Let’s start this off by saying I’m not here celebrating something that happened to RJ Martinez, but giving some thoughts about what it seems happened to him and how to prevent it.
I was on Reddit yesterday, as I often am, and saw a post about RJ getting shut down on Etsy. I knew he was doing the 30-day challenge that he and Matt Sheeran were charging people to join in on so I thought it was some clickbaity title at first. Matt is pretty good at the marketing stuff and I wouldn’t put that by him.
I started reading on the post and it looks like RJ has been hiding why he was actually kicked off of Etsy, but it turned out RJ was sued by another shop owner a week before.
Basically what happened is RJ got called out for the whole “improvicat” technique that he and other Merch gurus have been pushing as a business model for years.
I’ll admit, I was doing this myself for a while. The guys in the Amazon Merch and other POD Facebook groups with those impressive earnings screenshots almost always seemed to be doing this. So, I followed suit myself for a while.
Then it started to feel icky. There is for sure a fine line for the copyright infringement, but it’s also stealing someone else’s hard work and creativity. It is one thing to be inspired by someone else’s work, but to just take it and tweak it as your own, not cool.
I do feel bad for RJ. He has been a motivating figure for everyone in these forums over the years with lots of good information to share. Apparently he’s also been sharing some other less than ideal tips too.
It’s a real shame too because I like the guy. His business and livelihood just took a huge hit. Was it due to him doing something wrong? Yes. Should he be punished for taking advantage of the system and other people? Yeah. Should people on Reddit and Facebook celebrate him taking a hit? No.
Be Careful Who You Take Advice From
Just because someone has the whole guru mentality in something, it doesn’t mean they have things nailed down perfectly. What works for them may not work for you. When someone has a great idea about how to beat the system in one way or another, there is always a chance that they are doing it the wrong way.
Do Your Own Work
Well, you can still hire people like VAs to do stuff for you, but don’t steal from others. Think about how pissed off you would be if you were earning money, earning a living from something you worked hard on and took a risk on. Then one day someone came in and stole that idea and started making money on it, money you aren’t getting now. They may not be funneling money from your bank account, but they are stealing your money.