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How to Add Popups to WordPress Websites (For Free)

Example Informational Popup

Popups are ideal for displaying impossible-to-miss messages to your website visitors.

Whether it’s a promotion that you want to share with your customers, the release of a new product or service you’d like to announce, or you want your visitors to take a specific action, popups are the perfect way to get the results you want.

But how do you add popups to WordPress, and can you do it for free?

They’re the questions we’ll be answering in this guide as we walk you through the process of adding a popup to a WordPress website.

Let’s begin!

Choosing the Right WordPress Popup Plugin

WordPress doesn’t have native popup functionality. Due to this, you’ll need to install a popup plugin.

Unfortunately, most of the free WordPress popup plugins aren’t very good. However, there is one standout option that’s easy to use and has a good set of features.

Hustle WordPress Plugin

That plugin is Hustle from WMPU DEV. While there is a paid version of Hustle, the free version has everything you’re likely to need when adding popups to your WordPress website.

The main reasons why Hustle comes recommended is that it gives you a good amount of control over what those popups look like, where on your site they’re displayed, how they’re triggered, and what happens when a user interacts with a popup. It’s easy to use, too, thanks to a well-designed user experience. You can also do a few more things with Hustle that we’ll cover later.

There are other free popup plugins for WordPress, but they all have pretty big drawbacks. Thankfully, that’s not a problem as Hustle is an impressive option.

The paid popup plugins for WordPress do have more features than Hustle. So if you find that Hustle isn’t powerful enough for your project, or you don’t mind paying for Bloom (from $89) Elementor Pro (from $49), OptinMonster (from $108), or Thrive Leads (from $99), you do have other options.

But for everyone else, Hustle should suffice.

Create Popup Optin Forms for Your Email Newsletter

Before we get to how to create a popup using Hustle, there is another option you might want to consider.

If you want to grow your email list by adding popups to your WordPress website and you’re yet to choose an email marketing service — or you’re willing to change services — ConvertKit is an excellent option.

As we covered in our tutorial on starting a mailing list for your WordPress website, ConvertKit is not only a feature-rich email marketing service with a free plan but it also includes a stylish popup tool for displaying popup email optin forms and landing pages.

Therefore, if growing your email list with popup optin forms is your goal, ConvertKit might have everything you need.

However, if you’re not using ConvertKit, or you want to display other types of content in your popups, instead of email optin forms, read on to find out how to do so with the free Hustle plugin. Hustle also integrates seamlessly with ConvertKit, so you can use them both together if you want.

How to Add a Popup to a WordPress Website

As mentioned, the plugin we’ll be using for this tutorial is Hustle, a freemium tool from WPMU Dev.

Hustle has an impressive list of features. The only real drawback is that you can only create three popups, slide-ins, social share bars, and embeds unless you upgrade to Hustle Pro (from $7.50/month).

1) Install Hustle on Your Website

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From the Add Plugins screen, search for Hustle.

Find Hustle, then click on the Install Now button, followed by the Activate button.

Once Hustle is installed and activated, you can access the plugin dashboard.

2) Choose a Popup Type

Hustle can be used to create four main types of assets, which are popups, embeds, slide-ins, and social share bars. They’re all useful features, but for this guide, we’re looking at the popup builder.

To create your first one, scroll down and click on the Create button on the Pop-ups panel.

One of the reasons to choose Hustle is the friendly user experience. One element of that is the wizard that guides you through the popup creation process.

Start by giving your popup a name and choosing the popup type. The two options are email opt-in and informational. If you want to use your popup to display a form that enables your website visitors to sign up to your email list, choose the first type.

If you’d rather create a popup that displays informational content, choose the second type.

For this guide, we’re creating an informational content popup. However, the process for both types is similar.

3) Design Your Popup

Unlike most free popup plugins available for WordPress, Hustle has a good selection of well-designed editable templates.

Once you’ve chosen a template, you can then edit its contents. You can easily change things, such as the popup headline, subtitle, main content, and images, through the Hustle user interface.

You don’t get a live preview of your popup as you’re editing it, as you do with a paid tool like OptinMonster or Thrive Leads, but you can hit the preview button at any time to see how your popup looks.

Once you’re happy with the contents of your popup, you can move on to editing the appearance.

Hustle has a few different layout types, which let you quickly change the way the elements of your popup are displayed.

You can also easily edit the positions and alignment of the popup elements. Changing the fonts, colors, and size of the popup is straightforward, too.

4) Configure the Popup Visibility

Next, it’s time to define the visibility rules of your popup. This lets you control where on your site your popup will be displayed. For example, you could create a popup that’s displayed on all posts and pages, or one that’s only shown on a specific URL, to logged-in users, or visitors in a certain country. Hustle gives you lots of control over this aspect of your popup.

Once you’ve chosen the conditions, you can then define their details. You can also choose if all of the conditions have to be met or only one of them before the popup is triggered.

5) Define the Popup Behavior

Finally, you can control how your popup will behave. These settings cover how the popup will be triggered or shown to your visitors.

Some examples of these triggers include if the visitor has been on the site or page for a certain amount of time, if they’ve scrolled down the page past a certain point, or if they’re using an ad blocker.

As Hustle has an exit-intent trigger, the plugin can detect if the visitor is about to leave your site (by monitoring mouse movements to predict user actions, such as clicking on the browser close button). Once the intention to leave your site has been detected, the popup is displayed.

Popups can be annoying; so the exit intent trigger is a good way to avoid disturbing your visitors with a popup as they’re engaging with your content. Instead, this trigger lets you wait until they’re about to leave your site before displaying a popup.

You can also enable and configure the popup animation settings and how the popup can be closed. Once you’ve evaluated all of the settings, you can hit the Publish button to make the popup go live.

Unless you’ve chosen to use the Click trigger, there’s nothing left to do. Your popup will be displayed when the predefined conditions are met. If you do want to use the Click trigger, you can add the button shortcode to one of your posts or pages.

Now you can test the popup by visiting your website and meeting the conditions you defined. Depending on how you’ve configured the popup, it might only show once. To get around this, open your website in incognito mode or a private browser window to continue testing.

6) Monitor Your Popup Stats

Hustle makes it easy to monitor the performance of the three popups you can create with the free version of the plugin. To do so, click on the Pop-ups item on the Hustle sidebar menu of the WordPress dashboard.

From there, you can view the stats for your popups. Hustle shows you the number of times each popup has been viewed and the number of times users have converted by clicking on the call to action button or entering their email address to the optin form.

Unlike some of the paid popup plugins, including Bloom, OptinMonster, and Thrive Leads, Hustle doesn’t have a split testing tool to help you optimize your forms. However, you could use a third-party tool, such as the one covered in our guide to split testing on a WordPress website.

Other Features of Hustle

As well as being easy to use, Hustle has a good set of useful features, especially for a free WordPress popup plugin.

Some of those features include:

  • Creating slide-ins, social share bars, and content embeds
  • Displaying social sharing buttons, email optin forms, and other content
  • Email marketing service integrations
  • Ability to store collected email addresses in the WordPress dashboard
  • Pro version that lets you create more than three popups, slide-ins, and share bars.

To find out more about Hustle, visit the plugin website at the WordPress plugin directory.

What about the Other Free and Premium WordPress Popup Plugins?

The advanced triggers, behaviors, and visibility controls, not to mention the well-designed popup templates of Hustle make this tool a very competitive option in the free WordPress popup plugin space.

In many cases, you won’t need to upgrade to a paid popup plugin or the Pro version of Hustle. That is unless you need to add more than three popups to your site. If you do, the price, which starts at $7.50 a month ($90 a year) for Hustle Pro and all of the other plugins from WPMU DEV, makes it a competitively priced option.

That being said, premium popup plugins like OptinMonster and Thrive Leads have some useful advanced features. Examples include split testing, powerful popup editors, and many editable templates. So for some readers, they will be worth investing in. For everyone else, though, Hustle is a great option.

Summary

As we’ve just seen, Hustle is a powerful tool for adding popups to WordPress websites.

Whether you want to create a popup to display promotional content or an email optin form, Hustle is a suitable tool. Its other features, such as the ability to create slide-ins, social share bars, and content embeds, should come in handy, too.

How will you use popups on your website? Let us know in the comments below.

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