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Really interested in a discussion on legitimately growing your readership. A lot of this follow-follow back game is strictly about increasing numbers. Unfortunately, a lot of the bloggers who engage in these reciprocating programs don't actually keep up with your blog posts or engage with you on social media. So many bloggers are very interested in what you can do for them rather than how we can share resources.

My question is, what do you do to legitimately grow your readership with sustainable followers?

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I need to know this too. I am in the very early stages and I am doing the follow / follow back thing for credibility to outside readers I guess, but it is very slow moving

Agreed, the follow you/follow me is only about increasing your numbers, not based on actual subscribers who actually read your content. I guess this is fine if numbers are your only concern. I started my blog to influence those like me, I want actual readers, a community. I engage with those who write and post content that is inspiring and helpful. I comment on blogs, making sure that I read their blog posts and make an honest comment. If I enjoy what I am reading, I tell them why. Substance. When I get comments on my blog, I respond. I retweet others posts, on Fridays, I dedicate my posts to others, celebrating them. I hope this pays off! 

Honestly speaking, it's a concern with most of the bloggers and especially the newbie bloggers. Follow and follow back is a necessity in order to reflect a decent no. on the blog and initially to establish ourselves as a blogger.

However, I am sure people who are actually looking for answers or need help on some topics do search for information, read and apply too. Just that in order to have our blog or topic up on the search we first need to reach a good rating n following.

Also, readers who subscribe without a favour in return do comeback to read more of their favourite authors and comment genuinely. Whereas bloggers who follow in return are more focused writing and have less chances of reading the followed blogs.

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