Well, to start with -- and I realize this may be considered heresy in some quarters -- not every business needs
to blog. Seriously.
If they don't have the time to devote, if their customers and prospects are not generally online (or aren't blog-readers), if they lack writing talent or any interest in keeping up a blog and hesitate to pay enough to get a good, dedicated writer to handle the blog for them... well, businesses managed to be successful for thousands of years before blogs, and they can continue to be successful today without a blog -- as long as they're doing effective marketing through other channels.
(In fact, they need to be doing effective marketing through other channels even if they have a wildly successful blog. A blog is just one marketing tactic -- not a substitute for good overall marketing strategy.)
That said, if they really want a blog, the first and best thing they can do is listen to their customers. Find out what kinds of questions their customers have and figure out how to answer them. People are much more likely to read when you're writing something they're interested in.
Second, develop a "voice." Too many times people write in a stilted, corporate-sounding way, and that's death for a blog. Read what you've written out loud. If you would never actually talk that way in real life, toss it out and re-write. Don't be afraid to sound like a real human being. In fact, for a blog, it's imperative.
Third, "if you build it, they will come
" only works in the movies. While a blog can be a helpful marketing tool, you also have to spend some time marketing your blog
. Be sure there are links from your main website to your blog. Put both your main web address and your blog address in your email signature file and on your business card and other business stationery. Mention it to people at business networking events. If you're running newspaper or magazine ads, include the blog address. Write posts that expand upon, confirm or refute things written in other blogs and link back to their original articles. The other blog owner will get a notification of your link, may come over to check out what you wrote, and may well link back to you.
Fourth, give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and even really good blogs don't get a massive audience overnight. Post regularly. You don't have to post every day, but on the other hand don't let it go months between posts. Keep posting, even if you think nobody is reading. When people do start showing up, you want there to be something for them to read, don't you? Besides, you want to give every visitor the impression there's plenty of new stuff happening all the time, to motivate them to subscribe or come back to check in more often.
And finally, don't worry if you're not getting tons of comments or "community building." Frankly, the vast majority of business blogs don't get a lot of comments and repeat visitors. (I attended a webinar a while back where the presenter used stats from his own -- very popular -- business related blog to show that something around 3/4 of all visitors to his blog were "first timers." Even he was surprised by the stats, but there ya go.) That's just not in the nature of a business blog. People tend to come out because they found an article that seemed to answer a question or respond to a need of theirs. They'll read that, maybe another article or two and be on their way. Some may come back or subscribe, but most will not.
This doesn't mean your blog is a failure.
Track how many referrals come to your website from the blog. Track how many of them convert to customers. Give it some time, put some effort into marketing the blog. Over time, those statistics will tell you whether the blog is beginning to pull its weight or not.