Unlike some of the posters above, I find smithing for money to be extremely useful. It doesn't feel like a noob trap at all to me. Indeed, it feels so useful that it eclipses all the other means of making money.
I like to field armies and build garrisons of Fian Champions and Khan's Guard. These sorts of elite armies wreck enemies, but cost a lot to maintain. Smithing is the only avenue to completely eliminate the need to worry about costs. I wish there were more viable avenues for maintaining a passive income. I've played a lot of Prophesy of Pendor, and one of the first priorities in those games is to build workshops in every city, so you have a steady source of gold flowing in that is not reliant on battles.
Even with a leader at 300 smithing and 10 Endurance, I've not had a problem with leveling other skills. My leader generally has high Stewardship (which is easy to level with food) high Charm (again easy to level by releasing lords and normal interactions.)
Combat skills don't have to be maxed out. Riding needs to be high enough to ride a warhorse, and bow skill needs to be high enough to use an noble bow. Some skill in pole arm and 2 handed rounds out the combat skills. Armed with crafted weapons, you can pretty much one shot most enemies.