These days, it really feels like specialization is on the way out. People are doing more with their time, and when it comes to work history, it’s rare to come across someone who sticks to just one type of work, one specialization, for the entirety of their career.
There are some significant advantages to exploring multiple career paths, art forms, etc., and Nicole Simone is definitely someone who has continued to expand the scope of her career.
Probably Simone’s earliest claim to fame was her singer-songwriter work as Late July, with early singles like “Side Swept” establishing her unique musical voice and careful approach to emotionally-dense subject matter.
Simone continues to write and release new music, of course, including the recent singles “Name,” “Remarkable,” and “Silver Tongues.” But she’s also been showcasing her talent in other areas as well.
In late 2020, she premiered an original web series, On a List, which she wrote and co-starred in with James Darch. The series takes a novel approach to depicting hurdles that couples often have to overcome as their relationship matures.
The third major component of Simone’s career is her charity work. She’s the founder of Redemption Paws, a Canadian charity organization that rescues dogs in West Texas and works to find them both foster homes and permanent homes.
We know what you’re thinking: that sounds like a lot. You might even be wondering how Simone can give her attention to all these aspects of her career. The answer? She commits to each endeavor and manages a schedule that allows her to make the best possible use of her time.
Simone says that the bulk of her time is spent managing Redemption Paws, working on art projects, and taking care of her dog. This doesn’t leave her with much downtime, but from her view, it’s all time well-spent.
With the rest of the article, we’d like to share some of Simone’s thoughts on leading a successful, multi-faceted career, and we hope that in the process, we can motivate some of our readers to move confidently into new endeavors and expand the limits of their careers.
Starting something new
The first step to expanding your career into a new area or adding to an existing area of expertise is to outline that expansion and understand what it’s going to take to make it happen.
But for some, even getting to that first step is hard work, and that’s because stepping into something new can be downright scary.
Even Simone still gets a sense of hesitation before getting started on something new. Even so, she takes this as a sign that she’s heading in an exciting new direction.
“I do feel intimidated when starting a new project, but I know that when I’m feeling uncomfortable I’m growing and probably on to something good. I use my discomfort level as a barometer of whether I’m challenging myself enough.”
Not every project is guaranteed to be successful, but outside of the comfort zone is often where truly exciting things start to happen.
Especially for those working in creative fields, a big part of finding success and sustaining various aspects of a career involves finding ways to market yourself and your work to an audience. Ideally, that audience will continue to grow over time.
However, the topic of self-promotion is worthy of a whole separate article. There are many potential ways to promote your work and attract people who will follow your career through all the different projects, and not every one of those promotion options will be the right choice for every person.
A big consideration in this area is social media presence. It costs nothing to set up social media accounts to promote your work, making it a great option for many independent artists. But social media marketing isn’t the right choice for everyone, and even when it is the right choice, it’s difficult to decide how to approach this type of marketing.
In other words, there’s a lot to think about on this front, and some artists may even find it difficult to dedicate time to marketing efforts.
So what’s Simone’s take on all this? She does indeed have a very strong social media presence, and that can be a great way to market her work, but beyond that, she tries not to get lost in the details.
“I don’t put a lot of thought into marketing myself. I just focus on being myself and putting out stuff I like, and people have connected with that. Authenticity is so important.”
That’s great advice for many artists, in fact. Trying too hard can give off the wrong vibe, and audiences definitely respond positively to authenticity.
Audiences want to know who you really are, and your marketing can be an extension of yourself, not something contrived and extra.
Managing Redemption Paws
We don’t want to brush past Simone’s charity work, here. In fact, this work is a consistent priority for Simone. Managing an organization like this takes near-constant monitoring and input.
Compared to songwriting work and music production, the organization requires a more typical work schedule, with a highly skilled team keeping things running smoothly.
For Simone, Redemption Paws has highlighted just how hard this work can be.
“This work can definitely be emotionally draining. Animal welfare work is not for the faint of heart or anyone with thin skin. COVID changed the dog rescue world forever, and I hope that more people start recognizing the hard work that organizations like ours are doing.”
Of course, the value of the organization’s work keeps everyone motivated through the rough spots, and Simone’s career just wouldn’t be the same without Redemption Paws.
Focusing on the work
It goes without saying that expanding your career also means increasing the amount of time you dedicate to your various types of work.
Neglecting one aspect or another for too long can lead to stagnation, and so time management becomes a necessary part of daily life.
While Simone makes sure to take time away from work, she refuses to do anything halfway.
Still, this level of dedication can lead to difficult stretches where this isn’t room for much else besides work and creative projects.
“Outside of time spent with my dog, I dedicate all of my time to charity and art projects. I’d like to have a personal life at some point, but I feel like the last couple of years haven’t been conducive to that, especially with the pandemic, so for a long time now I’ve been focusing on my work, and it’s been rewarding.”
It can take time to develop a schedule that works for you, and as life circumstances change over time, you may need to revisit that routine and make adjustments.
Balancing art and business
Before we finish up, we’d like to return to the creative side of things. For decades, there’s been an ongoing discussion among professional artists about to what degree they should consider the commercial viability of their work versus the creative integrity of the work and their own artistic satisfaction.
Many artists struggle with this exchange both internally and externally, holding themselves to high standards while their audience voices their own preferences.
Fans may want an artist to more or less repeat the same kind of work they’ve produced before. Other fans may criticize an artist for creating work that feels ‘too commercial,’ accusing the artist of ‘selling out.’
An artist needs to feel that their work stays true to their values and emotions, but a lack of commercial success can also be a major obstacle to sustaining a creative career.
There’s so much to consider, and it can easily feel overwhelming. Personally, Simone tries to find a balance that satisfies both sides, but finding that balance isn’t easy.
“I think the marriage between art and commerce is a complicated one. It’s about striking a balance, and that balance looks different for every artist. It’s a lot about connections and strategy while not forgetting why you create in the first place.”
Everything we’ve shared in this article, including Simone’s advice, is just that: advice. If you’re an artist or a would-be artist who wants to add a creative aspect to their career, you’ll find yourself having to answer a lot of these questions yourself, based on your own convictions and career goals.
It’s challenging, there’s no denying that. But Simone’s career success on multiple fronts is proof positive that it is possible to have your cake and eat it, too.
If you work hard and work smart, you’ll start to discover the success you’ve been dreaming of, but there are no shortcuts. It all comes down to your willingness to move past the obstacles and build the career you’ve always wanted.