Evolution of the Gig Economy to the Deep Skill Marketplace

Quality content is fuel for a good marketing strategy, as B2B tech companies know. That type of content is hard to create. Our clients at IOD are trying to reach audiences that are highly sophisticated, living in a world of specialized knowledge. They can tell instantly when content is created by non-experts. 

It’s impossible for a brand to build trust using mediocre content, filled with small errors, outdated insights, broad advice, and other indicators of a shallow understanding of the issues. Tech companies need content that is produced by writers who are deeply skilled in a specific area – people who might know your world even better than you do.

That is one of the reasons I won’t go back to Upwork for content. There are some purposes where gig work is effective, as popularized by companies like DoorDash, Uber, and Fiverr. However, what our industry needs is a deep-skill marketplace.

A need for expertise that is narrow and deep

Software is always evolving, with new tools and frameworks emerging every year. So tech companies hire specialists – engineers, developers, sysadmins, and other experts with deep knowledge in a narrow niche.

When you offer them a product or service, it has to be specialized, and the same is true for your content. It must be accurate, specific to their needs, and compelling. This is not the type of work you can find on Fiverr or Guru. Even search engines have never been better at measuring authenticity. All of this is leading our industry to look for low-frequency, high-complexity creative work that is hard to find on a gig marketplace. 

For a good illustration of what I’m talking about, see The New Generation of Labor Marketplaces and the Future of Work by Pete Flint. 

Our industry is approaching the third wave in the NFX illustration. As the gig economy grew this past decade, sites like Upwork and MarketerHire emerged to connect creative talent with businesses. This system is quite useful for finding quick help cleaning up email lists or creating templates, but the truth is, in speaking with around thirty marketing leaders over the past few months, those sites are rarely the place to look for deep content expertise.

Vertical focus is key. Skills, attributes, qualifications, and certifications vary greatly by industry, so lack of focus reduces the user experience by adding bloat and inefficiency into the matching and discovery process. It’s much harder to quickly and efficiently find a relevant employment opportunity or job candidate on a horizontal platform than a marketplace purpose-built for your vertical.”

Even second-wave talent marketplaces like Toptal and ClearVoice, which try to single out the most skillful members, face limitations. You post a job and then sort through an endless list of faces of people who can probably do the job for you. Last time I tried, it cost $3,735.58 to get the two articles I needed, and that doesn’t include the hours of frustration.

The shift toward the knowledge economy will offer what gig marketplaces cannot: strategy, expertise, writers who know your target personas intimately, and understands the world your business operates in better than you do. Quality content is a huge success driver for the businesses we work with, and the only way to produce it is by finding talented people with exactly the right expertise. 

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Driving toward the knowledge economy

At IOD, we noticed the need for lower-frequency hiring combined with deeper knowledge. Our clients were looking for writers who could not be found on sites like Upwork, or even at marketing agencies. In my experience, tech agencies are great at finding people who are talented at marketing. IOD is good at finding people who are talented at Terraform, Kubernetes, and CI/CD. 

Agencies often try to be a one-stop shop for everything companies need, which limits their ability to specialize. Even an agency focused on technology as a vertical might not have deep knowledge of autonomous vehicles, machine learning, or medical or insurance tech. They can produce content that hits superficial metrics, but doesn’t resonate with the right audience

”The first and most important trend we see in labor marketplaces is towards onboarding increasingly skilled workers and offering greater complexity of service.”.

Where is IOD in this world? 

IOD is positioned in between the second and third wave, because we bring together talent and knowledge. We created the IOD On-Demand Knowledge Marketplace to combine the benefits of gig work with deep skills. 

Our talent pool is almost entirely experts who are active in their careers. Why do they prefer IOD over agency or gig jobs? We pay them a lot better than Fiverr, for a start. They can bring in a nice side income while enjoying research into the topics they’re most passionate about. We also bring them interesting projects, while managing all the minor details that frustrate freelancers. In the meantime, IOD writers develop their marketing skills and become better bloggers, evangelists, and thought leaders.

This approach also benefits our clients. Time to market is fast, and the process is lightweight. Our clients simply listen and make decisions. We recruit expert writers, vet their skills and knowledge, match them to their ideal projects, set the market price, and deliver content in the time it takes other companies to sort through 20 different responses on Upwork.

The deep knowledge available to us also benefits our clients because we play an active role in their content strategy. When a business relies on gig workers for content, the strategy is left in the hands of the customer. That is not always a great idea! Outside expertise always helps develop a better strategy, and I hope you’re not asking freelancers to handle that.

IOD is also surrounded by service providers who are exceptionally talented. I’m not interested in becoming a big agency. Instead, we rely on a close partner network to fill client needs for design, videos, podcasts or other projects.

Try the IOD On-Demand Knowledge Marketplace and see if your business is ready for the knowledge economy.


IOD is a tech marketer’s new best friend: merging tech and marketing to provide a B2B infrastructure for the tech industry.

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