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Re: Tracking documentation reading/studying hours.

Active Member
Cristian Z Member Since: Nov 25, 2015
1 of 8

Hi there!

I was searching the forum for a while and I couldn't find any post about this topic. I'm new to Upwork and I'm having my first job right now.


I wonder if I should track the hours I spend reading the docs that the client send to me and the specific API docs for this job. I guess this is an obvious YES answer but I am concerned about how the client might react about it. Is this widely accepted???


Thanks in advance.

Community Guru
John B Member Since: Feb 20, 2009
2 of 8

With any new job there is a learning curve.


How the client might react depends on the job description and what you told him about your experience with the specific API.


Maybe you should discuss with your client how much time you can spend before you are productive using the API etc.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
3 of 8

Since it sounds like a custom API, I'd probably charge him no more than an hour. It's necessary for something like this, so it's not like he hired you to understand a Google API and you need to read the documentation before you start.

Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
4 of 8



You did the right thing by asking about this in the forum. Like John B, I recommend that you ask the client first before you record the time spent studying the docs. If the project is on a tight deadline and the client doesn't respond right away, I would manually keep track of the time you spend reading and then if the client approves it later, ask the client to allow you to add the time manually.

"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
5 of 8

The time you spend working for the client is time not spent earning money elsewhere.  My feeling here is that if the client is providing something so custom, he/she has to understand that time will be required to get acclimated and productive.  No one can understand their custom work without spending some time.  That should not be free.  However, the amount of time is something to be considered.  If you were hired for particular expertise it may be assumed that while you will need to spend time reading the client's documents, that you should pick up on the key points and processes much faster than others who don't have your expertise.  That your client has sent you material that has required "hours" on your part is an immediate indication that you need to have a discussion.  If the document and API's are that complex then the client must understand otherwise you may feel that you got in a bit over your head and therefore might want to charge some reasonable amount of time and use the rest as a learning opportunity.  No one can gauge that but you. 


In summary your time is worth money and that must be respected.  However, you must use your own judgement to establish what is realistic time for a given project or commitment.  I've certainly had projects where there were points I found myself spinning my wheels a bit and took myself off the clock.  It's a judgement call and I do tend to error on the side of the client (i.e. in the client's favor) when I feel I should have been quicker to grasp something.  However, respect the time you have to spend to produce a favorable outcome for your client because if you don't you cannot expect they will.


Also, congrats on your first job!





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Active Member
Cristian Z Member Since: Nov 25, 2015
6 of 8

Thanks everyone for your time!! Smiley Happy


As you have suggested, I will discuss this matter with the client before I start reading and working.


I think it's fear to charge the time you spend learning a specific software (an API in this case) if the client is aware of this peculiarity and hires you knowing that you don't have that skill/knowledge.


Community Leader
Sebastian N Member Since: Sep 22, 2015
7 of 8

Great post, Scott B.


One of my clients keeps throwing dozens of APIs into my direction and I clearly tell him everytime that I have never worked with or heard of those APIs before. He also permanently changes his mind on what he wants.


So he goes like "You can just start reading the API docs, I will get an API key later this week".

A few days later he gets back to me with "Looks like their API registration is closed. Screw that idea, we will have to do web scraping."


Since then I always turn my time tracker on for any kind of work related communication / research / etc.

Work that can not be seen (manual time, discussing project details / ideas, research) is time that many clients quickly forget about.


If I don't track the time, my client only sees how many hours I still got left for the week and gets crazy ideas on what kind of work he can throw into my direction. 


If I claimed that I have experience with the API or if I were a really slow learner, I would hesitate to track all the time.


Active Member
Cristian Z Member Since: Nov 25, 2015
8 of 8

Hi all,


I want you to know, for the record, that the client accepted my proposal and we arrange a maximum of 4 hours for studying documentation. Smiley Very Happy


Thanks for your help!