It's been a busy week for me, which is a pain because that means I can't just curl up on the couch with a bag of Doritos and watch trash TV all day.

And, unlike my comrades blessed (yes, I meant to use that word) with day jobs, busy doesn't always equal billable time. Le sigh.

Don't get me wrong; I understand the evil of having a day job. But a regular paycheque isn't something you should take for granted. Because that just doesn't happen on its own when freelancing.

That's why it's so important to make sure you have cash flow by keeping the work flow consistent. Going crazy working on five projects in January leads to a relatively poor April if you've been neglectful at pitching new business during that frenzied month.

When my life coach suggested that I'd need to spend half a day a week on "business stuff" once I went freelance, I thought she meant shopping for office supplies. After two months of eating cat food, I realized that she might have been referring to the following tasks:

1. Explore new markets
In any business, the only way to grow is by gaining new clients and markets. For freelance writers, that means being on the lookout for new places to get your work published and new clients/editors who might be open to working with you. As one writing instructor told me, "You have to approach them; no one is going to approach you until you've already made it."

2. Send queries
Once an idea is turned down by one publication, I send it back out (once I make any revisions, if necessary). A great lesson I've learned is that you don't get paid to mope. Oh, and there are always other ideas out there. Of course, I'm talking about magazine articles here. I'm sure I will learn very soon that things are completely different when you're shopping your novel around. ;)

3. Accounts receivable
Invoicing and following up on deadbeat accounts is key. One rule of thumb I follow is to not do work or another article for a client until I've been paid for the first job. Sometimes magazines fold or clients "forget" to pay you. Unless you're okay with working for free, state your terms on your invoice (e.g., net 30 days) and gently remind payees when their invoices have passed the 45-day mark.

4. Track expenses
The thought of all the expenses I could have claimed for last year, had I only kept the blasted receipts, brings a tear to my eye. Sure, I kept most of them, but the others probably got swept up in error during a fun night of shredding. Remember folks: shredding and Bacardi Breezers don't mix.

5. Do it every week
Miss out on a few weeks of business stuff and you'll soon discover that the business has taken a holiday. And so might your bank balance. Sure, there are probably a gazillion more tips to help you become a better businessperson, but I'd much rather focus on the writing.

These have worked for me. Do you have a "business stuff" tip that you'd like to share?