Virtually everybody starts the hobby with no idea about the nitrogen cycle, so you arent alone. Many manage just fine with no knowledge. Stock lightly, change water regularly, and your tank will cycle without you needing to know the cycle even exists. In brief though. The nitrogen cycle is the process of turning toxic ammonia into less toxic nitrate. Ammonia comes from fish waste, uneaten decaying food, decaying dead plants etc. Beneficial bacteria turns this ammonia into nitrite, which is pretty much as toxic as ammonia. A different bacteria consumes nitrite and produces much, much less toxic nitrate. Nitrate is removed with your water changes.
This video explains the nitrogen cycle in more details should you want to know a little more.
Cycling a tank is the process whereby you grow sufficient beneficial bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite your aquarium produces, turning it into nitrate. This process takes a couple of months. Essentially you need to do regular water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite at relatively safe levels until your cycle establishes and can keep them at 0 on its own. Once cycled you do water changes to control nitrate, which should be nowhere near as frequent.
The beneficial bacteria live on surfaces, like your substrate, the aquarium glass, any decorations. But mostly it lives on your filter media. Very little lives in the water, so water changes shouldnt effect your cycle much.
As to how much/how often to do water changes. Cant really say as we dont know how much ammonia your fish are producing. You would probably be good doing twice weekly 50% changes for a couple of months, then weekly 50% change from there on. Another option is to daily test your water to monitor ammonia and nitrite and do water changes based on these test results.
When doing water changes, you can either treat each bucket load of water before adding it to your tank. Or, treat the tank before adding tap water with enough conditioner to treat the whole tank volume. Treating each bucket is more economical as you only use conditioner for the water you add. Treating the whole volume is more convenient.
Let us know if you want some more info on cycling. There are ways to speed it up. If you plan on getting a test kit i can tell you a little more on what you need to keep your parameters at. There is an article here that covers it also.