Charging Clients to learn their CMS?

Hello! I’m looking for some thoughts regarding a specific scenario concerning client expectations for billing. The scope of work is such that they hired a contractor to set a site up and they did not finish the job and have removed themselves from the project, they would like me to come in and finish building the site out. This client’s website is hosted on a branded CMS platform that I am not familiar with. The client is aware I don’t have experience with this particular platform (but I do with others which are similar) and would like me to do the job anyway. They feel that I should not charge them for coming up to speed learning their platform as they consider it “professional development” and “should be learned on my own time”. Is this something any of you have come up against before? Would you charge them because they are specifically asking you to learn their platform? I appreciate any feedback you may have.


tell them politely that you are learning this CMS for their project, so it is a part of the project and of course they have to pay for that. It’s not like you’ll need a year for studying it.

Otherwise say no deal and they can keep looking for another freelancer, plus remind them of the time and money the search will cost them.

Honestly this client sounds like a nightmare and it might be the reason the old contractor jumped ship.

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That’s a good stratey, also for testing the client

If they start with any “but no learning CMS” or even “we will check that”,
ditch them (unless they pay you five figures), they won’t stop kicking you around.

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I did not share my thoughts when they complained that the other person was charging them to learn their CMS. The exact thought crossed my mind that they sounded like micro-managers.

Thank you for your feedback.

This is exactly what I am going to do. They do not need to know the minutia of the project work as long as it is completed. Thank you for your feedback.

Yeah, I would definitely charge them. If it were some industry standard CMS, that might be different. If they want you for short term you need to charge them because it is a one off job. If they want you for long term you need to charge them because they are investing in your ability to work for them.

People will always try to weasel out of paying you. I used to run into this all the time as a musician. “What? You want to charge extra because you have to travel 3 hours to get to our wedding and we need you to be there 6 hours early for rehearsal?” Yes, yes I do. If you don’t like it, hire someone else. (This isn’t even counting all the times you are expected to play gigs, just for “exposure”.)

It’s not “professional development”. You are learning the CMS for their benefit, not yours, so this is chargeable work.

They are essentially asking for some free labour and this is the reddest of red flags. Be wary about this one, and keep in mind that if they’ve asked for free labour once, they will probably keep attempting to get free work out of you.

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