It's funny, because I always feel like we're not busy enough. That has less to do with volume of work than size of paycheck probably. Not until you look back do you see a sizable library of moving pictures in your wake.
Juggler by R. O. Blechman
There are several things that can ensure something is always on the table.
1) Do a new "sales" activity everyday. I don't always do this, though I try. That means sending out a reel, making a phone call, an email. This should be a personal as possible, one on one contact with a potential (or repeat) client.
2) Following point 1, getting new work is a job in itself. Approach "sales" like you would approach any contract. If you're an animator, use animation as a sales tool. This is also an exercise in branding. We generally have one of these jobs going on at any time. Maybe it's a new website, maybe bumpers for sample reels, maybe just experimenting with techniques. Nonetheless, it's more than busy work.
3) Keep in mind what your business is. We're in the business of animation, so when someone wants animation figure out how to do it. If you're in the business of saying "no", then you can turn everything down. On the other hand, it's possible to figure out ways to make animation in all sorts of circumstances. That's not to say take on every single project, sometimes a potential client's demands are just insulting. Those are definite "no's".
4) Be versatile. This one is most important. We'll do illustration. We'll do type design. We'll do motion graphics. We'll do live action editorial. We'll do documentaries.
5) If you're good at animation, people will know for that, but they may not know that you like, say, embroidery. Use your known skills to apply for work in other areas of interest. This isn't easy (none of this is). Start by contacting people with whom you already have a relationship. Say, for instance, you do a little bit of animation for a local business. That can just be the beginning of the relationship. Offer to make them a comic book to distribute to their customers (if you're into comics).
6) We like to have long term projects -that generally means several months for us -mixed with shorter ones. A long term project means there's always something going on, short ones mean you're always doing something new.
7) Make your own work. Tomorrow, we'll be posting a bit we did for PBS. This came about after we finished a series of shorts for them and suggested a new/different idea they might like. Reaching all the back a few years that initial contract with PBS was the offspring of a series we did for The New Yorker. That series was booked after we quickly made an episode and sold it to them.
Every project has the seeds of future work in it. Getting new contracts requires daily dedication. If you want an easy life with a lot money, become a banker.