Finally... I found a question I think I'm qualified to answer!
Our scores aren't quite as low as yours, but we're in a similar situation... simply put, our scores aren't as high as we'd like them to be, but we have no history to start anything.
We tried the "have someone else work on my credit" method and were willing to pay well for it. Several "counselors" all said the same thing... "oh you're credit's fine, but you have no history." You'll be fine, bye! Several credit card rejections later and a myriad of swear words while scouring the internet, I landed here. So I'd like to think your problem is this:
I just don't have the time to attack it as diligently as needed.
My wife has a full time job and I have two full time jobs, all while juggling several children... MAKE the time! We are sitting down together before bed every night and reading, reading, reading... sharing what we've found with each other.
After our numerous rejection letters trying to get some form of credit to start, we joined identityguard (I know... fakos... but we're looking for up or down right now, not necessarily the score and we want it checked monthly, not twice a year. We'll switch to ficos once we feel the numbers, not so much the fluctuation, matters). AFter educating ourselves a bit, we concluded, applied, and were approved for a secured Capital One card AND a department store card. Both with small balances... but baby steps. We're going to follow the methods we've found on this forum for making payments to the letter and see if that works... if not, we'll figure it out and adjust.
I think the main point in my rambling here is to take it seriously, put time and effort into it and try and have some fun with it. The one thing I learned from the counselors is that this is my credit, which is why no one else gives a ....
Hope that helps.