The Magento 1.4 update provides an effective way of modifying themes that keeps changes separate from the default files through the use of the layout.xml. This allows for layout changes to be kept in one location. For a full explanation of this see ‘The better way to modify Magento layout“.
Classy Llama’s article provided the answer on how to move the newsletter signup from its position in the left column (within the blank theme) to the footer.
The changes are all carried out within the layout.xml located in app/design/frontend/default/theme-name/layout/local.xml.
First remove the block from the left column using the ‘unsetChild’ method to do this. (The remove method cannot be used in this instance as this works in a global context and so will remove all instances of the newsletter.)
Then add the newsletter to the footer.
<block type=”newsletter/subscribe” before=”-” name=”right.newsletter” template=”newsletter/subscribe.phtml”/>
To position the block before the full content use the before=”-“. See Magento re-ordering block items for more details.