be pragmatic, you have to monitor your progress, and you have to be prepared to make tough decisions, but you’ll stand or fall on your own ability. I wish I’d done this years ago.
What was your motivation to become a freelancer?
Like I say, editing was a hobby at first. It filled a gap in my life that I wasn’t fully aware of: a need to engage with something I cared about in a collaborative way. It gave me access to my kind of people – sparky, fun, creative – worlds away from the monotony and the pressures of retail banking. I knew from very early on that editing was ‘right’ for me. All my natural inclinations, habits and skills pointed towards it. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time and resources before I jumped ship to set up on my own.
What drives you, what motivates you?
There’s always a new challenge. If I’m working on a novel, it consumes me. I sense the shape and the flow of it, and my whole being becomes focused on the job. Aside from that, I have weekly and monthly tasks to work through – all pre-planned, all designed to help drive the expansion of my business. I’m not chasing riches, I just want to be sustainable. My number 1 goal right now is building up a regularity of work, ensuring I earn enough each month to cover the bills. You’ve got to keep moving if you want to stay afloat!
To find out more…
Please visit The Fine-toothed Comb’s website and read the testimonials left by Dion’s happy customers.
And if you want to read more about other successful entrepreneurs and freelancers, go to the ‘Spotlight on’ section of Revolancer’s magazine!