Ethical Work: The Future of Mutual Aid for Freelancers, Creatives, and Entrepreneurs
Written by Jasmin Romero
Last year, the rise of mutual aid in communities radically changed thousands of lives.
The pandemic sparked an overwhelming reality: Capitalism won't always be there to save us. Instead of adopting an "every man for themselves" mentality, individuals came together to support one another.
Many created organizations founded on the principles of mutual aid, they worked together to meet the needs of every community member. Service Workers Coalition, a cash relief fund created by New York service workers, raised over $25k with the help of their community, the money obtained was re-distributed to the coalition itself. Across the country, hundreds of mutual aid organizations have risen up to help support underrepresented groups.
Mutual Aid isn't anything new. According to The Cut, the term originates from a 19th-century socialist Peter Kropotkin, who ventured out into the Siberian wilderness, and discovered that animals unite against common struggle rather than fight in competition.
U.S. History has shown this theory to be true in a number of ways, laborers commonly organizing together to help each other succeed.
If mutual aid helps everyone, why wouldn't every organization want to implement ethical entrepreneurship? Our founders Kyle Cords and Amy Suto asked themselves just that when creating their new collective, Kingdom of Ink.
Kingdom of Ink: What Ethical Entrepreneurship Means to Us and Why Mutual Aid is Important
Kingdom of Ink is a high-end collective that specializes in matching clients with the perfect freelance writer. We incorporate an ethical model that includes equal monetary distribution. 5% of every contract goes back to all freelance writers in our collective (our own form of mutual aid).
Ethical entrepreneurship isn't a new concept to our founder Kyle Cords. He had tested mutual aid models before with his creative management company, The Orphanage Collective. Kyle says he wanted people to have a sense of ownership -- a community of workers that supported one another and pushed for each other's success. Kyle questioned how he could share an effort of involvement and compassion amongst his team. His answer was simple: money.
"In business, we determine value and appreciation through money. So I thought to myself, 'why can't we just take 5% of our cashflow after it covers costs, and redistribute it to the rest of the group?' A communal pie of funds everyone can have a piece of," -Kyle Cords
Implementing mutual aid in this way has helped everyone feel involved. Kyle mentions workers aren't often incentivized to help community members find a job when they feel like they are giving up their own opportunities. With mutual aid, every job opportunity benefits the entire collective.
So if mutual aid is so great, why don't all companies do it? Most businesses prefer to follow a capitalistic structure, the ones working at the top of the ladder receive the highest compensation. Could you imagine if Disney gave all their employees .5% of the company's profit? In 2019, the Walt Disney Company racked in over 11 billion dollars. Before the pandemic, the Walt Disney Company employed around 155,000 employees. Zero math is required to know every employee could receive a million dollars every year, with little damage to Disney's total profit.
On the brighter side, companies like Apple and Google offer stocks to their employees. This type of cashless pay, allows workers to own a stake in the company they work for. A great business model that works best for companies already making a lot of money.
Mutual aid helps small businesses create an ethical work environment, and provide a sustainable lifestyle for their workers.
For freelancers like us, monetary security can be difficult to find. Amy Suto, fellow freelance writer, and co-founder of Kingdom of Ink, says the biggest problem with freelance writing is cashflow. Content writers have to depend on clients to get paid, handle business costs, health insurance, and to top it off -- those starting off in their careers also have the added worry of finding a job.
"The cool thing with mutual aid, especially at Kingdom of Ink, is that you can expect to have cash come back to you at the end of every quarter. Even if you haven't booked a client in a while, or need to take time off, you still have a safety net. We're bringing socialism into a very capitalist gig economy." - Amy Suto
Unlike Upwork and Fiver, two freelance platforms that help writers find jobs, Kingdom of Ink returns a percentage of income back to their freelance writers. We take care of the marketing, billing, and technical work for our writers. In doing so, we save our writers and clients time.
Mutual aid brings safety to our writers, one that is created for them by their peers. In the end, we're all motivated to support each other.
How You Can Be Involved
Creating an organization founded in mutual aid is possible and attainable. Over the last year. individuals around the country came together to fund their community. If you don't know where to start, any organization would be happy to receive your support.
Start by joining a collective that speaks to you. Perhaps you've been thinking about hiring a freelance writer -- by working with us, you're supporting our entire community. Our service helps you help us and the cycle continues.
Jasmin Romero is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. She has used investigative skills obtained at USC to profile Olympians, award-winning chefs, and hard-working community members. Jasmin has written for multiple online publications, lifestyle blogs, and short films. She believes honesty and compassion are key in capturing compelling stories.