Small Business Talk: Sarah Heer of Arkie Travels

If you’re an Arkansan who’s spent much time on social media, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the videos of Sarah and Paul Heer. From small-town festivals to little-known waterfall hikes to historic B&B’s, the duo behind Arkie Travels have gone from hobbyist adventurers to a trusted and go-to source for Natural State explorers, amassing a combined 170,000 followers and counting across their channels.

For the latest installment of our Small Business Talk series highlighting and demystifying the world of women in small business, Sarah talks life on the road, being the “chief everything officer” and embracing the fact that “my time and skill set are worthy of compensation.”



Elevator pitch time. Tell us about Arkie Travels. 

SH: Isn’t it wild to be able to say I’m a professional traveler? Arkie Travels got its start in 2019 on the backroads of Arkansas. I had posted a photo of a tiny house I had booked for my husband’s birthday and people started messaging me asking where it was. I never imagined when we decided to create an Instagram account just for our travels that it would lead me to where I am today: traveling full-time as a digital content creator, showing off incredible businesses and cities and loving every minute.


Did you have a lightbulb moment when you knew this was what you were supposed to do?

SH: In 2020, we explored all 52 Arkansas State Parks and did a YouTube video on each one — 52 weeks in a year and 52 parks, it was a win-win. It was the year of COVID, but the parks stayed open and we were able to fully experience each park without as many people around. It could not have been more perfect timing.

The lightbulb moment came when someone messaged us and said watching our videos was how they were going outside. They were homebound and we had given them the opportunity to “go outside” without ever leaving their house. That’s when I truly saw the vision for what we were doing and it became so much more than making videos for social media.


What is it like to navigate a job that keeps you on the road constantly?

SH: Going home feels like vacation! We travel three to five days a week now, so going home is kind of like our weekend. Lucky for us, we have a whole network of friends and family that take care of everything while we’re gone.

As far as navigating the job itself, I do a lot of writing and editing in the car. Every moment is an opportunity to create content, so there’s always a mile-long list of captions to write and posts to schedule with not really much downtime. Long hours in the car makes that process a little easier.



What is something you wish you’d done differently when you launched?

SH: We had no idea what we were doing back in 2019. We were just throwing content up against a wall to see what stuck. The thing is, you never really know if a video is going to blow up or flop. You can run the analytics and try to post at the right time on the right day, but I’ve found that it’s easier (and far less pressure) to just keep posting content consistently. Whether that post takes you 10 minutes or 10 hours, don’t overanalyze the when and where, just hit post. And I’ve found the ones I don’t spend as much time on are sometimes the ones that do the best!


Since then, what was a moment that felt huge to you, but might not look that way to others?

SH: We had a video hit over a million views on TikTok. It absolutely blew my mind when it was happening and led to over 20,000 new followers. I had a Sally Field moment of “they like us, they really like us.” In reality, they liked the place we showed in the video, but it still felt very affirming and like we were on the right track.


How have your goals evolved since you first started?

SH: My goals are bigger now than I ever knew they could be. My first goal was to get to travel for free, but what I’ve learned is there’s a fast growing market for people who do what I do. This “job” takes an enormous amount of time, and my time and skill set are worthy of compensation. I had to stop focusing on competition and imposter syndrome and put some effort into confidence-building activities to feel like it was OK for me to ask for money. I hired a coach, made the decision to switch to exclusively vertical video, packaged our offerings and watched our business explode. Now, I don’t work for free unless it’s for a cause I support. I name my price and the work just keeps rolling in.



What are the best and hardest parts about working for yourself?

SH: Best part, working with my spouse. We’re getting to experience this journey together and I truly love getting to share it with him. The hardest part is the work never turns off. Even date night can turn into an opportunity for content creation. And that’s hard when your spouse is looking for a connection while you’re in work mode.


Does being a woman affect how you do business or the way people do business with you? If so, how?

SH: I bring a lot of heart to the table. Whether that’s a feminine quality or not, it’s important to me to form authentic connections with people and the businesses they represent. One of my favorite things to do is to show up at a business, take a couple pictures or a little video and post it on our channels without ever telling them who we are. We get messages afterwards of how shocked and grateful they are, and it’s always amazing to hear how their business has been affected, but what mattered to me was they treated me with kindness and I got to show a little kindness back.



What do you wish people knew about small business owners?

SH: Small business owners are the “chief everything officer.” We literally do it all until we find someone we can trust to help offload some of the work, and then we continue to try to hold on to too many things. This is our baby. This is our passion. It literally becomes an extension of our identity and who people think of us as. There’s also a great deal of pride to be found in that — pride in knowing how hard you’re working and getting to see the fruits of your labor.


What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

SH: Take the leap, even if you don’t have it all figured out. You’re never going to feel like you 100% know what you’re doing. Is it going to be hard? Absolutely! There will be nights you’re in tears because you can’t figure out how you’re going to do it all. But it’s going to be hard whether you feel like you’re ready or not. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no, so just go for it.


Learn more on the Arkie Travels website and follow all their adventures on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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