I see so many photographs that show evidence of lots of effort, and yet could still use some basic adjustments. Why is that? Take this popular cute bunny and kitten photo making the rounds:
While I understand that some soft focus is cute with furry pets, bringing out the natural contrast and color (and adding a background) doesn't hurt:
And remember, this is just a quick effort from the low-res artifacted JPEG. Just think how nice it could be done from the original. I don't know if the kitten's arm over the bunny is photoshopped, but it looks that way, and the whole image is very carefully staged regardless. Why go to all that work and not finish the image?
Another quick effort on a similar photo:
For sharpening, I typically blend a HIRLOAM layer with LAB mode lightness channel oversharpening (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E, Alt I-M, Enter, Ctrl-1, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-X, Ctrl-~).
I often take LAB mode changes back to RGB mode, copy merged, and then go back in history before the LAB changes to paste the changes as an adjustment layer (color or luminosity blend modes, typically). Or sharpen the black channel in CMYK and take the CMYK channel into RGB mode in Luminosity blend mode.
For sharpening I will also occasionally use a highpass (sometimes with noise reduction) duplicate layer in linear or hard light on top (reduced opacity, selective masking). For the web I reduce white sharpening halos with a layer style BlendIf lightness adjustment, sometimes selectively masked with a blur or heavy noise-reduction layer.