Free accounting software This tax year I've transferred my accounts to Kashflow, which is an online accounting service available for individuals, businesses and companies in the UK. Before this I had used my own software written in PHP and dealt with everything fine enough but due to a lack of time, it had not been updated for quite a while and there was a lot that could still be done.

Khalid then introduced me to Kashflow, and although it's not free, it's so worth the price! I took full advantage of the 60 day free trial and my Mum (who does my accounts and invoicing) and I really had a good go through it all to make sure we were both happy with it. The bonus of it all being online of course is that we can both access it, which is handy seeing as we live about 3 hours apart!

So what features does Kashflow contain? Well we have the obvious features of course. You can add customers, add invoices, add expenses and purchases. You can also generate a number of reports to see your earnings for the year. Standard stuff really. However, you can also generate invoices online and set them to email direct to the client – you fill out a few boxes, select the client and the invoice is generated into a PDF, a great time saver. You put in the due dates for your invoices and when you haven't updated the invoice as being paid, you'll get an email through telling you the invoice is overdue – saves me having to write a list of when payments are due now!

The reports are great as I can see who's paid me the most, where I'm spending most of my money. The best report, for me, is the Profit and Loss report as I've got it set up to show me my turnover, then my gross profit (so turnover less unavoidable costs such as cost of sales, employee costs etc) and my net profit. However, there are various reports designed for companies, VAT registered businesses etc. and if there's something that you'd really need and can't get, the developers are pretty happy to take suggestions.

If you manage your own accounts, or do most of the entries and then pass your accounts on to an accountant to sort out then it's a really handy system as both you and your accountant can access it. Of course it's all secured and backed up on a regular basis too, so no worries about losing your accounting history and information. It also integrates with PayPal, can import all of your sales history from PayPal, saving you time if you do a lot of business via PayPal. It's certainly worth the free trial to have a look around anyhow!

Kashflow currently costs £15.99 + VAT per month after the 60 day free trial, so that's just over £18 a month. However, if you do fancy trying it out then sign up through my affiliate link, and you'll save yourself £1 + VAT a month. nothing major but that's £12 + VAT a year, almost one month free ;) The 60 day trial has no commitment attached, you don't even enter your card details. So if you've gone as far as you can with Excel, or thinking of looking into a more professional accounting system, then I highly recommend at least taking a look. I've been using it for over 6 months now and am more than impressed.

Last weekend we had our long weekend away in Dublin. It was nice to get away and not worry about work for a few days, plus besides a bit of rain on the first day, the rest of the time we had semi sunshine. As we'd been to Dublin before we knew what to expect and planned things a little better. Friday was the day to take a wander around the shops as it would be quieter, Saturday we took the tour bus round as it's a good journey (despite doing it before!) and we could jump on and off to grab photos where we wanted, and then on Sunday it was a beautiful morning so we took a walk out to the river and walked down towards the ports instead, admiring the architecture, along with stumbling onto a mini Oktoberfest!

We stayed right by the bus station in Dublin which was so great for the airport bus! The only downside to the hotel was the room was overheated and on the Friday night there seemed to be a group of people, possibly from the bar next door, who decided to congregate right outside the window (we were on the first floor) until about 3.30am! However, other than that it was a nice place and just 5 minute walk from O'Connell street, one of the main streets through the centre.

However, from a combination of the heat in the room, spending a couple of hours on the top of the tour bus on Saturday and the air conditioning on the plan, I came down with a head cold and have spent the past week with my sinuses full up with cold :( It's pretty frustrating as I'd taken this past week off work too, to allow us to get some admin sorted out, work on some personal sites/projects and also go to the zoo, instead I've spent every day under the blanket on the couch watching boring daytime television and just faffing all day. A very unproductive week! So I'll have to grab some time next month if I can, as I've got a few projects going live this month.

Other news… I've started to write twice a week for Blogging Tips. On Sundays I continue my WordPress coding and design posts, and on Thursdays I'll be writing about basic (x)HTML and CSS. As always, all of my posts for Blogging Tips can be found on my Author Page.

Finally, this week I've done a little bit of work on this site. As you're probably already aware, I merged the two blogs on this domain into one, hopefully creating a less confusing and better resource of info for everyone :) I've added in a new fancy plugin called comment info tip which gives you a bit more info on each commentator on the site. If you go to one of my other posts with some comments on, and hover over the name of one of the commentators (besides mine) you'll see how many times that person has commented on the site, the last 3 posts they commented on and, if the plugin can find it, an excerpt of their last post from their site (if it's a blog and uses a standard feed address). I've also created my own logo which can be seen up top ^^. I'm not a designer, so it's nothing special, but I quite like it, and it adds a bit of colour to the header :)

I don't usually tend to post about competitions, but being a member of BloggingTips.com and the Blogging Tips forums is one main reason for mentioning this, along with the fact that the competition prizes are actually pretty good :)

Kevin's gone one step better in his competition with it lasting over 7 weeks with $1000 in cash being up for grabs for 50 forum users ($200 being the top prize) and then a competition a week giving away a further $500 worth of prizes. You can see the full list of prizes at the Blogging Tips Forum Competition.

To be in with a chance of winning either a cash prize for participating in the forums, or one of the many prizes available, you'll need to sign up to the forum. Besides the whole ongoing competition, the forum is a great place to discuss blogging in general, developing sites with WordPress (and other various blogging platforms), and general money making ideas and marketing methods.

So, if you fancy having a shot at winning a prize or two, pop over to Blogging Tips :)

More and more people are realising how flexible WordPress is, especially when it comes to using it as a lightweight CMS (content management system). A good understanding of WordPress helps of course, but there are additional sections of WordPress that you may not have ventured into when using it as a blog.

The Static Front Page

First off you need to install WordPress as you usually would. Once you've got it installed, log into the admin panel and go to Manage -> Pages. By default, WordPress creates an about page. Instead of deleting this, click to edit it, change the title to Home and save it. Then go to Settings -> Reading and the first option you can change your front page to be a Static Page. Select this option and then select the page titled 'Home' from the drop down (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Settings -> Readings options panel
Static Page Settings Screenshot

Once you save these settings and visit the front end of your site you'll see that your front page is now the default about page, which you renamed as 'Home'.

WordPress as a CMS

You can look at WordPress as having two sections – pages and the blog. When you turn WordPress into a CMS, you can still use the blog section to power news, events, site updates, anything that may continually be added to.

Designing your Site

When designing your site, obviously a little knowledge of WordPress helps to ensure that you can lay the various sections that WordPress can create, out in a suitable way. For example, you'll have a list generated for the pages. This can be a single depth list with all the pages, a single depth list with just the parent pages, or a list of pages and nested lists containing the children pages. Any blog categories, eg. news and events, will have to be treated as a separate section as these are generated independently of each other.

There is a great deal that WordPress can cope with, and create for you. I see a lot of people hardcoding their pages in, or restricting their designs due to lack of knowledge of what is possible with the built in Template Tags. I've already explained how to use the basics of WordPress, now I'm going to venture into the CMS and business side of using WordPress :)

On Wednesday I merged both my Tech blog and AIS blog on this domain into one. Mainly because the AIS one just wasn't getting many updates to it and I chat about web development and business topics on my Tech blog anyway which are probably of interest to both blogs anyhow.

The merge itself wasn't too hard however to ensure everything was done correctly and that I didn't affect the live site too much, I did the merge offline on my own computer instead of on the live server. I could have installed WordPress in a directory and done the same so if you do every need to try this out and don't want to install a web server then you can do that too.

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