Earn from a 404 Page

Affiliate Marketing: How to Earn from a 404 Page

What do you do when you come across a ‘404 error’ page? Probably click out as soon as humanly possible. Encountering 404 pages is quite frustrating when someone is browsing the internet. But every bad situation can be turned into a good one if you know how to earn from a 404.

What is a 404 Page?

Earn from a 404 Page

A 404 page is an error page that shows up when a server fails to load the webpage the visitor is trying to see. There are a few reasons for a 404 page to show up:

·         When someone enters a wrong or non-existing URL

·         DNS (domain name server) network fails

·         The webpage no longer exists, or the webpage is moved to another URL

·         The redirect link for the webpage is broken

·         Configuration errors with the DNS

A 404 page is not something any website owner would want. Traffic and audience engagement can drastically drop because of a 404 error page. The good news is there is a way to turn this around and use the error page for something beneficial. It is possible to earn from a 404 page with a few tweaks.

Using A 404 Page for Benefits

A 404 page is not something a user would intentionally land on (unless they like the animation of that particular error page). While it is possible to monitor broken links at the initial stage of a website, it becomes more and more difficult as the website grows. There are too many links to monitor. Website owners cannot completely avoid a 404 page, no matter how much they try.

Instead of trying to ensure that visitors do not encounter a 404 error page, owners can use this opportunity for their gains. A default 404 error page might be useless. But those pages can be customized with a few tweaks.

When you have a customized 404 page, you can use that page as an affiliate marketing tool. Promote products or services from your website or other merchants on that page.

People are often irritated when they land on a 404 page. But if they see that the page contains a link that leads to another working page, they will most probably click on that link. You can cash on this opportunity if you turn your 404 page into an affiliate marketing page.

Possible Elements to Include in a 404 Page

It is not easy to design a ‘successful’ 404 page. At first glance, a 404 page would incur a negative feeling within the visitor. The website owner has to work on chasing away that feeling and turning it into something positive.

Earn from a 404 Page

Let us take a look at a fun example. Mailchimp is an online marketing and email platform. If you reach the error page of Mailchimp, you will find the animation of a horse with its head inside a hole. It is an intriguing animation and does seem weird at first. When you click on the animation, it leads to a game called “HorseSnake.” This is a fun and creative example of how to use an error page for the better.

Here are some element ideas to add to a 404 page to make it less of an inconvenience.

A Simple Message

If you are not worried about retaining most of your traffic and just wish to keep things simple, then a little message on the 404 page should be enough. Most websites use this technique to stay in the good graces of their visitors.

The message on a 404 page is pretty simple and straightforward. You have probably stumbled upon error pages that simply say, “404. Page not found.” Sometimes the message is apologetic or a little quirky with words like oops, sorry, bad luck, uh-oh, and so on.

You can also include some quotes or pop culture references on the 404 page to keep the situation light. It can be an opportunity for you to connect with your audience personally. You can show off a little piece of your personality through the error page.

Designs or Animations

404 pages are often static or pretty bland. A lot of companies use their properties or make references on the 404 page to uplift the mood of their visitors. You can consider a similar approach and add a design element to the page.

It can be an image, animation, or any element relevant to your website’s content. In this way, the 404 page does not feel like a complete waste. A 404 page is a great way to play around with different elements and have some fun.

Search Box

Not everyone is fond of fun messages and animations. If you want to keep things productive, then consider adding a search box on your error page. This way, when a visitor reaches the error page, they have the option to search for something relevant to your website.

This would help erase the feeling of irritation within your visitors. On the contrary, they would feel productive once they see the search box and start looking for more items.

Keep It Relevant

A simple 404 error message can often make visitors angry. It is a good reason for website owners to lose their traffic. Even an apology text with a 404 page is not enough since it is a dead end. Instead of leading the visitors to a dead end with a 404 page, try to keep them happy.

Link pages or items that are relevant to your website. In this way, the visitors would forget about the error page in no time. Otherwise, there is a chance for them to be hostile after landing on an error page from your website.

Link Other Pages

This can be the most complex but also the most beneficial element if you can utilize it properly. You can simply add a link to other pages to your error page so the visitor does not get angry. The page can be a subsidiary of your website, products related to your niche, or something lighthearted to make the visitors feel good.

However, website owners can take this chance to earn from their 404 page. They can add affiliate links to the 404 page to earn commissions. The main point of affiliate marketing is to promote something. An affiliate has to drive traffic towards the stuff they are promoting so they can earn a commission. The commissions can be based on both clicks and sales.

Pay-per-click commissions are often less than pay-per-sale commissions. But something is better than nothing. Even if you cannot find a good pay-per-sale affiliate, try to look for a pay-per-click deal at least. When visitors land on an error page, they will click on anything in front of them. So there is a high possibility of getting commissions via clicks.

How to Customize a 404 Error Page?

We have already established the importance of having a customized 404 error page. With some tweaks, the situation can be turned in your favor. If you are having a hard time coming up with design ideas for your custom error page, then you can always use templates.

There are many website builders that offer templates for custom error pages. Just choose one from them and apply them to your website. To customize your error page, just go to the design tools of your website builder. If you are using HubSpot, you can find the design tools under ‘Files and Templates.’

Open a new file in design tools, click the dropdown box for the template types and select ‘Error Page’ under System. You can find modules that come with the template. Make adjustments to design an error page of your choice.

Once you are satisfied with your new error page template, adjust the settings on your website builder to apply that template to your default 404 page. On HubSpot, you can find the ‘Errors’ settings from Systems Pages.

Great 404 Page Examples

We already mentioned the fun “HorseSnake” game on the error page of Mailchimp. Let us take a look at some other great examples of a 404 page. Maybe you can find some inspiration from these pages.


Earn from a 404 Page

This leading e-commerce website is pretty smart about its 404-page customization. People love dogs. So you will stumble upon the picture of a dog whenever you encounter a 404 error page at Amazon. The picture is of a different dog every time. The dogs are actually real ‘employees’ of Amazon. Visitors can click on the link beside the picture of a dog to see the dogs of Amazon. They can also go to the homepage of Amazon from the 404 page to look for something else.


Spotify is a leader in its own field (music streaming platform). Their 404 webpage is simple but cute. There is a picture of a record and some fun wordplay ( or numberplay?) on Kanye West’s album 808s and Heartbreak. The page allows visitors to go to the community page or FAQs page from the error page. Or they can just choose to go back from the page they came to resume their search for their favorite music.


The UK-based company used nostalgia to its advantage while designing its error page. People love old arcade games. Space Invaders is a classic that a lot of ’80s and 90’s kids still would not turn away from.

Kualo has the name of their company spelled out on the error page with invaders. Visitors can shoot the invaders with the spaceship. This is a unique idea and a very effective one as well. We bet visitors would forget all of their anger once they get to shoot the little Invaders.


Adobe kept its reputation even while dealing with error pages. The 404 error page of Adobe has a pleasing picture on the background with the words “These are uncharted waters” written across the screen. The page also has links to other useful services and information visitors find the most interesting.


Lego used to have a picture of their characters comically over the inconvenience of someone landing on an error page. But they have evolved from their previous design and included a pop culture reference. Their error page contains a character from the popular Lego movie. On the page, users can start shopping for their products by clicking on a button. The page is simple but captures the vibe of the company perfectly.

Blizzard Entertainment

This is probably not the most creative, but it sure is a fun wordplay. Blizzard Entertainment decided to use the company name for a little ‘pun’ time. Their 404 page consists of an animated cartoon character lost in an actual blizzard. There is also a reference to the famous World of Warcraft (WoW) game. We bet a lot of people would find this error page hilarious.


The popular animated studio used its property most effectively on its error page. The 404 page of Pixar consists of a crying cartoon character, Sadness, from the movie Inside Out (2015). The page has a cute message and a fun reference to the movie written at the bottom.

Final Words

It is impossible to avoid a 404 error page. So instead of looking for every broken link to fix, turn the bitter situation into a profitable one. The problem with a 404 error page is that it instantly drives the visitor away. With a customized 404 page, you can prevent that and retain your traffic by maximum numbers.

Set up your custom 404 page to be attractive and interactive so visitors are convinced to stay. This is a great chance to use your creativity to turn this inevitable situation into something good.

You can also read: What You Need to Know about Affiliate Marketing Scams

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