Is it really that bad? Well, if you regularly watch the evening news you probably think the economy is in utter disrepute. And admittedly, the last couple of years have been tough for job hunters. But let me be clear about something.

The truth is, there’s still plenty of opportunity for ambitious individuals looking to seize the day, – especially if you’re involved in internet marketing.

Why the Online Skills Gap is Your Opportunity:

The online economy is where the much-discussed “skills gap” is most prevalent. That’s probably because the Internet (and especially trusted e-commerce solutions), are still relatively new. But now that companies have proven they can drive meaningful revenue online, these channels are here to stay.

Do you see why that is an opportunity for you?

The reason is, all kinds of companies are continuing to invest in growing their online offerings, including online-only outlets and even traditional brick and mortar retailers. The online economy truly offers a plethora of opportunity for corporate America.

And since the online marketing trend is relatively young, the barrier to entry is still pretty low for individuals like you looking to get aboard this online path to prosperity. But wait. I know what you’re thinking.

And actually, that’s where it gets even better:

You see in addition to being ripe with professional opportunity, the Internet also gives you the skills to teach yourself everything you need to know to close your skills gap. And guess what? Almost all of the tools are free. So instead of paying thousands of dollars in college tuition next semester, you can start taking advantage of these online opportunities right now.

I’m serious:

With the advent of massive open online courses (MOOCS) as well as websites like CodeAcademy and Kahn Academy, it’s pretty easy to get started teaching yourself the essential online skills that can lead to a lifetime of fun and profit. You can learn to make WordPress websites, design logos in Photoshop or drive traffic to websites with social media marketing.

All of these things are skills that an increasing number of employers are willing to pay for. So why not build your skills in exchange for a pay check?

But hold on. Here is where things get really interesting. Because at the end of the day, if you can develop your marketing skills online, is there really a need to sell out to the man?

Can Closing the Skills Gap Mean The Age of The Individual?

One idea I keep kicking around my head is the notion that the Internet empowers the individual in a couple of really important ways.

Let me share two quick examples. And maybe you’ll see what I mean.

The most obvious advantage of the Internet is the improved ability to access and absorb information. I almost can’t believe that I used to have to hop on my bike and pedal down to my local library to look things up. It seems almost medieval compared to today, where I can literally just ask my phone for any information I want.

It’s crazy! But it doesn’t stop there. Because now you also have a lot more than smelly, out-of-date books at your fingertips. Today you can instantly find videos to watch, webinars to join and interactive tutorials to help you master new subject matters. This access to multi-modal information is amazing, isn’t it?

Now on the other side of the coin:

The second big advantage the Internet confers is the ability to communicate with others. So not only can you soak up information from some of the great sources listed above, but you can broadcast your expertise too. And if you have a marketing message, sales offer or product to sell then this communication can very quickly be monetized. Now…

Are you starting to see how this works?

Whether you have an Etsy store, an Ebay account or even just a YouTube channel, the Internet allows you (as an individual) to get distribution and access that only a few years ago would have been impossible without the backing of a national brand. And while corporations will pay you to put these skills to work for them, you can also advance your own agenda.

For example, with SEO and social media you can get thousands of people to your personal or small business website each day. Not to mention Adwords and Facebook advertising tools let you get in front of your highly-targeted audience with only a modest budget. The point is, you don’t need millions of dollars to buy a Super Bowl commercial anymore. The age of the individual is here.

So what’s the take home point?

It’s abundantly clear: Marketing has been democratized by the Internet. And not only can use the Internet to market yourself, but you can also use the Internet to learn the skills you need to market yourself. So if you have a little curiosity getting ahead is honestly easier than ever.

And if you’re feeling uncertain, just remember that self development and professional progress are a journey. This is your life. Don’t be afraid to buckle down and invest in yourself for the long term. Because when you do start to bridge your skills gap, the opportunities are immense.

One glimmer of optimism I have is that the tech-savvy Millennial generation is already starting to make the Internet work for them. From the Randstad April 2014 Economy Report:

“Millennial workers are among the most confident when it comes to several aspects of the job market. In fact, the Index found 53 percent of 18-34 year old workers are confident in not only their ability to find a new job, but the second most confident among all generations when asked about the availability of jobs.”

And why shouldn’t that be the case? With the online tools and tutorials available today there’s no reason you too can’t build your own zip-line to close the gap and fly into the future you’ve always dreamed of. What are you waiting for?