There's not a lot we like doing more as creative people than working on our own projects. If we could only work on what interests and inspires us we would be the happiest people on earth.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. We have to have money coming in from somewhere, which is where having clients or commissions come in.
It can be hard to figure out the balance between these things, and some people only do one or the other. If you only make things for yourself there's a chance that you'll have no income without another job, but if you only make work for clients or commissions then you can lose your passion and drive.
Sometimes it's not a matter of choice, and we are actually more suited to one than the other. I for example, am not really very good at working to other people's ideas. Although often it's more that what they're asking of me doesn't suit my usual style creative style, so it feels forced. Once it starts to feel that way it's harder to make the work feel genuine, and I always find that the outcome is never as good as when I'm making something for myself.
Other creatives respond really well to having a set of parameters, and they enjoy making other peoples dreams come to life.
So how do we balance the two?
To be able to balance them, you need to figure out how you prefer to work. It's not about always having to stick to one thing or the other. Being better suited to working with clients doesn't mean that you can't have self driven projects. And just because you predominantly work your own way, doesn't mean you aren't able to work with clients. And preferencing one over the other doesn't mean you'll make more or less money than anyone else, because you can do amazing work for yourself and people will buy it, and you can make work intended for clients but not get any.
By aiming to have a mix of the two, you can keep some money coming in, as well as keeping your creativity satisfied. Things will naturally sway form one to the other every so often. As it heads towards Christmas and people need to buy presents you may get a lot more commissions, or as it heads to tax time more clients. In between there may be more time to make what you want.
Most importantly, whatever reason you're making the work, enjoy the creative process!