Learning editing was definitely a process of trial and error for me. I started out with Adobe Photoshop Elements and like most beginning photographers, got sucked into the world of ACTIONS! Ooooh, so many fun actions. :-) I did have the advantage of having been looking at good photographers' work before I really started getting into it myself, so I avoided making too many glaring mistakes that are common. I did my share of playing with vintage actions, but eventually came to the realization that while I occasionally liked them on some photos, and some photographers do it very well, that was not my style. I finally found something that I liked pretty consistently.
Then I bought Adobe Lightroom. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, because it was definitely an adjustment from Photoshop. Once I discovered the Sync function, though, I was sold. :-) I took some photos I had edited in Photoshop, and attempted to recreate the look in Lightroom to figure out what on earth all those sliders did.
That brings us to today, where I have reached a point of consistently editing with the same look across my work. I don't use presets in Lightroom because though I have the same style, conditions vary from shoot to shoot and no preset is going to fit that perfectly. Instead I edit a photo from the set and sync it with all the other photos that match. Here are some before and afters - I shoot in RAW so the SOOC images are very dull and flat and need a little boosting.
My typical basic edit involves bringing up the exposure a little if necessary (I am still working on achieving the right exposure in camera - it tends to look brighter on my camera's display than when I get it on to my computer, so I need to work on over-exposing even more than I think I need to!). Then I will boost the contrast, bring down the highlights if there are important white areas being blown out, add a little fill light, darken the blacks a tad and the shadows a tad, and sharpen.
I gravitate toward warmer images so I usually will warm up the white balance, though not always. It's all dependent on the circumstance. I will reduce noise on dark indoor shots if necessary. That really is about all I do! Bright, clean, and natural is my goal!
I hope this little peek into my editing workflow has been helpful! And I like hearing what you all want to be reading about here on the blog, so if you have a suggestion, just let me know. :-)