Like writing a book or making an album. You do the work once and profit from it continuously. Also when you buy something that will last you a lifetime. You pay a lot of money now but save money in the long run.

I believe it has something to do work, time or money invested upfront or once. I can't remember where I read it, nor can I remember if it was a single word or a two word phrase.

  • Enduring, evergreen, perennial, ongoing, permanent, long-lasting. Nov 14, 2015 at 2:04
  • It has a very high return on investment?
    – Jim
    Nov 14, 2015 at 2:33
  • 1
    It's called capitalism.
    – Robusto
    Nov 14, 2015 at 2:54
  • 1
    Whether you sacrificed your time or money, it is basically an investment, the word which you used on your own. It also might be a specific case of a statistic term called long tail, however long tail distribution in business does not put time on the X axis, although it can. So to "profit on long tail" might as well mean expanding business geographically as in time.
    – macraf
    Nov 14, 2015 at 3:48
  • Perhaps resting on one's laurels, not one word, nor two; but that's what the question suggests to me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 14, 2015 at 11:47

6 Answers 6


In specific regards to performance art, residuals are payments made in perpetuity for subsequent broadcasts or showings of your work.

A residual is a payment made to the creator of performance art for subsequent showings or screenings of the work. A typical use is in the payment of residuals for television reruns. The word is often used in the plural form. - Wikipedia

  • This is the only answer which gives a word which indeed is used in connection with the "thing" meant. If I do a _ _ _ _ job I get residuals forever; in contrast if I just do "work for hire" I only get paid for my work one month at a time. As I mention in my answer I think surprisingly there's really no word, as such, per se, for this other than the name for "things which generate residuals": intellectual property.
    – Fattie
    Jan 11, 2016 at 3:50

You're reaping the rewards.

reap: to gain or get (something) as a reward for or result of some action or enterprise Collins English Dictionary

Alternately, you could say that you're cashing in (on some action or enterprise).

cash in: to obtain a profit or other advantage by timely exploitation AHD

cash in on: to take advantage of or capitalize on WordNet by Farlex

  • No, these simply mean "you made money". That could be EITHER from residuals, or, just from a totally ordinary month-at-a-time job, or perhaps from say selling something one-time.
    – Fattie
    Jan 11, 2016 at 3:43

You could consider using "(long-term) portfolio" which means:

(business) A collection of assets generally.


A range of investments held by a person or organization:

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

Portfolio is not necessarily limited to "stocks/securities" or "bonds" and it can include various things you have for your investment and future returns.


I suppose you might be talking about the phrase 'in perpetuity':

  1. a. in (also for, †to) perpetuity: for all time, for ever; for an unlimited or indefinitely long period.

["perpetuity, n.". OED Online. September 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/141355?redirectedFrom=in+perpetuity (accessed November 14, 2015).]

In the context of your examples:

  • Publishing a book or cutting an album may earn the creator royalties in perpetuity.
  • Some work, done once, may earn profits in perpetuity.
  • If you buy something that will last a lifetime, you will benefit in perpetuity.
  • You may spend more money now, but will save money in perpetuity.

This is an excellent question, and (surprisingly) I don't really think there's a single word.

You're essentially talking about moving in to the "I" section of Robert Kiyosaki's Cashfow Quadrant - right?

The only thing that really comes to mind is

Intellectual Property

You're talking about doing "something" which creates income every year forever (or for a long time) with absolutely no effort each further year after the first time, in contradistinction to, a situation where you simply do work (or whatever) and reap some return that month, and you keep working/earning each month.

If I'm not mistaken the only way you can earn residuals (to use the word Chris alerts us to) in this way is with "IP" as they say, intellectual property. So, you make a famous video game, write a famous book, etc.

You said,

"...Like writing a book or making an album."

indeed those things are literally called "intellectual property" or "IP" if you want to sound cool; there's no other term.


Passive Income. But there’s also residual income and sometimes they can be used interchangeably.

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