I'm in need of some guidance from someone with experience. I would like to increase traffic and followers. I interact with other bloggers in my niche, comment often, post often, have seo and tags, and believe my content offers something those in my niche would benefit from. I have had some posts featured by other bloggers, and some posts featured on craftgawker.com. I also suggest/remind at the end of each post to subscribe via rss or gfc, as well as subscribe to other bloggers.
I have had a challenging time submitting to directories... not sure why....
What can I do to grow my readership and traffic?
I know there are compannies that you pay a monthly fee, and they will submit to various directories/search engines on a monthly or weekly basis - are those something of merit, or gimmick?
I've also heard of having someone professionally set up the blog design as having benefit to increasing traffic.
What services or tools out there are worth exploring, and which are scams? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Suggestions or changes I should make to my blog are also appreciated.
I feel like I am working harder, when I should be working smarter.