Learning to use the flash in manual mode is by far the best route to go UNLESS you have a lot of changing light in your frame or light/subject distance is varying a lot. After a little while you can get perfect exposure from manual flashes in just a few test shots. Or use a light meter
For everything you want to know, visit strobist.blogspot.com.
good luck and welcome to the fun side of photography where YOU controll the light!