FREE WordPress Plugins to add a subscribe by email pop-up advert

Update 10 Nov 2018: Something went wrong with this method after a Jetpack update. It was fixed by enabling subscription by email again. See note at the end.

AMR Shortcode Any Widget

I was looking for something that would allow me to insert the Jetpack email subscription widget into a post rather than just in the side bar. Actually I was thinking I wanted to insert it into a pop up box of some sort, but first things first.

I found an article about how to do something like this. Jetpack Subscriptions Widget in a Pop-up Window, Sept 16 2014

This was showing some code in a picture:
Code that didn't work

But when I tried just using that shortcode, it didn’t work. It just displayed the code as if it was text. So I did a search and that was how I found out about the AMR Shortcode Any Widget plugin from this helpful post

This is an excerpt of what the plugin page says:

Insert a widget or multiple widgets or a entire widget area (sidebar) into a page using a shortcode.

Set up your widget first in a normal sidebar. Check it works.
THEN Drag your chosen widgets to the sidebar called “widgets for shortcode”.

Add the do_widget shortcode to the page where you would like the widget to appear (or the do_widget_area)

The short codes are managed through the Appearance > Widgets tab from the dashboard. (This doesn’t work on sites that I have with the Layers theme, which seems to crash on this item and needs you to manage widgets through the customizer). You simply add the widget to the new ‘Widgets for Shortcodes’ area that appears in the Widget managing page, as you would add widgets to any other area that is available to receive them.

The plugin instructions said to sort out the widget works in the sidebar before adding it to the Widgets for Shortcodes area. I didn’t see this until after I had fiddled. I found that I could add the widget to the area, but save was greyed out and you need to save to generate the shortcode. But by closing the widget managing page and going elsewhere and then coming back the short code was then available to copy and paste.

This is what it looks like in a post

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Please enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other subscribers.

I feel that the widget doesn’t look so nice spread out in a post, and without any kind of border, but that is easily fixed by using another plugin favourite of mine – Shortcodes Ultimate.

Shortcodes Ultimate Plugin

This is the same Jetpack blog subscriptions widget in a box from Shortcode Ultimate. The box is customisable – any colour, choose the radius of curves of the corners.

Please enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Please note that for the sake of this article, to be able to show you the with and without box version, I created two widget shortcodes. One with a title and one without. I used the version without a title for the box and put the title in the box title field (which now oddly has stopped showing).

Next I wanted to have a pop up. First I tried CM Pop-Up Banners but it didn’t do things the way I wanted. Then I tried the Popup Maker and that was great so stopped there. Please read on to learn more about both of these plugins.

CM Pop-Up Banners for WordPress


This option works quite nicely but with some niggles. The two options are to have a pop-up or a ‘fly-in bottom’. For both you can set the size of the box in pixels and for the pop up you can choose to centre it vertically and horizontally, but other than that there are no other placement options.

I tried both and preferred the fly-in bottom which was bottom right. I already have my privacy policy tab there so needed to set the size to avoid that. I found a width of 300px and height of 230px looked nice on the desktop view and avoided the tab that was already there. But defining by pixel size to work on desktop can all go wrong on mobile devices. There is the option to hide on devices of less than a particular size, but then you would lose many potential people.

The options of which pages or posts it appears on are also limited. Either you check a box which makes it appear on all pages – a bit annoying if someone browses lots of pages but useful if people arrive at different places from external links. Or you can pick show on selected pages/posts, but you can only pick one, and home page wasn’t an option in my set up.

Obviously there are many more customisation options in the Pro version which costs at the time of writing $29/year. Not a bad price, but this post is about doing it for free.

This is how it looked. The colour and layout are all from the two plugins mentioned earlier.

Next I tried:

Popup Maker – Popup Forms, Optins & More


This plugin has the option of specifying size by px, %, em, rem, which is more sensible with a good selection of presets and the possibility to specify max and min. Lots of position options. Can have it on all pages or multiple specific pages. Can disable for mobiles and tablets separately. Adds a cookie when the box has been closed, so it doesn’t appear again. All of these features make it very flexible and also stop it being annoying to the user

I tried lots of the settings and these are what I decided was the best from my point of view:

Trigger 500ms with cookie on close, Targeting all pages disabled for mobile but not tablet, appearance light box, size tiny – 30%, Animation default fade, position middle centre (had some issues with bottom right), advanced ticked disable overlay (without this cannot look at content behind popup clearly) and stackable (enables other popups), close – button plus all alternative methods ticked.

All round this does just what I wanted and for free, so I’m stopping there and leaving it enabled. Here is an image of how it looks in case in the future it is disabled again.

Image showing pop up on this site

Beware of Updates

Something went wrong with this method and I didn’t get around to fixing it for ages. It was because an update of the Jetpack plugin switched off the option to subscribe by email. To fix this I had to go into to the Jetpack settings. In the discussion tab click on ‘Allow users to subscribe to your posts by email’ as in image below.

Jetpack Settings, Discussion, Allow subscription by email.

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